Growing a Sustainable Soul


Christian - Devotion/Study
102 Pages
Reviewed on 01/08/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

In his mid-thirties, Bob had all the trappings of success. He had a thriving insurance and financial planning practice, a healthy family, and a home in Rye, New York. He was also a board member of several local and regional charities, and regularly attended church. Eventually, however, Bob began to re-assess his life goals. It was God stirring his soul. Months later, Bob was perplexed when his priest suggested priesthood in the Episcopal Church. Bob had never considered it and likened the time leading up to this conversation to the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, “The Hounds of Heaven.” He immediately discussed this entirely new path with his wife and, within an hour, they both agreed that if it’s God’s will, surely it will happen.

Bob Flanagan was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut. At the age of 13, he left home for a life-changing experience and education at Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire, where he acquired some of his earliest experiences in leadership, success in sports, and independent thought. Next, he attended Brooks School, graduating with high honors in Classics and honors in Music. At Trinity College, he majored in English with a focus on writing poetry. For four intense years, he was also a heavyweight oarsman on the Trinity crew team that he led twice as captain. As an insurance and financial representative, Bob earned his Charter Life Underwriter and Charter Financial Consultant designations. At 37, Bob began his Master in Divinity degree at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) in Alexandria, Virginia. Among the programs Bob has attended as a priest, he was selected for the National Security Seminar at the Army War College in 2009. In 2013, Bob commenced his Doctor of Ministry degree at VTS, specializing in Christian spirituality, leadership, and outreach to the churchless.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Growing a Sustainable Soul is a Christian Devotional/Study text written by Bob Flanagan. Flanagan explores how a sustainable soul can be a personal and enduring work created in partnership with God and nature. Each chapter is divided into sections that have study assignments at the end. Some call for reflection on the material covered in that section; others call for action; still others call for personal assessments. Each assignment page contains lines for the reader to record their responses and make this a personal workbook. We are all part of nature, and this modern age sometimes causes a break from our roots and the earth. Flanagan uses scripture to show how loving and sustaining the earth is part of God's plan, and how Jesus, the gardener, is evident in the many things he said and did. Flanagan also includes an index of Biblical references and a list of recommended readings.

Bob Flanagan's devotional Christian book, Growing a Sustainable Soul, is a religious study book to get excited about! Even if you've recently become disenchanted with your faith or gave up on it many years ago, Flanagan's lessons will come as a welcome and unexpected surprise. The devotionals included in this book are marvelous and promise many peaceful hours of meditation and increasing self-awareness. The action assignments prove that having faith and caring actively for the environment need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, the author will have you brainstorming on how you can do more to regain that lost connection with the earth. From deciding to buy produce directly from the farmers at farmers' markets to helping the homeless and less-advantaged in accordance with Biblical teaching, Growing a Sustainable Soul shows just how grand the concept of muscular Christianity can be. I'm so inspired by this book! Growing a Sustainable Soul is most highly recommended.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

“We live in a remarkably bountiful world that teems with life. The resurrection calls us to live gently and peaceably with ourselves, our neighbors, and all the rest of creation.” There is so much in this world that we take for granted: the land, the air, the water. Indeed, we take all living creatures for granted and we take each other for granted. Our souls reach out, begging for sustenance, and yet it struggles because we don’t allow it the time, the space and the purity to do so. Bob Flanagan takes us on an insightful journey to discover not only what is good for our souls, but also what is good for our bodies. He leads us through Scripture and he points us in the direction of finding and fulfilling our place within God’s greatest creations. Flanagan provides us with another vista, another place of understanding, to appreciate all that we have, to nurture all that we have and to use it wisely, carefully and with due reverence.

Growing a Sustainable Future is not the usual global warming type of read, but the message is there, nonetheless. The message is also very clear in Scripture. We need to have a connection with the earth, with the food that we eat, the water that we drink and the air that we breathe: “Affirming this connection, the Bible tells of a people who lived in a land where the relationship with the soil, water, and earth infused their life.” Using examples from his own life, Flanagan discusses the current issues that face the well-being our planet and, of course, the well-being of our bodies and our souls. He challenges us to look around us, to take note of all of God’s creation and to learn to appreciate, respect and preserve all that we have. Each chapter has sections, called “Action”, which requires reader intervention, making the reader think about these issues and how they affects us individually as well as globally. This is an excellent resource and study guide for everyone. Well done!

Karen Walpole

Growing a Sustainable Soul by Bob Flanagan is a very different sort of spiritual book which tells us that experiencing the natural world that God has created can help us to experience God. Flanagan writes about our disconnection with the land in today’s modern society. So few of us farm the land and we need to find other ways to stay conscious of man’s responsibility to God and all his creations. Becoming aware of the beauty of our world helps replenish the soul’s energy through staying connected to what God has created for us. Flanagan gives suggestions as to what will bring us in closer harmony with our natural environment. He uses quotes from the Bible and from other spiritual leaders to demonstrate how God treasures all he has created. Jesus uses the natural world in many of his teachings, and Bob Flanagan suggests rediscovering Jesus by thinking of him as a farmer. Interconnectedness of all and our stewardship of the earth are concepts we need to consider in our everyday lives.

Growing a Sustainable Soul by Bob Flanagan is a beautifully written spiritual book. I found it to be insightful and thought provoking. While I have always kept the stewardship of the earth in mind, this book adds so many more dimensions to stewardship and interconnectedness. When I swim in a lake or walk in the woods, I feel free and happy. Flanagan talks about this type of experience as absolutely necessary to all of us. Buying local produce, not squandering energy, walking in nature, reusing bags and many other actions are all things to help our environment be healthy. This book connects those actions to feeling close to God. The concept should be obvious to all spiritual beings but it isn’t. Growing a Sustainable Soul gives us this very important message.