In O2, Richard Dahlstrom compares spiritual disciplines to breathing- O2, oxygen, breathing – get it? and makes uses this comparison to encourage balance – just as you need balance between inhaling and exhaling – in the way one incorporates the disciplines into life. It is a pretty nifty comparison, really, and he uses it to also address the way certain movements in modern Christianity tend to emphasize “exhaling” over “inhaling” or vice versa. He doesn’t name any names but I could instantly think of a few examples, and this whole inhaling/exhaling thing exactly nails down my vague uncomfortable feeling towards some of these movements/personalities. And he also points out that some of these disciplines will feel more natural to you because of your personality and/or giftings, and that is precisely why you should practice some that don’t feel at all natural.

Anyway. The exhaling disciplines are journey, service, hospitality, and generosity; the inhaling disciplines are appreciating creation, solitude, prayer, reading & memorizing Scripture, silence, and sabbath. He discusses each in a chapter and then at the end explains that at various times in your life certain exhaling disciplines will be a bigger part of your life than others, and certain inhaling ones will be a bigger part, but you still need to make sure you are inhaling and exhaling.

On the whole, I liked this book and would recommend it, particularly if you are new to the concept of spiritual disciplines. I do think it could use some tweaking; some of the disciplines are lacking in concrete ideas in how to incorporate them into everyday (or weekly, or whatever) life, and some of the chapters seemed a bit rambly. In particular there is a chapter entitled “Artisans of Hope: Stepping into God’s Kingdom Story” listed under the exhaling disciplines, when “being an artisan” is never presented as a discipline; the chapter is a lengthy explanation of a phrase Dahlstrom invented and clearly loves to use. This concept could have easily been explained at the first mention of this term – or if it truly needed its own chapter, I think it would have felt more natural along with the chapters preceding the disciplines section. Also, starting in this section the phrase “colors of hope” starts to get way too much usage. If you are going to use something 6 times on one page, it is generally advisable to re-word it a bit or find a synonym.

But, all in all, I think this is a great way to think about spiritual disciplines that feels do-able and not at all legalistic. Definitely worth a read.

You can read other reviews from the blog tour here.

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