Archives For Memoir

 

Meeting Ourselves in the Mystics
 
A Feature Review of

Mystics and Misfits:
Meeting God through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints

Christiana Peterson

Paperback: Herald Press, 2018.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Tammy Perlmutter
 
 

“Maybe simplicity, as it turns out,
is both boringly simple and searingly difficult.”

-Christiana Peterson

 

The first time Christiana Peterson encountered a saint or “mystic” was while cleaning out her grandmother’s house after she had been settled into assisted living. She fell in love with a worn, wooden garden statue of St. Francis carved out of a log she had spotted through the patio door.

Paired with the coloring pages of saints her daughter was bringing home from Catholic school, Christiana met other mystics, “devout human beings who lived on the edges, who longed for unity with God.” Little did she know it would bring her into an experience that would have a profound impact on her life and faith.

Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints is not your typical book about saints you can never hope to emulate or otherworldly mystics. Mystics and Misfits feels like an unexpected, personal gift, a friend sitting you down to tell their story with complete openness, trembling but present, offering you their world-weary soul.

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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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Courageous Honesty

A Review of 

Even in Our Darkness: A Story of Beauty in a Broken Life
Jack Deere

Hardback: Zondervan, 2018
Buy Now:
Amazon ] [ Kindle ] [ Audible ]

Reviewed by Matthew R. Bardowell

 

There is a moment in Jack Deere’s memoir that illustrates what is perhaps the book’s main theme. A 10-year-old Jack sits in his living room amidst the family’s Christmas presents. Young Jack unwraps “a sturdy, vinyl blue and yellow model airplane with a small engine” (p. 26), but what he really wanted for Christmas was a larger balsa wood biplane with a big engine. The model plane he received was for beginners, and Jack, with the outsized confidence of the very young, did not consider himself a beginner. Naturally, he is disappointed, and his disappointment soon curdles to resentment. He is sent to his room. Later in the day, as he flew his vinyl plane, young Jack “crashed it after every takeoff” (27). Recollecting this scene, Deere remarks: “I was surrounded by [. . .] gifts, unable to feel anything but anger at what wasn’t there—an object of desire that I would have destroyed” (27). In these moments, Deere’s memoir is nearly Augustinian in its insight into the fallen human condition. The vinyl airplane is his pear tree.

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One of this week’s best new book releases is:
 

Room to Dream: A Memoir
David Lynch / Kristine McKenna

 
Hardback: Random House, 2018
Buy Now:
Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]  [ Audible ]
 
 
David Lynch was interviewed about this book
on NPR this week.  Give it a listen:
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Nearer to the Heart of God
 
A Review of 
 

God in Disguise
Trudy Taylor Smith

Paperback: CreateSpace, 2018
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Kelly Treleaven
 
 
As a teacher in the American South living in an upper middle class neighborhood and wrestling with my own religious identity, I didn’t expect to feel as personally moved as I did by an account from a Christian missionary seeking solidarity with the poor in India. But that’s exactly what good memoirs do, they connect: across continents, through spaces and experiences and beliefs. With admirable narrative dexterity and piercing vulnerability, Trudy Smith relates her spiritual and physical journey in a way that will reach those longing to hear God’s voice, especially those who may suspect they are unworthy of hearing it, incapable of interpreting it, or deaf to it altogether.

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Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out:
( Walter Brueggemann, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, MORE )

Each week, we carefully curate a handful of books for church leaders that orient us toward the health and the flourishing of our congregations.

Via our sister website Thrifty Christian Reader
To keep up with all the latest ebook deals,
be sure to connect with TCR via email or on Facebook
 

*** DON’T MISS
Amazon’s Monthly Ebook Sale for May! 
CLICK HERE for the best deals
from it for Christian Readers…

 

ALSO, Fortress Press is running 
a HUGE Theology Ebook Sale now!
(700+ titles for under $5 each…)

 

 

#1:
The Psalms and the Life of Faith 

Walter Brueggemann

*** $3.99 ***

One of the best-known OT scholars on the significance of the Psalms

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Enter to win a copy of the new book by Rachel Marie Stone!

 
We’re giving away FIVE copies of:

Birthing Hope:
Giving Fear to the Light
Rachel Marie Stone

Paperback: IVP Books

 

Watch for our review of this book
(and Rachel’s regular column)

in our May 2018 print magazine!
SUBSCRIBE NOW ]
 
 

Enter to win a copy of this book!

Enter now to win (It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!) :
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Lessons about Death and Dying
from an Irish Wake

A Feature Review of

My Father’s Wake:
How the Irish Teach Us How to Live, Love and Die

Kevin Toolis

Hardback: Da Capo Press, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Cynthia Beach

 

Syntax and word, rhythm and rite roll and surge in this tribute to a wordsmith’s dying father, Sonny—and to the neglected Irish practice of “waking the dead.”

Journalist and filmmaker Kevin Toolis confronts our cultural death denial and the “Western Death Machine.” He says, “Death is a whisper in the Anglo-Saxon world. Instinctively we feel we should dim the lights, lower our voices and draw the screens. We want to give the dead, the dying, the grieving, room.”

In other words, we don’t want to address the fact of death. How important is a book about death? Well, Toolis suggests, rather vital.  “If you breathe,” he says, “you die.”

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This distinctive new book is both a poignant and funny teaching memoir, 
and a keen reading of William Shakespeare’s play ROMEO AND JULIET:
 

The Teacher Diaries:
Romeo & Juliet

Callie Feyen

Paperback: TS Poetry Press, 2018
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
 

An excerpt from this book:

 
It’s easy to wince when reading the Nurse’s debut scene. In fewer than fifty lines, we learn of her daughter’s death, and she shares the very palpable details of how she weaned Juliet, as well as her body’s reaction to that weaning. We learn that her husband is also gone, and we hear a little anecdote about Juliet’s toddler years. After my first reading of the Nurse’s speech, I wrote in the margin, “Girlfriend could’ve started a blog.”

Shakespeare’s Nurse is off-color, and she gives far more information than she needs to. She is also the person Juliet trusts most. When I teach Romeo and Juliet and we get to this part in the play, before we read, I give my students a warning.

“She says way too much, and she might make you squirm a bit.”

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One of the best new releases of last week was:
 

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved
 
Kate Bowler

 
Hardback: Random House, 2018
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 

Listen to an extraordinary interview
that the author did with NPR’s Terry Gross:

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