Archives For Stories

 

God Loves Stories

 
A Review of 

Reading Your Life’s Story: An Invitation to Spiritual Mentoring
Keith Anderson

Paperback: IVP Books, 2016
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Danny Wright
 
 

In Reading Your Life’s Story, Keith Anderson provides a primer for intentional spiritual mentoring. He recognizes along with Eugene Peterson that our lives “…only become clear in the hesitations and questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with one another and with him.”  Therefore, Anderson, the president of The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, has written a guide for learning to read our lives as stories within the bounds of spiritual friendships.  He wants to help people develop “intentional, planned, repeated and focused conversations” about life in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Divine Author has written with purpose in each of our lives and we must learn to read and co-read in a God-drenched and saturated world that is overflowing with His voice and presence.

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“Be holy, because I am holy.”
 
 
A Review of 

Blessed Among Us:
Day by Day with Saintly Witnesses

Robert Ellsberg

Hardback: Liturgical Press, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Danny Wright
 
 
In His book Blessed Among Us, Robert Ellsberg provides readers with an encyclopedia of introductions to a wide variety of saintsEach day offers a brief biography of two “saints” who have lived a life of example and ends with quotes to aid the reader in reflection. This particular volume can be used as an addendum for praying the hours (and can be found as such in the daily prayer app offered by Liturgical Press, Give Us This Day), as a supplement for personal inspiration and reflection, or as the subject for family devotions, or as encouragement for a church/ministry staff. There is a wealth of information shared in a succinct, accessible style that will spark your creativity and curiosity, inspire more attentive living, and may even cause you to fire up your search engine, or send you to your favorite website or bookstore in search of the actual writings that are being referenced.

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Called to A Life of
Care, Faith, and Love

 
A Review of

Here I Am:Faith Stories of Korean American Clergywomen
Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Paperback: Judson Press, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Pam Kittredge
 
 
 
Whenever stories are told and collected, it is important to ask who is doing the speaking and the collecting. Is it the loudest, most dominant voice–the voice of power–that is heard and accepted as representative of the collective story? What about the voices of the not so powerful? The voices not often heard outside their own community? How are those voices to reach us? Who will listen to and collect those stories?

In Here I Am:Faith Stories of Korean American Clergywomen, editor Grace Ji-Sun Kim does both. As editor, Kim listens. She draws into conversation a rich blend of cultural and theological and strands, then braids them skillfully together and collects them for us.

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Before Our Own Humble Ascent
 
A Review of

Up the Hill: Stories
James Calvin Schaap

Ebook: New Rivers Press, 2014
Buy now:  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Crystal Hurd
 
 
When I was seven or eight, my parents attended several funerals with me in tow. I would stand among the foreign stones of strangers and watch as puffy-eyed mourners huddled around the polished coffin. It seemed to me that death made people vulnerable. I watched people cry that I had never seen cry before. Death stripped away the mask, disturbed the well-rehearsed dances and left us all exposed and traumatized. I began to slowly understand the experience of loss. Then, I began to contemplate on these events. I started sketching the gatherings; vertical stick figures wringing their stick hands around a horizontal figure in a tiny box. It was then that my mother decided to leave me with my grandmother when church folks would pass into glory. She thought that all the death was seeping into my subconscious like rainwater on thirsty soil. Such curiosity might be unhealthy.

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Tomorrow is All Saints Day, the day when the Church remembers the faithful ones who have gone before us.

To help you get acquainted with the saints, we recommend the following books.  We’ve tried to emphasize collections that feature the stories of a wide range of saints, as a reminder that we are all saints, and not just the super-heroes of faith (the Francises, the Mother Teresas, etc).

> > > >
Next Book

Butler’s Lives of the Saints: Concise Edition, Revised and Updated

*** For a limited time, this paperback edition is available for $6.98

A decent FREE ebook edition of the original work is available from Project Gutenberg. Note that navigating this massive work on your e-reader might be a challenge…

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The Flutter of Redemption

A Review of

Birds of a Feather: Stories
Kaye Park Hinckley

Paperback: Wiseblood Books, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Deborah Rocheleau

*** This book was chosen as one of our best books of the first half of 2014!
 
Not all the stories in Kaye Park Hinckley’s Birds of a Feather feature a bird. However, they have other traits in common, stories of faith and hurting characters flocking together in this collection of faith-based southern fiction. From nurses to abortionists to the ghosts of colonels, a varied cast of characters face a number of spiritual themes, but they almost all invariably touch on sin, guilt, and forgiveness. While the stories are far from flawless, suffering from inconsistent characterization and repetitiveness, they nevertheless delve into the deep secrets and hidden pasts of their troubled characters.

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Haunting and Compassionate
 
A Feature Review of

The Tenth of December: Stories

George Saunders

Hardback: Random House, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Matt Miles.
 
     “Victory Lap”, the first story in Tenth of December, covers a topic that’s been making its rounds again in public conversation of late: helicopter parenting. What separates George Saunders’s short story from the bulk of articles and opinion columns reveals an almost embarrassing oversight for the latter: the narrative belongs to the children themselves. This choice serves the darkly funny and disturbing tone of the story without betraying a true sense of compassion that runs throughout. That sense of empathy runs through all of Saunders’s stories in general, and the ones in Tenth of December are no exception. No matter how outrageous or surreal his stories are, a sort of kindness grounds them, making them worthy of multiple rereads.
 
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Voicing a Truth

ERB Fiction editor Chris Enstad interviews Ramona Ausubel

about her new book

A Guide to Being Born: Stories
Ramona Ausubel

Hardback:  Riverhead, 2013
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Ramona Ausubel graduated from the MFA program at the University of California, Irvine where she received the Glenn Schaeffer Award in Fiction.  She has been published in The New Yorker, One Story, The Paris Review and Best American Fiction, among others.  Her debut novel, No One Is Here Except All of Us landed in the midst of American literature with a huge bang.  We reviewed it in early 2012 and since then it has been named a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and the Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Huffington Post.

 

Her writing is astonishingly fresh and her perspective on life unique for it’s clarity and playfulness.  NPR describes her writing as “often funny — usually heartbreaking… tiny works of art.”  I would have to agree.

 

A Guide to Being Born is a book of short stories that use her magical imagination to examine the heart and life from birth to motherhood to death.  Ausubel’s imagination comes in deeply intense contact with the truly life altering events that are the human condition: falling in love, becoming parents, approaching death.  The opening salvo comes in the guise of a ship full of grandmothers at sea and, “They do not know how they got there.”

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Chad Simpson - Tell Everyone I Said HiStories of Separation

A review of

Tell Everyone I Said Hi: Stories

Chad Simpson

Paperback: University of Iowa Press, 2012.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Greg Schreur

Perhaps you’ve said it yourself: “Tell everyone I said ‘hi’.” Or you’ve heard someone say it. In either case, lives have gone their separate ways. In happier cases, both individuals have moved on to better things, but occasionally that’s not the case. Maybe one has moved on, leaving the others behind. Maybe the one is who was left behind and now longs for those better, bygone days. In any case, life has somehow dictated separation.

Chad Simpson’s slim collection of short stories collectively speak to this idea, this condition of separation, be it physical, emotional, or even potential. The stories average fewer than ten pages long—although many are only a few pages—giving the impression, which short stories are uniquely able to, of glimpsing into strangers’ personal lives. In this case, the effect is similar to yet the opposite of watching people at the airport: rather than witnessing happy reunions or bittersweet departures, we view lives already (or in the process of being) separated and, in some cases, on their way to being reconnected.

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David Bentley Hart - The Devil and Pierre GernetThe Elusive Nature of Happiness

A Review of

The Devil and Pierre Gernet: Stories.

David Bentley Hart

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Todd Edmondson

In a world of academic specialists, David Bentley Hart is something of an outlier. With each publication, this Christian intellectual of the highest order has revealed a capacity to excel at a number of different genres within the field of theology. The Beauty of the Infinite, a stunning “aesthetics of Christian truth” signaled Hart’s arrival as a brilliant systematic thinker. Hart further demonstrated his erudition and eloquence in the theodicy The Doors of the Sea, the sweeping Illustrated History of Christianity, and his more recent polemic against “new atheism,” Atheist Delusions, as well as in a number of columns and reviews published in a variety of journals over the past decade. Hart’s writings consistently challenge and inspire his readers toward difficult but rewarding examinations of Christian orthodoxy. Those readers, myself included, were understandably enthusiastic about the release of The Devil and Pierre Gernet, Hart’s first published collection of fiction.

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