Book Review: 8 Habits of Love

8 Habits of Love: Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind, by Ed Bacon, is a book that can help you think about your own life, your place in the world and how you relate to others. The eight habits include practices such as generosity, stillness, play and forgiveness. I found myself reflecting on my own life in all these areas as I read. I started to read the book straight through, but found myself reading in smaller chunks to digest the important life lessons he discusses.

Bacon includes stories from his own experience and variety of other stories to vividly illustrate these habits. In addition, he shares his own quest for greater maturity and presence in the world and in his leadership. He is willing to show his attempts to practice what he preaches in family relationships as well as in his ministry.

I particularly appreciated his approach to the habit of community. I find some of the rhetoric of community to be about emotionally-driven togetherness. Bacon lifts up the value of the support we can offer each other. Yet he also acknowledges what he calls “the danger of herd mentality” and the importance of continuing to appreciate difference as we seek to maintain community.

Bacon is the rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. He was a long-time student of Edwin Friedman, and his commitment to a family systems understanding of the world shows. At the same time, he writes in a way free of jargon. Designed for the general reader, 8 Habits shows Bacon’s broadly inclusive spirituality and approach to church life. Each chapter ends with helpful suggestions for paying attention to the habit under discussion. I’ve interviewed him several times and have appreciated his thoughtful approach to the challenges of church leadership. That thoughtfulness comes through throughout this book. I recommend it.

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