Becoming as little children

13 October 2009

Could this become a cult book, wonders Rebecca Paveley


Spiritual Intelligence: A new way of being
Brian Draper
Lion £7.99
Church Times Bookshop £7.20

THE TERM “spiritual intelligence” (SQ) was first coined in 2000 and has achieved common currency in the past nine years. The precise meaning of SQ is still argued over: its author, Danah Zohar, came up with a list of 12 qualities of SQ, including self-awareness, a sense of vocation, and the ability to see problems in a wider context. And spiritual intelligence does not necessarily equate with having a religious faith, as Brian Draper has said: “You’ve got to be pretty spiritually dumb, in my book, to fly plane-loads of people into buildings in the name of your god.”

Draper is a former editor of Third Way magazine and lecturer in culture at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. He now runs a company, Echosounder, nurturing spiritual intelligence in leaders across the business world.

His book, praised by the likes of J. John and Oliver James, tries to wake up its readers to see the world afresh, to live with increasing wholeness every day. He is not interested so much in definitions of SQ as in asking us to think back to our childhood, before we had “achieved” anything in worldly terms, to remember who we were then.

It is structured around four journeys — accepting where we are; awakening to the demands of our ego-driven minds; exploring our essence; and, finally, living from our true selves. If it sounds like a self-help book, don’t be put off: although obviously it is meant for self-discovery, it is not written in the cloying style familiar in that genre, but is a graceful and inspiring read. At its heart is that intriguing, tingle-inducing phrase from Ecclesiastes that God “has set eternity in the hearts of men”.

Draper is open about his Christian faith, but far from prescriptive, although his widespread references would be more familiar to a Christian. It is the kind of book that, without needing any fanfare, has the potential to take off and be hugely popular and influential.

Rebecca Paveley is a journalist, and media adviser to the Bishop of Exeter.

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