Fully Alive

Tending to the Soul in Turbulent Times

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Pub Date May 28 2024 | Archive Date Jul 12 2024

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In a world experiencing turbulent change, we need people who are resilient, kind, open, generous, and brave. How do we become those people?

In Fully Alive, popular podcaster Elizabeth Oldfield uses the seven deadly sins as a framework to explore questions such as:

· How can I move from sloth to attention in order to make the most of my short life and stop getting distracted by trivialities?
· Is it possible to move from wrath to peacemaking? How do I become a depolarizing person in an age of outrage, tribalism, and division?
· What might it look like to move from gluttony to awe, finding transcendence in expansive, life-giving ways--not in a tub of ice cream or a bottle of wine?
· How can I move from pride to connection, overcoming the disconnection that keeps me from intimacy, community, and ultimately the divine?

Oldfield shows why, in a world heavy on judgment, she still finds the concept of sin liberating--and how, to her surprise, she keeps finding in her Christian faith ways to feel fully alive. Deeply serious yet amusingly relatable, this book helps us develop spiritual strength for when things fall apart.

In a world experiencing turbulent change, we need people who are resilient, kind, open, generous, and brave. How do we become those people?

In Fully Alive, popular podcaster Elizabeth Oldfield uses...

Advance Praise

“When I was writing Unapologetic more than a decade ago, I knew the job would soon need doing again. And again. Because the bridge between faith and contemporary experience constantly needs to be rebuilt as times change. So here it is, then: the bridge for the present moment, across which seekers for more meaning in their lives can travel in the knowledge that they won’t be bullied, browbeaten, or talked down to. This book. This one. In your hand. Right now.”—Francis Spufford, author of Unapologetic and Light Perpetual

“In this beautiful book, Elizabeth Oldfield gives voice and vigor to a paradox of our time—that even as Christianity is officially on the wane, it is a bearer of wisdom, intelligence, and rituals of lavish value to our world in all its pain and promise. This book is for modern humans who, like her, have gone ‘off script’ in finding religion more relevant, not less so, in this young century. It is a great gift to all in search of a deeper life, of ‘spiritual core strength’—of a full, redemptive aliveness.”—Krista Tippett, president, executive producer, and host of On Being

“Elizabeth Oldfield has a gift for writing about the things that matter most in a way that’s honest, warmhearted, and down-to-earth. This remarkable book points not to some unreachable ideal of life but to a deeper, more soulful, and meaningful experience of the life we’re actually living.”—Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks

“A rich and soul-searching exploration of what it means to believe in a shifting age. This is a rare thing—an open, human, and vulnerable profession of faith. I learned a lot.”—Katherine May, New York Times bestselling author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

“To believe today is always to believe in spite of. Elizabeth Oldfield bears witness to a faith that faces the monsters and yet can’t shake the profound sense of being loved by a God beyond the gods of our tiny religious idolatries. Oldfield’s honest, hopeful, humane wisdom is the fruit of something spectacularly rare these days: listening. A welcome voice in our secular age.”—James K. A. Smith, author of How (Not) to Be Secular, You Are What You Love, and How to Inhabit Time

“This book is fantastic! An emotionally intelligible and deeply engaging inventory of the treasures hidden in that beaten-up old box labeled ‘Christianity.’ Oldfield not only knows how to turn a phrase; she writes with rare, almost uncanny sensitivity to how modern ears hear, fully aware of how much baggage her readers may carry with the subject matter. In her hands the old becomes new, and the new regains its sparkle. Fully Alive belongs in the top tier of that ever-shrinking genre of religious-friendly books you can confidently give to, well, anyone.”—David Zahl, director of Mockingbird; author of Low Anthropology

“I will be buying this book for everyone I know who is interested in what makes for a good life and what gives meaning to our human experience. In dark times, this book is an invitation to have another look at a way of seeing the world, a way that has brought light and hope to many.”—Gwen Adshead, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Devil You Know

“This is the book I didn’t know I needed. Elizabeth Oldfield is the Sherpa who might persuade me not to give up climbing the mountain. I know few people as committed to living deeply as Elizabeth, but in spite of that she’s neither pompous nor pious (phew). This is deep stuff, personal yet learned, funny and vulnerable. If you loved Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic, you will love this.”—Sally Phillips, actress and comedian

“Reading Fully Alive is like sitting down for coffee with a well-read and passionate friend. Elizabeth is courageous, insightful, generous, and gentle. Her book is a rare find: it never rejects complexity in its search for clarity and never allows authority to crowd out compassion and curiosity—I felt very nourished by the work—there is wisdom here.”—Jenn Ashworth, author of Ghosted: A Love Story

“In turbulent times, what is there for us to hold onto? In Fully Alive, Elizabeth Oldfield suggests gratitude, humility, connection, and community. Her writing is honest, touching, often funny, and always thought-provoking. I loved it.”—Charlie Gilmour, author and activist

“Plainspoken, fearless, disarmingly tender. Oldfield is a leader by example, and her book is a glowing argument for faith—one that speaks urgently to our fractured world.”—Rhik Samadder, journalist, writer, broadcaster, and actor

“When I was writing Unapologetic more than a decade ago, I knew the job would soon need doing again. And again. Because the bridge between faith and contemporary experience constantly needs to be...

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Featured Reviews

The truth is that my recent years have been rather turbulent. From an upper limb amputation to dealing with two types of cancer to significant losses including a best friend, my brother, and my mother all within the past five years, I've realized in recent months just how much my mind, body, and soul are all incredibly tired.

Elizabeth Oldfield's "Fully Alive: Tending to the Soul in Turbulent Times" starts from the premise that in this world of turbulent change we need people who are resilient, kind, open, generous, and brave.

Oldfield also realizes that being such people can be difficult in this world. Rather uniquely, Oldfield uses the seven deadly sins (Can you name them?) as a framework to explore the journey toward tendering to our soul.

While "Fully Alive" is undeniably borne out of the Christian faith, Oldfield avoids a preachy approach in favor of a more conversational dialogue. As a popular podcaster, she takes that charismatic voice and brings it to life in print. She is funny, real, honest, intelligent, and accountable. "Fully Alive" feels like she's taking us on a journey she's taken herself. All too often, writers of faith can feel like they're trying to teach us lessons they haven't quite learned yet or that they're teaching out of a book knowledge that doesn't quite resonate.

Oldfield resonates.

How can we move from sloth to attention in order to make the most of our short lives?

Can we move from wrath to peacemaking? How do we become depolarizing people in this age of outrage, tribalism, and division?

What if we move from gluttony to awe?

For me, the most vibrant pieces here are centered around moving from pride to connection and independence to interdependence. How do we overcome the disconnection that keeps us from intimacy, community and, when it comes down to it, God?

Oldfield doesn't really utilize a theological approach here, though "Fully Alive" becomes more obviously theologically centered toward the end. However, her Christian faith is obvious throughout. She lives in an intentional community with her family in South London.

As someone who grew up in a more conservative home, I felt somewhat liberated by her embrace of the concept of sin - something we simply don't talk about as much anymore. It's something I've long embraced, however, it's fair to say from a less divisive perspective than I was taught in childhood. Like Oldfield, even in my most turbulent of times I embrace my faith and long for hardcore, genuine connections at home, at work, and most definitely in my church.

I'm not interested in being anything less than real.

"Fully Alive" offers a non-prescriptive journey toward spiritual strength that will support us when things fall apart. Oldfield writes with a quiet wisdom and relatable voice that often moved me and more often made me laugh. Oldfield's vulnerability made me feel safe and, indeed, "Fully Alive" brought me a little closer to being fully alive even in this time of turbulence.

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I was initially drawn to this book from its tagline, “Tending to the Soul in Turbulent Times”, but was immediately pulled in by the author’s introduction. I could FEEL the author’s words resonating in my very being; my restless/chaotic and never relenting constant ruminations of why the world seems more dissociative than ever, more isolating, and at times more alien than what humanity could be or better yet SHOULD BE.

As a person often riddled with anxiety over everything from the grand scheme of things to what-ifs and even the very mundane, I felt a strong connection to the author’s voice and often to her inner dialogue that she bravely shares with us. I admire that soul-deep honesty and wit; there’s nothing shallow or superfluous.

I found myself highlighting so much and so frequently that if this wasn’t an ebook, I would’ve run out of ink. Seriously. For that reason, I’m going to buy a physical copy so I can scribble in the margins about how often I could relate and make note of the insights that I want to ingrain in my soul, especially when I find myself becoming judgemental or erroneously fearful of the differences between “PLM and NLM” (<--I love that this automatic human nature about tribalism is simplified to these acronyms, because now I use them to quickly reset my brain when I realize I may be doing that). I truly found Oldfield’s writing to be so profound and at the same time vulnerable and convicting.

Her journey to and through a Christian life is also quite relatable to me and I don’t think this to be a book missed even if you are not a Christian. From this book, you are introduced to a real thinker; a modern day philosopher about our human condition that screams to the part of you that’s groaning for a better way forward, a better understanding of self in relation to others, a better sense of community and an honest-raw fellowship that can’t be found when we are trapped in the pretense of NLM thinking.

I don’t know the author, this person, this stranger across the pond, yet I find a kindred spirit in her writing and that’s not often the case. She managed to weave in theology to her findings and as a Christian, found this beautifully done. Often I find Christian books, especially those “geared to women” (<--which this book doesn’t claim to be anyway) very surface level, too “head in the cloud”, or so “shiny happy people” that I simply can’t relate, but here Oldfield deep dives (even into minefields) and I love it. I haven’t included quotes or favorite bits because that would take more time than I could write or you would want to read in a review. You will have to read this yourself and find that you will also run out of ink.

I highly recommend this book no matter your sex and no matter of your religious beliefs or lack thereof. If you ruminate on life in all its intricacies beautiful and sometimes tragic, you will find a treasure trove of philosophical gems here.

I did receive this ebook as an advanced copy from NetGalley and the publisher, but this is my own opinion and an honest review.

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In the time of turbulence in my life, I still remember that I feel so lonely and I cannot see hope in my situation. Whenever I look for someone to encourage me, I cannot find even one person that can understand me. Now, after I overcome that time, I really want to be a hand for people in affliction, to show that they are loved. Thank you Elizabeth for this book.

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Goodness, this is such an incredibly helpful, honest, practical book. I wish the chapter on gluttony had been framed differently and with greater acknowledgment of the breadth of gluttony such that it involves the consumption of resources to the detriment of others and that the many factors that lead to obesity were not conflated and flattened to simple over-eating. But outside of that, I am very grateful for the clarity and straightforward vulnerability of Oldfield's writing. Even with the caveat, I'll be recommending this book.

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What happens when you mess up? Is life over if you've made bad choices or when you continue to fail? This hopeful story - told with humor and personal examples - is an encouragement to seek help daily as you continue your journey.

You'll find advice on prospering even when you're not perfect. You'll be compelled to become your best self, who God intended you to be, with God's help. Oldfield shows how to manage and overcome personal and external challenges with the help of faith and discipleship.

Highly recommended if you're in a season of conflict or confusion.

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I enjoyed this book, which looks into how to fully live our lives using the themes of the seven deadly sins. I found the writing to be accessible and compelling and was impressed with how much the author was willing to share her life and struggles. The book was written in such a way that the truth of the gospel is taught but not always in an outwardly religious way which might make it easier for a non-believer to engage with the subject. I found some of the ideas of the author to be in line with where I have been trying to make changes in my life and look forward to utilizing some of the ideas included.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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