Archives For Life


Living, Loving, Dancing, Praying, and Contemplating
A Review of 

In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir
Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O.

Paperback, Ave Maria Press, 2018.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Richard Goode


If one is looking for a guide to explain contemporary monasticism, Br. Paul Quenon offers the strongest of résumés. He is, for example, the embodiment of Trappist stability, having been a monk at Kentucky’s Abbey of Gethesemani for 60 years. As a novice he studied under none other than Thomas Merton. Br. Paul is also well published, receiving such accolades as “Best Spiritual Book of the Year” for his work. Beyond these facts, he is adept at painting a verbal picture. In the pages of this book, for example, we see the darkened Gethsemani church as the monastic choir prays Vigils at 3:15 am, an Office that the community has honored every day since its founding in 1848. Moreover, he portrays a modern Cistercian community respecting its centuries-old practice of “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work).

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For those who are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store.”
– Novelist and Nobel Prize Winner, Isaac Bashevis Singer,
Born on this day 1902

Isaac Bashevis Singer [Happy Birthday]


A Biblically Rooted Ethic of Life
A Feature Review of

The Sacredness of Human Life: Why an Ancient Biblical Vision Is Key to the World’s Future.
David Gushee. 

Hardback: Eerdmans, 2013. 
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

(This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog, and is re-published here with permission.)

What does it mean to call human life sacred?  Is it just a word or does it have implications?  If you turn on the news, it would appear that life is anything but sacred.  Every day people are assaulted, killed, raped, maimed, and degraded.  Humans are enslaved and trafficked.  They’re forced to work and live in horrid conditions.  So, is human life really sacred?


If we were to take seriously the message delivered by David Gushee in his new book The Sacredness of Life, then things would be different.  The message is pretty simple – because God has pronounced life to be sacred, then we should treat each other with a respect and a love that is fitting someone or something that is consecrated by God.
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Lazarus Come Forth - John DearBe Converted.

A Review of

Lazarus, Come Forth:

How Jesus Confronts the Culture of Death and Invites us into the New Life of Peace.

John Dear, S.J.

Paperback: Orbis Books, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Stephen Taylor.

The Rev. John Dear is no newcomer to the world of peace and justice.  Many times in his life he has been arrested, mistreated, made fun of, and generally had a hard time because he does take a personal stand, based on faith in Jesus Christ, against what in this fine book he calls the culture of death.

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Broken Hallelujahs by Christian ScharenThe Life that Comes from God.

A Review of

Broken Hallelujahs:

Why Popular Music Matters

to Those Seeking God

Christian Scharen.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Christian ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sam Edgin

There is a dark chasm between the sacred and the secular within culture, or did you not know? The Christian sub-culture insists it must exist, because culture is full of evil and we are not to associate; and the secular culture is content with that assertion, because Christian popular culture is usually terrible anyway. However, a full 78 percent of Americans at this point in history identify as Christian[1]. If popular culture – the secular kind, that is – can rightly be called “popular,” then a fair sample of these American Christians, a massive majority of the population, are immersing themselves on the other side of the chasm.

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“Sustaining the Creative Life
by using Small Beans”

A Review of
Rumors of Water:
Thoughts on Creativity & Writing
By L.L. Barkat

Review by Denise Frame Harlan.

LL Barkat - Rumors of WaterRumors of Water:
Thoughts on Creativity and Writing
By L.L. Barkat.
Paperback: T.S. Poetry Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

The secret of the prolific writer: to agree to use… the ingredients at hand.

Small beans. A scourge of pantry moths eats its way through L.L.Barkat’s collection of grains, leaving only the Japanese adzuki beans. Thus the adzuki—the small beans—become a substitute in all recipes. One bean salad recipe requires tomatoes and cider vinegar, for which the poet substitutes oranges and mint, rendering the final dish into something new and beyond duplication. That is how a poet cooks: with a hint of desperation, perhaps, but also with flourish of grace, and confidence enough in the ingredients at hand. We use what we have. It’s all we can do.

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Inbox Poetry

A Review of Every Day Poems
Daily Poetry Subscription from T.S. Poetry Press
Annual subscription
only $0.99!!! [ SUBSCRIBE

Review by J. Ted Voigt

[ Sample Poem #1 –
A Poet’s Thanks” ]

[ Sample Poem #2 –
The Singing Flower XIV“]

Poetry is an acquired taste.

I say this because there is such a variety of poetry available that you are bound to read a number of poems before finding one with which you can really connect.  Recreating that euphoric experience of reading an enjoyable poem for the first time is something that has compelled me through the 811 section of my local library, and it’s what makes Every Day Poems great.

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“Slowing Down
And Immersing Ourselves in the Biblical Story

A review of
Lectio Divina, The Sacred Art:
Transforming Words and Images
into Heart-Centered Prayer

by Christine Valters Paintner.

Review by Chris Smith.

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]

Lectio Divina, The Sacred Art:
Transforming Words
and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer

Christine Valters Paintner.
Paperback: Skylight Paths, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

How do we read the Bible in this age when – as Christian Smith has persuasively argued in his recent book The Bible Made Impossible – some traditional approaches to scriptures are on the verge of dying off?  Is it possible for us to engage and immerse ourselves in scripture in ways other than taking it as cold, static textbook?  The ancient practice of lectio divina (holy reading) is surprisingly relevant for our times, and Christine Valters Paintner’s new book Lectio Divina, The Sacred Art: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer is an elegant and useful introduction to this approach to reading the Bible (or other texts) in today’s world. Continue Reading…


“Experimental Dojo-following

A review of
Practicing the Way of Jesus:
Life Together in the Kingdom of Love

by Mark Scandrette.

Reviewed by Jasmine Wilson.


Practicing the Kingdom - Mark ScandrettePracticing the Way of Jesus:
Life Together in the Kingdom of Love
by Mark Scandrette.
Paperback: Likewise Books / IVP, 2011.
Buy now: [ ]

“Practicing the way of Jesus begins with having an imagination for life in the kingdom of love, desiring that life, and then taking steps to live into that reality through tangible changes in our minds and bodies” (67). Mark Scandrette has found a method of making those tangible changes both in his life and in the lives of others through a method he calls “experimenting.” He defines an experiment as a practical act of obedience to Jesus that is creative and part of the process of finding out what pleases God (30), and ultimately, a sign of our journey as disciples of Jesus. The experiments should be embodied practices and communal—not just abstract ideas that you think about by yourself, but instead practical changes you and your friends make in your lives, such as being a vegetarian (either for a short period of time or for the rest of your life), giving away half your possessions, or finding someone in the sex industry and giving them the dignity of hearing their story.

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What a Life Can Mean:
Two Poetic Views

A Review of

Two New Poetry Collections:
The Alphabet Conspiracy

by Rita Mae Reese and
A Measure’s Hush: Poems

by Anne Corray

Review by Joel E. Jacobson

Through The Alphabet Conspiracy, award winning poet Rita Mae Reese uses her extensive knowledge of word etymology to create poems that challenge political, religious and relational control. One will find a sestina, a rondeau, a villanelle, a sonnet, and a variety of free verse poems that move with a provocative intensity. For example, the opening poem, “Intercession”, identifies a patron saint with anything and everything, even the “children with no one to / pray to and nothing to do” (50-51). The poem’s playful opening quickly becomes divisive as almost every line begins with either “For” or “Against.” Reese effectively draws a line in the sand between those who pray and those who don’t, the religious right and the religious wrong, men and women, homosexual and heterosexual, those in control and those being controlled, and spends the rest of the collection justifying her rejection control.

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