Monday, February 8, 2010

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen

I’ve never read a book by Henri Nouwen that I didn’t like, but this is definitely one of my favorites of his. His literary prose, vivid imagery, and appreciation for art and beauty alone would make this work a pleasure to read. The profound insights he has into the spiritual life and what he gleans from a very close study of a painting about a well-known Biblical story create a rich, thought-provoking work.
I have often been inspired to write after seeing/experiencing artwork and performances, but the enthusiasm and passion Nouwen possesses for the subjects of mercy and forgiveness as they are portrayed in the painting show the inner workings of a soul that is close to God. Certainly religious art has often inspired and been inspired by devout men and women of faith. Nouwen’s study of the portrayal of a parable in the form of a portrait is so meticulous and thorough. His observation of the father’s hands showing the Lord God as having both the love, compassion, mercy, and protection that come from both mother and father has stuck with me years after reading the book.
This spin on a parable most people are very familiar with is refreshing, insightful, and deeply moving. In The Return of the Prodigal Son, Nouwen has created a masterpiece out of art, carefully crafted prose, a life of prayer and reflection, and a spirituality which keeps inching closer to God at every opportunity.
You can purchase this book here.  I wrote this review of The Return of the Prodigal Son for the Tiber River Blogger Review program.  Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.  I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.
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