Review: Grateful: The transformative power of giving thanks

By Diana Butler-Bass, Harper One 2018.

Reading small chunks of Grateful has been my morning reading for the last month. Gratitude, I learnt, is often missing as a spiritual practice in a selffocused world.

More and more people are finding this experience of God beyond the walls of traditional religious institutions, but often miss the church community itself and its shared spiritual practices such as gratitude. Gratitude can easily get buried in rote liturgy with religious words that have lost their meaning. Many claim gratitude in their daily lives, but Bass finds that claim to be at odds with the discontent that permeates modern society and dominates our political discourse.

This highlighted a gap, she argues, between our desire to be grateful and our ability to behave gratefully—a divide that influences our understanding of morality, worship, and institutional religion itself. In Grateful, Bass challenges readers to think about the impact gratitude has in our spiritual lives, and encourages them to make gratitude a “difficult and much-needed spiritual practice for   our personal lives and to inspire us to work together for a better world.”

She examines this unexpected experience of gratitude, and reveals how people and communities can practice it and thrive, whether or not they are part of a traditional religious community.

Richard Smith

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