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Jean Vanier (1928–2019)

Author of Becoming Human

118+ Works 3,425 Members 43 Reviews 4 Favorited

About the Author

Jean François Antoine Vanier was born in Geneva, Italy on September 10, 1928. He studied at the Royal Naval College and spent time with both the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy. In 1945, after the liberation of Paris, he spent part of a military leave at the Gare d'Orsay in Paris show more helping the Canadian Red Cross receive survivors of concentration camps. He resigned his commission in 1950. He spent several years living in a contemplative community near Paris. He received a doctorate from the Catholic University of Paris in 1962. He taught philosophy for a time at the University of Toronto. He founded two worldwide organizations for people with developmental disabilities called L'Arche and Faith and Light. He wrote more than 30 books including An Ark for the Poor and Becoming Human. He received the Paul VI prize in 1997 and the Templeton Prize in 2015. He died from thyroid cancer on May 7, 2019 at the age of 90. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: Jan Vanier, Jean Vanier, Jean Vanier

Works by Jean Vanier

Becoming Human (1998) 583 copies
Community and Growth (1979) 514 copies
Be Not Afraid (1975) 122 copies
Man and Woman He Made Them (1985) 120 copies
Jesus, The Gift Of Love (1988) 101 copies
Befriending the Stranger (2005) 98 copies
Tears of Silence (1940) 89 copies
Followers of Jesus (1973) 89 copies
Seeing Beyond Depression (1706) 68 copies
Finding Peace (2003) 68 copies
Eruption to hope (1905) 66 copies
In Weakness, Strength (1969) 36 copies
Encountering 'the Other' (2005) 35 copies
Life's Great Questions (2015) 27 copies
Our Life Together (2007) 27 copies
Challenge of l'Arche (1981) 17 copies
SOURCES DES LARMES (2001) 10 copies
Treasures of the heart (1989) 9 copies
I Walk with Jesus (1984) 8 copies
A door of hope (1996) 6 copies
Ouvre mes bras (1985) 5 copies
Un cri se fait entendre (2017) 3 copies
Vincere la depressione (2005) 3 copies
Learn To Live 2 copies
Larmes de silence (1971) 2 copies
Ils sont nos piliers (2001) 1 copy

Associated Works


Common Knowledge



Acclaimed as a man "who inspires the world" (Maclean's) and a "nation builder" (Globe and Mail), Jean Vanier has made a difference in the lives of countless people -- including those with disabilities and the many young people who have been moved by his life's work. Becoming Human is a modern classic that continues to resonate among the generations. In a world of competition, where the strong dominate the weak, Vanier calls on each one of us to open ourselves to those we perceive as different or inferior. This, he says, is the key to true personal and societal freedom. This 10th anniversary edition includes a new introduction by the author.… (more)
PendleHillLibrary | 7 other reviews | Mar 5, 2024 |
This book was based on a series of talks, and it shows. Even at 133 pages, it felt longer than necessary. There was repetition and that feeling that nothing was really being communicated.

The format was not edited to read like a regular book, so it feels almost like 'spoken word' poetry written down, with line breaks for every pause instead of commas.

While a few good things were said here and there, there were also a couple huge red flags, theology-wise.

One section talked about trusting your own heart and your deepest intuitions, stating, "Perhaps that is all that Jesus wants to tell you today: 'Trust in yourself and in your own heart.'" (47) Uh, no, that's completely unbiblical advice. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and we should not trust our own understanding, but instead should trust in the Lord.

Another section told the story of the woman at the well, and insinuates that because Jesus didn't condemn the woman, He didn't condemn adultery. Again, this is unbiblical, not to mention illogical. There is a difference between the condemnation of a sin and a sinner. Adultery is wrong, according to the Bible, and God condemns it - but because He is so loving and merciful, He is willing to forgive us when we sin. This is not the same as saying that it just doesn't matter if we sin or not - which Vanier didn't claim, either, to be fair, but he left the subject somewhat open for interpretation, and not all readers are going to have a biblical understanding of this.
… (more)
RachelRachelRachel | Nov 21, 2023 |
"The society we in the West inhabit is a strange place. We are oddly comfortable with truths that, on reflection, are deeply dissonant and even disturbing. For example, we seem quite comfortable with the knowledge that up to twenty thousand children die every day from preventable diseases. We miss the deep irony that we constantly seek peace by going to war. We develop policies and practices that welcome people with disabilities into our communities, offering them rights and responsibilities, and at precisely the same time we develop forms of genetic technology designed to prevent them from entering society in the first place." p 11 (from Introduction by John Swinton)

Because of the title of the book, I thought it was going to be more about physical violence (war, death penalty, etc.), but actually it's more about philosophical "violence" and equates slowing down and having patience with "peace."

It speaks mostly to the ways in which we either embrace or reject individuals with disabilities in our everyday lives.

It was an okay read, but too abstract/philosophical for my taste or understanding.

It is written by 3 authors, essentially: John Swinton writes the introduction and conclusion, while Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas each write two chapters. This made the flow a little strange, because each one has a different voice.

I was concerned especially with Jean Vanier's theological views. He states at one point, "Catholics and Protestants, Hindus and Muslims.... they are all our brothers and sisters." (p 28) I didn't think he did a very great job distinguishing how humans are made in God's image, and yet not all humans have turned from sin and joined the family of God.

It had some good points, but I'm betting there's a better book somewhere on this same subject, especially since this one was published a decade ago.

One last quote I liked:

".... speed has produced technology, which then undercuts the viability of community. We see it in medicine today; the task is not to care for patients but to cure them. When caring turns into curing, we don't know what to do with patients when we can't cure them. What do we do with people who have diseases it seems they won't recover from? That's speed taking over." (p 50)
… (more)
RachelRachelRachel | 4 other reviews | Nov 21, 2023 |
Jeanne Vanier is one of today's major spiritual writers; here he reflects, with great depth and perception, on the role of the Shepherd, recognition of personal weakness, our relationship with Jesus, and on the many different aspects of life and community which he has seen in his 25 years experience. His life and work with people who have a mental handicap is rooted in a deep spirituality and relationship with Jesus, and he presents a challenging and uncompromising call to all those with a concern to follow Christ.… (more)
PendleHillLibrary | Sep 15, 2023 |



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