Archives For Desert Fathers


Christine Valters Paintner - Desert Fathers and MothersThe Act of Slowing Down.

A Feature Review of

Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings, Annotated and Explained,

Christine Valters Paintner

Paperback: SkyLight Paths, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Craig D. Katzenmiller

Often the very act of slowing down becomes countercultural. In today’s world, we find ourselves in a race to “hurry up and matter.”[i] Every now and then, however, we need to be reminded that life is not about accruing goods, but rather, life is about emptying ourselves in order to love. We need to hear again and again the radical call of the gospel: namely, to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.


Thus, reading Christine Valters Paintner’s recent book about desert spirituality reminds us of what life is about. I read this book over the course of a weekend, but even my hasty reading pricked me and told me to slow down, to reorient my focus. Nevertheless, speedy reading for the purpose of reviewing the book does miss the point. As Paintner writes, “This is not a book to sit down and read cover to cover. . . . A more effective approach is to allow some time each day to read one section at a time twice through slowly” (xxxii). The desert mothers and fathers leave us with a legacy for transformation. Transformation, as Paintner says, is a long process (see e.g., 106).


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A Review of

Worshiping With the Church Fathers.
Christopher Hall.
Paperback: IVP Academic, 2010.
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[ Read an excerpt of this book here… ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Christopher Hall - Worshipping with the Church FathersWorshiping with the Church Fathers is the third volume of Christopher Hall’s four volume work on the Church in its earliest centuries.  This new volume, looks specifically at the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, the practice of prayer and the spirituality of the desert fathers.  His objective is:

To present as clearly as possible the fathers’ understanding of what worship is and what it isn’t.  I have tried to allow them to speak for themselves, to present their case and then to encourage readers to make their own decisions as to the validity of the particular patristic viewpoints.

Hall does a fine job both of achieving his stated goal of letting the Church Fathers speak for themselves and of providing enough context through which the reader can understand the writings of the Fathers.  The book’s first two chapters explore the roles of baptism and the Eucharist respectively, with a particular emphasis on the sacramental (and material) nature of both practices.  Hall explains that the material nature of the sacraments is rooted in the incarnation of Christ:

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Thanks to Doulos Christou Books, we are giving away two (gently) used books by Henri Nouwen.  Both are in great shape and have clean pages!

  • The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry (A perfect complement to the Christopher Hall book reviewed above).
  • Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons.
    (Includes fold out flaps with color reproductions of 4 famous icons)

We will chose two lucky winners, the first will get his/her pick of these books.

How to enter to win this book:

  1. Announce the contest on Twitter, Facebook or your blog: I just entered to win 1 of 2 Henri Nouwen books from The Englewood Review (@ERBks ).  You can enter too:
  2. Post a comment to this announcement with your name and a link to your post for #1.
  3. You may enter one time per day for the duration of the contest.
  4. We will pick two winners at random from the eligible contestants and notify them this weekend.

The contest will end at 4PM ET on this Friday March 5.