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Since the '80s, I've been a huge fan of Sade, so of course I'm giving this DVD 5 stars. I've had the pleasure of seeing her last June in Baltimore, MD and there wasn't an empty seat in the entire arena---enough said. If you love Sade, then you must must MUST get this, especially if you haven't been to her concert(s).
Having suffered from chronic back pain for 4 years, I had little left to try till I chance upon Esther's demonstration on PBS one day and was immediately intrigued. I looked her up on google and found a link to her GoogleTalks video and was instantly hooked. I scoured the internet for all her other videos and then went ahead and bought her book from Amazon.
This is why the principle works- many people who suffer from chronic back pain which did not start instantly from a serious injury like an accident but gradually over time( like in my case) suffer due to postural problems rather than a medical condition. I have consulted several chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, Ayurveda and also another solution from the internet called the Backpain Institute but they all pointed out that I had a weak core which is the cause of my back pain. It is hard for me to believe that as I have been doing circuit training for over two years and can do ab exercises that even some people who are pain free could not.
All this did not add up. Therapies such as heat therapy, inversion therapy, physical therapy etc. only provided temporary relief which added to my belief that something about my posture reversed the effects of the therapies.
There is instant relief to be found in the techniques demonstrated in this book. It is very well researched and the insight found is not to be obtained from even medical texts. I am looking forward to also attending workshops and the foundations course - just waiting for one to come to my area.
Both Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove are part of a growing stream of thought in the US and abroad that believe when Jesus said we should come follow him and take up our cross he really meant it. He is bidding us come, die and find resurrection, community in the Body, an economy of love, reconciliation, stability, hospitality, and an abundant life lived with Him here and in the hereafter. Finally we in the west can see what it means to follow Jesus without traveling to the Majority World. They and their communities, of course, are not the only ones doing this, but they have, through their writings, caught our attention and ignited our prophetic imagination in an uncommon way.
Common Prayer is definitely the most ambitious book these three authors have published. The third author is Enuma Okoro, the author of Reluctant Pilgrim(2010). Clearly, they have looked to those who have gone before them. Common Prayer offers us a spirituality that grounds us squarely in the story of God and invites us to pray the prayers of the saints and angels that have been prayed for thousands of years in some cases.
Common prayer books are not a new idea. Communal prayer liturgies started with the early church. Most high church denominations have common prayer books.
This book is unique though in that it invites us in to the New Monastic tradition. The prayers are based on the church calendar and the marks of the New Monasticism. So while talking about Advent, Good Friday, and Easter Common Prayer explores what it means to care for the earth, love your enemy, share your things, invite strangers to your dinner table and be grounded in the traditions and prayers that have enabled the Church to be the Church.
The book is also ecumenical. So Catholics, Baptists, Quakers, Pentecostals, Americans(North, Latin and South), Europeans as well as Africans can all use it. It is multi-cultural and multi-racial. For the above reasons the book is really a marvelous accomplishment in my opinion.
The book is split in to five parts: Evening Prayers, Morning Prayers, Mid-Day Prayer, Occasional Prayers and a song book.
CP offers an evening prayer for every night of the week. They are each very similar with confession, two beautiful songs, a declaration of faith, and a song from scripture.
There is a morning prayer for every day of the year with special prayers for the unique times like Holy Week. They are all similar in format with a song, scripture reading from the Psalms and the Old and New Testament, and a short quote from a unique Christian(such as Jean Vanier), activist, missionary, early church father or sometimes a scripture. Each month is centered around a mark from the New Monasticism. The marks tend to follow important dates such as "living in the abandoned places of empire" is in December when we celebrate Christ's incarnation, the truest model for this mark. February is "racial reconciliation".
There is only one midday prayer consequently it's the most beautiful prayer of the entire book. It consists of St. Francis' prayer, the Anima Christi( a very beautiful Catholic prayer), a recitation of the Beatitudes, a time of silence and a few smaller prayers.
CP then has a section for occasional prayers and finally a song book for songs sung during morning prayers.
I was excited to began praying these prayers. I have to admit though, when I finally got the book I was, at first...well...perplexed mixed with disappointment. The ideas and readings felt alien. I felt like I was entering in to a foreign world of prayer. There were also prayers we simply didn't like, but we decided to stick with the book and maybe do some innovation. We proposed changing certain prayers.
I think we've realized that the struggle for us was two fold. First, CP has a robust spirituality with plenty of scripture reading, thoughts from true practitioners, invitations to remember God (and not us) as the Source, prayers and readings that ask for the gift of empathy and action, and confession. The book, if taken seriously, like all true spirituality leads us down the road of self-denial and in to a counter-cultural way of living. Second, CP is repetitive. It can feel confining if you're used to being the director of your own faith journey. In a culture that is always looking for that new spiritual in ingredient to make faith work it feels like maybe our authors weren't imaginative enough.
It helped when we researched the prayers and we discovered that they were, in fact, deep and well thought out and some of them have been prayed ardently for well over a thousand or more years in some cases. The authors are inviting us in to a spirituality so robust and old that there's less need for imagination and more need for research, relationships with those who have been praying these prayers most of their lives, faithfulness to the unknown and the willingness to share with us what has deeply inspired them. Lo and behold, God's path is simple and narrow. For that reason we decided to learn to love them. In most cases it has worked. Now we find ourselves humming the tunes and saying the prayers throughout the day. I'm also sharing songs from CP I've learned when I lead worship on Sundays.
So if you are part of an intentional community, live alone, go to a big church or a small one, enjoy high church or no church this book will interest you.
Well done Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove, Okoro and the many others involved. This is your best yet.
Go to to get a glimpse of what you'll find in the book.