Genius Born of Anguish, Part 1

Henri Nouwen.  Photo courtesy of Frank Hamilton.

Henri Nouwen. Photo courtesy of Frank Hamilton.

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"The greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection," said Henri Nouwen, Catholic priest, teacher and gay celibate. He has been called a psychologist of the soul.  Born in Holland in 1932, Nouwen wrote thirty-nine books about spirituality. He was interested in the relationship between religion and psychology and studied at the Menninger Clinic, one of the world's leading psychiatric hospitals. He taught at Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard. Concerned about people whom society had rejected, Nouwen spent the last ten years of his life working with people with intellectual disabilities at the Daybreak L'Arche community north of Toronto. A profile by Michael Higgins based on Nouwen's writings, interviews with those who knew him, and archival recordings of Nouwen himself.

Part 2 airs Monday, July 22.  Part 3 airs Monday, July 29.


Genius Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen by Michael Higgins and Kevin Burns is published by Novalis.


Participants in the Episode 1


Ronald Rolheiser: Catholic theologian and disciple of Henri Nouwen; has been described as "America's best-selling Catholic author."

Laurent Nouwen: Henri's younger brother.

Gabrielle Earnshaw: archivist for the Nouwen Archives at St. Michael's College, University of Toronto.

Robert Jonas: psychologist at Harvard University and protégé of Henri Nouwen.

Sister Sue Mosteller: Henri Nouwen's literary executor, and a Sister of St. Joseph of Toronto

Jean Vanier: internationally known writer and co-founder of L'Arche.

Peter Naus
: social psychologist and professor emeritus at St. Jerome's University in Waterloo, Ontario; friend of Henri Nouwen from student days in Holland.

Christopher de Bono: theologian and pastoral care chaplain in Toronto; expert on Anton Boisen.

Richard Sipe: psychotherapist and Benedictine monk; he and Henri Nouwen were trainees at the Menninger Foundation for Psychiatric Education and Research in Topeka, Kansas.

Henri Nouwen
: archive tape.


Related Websites

The Henri Nouwen Organization
This is the "official home" of all things Nouwen. It contains good biographical details and links.

The Henri Nouwen Archive at the John M. Kelly Library, University of Toronto
This is the place to start for anyone wanting to know more about Nouwen's life and works.

This is a detailed "finding guide", which explains what is in the collection:

Henri Nouwen clips
Perhaps the most typical "performance" by Henri was the three-part presentation he gave at the Crystal Cathedral in California in 1992 and there are several ways to access this on YouTube:

Henri Nouwen Being the Beloved Sermon 1 of 8

Henri Nouwen Being the Beloved Sermon

Hour of Power - Netherlands

Henri Nouwen "channel"
There is a Henri Nouwen "channel" on YouTube, based in Canada. It features seven clips, including material broadcast on Salt and Light Television:

Henri Nouwen and L'Arche Daybreak

Jean Vanier's official home page

Spirituality and mental health
This is a helpful website operated by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK. It contains good resources and links.

The Association for Spirituality and Mental Health in Canada


Music Featured in Part 1


A note from the producers about the music used in the series:

What we have called The Henri Nouwen Theme in working on the programs, is heard at the opening and closing of all three episodes. Here is the reference:

Composition: Andante from the Quintet for Piano and Strings in A Minor, Opus 100
Composer: Julius Röntgen
Disc: Right Through the Bone
Track: 2
Artist/s: ARC - Artists of the Royal Conservatory - David Louis, Erika Raum, Marie Bérard, Steven Dann, Brian Epperson. All Canadian.
Label: RCA Red Seal (2007) 88697-15837-2

Here is a list of the other music used in episode 1.

Composition: Dark Wood II
Composer: David Darling
Disc: Cello
Track: 4
Artist/s: David Darling, solo
Label: ECM (1992) 1519 - 523 750-2

Composition: Miserere mihi, Domine
Composer: Thomas Tallis
Disc: Music for Compline
Track: 10
Artist/s: Stile Antico
Label: Harmonia Mundi USA (2007) - HMU: 807419

Composition: Canto Ostinato
Composer: Simeon Ten Holt - arranged by Josep Vicent
Disc: Drumming
Track: 4
Artist/s: Josep Vicent and the Amsterdam Percussion Group
Label: East-West Music (2011) B0067 EPVAM

Composition: "Eg heyroð alit ãn þess að hlusta"
Composer: Johann Johannsson
Disc: Englaborn
Track: 9
Artist/s: Eþos String Quartet
Label: 4-AD (2007) - CAD 2733 CD

Composition: Stabat Mater
Composer: Arvo Pärt
Disc: Creator Spiritus
Track: 1
Artist/s: Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen, Paul Hillier
Label: Harmonia Mundi (2012) HMU 807553

Composition: String Quartet No. 3 in E Flat minor, Opus 30
Composer: Tchaikovsky
Disc: Tchaikovsky String Quartets 1 and 3
Track: 7: Andante funebre e doloroso ma con moto
Artist/s: St. Lawrence String Quartet: Geoff Nuttall, Barry Shiffman, Lesley Robertson, Marina Hoover (all Canadian)
Label: EMI Classics (2001) 7243-5-5714428

Composition: Dulce Jesus mio
Composer:  Anonymous
Disc: Moon, Sun and All Things: Baroque Music from Latin America - 2
Track: 16
Artist/s: Ex Cathedra, conducted by Jeffrey Skidmore
Label: Hyperion Records (2005) SACDA67524

Composition: Gothic
Composer: David Darling
Disc: Epigraphs
Track: 13
Artist/s: David Darling, solo
Label: ECM (200) 1684 - 314 543 149 2


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