Escape from Ephesus

This novel, Escape from Ephesus, written in 1991 by Lance Webb, attempts in story form to give us a readers experience of the trials and tribulations of our faith as shared by Onesimus (means useful). It is indeed useful as it hews closely to what we know from those days and years of the beginnings of our faith. Long before we had our gospels and structures, many gave their lives rather than settle for the futility of life without hope and love. You could read many other scholarly books, such as “And Man Created God” and get the facts/details of this same time period, but this novel catches you as surely as any lure of a great fisher could.

Fresh Bread

In her book, Fresh Bread, Sr. Joyce Rupp takes you through the year with scriptures recommended for daily reflection. Each month has a theme that can awaken a quiet time of meditation and is designed for those whose lives are busy but need a method to integrate their experiences with their faith.  Written in 1985, but timeless in content, I recommend this to those wanting to bring a focus to their days.

Radical Hospitality

Radical Hospitality, invites you into the heart of reality. In many ways, by way of reflection gained from deep listening and the sharing of stories, the authors Homan & Collins have created a book that deserves “a deep read”. They rediscover the ancient art of welcoming the stranger as a bearer of gifts, not a source of danger. It will awaken you to a new way of being in the world.

Immortal Diamond

If you only have time for one book this year please consider Richard Rohr’s newest book Immortal Diamond. This is a work that is so approachable you will find yourself saying “yes, yes” on almost every page. As the back cover says “This book is the ripe ftuit of a life couragously and honestly lived. Such profound wisdom conveyed with such elegant simplicity!” It will also make a wonder filled gift for some special in your life.

The Gift of Years

Once again, Sr. Joan Chittister, give us a gift in The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully. This is a book for many audiences. If you want to understand what the elders in your life are standing under – this book is for you. If you are entering into that period called the “golden years” it is a treasure chest of insights. This is the fruit of a life fully reflected on and now cherished.

Mind in the Balance

If you are interested in the interface between Christianity and Buddhism in the dialogue between science and religion, this may be the book for you. Mind in the Balance examines the history of meditation in both these traditions of belief. B. Alan Wallace explores the subject of mind, intelligence, spirit and reason. His  insights from modern science helps to engage those who feel that they are “spiritual” but not “religious”.

Gold in Your Memories

 Gold in your Memories by Macrina Wiederkehr, Ave Maria Press in Notre Dame, IN. 1998, will be a deep mine for those who want to dig for the gold in their own memories. Macrina is someone who can put you in touch with the spiritual energy that resides within you to empower you to make new memories every day you live. She shares my belief that we are all a work in process and our lives are a tapestry of memories. I invite you to taste one of her haiku poems: “A tiny gold leaf / offers a silent sermon / from a barren branch.”

Amazing Grace

 Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith  by Kathleen Norris. NY. Riverhead Books. 1998.
Words that have the potential to evoke strong responses, are subjects of short chapters that make for reflective reading. This is a good example of the practice of  “holy reading” or lectio divina. You will find yourself meditating on your own power filled words for the revelation they hold. Norris helps by modeling this ancient process of probing her experiences for the graces they hold. Simply amazing.

The Road Less Traveled and Beyond

 The Road Less Traveled & Beyond by M. Scott Peck. NY. Simon & Schuster. 1997.
As anxiety becomes more intense, it is an opportunity for spiritual growth. “Scotty” lets us in on his spiritual growth in this book. I recommend reading the last chapter first, as it will give you the fruit of this authors reflection on his growth experiences. For those who have read other books by Peck, this one will tie all the earlier books together. In times like ours today, where we feel disoriented by so many rapid changes, a book like this will encourage you to go with God’s process of bringing you into your maturing as well.

For the Life of the World

For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann If the challenge of today is seen as secularism, Schmemann sees the answer in a renewal of the sense of worship. Worship calls us to the awesomeness of creation and leads us naturally to the sense of wonder at what or who caused all this to be and holds it in being. He comes to this through his Eastern Orthodox appreciation of the sacraments, which he sees as a ritual expression of this wonder and awe. If secularism is the belief that our space and time holds the answers to all our needs and questions, than worship expresses the opposite. Thomas Merton called this work, “a powerful, articulate, and indeed, creative essay in sacramental theology”. It is all this, and more.

A New Earth

A student of mine recently gave me a “must read” book. As I like to be able to discuss books that “everyone” is reading I put it on my book stand. Eckart Tolle in “A New Earth“, seems to have touched something that people all over the earth are resonating to in a powerful way. In these days of people calling themselves “spiritual” but not “religious” Tolle has tapped into a well of energy that seems to have a lot of potential. You may want to buy or borrow this book to get in on the discussion.

Inside the School of Charity

Inside the School of Charity by Trisha Day, is about her three months living within the Trappistine cloister with the sisters of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey near Dubuque, IA. Trisha, a member of the Associates of Iowa Cistercians, reflects on the ways her experience with the sisters helps to inform her everyday life outside the cloister. Many feel that this is a nigh impossible task, but she does this very well. The values and practices of the Cistercian order are transferable and valuable for any person wanting to live a meaningful life, either on the “inside” or the “outside”. I have known Trisha and share in the membership of the AIC for many years, and promise you a fruitful read in this book.