Book

The Daily Practice of Life

Having a practice-oriented approach is essential for meaningful living as a Christian or otherwise. Is that realistic?

In The Daily Practice of Life, Walt Shelton, one of the most read faith columnists in Texas, shares a workable perspective. Nicole Villalpando of the Austin American-Statesman says he “brings Christianity…in a way that feels inclusive of people of all faiths, yet he’s very secure in his own religious tradition.”

How can we start each day with a step toward qualitative living? Jesus shows us a routine that anyone can personalize toward reflecting his life-model and teachings.

This book’s fresh combination of real-life events, biblical insights, and nuggets from other traditions will enhance readers’ journeys.

In contrast to building walls with gates opening only to creeds matching one’s own, this book helps readers:

  • create a personal routine integrating faith and practical realities
  • draw on past ups and downs to improve focus on now and offer hope for a brighter future
  • turn life experiences into parables with wisdom for more informed choices
  • open up and respectfully listen and learn within and outside our own tradition
  • amplify commonalities that implement the heart of all authentic religions.

Why did I write this book?

In large part, to enhance the practicality of faith-oriented and meaningful living by:

  • highlighting Jesus’s prioritization of how we live and act daily now;
  • emphasizing the importance of daily practices,routines, and reminders to promote qualitative living;
  • focusing on the importance and productive work of studying the Bible with emphases on the life-model and teachings of Jesus as well as highlights from his Jewish tradition;
  • being respectful, inclusive, and open to different ideas and other authentic faith traditions;
  • offering personal examples of learning from formative and informative experiences in my life and observations of others’ experiences; and
  • encouraging readers to examine their own life experiences and observations for insight.

Endorsements

Walt Shelton writes with a humanity that is refreshing in a world that can often leave folks feeling disconnected. He brings Christianity to his words in a way that feels inclusive of people of all faiths, yet he’s very secure in his own religious tradition. He’s a great storyteller, often bringing tales of his upbringing, wise dogs he’s loved or even wiser family members who continue to teach him what it means to be a person of faith and an honorable human being. He always delivers a nugget, a reminder of the people we want to be. He’s a joy to read.

Nicole Villalpando, Specialty Editor and Faith Editor
Austin American-Statesman

In this gentle and deeply humane collection of essays, Walt Shelton draws upon his own life experiences–as son, grandson, brother, husband, dad and granddad, as well as student, lawyer, teacher, pen-pal, dog lover, and dedicated runner and golfer–to meditate upon the challenges and joys of daily life. He uses texts as varied as the Synoptic Gospels, the writings of Jewish rabbis and Buddhist monks, and songs by the Beatles, the Byrds, and the Traveling Wilburys to go beyond the currently fashionable emphasis on living “mindfully,” which too often becomes but another form of self-absorption. Instead, Walt urges us simply to be responsibly “present” and connected to all that surrounds us—to nature, to those in our care and trust, and to all others who are in need. This thoughtful and thought-provoking collection is intended for believers and non-believers alike and could not be timelier.

Dr. Howard Miller, University Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus
Departments of History and Religious Studies
University of Texas at Austin

When you see the face of Walt Shelton, hear his voice, or read the pages of his book, The Daily Practice of Life, you will know that you have met a man committed to making a difference in the lives of others. Regardless of your faith tradition, you will find a common experience in the personal stories he shares. Woven in are references to scripture and other inspirational writings that encourage further reflection. In pondering the joys and challenges of living attentively and intentionally, Walt reminds us to be accepting, open and kind to family, friends, strangers, and even ourselves.

Johnnie Overton and Susan Holman
Church Women United  |  Austin, Texas

How does the path of an itinerant rabbi from the first century intersect with our lives? In this collection of intimate reflections on his own life, Walt Shelton shows us the way, with simplicity, grace and authenticity. Each chapter moves us beyond meditation into living life faithfully, loving all of our neighbors. Walt reminds us that tending to the teachings of Jesus expands our gaze outward to see God at work everywhere in people working for the common good.

Rev. Dr. John Elford, Senior Pastor
University UMC  |  Austin, Texas

Walt Shelton’s writings and teaching have inspired me for many years. He draws from a variety of faith traditions discovering the commonalities we share. Walt brings out the spiritual and meaningful in everyday events. He truly lives the life of a disciple and freely shares Christ through his living. Each chapter of this book opens our eyes to see how we too can be a true follower of Christ.

Rev. Cheryl Hill-Kimble, Pastor of The Church at Highland Park
Affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship  |  Austin, Texas

Walt Shelton delivers in this work cogent reflections on the matters of our lives that are informed by faith and ethical mores. I have watched Walt as a faculty colleague for over three decades. His gifts for teaching, his powers of discernment, and his exemplary life-modeling have blessed our students and our community. As a reader of this book, you are in for a treat.

Brad Toben, Dean
Baylor Law School

As Walt Shelton’s law student, work colleague and friend, I have been blessed with over two decades of his influence on my life. He has now blessed us all with The Daily Practice of Life – a profound guide to a life of inclusion and authentic faith. So timely in an era of distorted politics and religion, this book embodies an amazing man and has a permanent place on my annual reading list.

Bane Phillippi, SVP and General Counsel
McCoy Corporation
Lieutenant Commander
U.S. Navy Reserve
Baylor Law School Class of 1998
Former law student of Walt Shelton

I had the pleasure of having Professor Walt Shelton at Baylor Law School in several classes and the opportunity to work with him as a Research Assistant for a presentation to a statewide legal convention and a law review article. His depth of knowledge in his course subjects is impressive in its own right, but his skill in sharing knowledge is unmatched. Professor Shelton’s thoughtful and enthusiastic approach makes one proud to be his student, which is like reading one of his columns and this book: engaging, thought-provoking, conversational, and — despite the complexity of the subject matter — comprehensible. Outside of the classroom, his kindness and compassion make the biggest impression. I regard Professor Shelton as an esteemed legal colleague, mentor, and friend. With his Statesman columns and publication of this book, readers will know what I and his other students have known for years — his wisdom and teaching extend far beyond the law and the classroom door.

Morgan Beam, Attorney
Tomball, Texas
Baylor Law School Class of 2016
Former law student and research assistant of Walt Shelton

Nothing is more thoughtful and comforting, yet a call to action than Walt Shelton’s writings. Who should care how many times you go to church, memorize the words of the service, and condemn all others who do not think like you or do not believe in “your God”? It is all very simple. Do you have an intentional, habitual implementation of your faith here on earth? Do you treat others with kindness and respect with active caring? Let Walt help you learn to make your faith authentic and be a true follower of Jesus in the here and now.

Ronald L. Beal, Professor of Law
Baylor Law School

When I read Walt Shelton’s articles in the Austin American-Statesman, I feel like I just sat down with a good friend and heard advice from someone who truly cares about my well being. Walt’s thoughtful and applicable approach emphasizes how perspective and simple, purposeful acts of kindness profoundly impact our lives, including during times of joy and sorrow, as well as affecting others around us. Walt’s slice of life stories share his path and invite his readers to find, modify, and improve their own.

Colette Barron Bradsby, Assistant General Counsel
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department  |  Austin, Texas
Baylor Law School Class of 1992
Former law student of Walt Shelton (in the first course he taught at Baylor in 1990)

Paul urges us in Colossians to honor God through all aspects of our work. I have met few people who embrace their calling as much as Professor Shelton. His words in The Daily Practice of Life reveal an intimate portrait of a humble servant. But more importantly, they convey perspectives that are as enlightening as they are deeply relatable. The Daily Practice of Life reads as familiar as a conversation with a dear friend, and it shows us that a life well-lived is a creed that transcends the mission of Christian faith.

Jason Hill, Attorney
Baylor Law School Class of 2004
Former law student of Walt Shelton

During law school, I had the privilege of taking several of Professor Shelton’s classes. I walked away from those courses with a better understanding of the law, but the greatest lesson Professor Shelton imparted through his teaching and mentorship was mindfulness, a process that I’ve continued to use to help bring balance and focus to my life as a wife, mother, attorney, and naval officer. For those looking for a thoughtful and genuine approach to living an intentional life, I cannot recommend The Daily Practice of Life enough.

LCDR Alexandra Gioiello, JAGC, United States Navy
Baylor Law School Class of 2018
Former law student and research assistant of Walt Shelton

Walt’s teaching, like his columns, is rooted in his deep Christian faith, but he also explores how other religions have dealt with the common issues all persons experience in life. He asks readers to think in fresh ways about complex issues related to morality and religion.

Fred and Barbara Worley, Members of Walt’s Journey Class for more than 15 years and of the prior inter-faith Practical Faith group

This book is an excellent resource for thoughtful meditation and reflection. As an environmental attorney, Professor at Baylor Law School, and Bible scholar, Walt’s insightful articles (now chapters of this book) give us reason to ponder our life journey and the difference we can make. He is both an excellent teacher and a committed Christian practitioner in everyday life. We are privileged to participate, now for more than twenty years, in the Journey class Walt leads. This book reflects many of his basic themes over the years in our group. While always rooted in the Bible, Walt also draws from a wide range of sources, including writers from Christian and other authentic faith traditions.

John and Suzanne Lowe, Members of Walt’s Journey Class for more than 20 years and of the prior inter-faith Practical Faith group