Winner provides a fresh perspective of spiritual disciplines in the genre of the spiritual formation movement, drawing on her Orthodox Jewish roots and current Episcopal practice. Given that Judaism is based on practice, Winner invites the typical Christian "do-it-yourselfer" into a rhythm of life from ancient roots, from how we approach our time, food, relationships, body or even the aging process itself. This brief read of 11 Jewish disciplines keeps the reader's attention through her own personal story and fascinating insight into the heart of Jewish life. She also re-contextualizes her roots in a new kind of liturgy. The text tends to be more descriptive than prescriptive, making it more inviting to readers exploring the heart behind spiritual practices.
Winner's book reminded me of another Episcopal writer, Debra Farrington, author of Living Faith Day by Day. While Farrington's book is more of an idea book of several practices drawn mostly from the European monastic tradition, Winner focuses on those from her Jewish roots. Both will help face-paced suburban followers, like me, to slow down and reflect. After reading Winner following the Rest of God, Rest of God, by Mark Buchanan, and the Great Omission, by Dallas Willard, I am more intrigued than ever how Christ-followers need to incorporate a human rhythm of their spiritual life. Bottom line: I've had it with programmatic Christianity. Winner reminded me that God built into His chosen people a way of life that kept them focused on Him in everything they did. I want my life to be more whole. Winner is rediscovering this for herself. I believe Richard Foster would appreciate this other stream of spirituality -- this Jewish stream -- which Winner invites us back to reconsider.