Ethics for the New Millennium by Dalai Lama With so much energy devoted to concerns evoked by the year 2000, it is good to have a balanced and hope filled look at what the future can be. This world esteemed man of peace, has given us a work that clearly and simply identifies the issues and possible responses. People of good will and brave hearts will resonate to this work. Those with an agenda or special interest to push should approach this book with caution.
Rilke’s Book of Hours translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. The subtitle is “Love Poems to God”.
These poems were considered by Rilke to be spontaneously received prayers. He shares with us a new kind of intimacy with God, finding the divine in the ordinary. Our role is to love the world and thereby love God into being.
Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Michael Levoy could easily win my “book of the year” nomination. Every life consists of a series of “calls”, urging us to keep on keeping on in our growth in faith and love. This is an easy to read book, full of examples of others who were negotiating the tight passages to authenticity. You will find some of your own struggles in their stories, as well as suggestions of where to identify the Spirit’s activity in your life. Jean Huston says: “It’s like the remembrance of everything you knew but then forgot.” So true!
If you are in the mood to dive deeply into a work that can help you get the ‘big picture’ of how we have come to an understanding of freedom and grace in the Christian tradition, I invite you to explore a work called A Gadamerian Reading of Karl Rahner’s Theology of Grace and Freedom by Dr. Carmichael C. Peters.
In days of extreme haste and crowded schedules we need to remember the wisdom of the Sabbath rest. Wayne Mueller has given us a gift of this book Sabbath that can help you to do this. Bringing the balance back into your life is its goal.
The God Who Fell From Heaven by John Shea Poetry. You will find selections from this book in my Suggested Reading section of the study guides. Shea, helps us fashion poetry our of our everyday experiences,, much as the Psalmist did for the Hebrew Scriptures. Out of print, but Amazon will attempt to find it for you in their out of print service.
The Hour of the Unexpected by John Shea Prayer poems. Another of those books I reach out for when compiling my study guides. Out of print, but Amazon will attempt to fint for you in their out of print service. Rooted in our contemporary life experiences, they confron, shock,embrace, console comfort, and challenge.
Colors: Stories of the Kingdom by John R. Aurelio A collection of 70 stories to help open up the scriptures. Out of print, but Amazon’s out of print service might help you find it. Stories that are as enchanting as the fables of Aesop or Anderson. Each story holds a beautiful lesson that will make you wonder, smike, and want to share.
Process, Person, Presence by Raymond Parr. This book is out of print but Amazon will query used book stores for a copy. This book earned my “book of the year” award when it came out. The author begins in his introduction by saying: “Faith is not a rational conclusion drawn from rational premises; faith is an experience of presence, a response to the benigh presence of another which acknowledges the initative of that other to whom faith is the response.” This book deserves several readings.
The Characters Within by Joy Clough Befriending your deepest emotions. By giving our emotions a virtual character Joy Clough helps us ponder how feelings and emotions drive our lives and creats peace or turmoil.
Growing Strong at Broken Places by Paula Ripple Seeking meaning in the pain-filled moments of life. An exploration of the sources and effects of sullering in our lives. Finding meaning in our pain through the use of stories that can bring us growth.
If you want a book with a quality daily reflection I would encourage you to find “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. The subtitle is “Having the life you want by being present to the life you have”. A few minutes a day with this author and you might find yourself savoring your moments in a new and more life giving way.
A new book that really makes clear the rapidity of the changes in our world is The World is Flat. The amazing variety and speed that we are faced with at work, school and home, really highlights the ever increasing need to take time out to renew ourselves. Where do I go to find such a place? How do I slow down enough to make sense of the changes?
For one more day by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesday’s with Morrie, tells the story of a man who was “given” one more day with his mother after a near fatal car crash that happened on his way back to his hometown as he planned to end his life
In Good Company by James Martin, SJ tells a modern day tale reminiscent of Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain. A young man fast on his way up the corporate ladder finds himself asking “is this all there is” and wanders into the Jesuit order. I say wander because the path he takes often makes one wonder how he or anyone else in his situation could awaken to the answer to this basic question from such a “enviable” life position. He faces the question of our age with grace.
Radical Hospitality by Daniel Homan, OSB and Lonni Collins Pratt is a powerful book. It opens up the understanding of monastic hospitality to everyone who is willing and able to open their heart to listening. On the last page we find: “It is a courageous thing to keep getting up every day, and it is a much more courageous thing to rouse your heart and incline it to love. To care for each other, to open the door to the stranger, to open your heart to the stranger, lifts you up into the great dance of life.” Savoring this book gives you insights on how to do this marvelous dance.
Failing America’s Faithful by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend would make for good reading. The first helps to focus on our founders in faith. It might be especially helpful as we try to muddle our way through the confusing spin we are surrounded by as we try to make sense out of what is going on in the world.
If you want to explore the impact of those events that are highly improbable but have tremendous effects on our lives and culture I recommend Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan. The author only mentions one passage in Matthew’s gospel, but anyone studying scripture can identify many examples of a black swan event that forever changed history. The book left me with a stronger affinity for what I have been calling Sneaky Spirit events for many years.
Hans Kung has given us, what in effect is his life testament in The Beginning of all Things: Science and Religion. In it he concludes: “This is my enlightened, well – founded hope: dying is a farewell inward, and entry and homecoming into the ground and origin of the world, our true home, a farewell perhaps not without pain and anxiety, but hopefully in composure and surrender, at any rate without weeping and wailing, and without bitterness and despair, but rather in hopeful expectation, quiet certainty, and (after everything that has to be settled is settled) ashamed gratitude for all the good things and less good things that now finally and definitively lie behind us – thank God.” He gathers up a life time of study and reflection and brings us up to date on the dialogue between science and religion so that we can be both/and people like Jesus of Nazareth.
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.
William P. Young has written a best selling book that invites you to open your mind and heart to a totally innovative way of relating to God and the Trinity in The Shack. A father, whose image of God was distorted by an abusive father, comes to a revelation by way of a tragedy. The miracle of transformation is brought about by his suffering and being brought to freedom through forgiveness. Be prepared to come away from this book with new and exciting questions.
Beatrice Bruteau has once again given us a transformational work in The Grand Option: Personal Transformation and a New Creation. The last words of this challenging work are: “If I am asked, then, “Who do you say I am?” my answer is: “You are the new and ever renewing act of creation. You are all of us, as we are united in You. You are all of us as we live in one another. You are all of us in the whole cosmos as we join in Your exuberant act of creation. You are the Living One who improvises at the frontier of the future; and it has not yet appeared what You shall be.” This Trinitarian insight permeates the entire work and gives us a clue to what the next step in our human evolution is to be. As I read this book I was reminded of the scenes in Washington DC the day of the inauguration
A friend of Fr. Nouwen, Jurjen Beumer, in his: Henri Nouwen: A Restless Seeking for God, explors the life and growth of this restless seeker of God whose many books have drawn countless people with him in their own searches. I remember a conference I attended where Henri introduced all of us to Adam, and witnessed his devotion to this beloved handicapped person he lovingly cared for.
In 1976 I took a course on Teilhard de Chardin taught by Fr. Don Goergen, O.P. at Aquinas Institute of Theology. This began a quest that has evolved into what many of you now know as my encounter with the Sneaky Spirit. In Fr. Goergen’s latest book, Fire of Love we plunge into this mysterious reality in earnest. I wonder if today’s world will someday be seen as the age of the Spirit by those who ponder the many changes we are wrestling with assist guided by this same Spirit?