Resources for our program – Third Chapter of Life
This annotated bibliography is a summary of the printed and electronic resources that have to this point, been the most valuable in our research. We would love to expand this resource so let us know about other titles that you have found valuable.
The Top Three
Chittister, Joan D. The Gift of Years, Growing Old Gracefully. Katanah, NY: Blue Bridge, 2008.
Chittister’s book is written with a positive and uplifting attitude, while honestly dealing with difficult challenges that occur when aging. Among the topics covered are the issues of regret, meaning, fear, ageism, relationships and tale-telling. One of her provocative questions: “What am I when I am not what I used to do?” sets the stage for the entire book. As a Benedictine nun, her faith permeates her approach to aging. The author’s style is not technical or academic and we recommend it as an easy yet stimulating read.
Leider, Richard J. Claiming Your Place at the Fire, Living the Half of Your Life on Purpose. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler, 2004.
Leider, and co-author, David A. Shapiro view this period of time in a person’s life as an opportunity for “growing whole, not old.” They explore the understanding of becoming an elder and using one’s wisdom for the benefit of others. The authors provide a context of celebrating the gifts that people have in their second half of life that only come from life experience. This book is thought provoking and helps us open up an old, mixed cultural look at life in the 3rd Chapter. It is uplifting and will help dispel the fear that some baby boomers feel.
Rohr, Richard. Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
This inspiring and revealing book frames aging in a spiritual context that helps the reader see how growing older is an opportunity to build on the highs and lows of the younger years. Rohr eloquently shows us the value of letting go of some destructive former thinking and experiences and falling upward into a new and wonderful time of life. God provides the resources and wisdom to experience aging as “falling upward and onward, into a broader and deeper world, where the soul has found its fullness, is finally connected to the whole, and lives inside the Big Picture.”
The Best of the Rest
Buford, Bob. Half Time, Moving from Success to Signficance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994 , 2008.
As a very successful businessman, Buford has a refreshing view of success and what it does and what it can lead to. He uses real-life stories from people, in their own words, about challenges they have faced and transitions they have made. Writing from his Christian perspective, Buford makes it clear that he believes that embracing God’s love and calling helps people understand the 1st half of life and see the opportunities of the 2nd half. The Questions for Reflection and Discussion are very useful for personal growth and small group discussion.
Buford, Bob. Beyond Half Time, Practical Wisdom for your Second Half. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.
This book is the next logical step for Buford after Half Time. This short book is part reflection and part devotion. He quotes his good friend Peter Drucker (who died in 2005 just short of his 96th birthday) often and in the chapter titled The Metrics of Significance, Buford highlights a conversation that he and Drucker had about “significance” and the difference between success and significance. Both men were financially successful, but Buford defined significance as “using your knowledge and experience to serve others; and by serving others, you serve God.” Drucker put his definition in the context of an organization, but it’s also true for an individual. He said that it’s about the “end results” of changing lives. “Its product is a changed human being.”
Lawrence-Lightfoot, Sara. The Third Chapter, Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 years AFTER 50. New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2009.
As a sociologist and Professor of English at Harvard, Lawrence-Lightfoot brings an objective perspective from her many interviews with people in a variety of circumstances. Her interviewees help bring real-life narratives into the conversation about how the 3rd Chapter of Life is not a time of decline, but a period full of potential for growth.
Nouwen, Henri J.M. Aging, the Fullfillment of Life. Garden City, NY: Image Book, 1976.
This classic brings home the point that aging is “so filled with promises that it can lead us to discover more and more of life’s treasurers.” As a Roman Catholic priest, Nouwen was steeped in scripture and his own understanding of God and God’s gifts. He lifts up Simeon in the Gospel of Luke (2:25-32) as a catalyst that encourages us to ask the question, “Have you ever thought that coming to light might also be the way to light?”
Palmer, Parker J. Let Your Life Speak, Listening for the Voice of Vocation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.
Palmer’s understanding of faith in God from his Quaker perspective permeates this short book and helps the reader understand our vocation (God’s calling) within ourselves and for the greater good. He encourages us to stop and listen to God and receive the gift of vocation. “It isn’t a prize to be earned.” This book is perfect to read in those quiet moments of life.
Schuurman, Douglas J. Vocation, Discerning our Callings in Life. Grand Rapids, MN: Eeerdmans, 2004.
This is a well-organized theological and sociological approach to understanding vocation. “The secularized character of modern life may impede, but it need not prevent Christians from perceiving their social locations through the eyes of faith as callings.” Schuurman strongly encourages his readers to reclaim the understanding of vocation in the tradition of Luther and Calvin.
- Spirituality & Practice – Elder Spirituality Project
- Bob Buford’s Half Time Institute
- California Lutheran Homes Center for Spirituality and Aging