Archives For Jim Forest


A Brief Review of
by Jim Forest.


Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

I have for several years appreciated the writings of Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk who lived at the Abbey of Gethsemani outside Louisville, Kentucky, particularly for the clarity with which he describes the reality or ‘resplendence’ of the immanent kingdom of God, as well as his commitment to the nonviolence of Christ. Although having read a number of his essays and poems, the extent of my own knowledge of Merton’s life came almost exclusively through his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, written twenty years before his death in 1968, and so limited up to a certain point; Jim Forest’s biography of Merton Living With Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton has been recently revised and reprinted for a comprehensive overview of Merton’s life. This biography was written by a friend, and as such seems thorough and honest about all of Merton’s life, drawing heavily on texts by Merton, but also on conversation with Merton and many others close to him. I am reminded of Ernesto Cardenal’s poem “Trip to New York” in which he visits the Thomas Merton Center and many of Merton’s friends, recalling that, “after his death / you saw that each friend of his believed he was Merton’s closest friend. /… – and each one really was.”

    Living With Wisdom is full of photographs that correspond to the chronological narrative of Merton’s life, as well as many passages from his writing, sometimes as frequent as Forest’s words, which presents a well-rounded vision of both Merton’s life and context, as well as his body of writing. Thomas Merton’s life as a monastic, along with his many books is well worth consideration by the church, and Forest’s biography is a generous supplement to Merton’s work.


Jim Forest.
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2009 (2nd edition).
Buy now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $18 ]   [ Amazon ]


A Brief Review of Jim Forest’s
Praying with Icons
by Brent Aldrich

Orbis Books has just released a new, expanded edition of Jim Forest’s book Praying With Icons, in which Forest describes icons as “bridges to Christ, as links with the saints, as reminders of pivotal events in the history of salvation.” Forest is a convert to the Russian Orthodox Church, and presents here the history, technique and stories of icons.

Much of the text in the book’s first part “In the Image of God” describes the history of icon painting and the necessary spiritual and technical disciplines involved in that work. This information is of the sort contained in almost any book collection of icon reproductions, from both faith-based and secular historians, and this part of the book will be familiar to anyone who has read about (or prayed with) icons before.

The second section, “Prayer,” involves much that relates specifically to the Orthodox liturgy and sacraments, although most of the content here is universal for any church tradtion. What I found interesting, coming from a tradition that is not at all Orthodox, is the incorporation of the body in prayer, to affirm the “physical reality of Jesus Christ.” Included in the back of the book are several traditional prayers for evening, morning, peace and intercession to use in developing a rule of prayer.

What distinguishes Forest’s book from others on icons are the collections of stories about Christ and the saints, and their associated icons in the book’s final three sections. For all the different forms of icons of Christ, for example, all have specific stories, theology, colors and shapes associated with them. The same is true for icons of all the saints. The practice of icon painting has been passed down through the church and has developed structures which are invoked with every new painting, giving to icons both a rich tradition and a sacramental quality. The creation of icons, as well as their veneration, are acts of remembering stories of faithfulness, of retelling the life of Christ and the early church and of recognizing the saints who have gone before.

Icons have preserved history in light of the church since shortly after the era of Christ; these are the stories that Praying With Icons recounts in word and excellent color reproductions, and these stories are ones we should remember and ones to which we should submit ourselves daily.

Jim Forest.
Praying with Icons. Revised and Expanded Edition.
Paperback. Orbis Books. 2008.
Buy Now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $17 ] [ Amazon ]


The bread-n-butter of our bookstore business is the sale of used books, and we do a fair amount of scouting around for used books each week. In this section we feature some of the interesting books that we have found in the past week. Generally, we will only have a single copy of these books, so if you want one (or more) of them, you’ll need to respond quickly.


Lion Country. (A Novel)
Frederick Buechner. Hardcover. Atheneum. 1971.
First Edition/X-Library Copy. Good Condition. Clean pages, moderate wear.
Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $8]


Pilgrim to the Russian Church.
Jim Forest.

Harcover. Crossroad. 1988.
X-Library Copy. Good Condition. Clean pages, moderate wear.
Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $5 ]


The Mustard Seed Conspiracy
Tom Sine.
Paperback. Word Books. 1981.
Very Good Condition. Clean pages, minimal wear.

Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $4 ]