The Great Spiritual Migration (Book Review with Notes)

The Great Spiritual Migration (Book Review with Notes)

The Great Spiritual Migration (Book Review)

This book makes some major great points and I am encouraged that it is so popular that it is making the rounds. It’s perspective is much needed. 

Content-wise I give this book 5 stars, even though the writing gets cumbersome and a bit belabored at times. Nonetheless, I think it was definitely worth the effort, especially if folks see their way clear to catching the vision and participating in this spiritual migration that is so essential for us all.

Here are some of what I thought were the best bits:

  • “I’ve come to see that what matters most is not our status but our trajectory, not where we are but where we’re going, not where we stand but where we’re headed. Christian faith for me is no longer a static location but a great spiritual journey. And that changes everything.”
  • “Today, millions of us –Catholics, Evangelicals, mainline Protestants, and Orthodox Christians– share something that we seldom verbalize: we’re worried that the ‘brand’ of Christianity has been so compromised that many of us are barely able to use the label anymore.”
  • “We feel as if our founder has been kidnapped and held hostage by extremists. His captors parade him in front of cameras to say, under duress, things he obviously doesn’t believe. As their blank–faced puppet, he often comes across antihero, anti environment, antigay, anti–intellectual, anti–immigrant, and anti–science (not to mention portraiture, pro-inequality, prevalence, pro-death penalty, and pro-war). That’s not the Jesus we met in the Gospels! That’s not the Jesus who won our hearts!”
  • “People like you and me feel we are offered endless pairs of unacceptable alternatives: ignorance on fire or intelligence on ice; excessive certainty or insufficient confidence; updated styles and structures with an outdated message or an updated message with outdated styles and structures… again and again we are offered two ways of being irrelevant.”
  • “Not long ago, a former Islamist extremist helped me see this more clearly. During a radio interview, he was asked if he saw Islam as a warrior religion or a peaceful religion. He replied that Islam, like Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism and almost every other religion, has at times in the past been both peaceful and warlike, and in the future can be either. And then he added ten words that are both unsettling and empowering in their import: A religion will be what their adherents make of it.”
  • “For billions of people, for Christianity to be Christian, only one thing matters: correct beliefs. Based on the priorities of many Christian leaders and institutions, we might conclude that Jesus said, ‘By their beliefs you shall know them,’or ‘This is my command, that you believe the right doctrines,’ or ‘Behold, a new systematic theology I give unto you.”
  • “In story after story and without a single exception, we see that the driving motivation in Jesus’ life is love.”
  • “Abraham… was thick on faith and thin on beliefs.”
  • “If our prime contribution to humanity can be shifted from teaching correct beliefs to practicing the way of love Jesus taught, then our whole understanding and experience of church could be transformed. That’s why I’d like us to take a fresh look at the church as a school of love.”
  • “You have to find a way to disarm your faith as a potential instrument of hate and convert it into an instrument of love. You have to convert Christianity from a warrior religion to a reconciling religion.”
  • “As Pope Francis has eloquently said, society’s refusal to hear the ‘cru of the poor,’ is inseparable from our refusal to hear the ‘cry of the earth.’ Or as my friend Sister Simone Campbell puts it, ‘The toxicity of what we’re doing to our planet and the toxicity of racism have the same roots.’ To be converted from all forms of supremacy and domination, we must embark on a great theological migration, challenging many of our deepest assumptions about God.”
  • “Yesterday’s survival strategy is today’s suicide strategy. We have developed weapons of mass destruction so terrifying that if they were fully deployed… there would be no winners. The very exclusive strategy that served us so well for 130,000 years has run its course. For the first time in history [the exclusive God of us but not of them approach] threatens our survival. We will not survive if we stay within tribal consciousness, believing our religion is the only one true religion.”
  • “The time for complaining and criticism is over. It’s time to get moving.”
  • “When we better come together as Christians, we can better join with parallel movements from other faith traditions, because ultimately, the problems we face are not just Christian problems, they are human problems.”
  • “Could it be that the Spirit of God is calling the church to stop trying to save itself, and instead to join God in saving the world? Could pouring out itself for the good of the world be the only way for the church to save its own soul?”
  • Herman Daly said, ‘There is something fundamentally wrong with treating the earth as if it were a business in liquidation.'”
  • Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan:’God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.'”
  • “The problem is we often stop moving. We resist the flow. We get stuck. The word “institution” itself means something that stands rather than moves.”
  • “We have an elevator religion, focused on getting people up, up, and away from this troubled earth to heaven…having left the problems of earth. … Obliviousness has reigned, but now we must face the inconvenient truth that can set us free: the version of Christianity which we have supported is perfectly designed to produce a civilization that is unsustainable, conflicted, out of balance, and vulnerable to a catastrophic collapse.”
  • “‘You surprised me tonight. I have never heard a Christian admit the problems you have admitted. The rest of the world sees them, of course. But it seems few Christians do.’ Then she paused. ‘We Muslims have our issues too,’ she said. ‘Maybe, if you Christians start talking openly about your problems, it will make it easier for us to talk about ours.'”
  • “Pain that isn’t transformed is transmitted.” Richard Rohr
  • “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” Richard Rohr
  • “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller.
  • CS Lewis so aptly said: “it may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird:it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at the present. And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
  • “Each generation faces some great work, some heroic challenge that summons its children to courage and creativity. [lists all the threats that we have to overcome…] We must join in a great spiritual migration to a new way of life centered in love, a new regenerative economy, a new ecological civilization characterized by peace, justice, and joy.””
  • A both/and attitude will be necessary if we wish to support and sustain the great spiritual migration that we so urgently need.”[We need to all care about equality and ecology as cultural norms…]
  • “Could it be that among mystical/poetic/contemplatives and prophetic/movement/activists across traditions there is much less tension and in fact a growing mutual regard. If that’s the case, we could be approaching a new threshold in religious history. We could be approaching a moment when parallel streams across traditions begin flowing together, not to form a new religion, but to migrate together in exactly the ways we have been considering in this book: 1) from systems of correct belief or behavior to loving, compassionate ways of life, 2)from violent exclusive conceptions of God to reconciling and harmonizing understandings of God, and 3) from competitive institutional organized religions to movement inspired religions, organizing and collaborating as social poets, architects, and builders of a better world.”

I think so. Join with me in harnessing and furthering this spiritual migration for a world full of peace, joy, equality, and love that we can all enjoy together.


I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Joe Herring 7 years ago

    Re: best bits…they do add up to an attractive metaphor-the possibility of spiritual migration. I would suggest that while institutions often seem to favor inertia, they’re important to collective achievement. I agree that Jesus’ driving motivation is love,but think our culture tends to sentimentalize love’s meaning.


  1. […] A book where Christianity or Judaism plays a major part: Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker (my 5 star review here), The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D. McLaren (my 5 star review here) […]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Send this to friend