Skip to main content

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life



Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Richard Rohr

ISBN: 978-0-470-90775-7 April 2011 Jossey-Bass 240 Pages


A fresh way of thinking about spirituality that grows throughout life

In Falling Upward, Fr. Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite.  What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as "falling upward."  In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness.  

  • Explains why the second half of life can and should be full of spiritual richness
  • Offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens?loss is gain
  • Richard. Rohr is a regular contributing writer for Sojourners and Tikkun magazines

This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right.

The Invitation to a Further Journey vii

Introduction xiii

1 The Two Halves of Life 1

2 The Hero and Heroine’s Journey 17

3 The First Half of Life 25

4 The Tragic Sense of Life 53

5 Stumbling over the Stumbling Stone 65

6 Necessary Suffering 73

7 Home and Homesickness 87

8 Amnesia and the Big Picture 97

9 A Second Simplicity 105

10 A Bright Sadness 117

11 The Shadowlands 127

12 New Problems and New Directions 137

13 Falling Upward 153

Coda 161

Notes 169

Bibliography 177

The Author 183

Index 185

Franciscan priest Rohr (The Naked Now) is a big-picture kind of thinker when it comes to characterizing the human journey. Life has two halves; life follows the pattern of a hero/heroine's journey; life is disorderly and inherently tragic. Elders and mystics are more inclined to such sweeping and subtle observations, and Rohr, born in 1943, fits in both categories. Rohr writes about spirituality in broad terms, but is deeply grounded in the writings and thinkers of his Catholic religious tradition. His discussion of familiar theological concerns--the necessity of suffering, the opportunities provided by mistakes--is fresh because imaginative and vigorous. His metaphors ("discharging your loyal soldier"), paradoxes (see the book's title), and arguments are not, however, easy to follow or even easy to summarize. They will frustrate some readers, but delight others who are attentive enough to follow the connections Rohr makes. This small, provocative book will make a particularly good gift for a thoughtful, spiritually open man. (May) (Publishers Weekly, April 11, 2011)