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The Spirituality of Age
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Table of Contents

Foreword

Summons to a Leap of Faith
Harry R. Moody, Ph.D.

Acknowledgments

PART I

Calling for a New Vision of Spiritual Aging

Chapter 1

Aging as the Path to Spiritual Maturity

Chapter 2

Our Spiritual Biographies

Contemplative Aging: Living Life to the Full
Robert L. Weber, Ph.D.

On Becoming Fierce with Age
Carol Orsborn, Ph.D.

Chapter 3
The Seeker's Guide
Navigating the Wild Space beyond Midlife

Part II

25 Questions

A Journey of Spiritual Inquiry

Chapter 4

What Is Spiritual Maturity?

1 What is a psychologically and spiritually healthy vision of aging?

2 How has your spirituality changed and deepened over time?

3 How have your notions of the Divine matured since you were a child?

4 What is the relationship between spirituality and religion?

5 How can you assess your progress toward a more mature spirituality?

Chapter 5

What Is Spiritual Awakening?

6 Why do we want to stay asleep?

7 What wakes you up?

8 Has there been a particular experience that has finally awakened you?

9 What do you think the Sacred wants to awaken you to?

10 Is there a constructive role for regret, shame, and guilt?

Chapter 6

What Is Freedom?

11 What illusions does aging dispel?

12 Which illusions are the most difficult to let go?

13 Is there a positive purpose to keeping some of our illusions?

14 What does it mean to be free in light of the ebbing of physicality and social connection?

15 What still keeps you at the mercy of particular events, things, and people?

Chapter 7

How Can We Become More Fully Ourselves?

16 What can you accept about yourself that you previously disowned?

17 What qualities did you neglect in the first half of your life that you are now free to develop?

18 What do you especially value about yourself?

19 Who has believed in you even when you did not?

20 Do you experience yourself as having intrinsic value in the grand scheme of the universe?

Chapter 8

What Is the Value of Aging to Society?

21 Can withdrawal from the mainstream, by choice or circumstances, have value?

22 What is the dynamic tension between accepting marginalization and fighting against it?

23 Is there a spiritually/psychologically healthy response to those times when you feel disconnected from the Sacred?

24 What value, if any, do those who have suffered in their aging such things as cognitive impairment and physical pain hold for us?

25 How can spiritual maturity equip us to face our own unknowns?

Conclusion
From Midlife to Afterlife

Bear Us Away

The Last Question: What's Next?

Afterword
Extraordinary Moments in Ordinary Time
W. Andrew Achenbaum, Ph.D.

About the Author

Robert L. Weber, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and a former Jesuit. Recipient of the American Society on Aging's 2014 Religion, Spirituality, and Aging Award, he is an advisory board member for the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology's Center for Psychotherapy and Spirituality. He lives with his wife in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., is founder and editor-in-chief of Fierce with Age: The Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration, and Spirituality. The author of more than 20 books for and about the Boomer generation as well as popular blogs on Huffington Post, PBS's NextAvenue.net, and BeliefNet.com, she has served on the faculties of Georgetown University, Loyola Marymount University, and Pepperdine University. She lives with her husband in Madison, Tennessee.

Reviews

"At last, a book about aging that does not envision it as a problem to be solved or even as a challenge to be overcome! It greets growing older, as a gift and an opportunity. With age comes at least a little wisdom, and that wisdom is relevant for people in any age cohort. I savored this fine volume and commend it to anyone still searching, as I hope we all are, for the fullness of life." * Harvey G. Cox, Hollis research professor of divinity, Harvard University, and author of The Future o *
"Are you a Boomer on a white-knuckled ride trying to shift into reverse on aging? We all try. This knowing book will relax your grip. The authors illuminate the path of spiritual growth, leading us to come to terms with where we have failed and to make the passage to what really matters. Beautifully written, both from deep research and even deeper personal experience by the authors, a former Jesuit and a Jewish woman. Best book I have ever read on this most significant passage." * Gail Sheehy, author of Daring: My Passages *
"An in-depth look within by two specialists on aging, a woman and a man, aging Boomers themselves. It portrays aging as a spiritual experience, and unlike many current commentaries about people turning away from religion--particularly those who say `I'm spiritual but not religious'--they turn that phrase on its head. People across faith traditions as well as secularists will find the book engaging and eye-opening." * Wade Clark Roof, J.F. Rowny professor of religion and society emeritus, University of California at *
"This wise and lovely book invites readers to take their aging seriously and honestly as a time for growing into spiritual wisdom. The authors ask us to ponder with them 25 questions that will help us to such wisdom. They reveal themselves as they strive to answer the questions they pose and in the process draw us toward developing our own spirituality of age. Readers will, as I do, thank them for their generosity and their wisdom." * Rev. William A. Barry, S.J., author of Praying the Truth: Deepening Your Friendship with God through *
"The Spirituality of Age fills an important gap, not by telling people what they ought to think about this subject, but by posing a large array of vital questions that can fuel the readers' own imaginations. The authors know that there is no single path to the spirituality of age and that we have to discover our own unique, energizing and motivating answers. Their modeling is eloquent, thoughtful, and useful. Time spent with this book can bring great insight and direction." * Robert C. Atchley, Ph.D., author of Spirituality and Aging *
"For those of us heeding the call to spiritual deepening in our elder years, The Spirituality of Age is a unique resource. The questions that form the core of this inspiring book are those that many of us carry on this journey. And the rich, experience-filled responses of the coauthors as well as the exercises they suggest will be invaluable in helping readers understand the many facets of their own spiritual potential and development as they age." * Ron Pevny, director of the Center for Conscious Eldering and author of Conscious Living, Conscious A *
"These days we often hear the word spirituality. The spiritual search is a vital and continuous area of personal reflection for these authors. They encourage each of us to define the meaning of that word for ourselves. This book opens the door for all of us to explore our own growth, insights, inner peace, and continued learning that is calling to us as we age" * Connie Goldman, author of Who Am I Now That I'm Not Who I Was? *
"All of us get older, few of us get wiser. As we search for an `authentic' spiritual practice we ignore the one we were given when we were born: aging. The Spirituality of Age places you firmly on this path. This is a book to be read, but more importantly lived." * Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent *
"The authors are compassionate guides on the journey of aging. They beckon the reader to face the path ahead with honesty and courage. Through their own hard-won wisdom, they shine a light of hope for all of us who will, sooner or later, leave health, illusion, and life itself behind." * Rabbi Dayle A. Friedman, founder of Growing Older and author of Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older *
"The authors have created a masterpiece! This book is a must-read for all facing the quest for meaning and purpose in later life.With their honest, profound, and often witty point-counterpoint perspectives on 25 of the major challenges of the gift of years, this book will enrich and deepen the lives of all of its readers and will be especially helpful to those guiding older adults on the path of psycho-spiritual growth in the second half of life. I am buying copies for all of my over-50 friends for Christmas!" * Jane M. Thibault, Ph.D., clinical gerontologist and professor emerita, University of Louisville Scho *
"This little book, built around questions to which each of us will have different and individual answers, emphasizes by its very structure that in our era, old age can be a time of growth and spiritual discovery, a time of fulfillment of life, rather than its dreary aftermath." * Mary Catherine Bateson, cultural anthropologist and author of Composing a Further Life *
"The authors have penned an exceptionally wise and timely book. Wrestling with the hard spiritual questions that so often disturb our later years, they dig deep for personal answers and generously encourage the reader to do the same. Get ready, you may find yourself revising everything you think about aging and in the process making peace with your own answers. Perfect for personal growth, book clubs, and classes." * John C. Robinson, Ph.D., D.Min., psychologist, interfaith minister, and author of The Three Secrets *
"To my delight, this book prompted me to ask questions of myself that I had never posed before with so much clarity. The authors each respond to these questions themselves, a unique approach that is not ponderous or heavy-handed. I found myself leaving the safety of reader-as-spectator and entering the provocation of reader-as-participant. My own spiritual inquiry began to breathe more freshly." * Wendy Lustbader, MSW, author of Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older *
"Robert L. Weber, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School,and Carol Orsborn, founder and editor of the website Fierce With Age: The Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration, and Spirituality, believe that aging can be a meaningful and rich path to mature spirituality. The two authors come from Catholic Jesuit and Jewish backgrounds respectively but have written this cogent and illuminating paperback for a new generation of seekers, or those whom we call spiritually independent individuals. We were quite impressed with the book's foundation of 25 questions, the Twelve Exercises for Seekers and the extensive list of resources for Recommended Reading." * Spirituality & Practice, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, December 2015 *
"These authors make the quest of aging into a journey in which one can take advantage of their expert and unflinching guidance. This can be a tool of extraordinary value to everyone, especially those of us whose memories have become longer than what is likely to be our future." * Robert Simmons, The Tucson Metaguide, January 2016 *
"Synchronicity brought these two authors together at a meeting of the American Society on Aging. They quickly recognized that they were on parallel journeys, seeking meaning in the second half of their lives. Drawing on both introspection and their conversations with peers, they began turning insight into practical guidance. The result is this book in which they make the case that, as boomers begin to age, society has begun focusing on anti-aging, diverting attention from the benefits older people can derive from facing the reality of aging and the shadow side that surfaces with that reality. Relating to readers from their personal life experiences as well as their Judeo-Christian backgrounds, they ask readers to face (rather than avoid) their fears about aging. They encourage boomers to embrace this new aspect of the life cycle with the same enthusiasm with which they have tackled other stages of life's journey. They ask them to take a serious look at things like spiritually healthy visions of aging, gaining freedom from illusions, developing neglected qualities, and dealing with feeling disconnected from the Sacred. The book ends with Twelve Exercises for Seekers, which will give your customers the chance to put theory into practice and discover how they can learn to view aging as a blessing instead of a curse." * Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight, February/March 2016 *

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