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Right Here Right Now by Amy G Oden

Allays fears and gives fresh insight into Christian mindfulness, drawing on the author’s deep knowledge of the early and historical spirituality of our Christian predecessors

 


Amy G OdenRight Here Right Now - The Practice of Christian Mindfulness

By Amy G Oden
Abingdon Press
ISBN: 978-1501832499
Reviewer: Shaun Lambert 


The world is spiritually hungry, and people go where the food is – in this case the mindfulness awakening. The church has a rich fare when it comes to mindfulness which many Christians are unaware of. So says Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality Amy G Oden in her new book Right Here Right Now; The Practice of Christian Mindfulness.

Christian mindfulness is not a contradiction in terms but a biblical spirituality, and the author defines the distinctive nature of Christian mindfulness as, ‘the practice of paying prayerful attention in the present moment to God’s abundant life.’[1] She goes on to say that mindfulness is not exclusively Buddhist as many Christians think, but that ‘The Gospels are full of Jesus’s teaching about the critical importance of mindfulness for those who want kingdom lives.’[2]

This book is full of good theology, wisdom, and a discerning and creative application of the historical riches in Christian spirituality. This is a book for informing, allaying fears but also giving fresh and significant practices taken from the author’s deep knowledge of the early and historical spirituality of our Christian predecessors. It is also crystal clear in its writing style, managing to be both simple and profound.

I have been researching mindfulness in our culture and mindfulness of God since 2006 and this is the best introduction to Christian mindfulness I have read. In her first chapter Oden defines Christian mindfulness and lays out its marks and distinctives.

In her second chapter she identifies the roots of mindfulness in Christian tradition and contemporary culture and argues beautifully for a gracious curating of this wisdom in a way that enhances our witness to culture.

In her third chapter she outlines a deep range of methods for practicing mindfulness, not just for individuals but also communities.

What she offers here is not another consumer version of mindfulness. In particular I love her section on holy or mindful conversations where she draws on John Wesley’s writings in this area, in particular that conversation is holy because ‘God is at work there.’[3] Finally in the last chapter she talks about how Christian mindfulness can add to our faithful witness in the world.

All the way through the book she gives opportunities to cultivate this prayerful attention, ideas and questions for individual or group study in a Study Guide at the end as well as further reading. 

Christians need to be at the table of mindfulness. We need to make it part of our table. This is a book that invites mindful reading, and draws you in to further readings. It is going to be my devotional book in the mornings for a while.

For all of us, developing prayerful attention requires daily intention. As the author concludes, ‘What are you waiting for? There is no other time and no other place that is more holy or spiritual than here, now.’[4]
 

Shaun Lambert is Senior Minister of Stanmore Baptist Church and currently researching a PhD project in mindfulness at the London School of Theology. He is also the author of A Book of Sparks – a Study in Christian MindFullness, and Putting on the Wakeful One - Attuning to the Spirit of Jesus through Watchfulness

 

[1] Amy G. Oden, Right Here Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2017), 2
[2] Oden, 4
[3] Oden, 71
[4] Oden, 87
Baptist Times, 13/10/2017
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