Naked Spirituality

reviewed by Kristine Morris

Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words

By Brian McLaren

If you’ve come to the place where the very word “God” makes you cringe, if you are spiritually wounded and feel that God has long ago abandoned you, or if a belief in God that comforted and inspired you as a child now seems to be nothing more than a fairy tale — something to be laid aside with once-cherished toys — then Brian McLaren believes this book is for you. It’s the book he wishes someone had given him during his own spiritual journey, and it comes with the encouragement that all you need is “a little tiny seed of faith — faith that there’s something out there (or ‘in here’) worth searching for.”

McLaren’s “naked spirituality” is as honest and vulnerable, as true and unashamed as the skin-to-skin contact of two lovers — nourishing, vital, and real. In language that is at once passionate, poetic, and simple, he distills its essence to 12 simple words, with practices rooted in the seasons of nature and of life that are intense, immediate, and do-able, no matter where you are or what your circumstances may be.

Naked Spirituality is about “stripping away the symbols and status of public religion,” says McLaren, and rediscovering the treasure that was lost in Eden: “the possibility of being naked and not ashamed, naked before God, and naked before one another, too, so we have no need to cover up, to posture, to dress to impress, just the freedom to be who we are, what we are, as we are.”

The author is also a speaker, social justice activist, and pastor and has been listed as one of Time magazine’s top 25 evangelicals, yet his message is not about joining a church; it’s about a direct, unmediated connection with God. His 12 simple words culminate in one that fulfills all the others: love. “Jesus was right,” says McLaren. “Paul was right. John was right. The Buddha was right. Even the Beatles were right. It all comes down to love … Spirituality is love. To hold nothing but naked love in your naked heart — not just the word, but the reality — always, for all, that is the sea toward which all rivers run.”

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