Right Here Right Now

We are excited to share that Amy Oden, one of our instructors for Launch & Lead, has published a new book, Right Here Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness. Below is a review by Shaun Lambert, Baptist minister in London, for
The Baptism Times: Online newspaper of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
(http://www.baptist.org.uk/), not yet published.

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.

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 staying with and rereading. 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

Reference:
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.

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