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Letters on the Spiritual Life
Read the editor’s preface to this collection, and Brene Brown’s foreword:
One of this fall’s best theology books is:
How Fixing the World
is Killing the Church
By John Nugent
This is a provocative book that asks vital questions about how the church should live in the world, and how we bear witness to the good news of Jesus.
Watch an introductory video
and read an excerpt of the book:
*** ALSO, we are planning to do a month-long read-a-long discussion of this book in November, so get a copy and start reading now!
In honor of the occasion,
here’s an Excerpt from
“Faith and Fiction.”
If someone were to come up and ask me to talk about my faith, it is exactly that journey that I would eventually have to talk about—the ups and downs of the years, the dreams, the odd moments, the intuitions. I would have to talk about the occasional sense I have that life is not just a series of events causing other events as haphazardly as a break shot in pool causes the billiard balls to careen off in all directions but that life has a plot the way a novel has a plot, that events are somehow or other leading somewhere. Whatever your faith may be or my faith may be, it seems to me inseparable from the story of what has happened to us, and that is why I believe that no literary form is better adapted to the subject than the form of fiction.
Setting the World on Fire: The Brief, Astonishing Life of St. Catherine of Siena
In the fourteenth century, Catherine’s public persona as a strong-willed woman who never backed down was extraordinary to the point of being freakish. At the time, women were so subservient to men that they didn’t speak unless spoken to. And when they were spoken to, they kept their eyes lowered. Legally, women were not allowed to appear in court. They weren’t allowed to hold any public, political or professional office or to become a member of any of Italy’s influential guilds, such as the dyers’ guild Catherine’s father belonged to. And they weren’t allowed to wear anything that was not of their husband’s choosing. Women without brothers were able to inherit land from their fathers, but they were forced to surrender it to their husbands as soon as they married. Always, the law excluded women as second-class citizens. “The good woman was invisible. She wasn’t supposed to leave the house. She wasn’t even supposed to be seen standing at the window of the house,” said Elizabeth Petroff, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “Yes, people looked askance [at Catherine], but she won them over, many times. She must have been just what the times needed.”
Ishi Means Man
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Ishi, the last member of the Yahi, a group of the Yana of California. Widely acclaimed in his time as the “last wild Indian” in America, Ishi lived most of his life completely outside modern culture. (Wikipedia)
In the title essay of Merton’s book, he reflects of the genocidal tendencies of modernity. Here are the opening pages of that essay…
And It Was Beautiful:
Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye
Life without a Bucket List
I can confidently say that I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see, or complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry. I could picture it, the life of routine created by the land and its rhythms. But beyond that I’ve never longed for having a list and checking things off. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire pit in my backyard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.
Last week, when I heard I may have another long road to travel on this journey, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street this place sometimes feels so slutty, so wanting my money without a care for my heart. Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds me here is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people who grip my heart.
Writing My Wrongs:
Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison
We are pleased to run this excerpt…
Earlier this year, I was rummaging through the footlocker where I store my journals, letters, and legal documents—the same locker that I carried from prison to prison for 19 years. I was looking for my parole papers when I came across a letter I had gotten from the godmother of my victim, nearly six years into my incarceration. It stopped me in my tracks.
The letter, dated July 31, 1997, had arrived during the point of my incarceration when I was torn between old instincts and new possibilities. I wanted to change—but I didn’t want it enough. If you had asked the corrections officers around me that day if they held any hope for me, they would have at least hesitated. More likely, they would have laughed.
But not the woman whose family I had shattered by a bullet. She had hope. She believed that transformation could happen, even for me.