A Disarming Spirit by Frank Fromherz is a very timely book. It is a study of one person and his ongoing struggle to live his truth and how it can make a difference. If you were to want a biography written about your life, you would hope it would be with the care and attention to detail that Frank gives to Bp. Hunthausen. He walks us through how one person accepts their truth with integrity and courage. Like any of us who starts out in life discovering our path step by step, often finding the way after many trials and errors, “Dutch” accepts each step with prayerful attention. We would hope that we too would be remembered for the quiet and sometimes heroic choices we make in the name of love. Love for the truth, a healthy self-love, resulting in love for others. “Dutch’s” details are unique to him, as are each of ours. Reading this book will give anyone encountering it a model of how to do it too. In these chaotic times it is becoming ever more important to give each other our best, even if we like “Dutch” won’t live to see our hopes materialize. But if someone writes our story someday, let us hope that someone cares enough to tell it as comprehensively at Frank, so we can add our truth to the world story.
Through the gift of C SPAN I was introduced to Michael Eric Dyson’s “What Truth Sounds Like. I confronted my unconscious racism as I read his examination of the reality of white privilege. Part of that privilege was the freedom to fall in love with a young black man and eventually be able to call him son. His biological parents welcomed us into their family with loving grace and considered our other sons theirs as well. This was possible because they were not afflicted with the inherited disease of racism. Eventually another son was privileged to adopt a foster child who is black who they fell in love with. I came to see that my white privilege gave our family the freedom to love in ways that not only didn’t ‘cost’ us anything, but enriched us beyond measure. Given all that it appears to me from our experience that only love is the answer. More details seem only to obstruct our meeting each other in our uniqueness’s. Convincing others with facts only seems to harden resistance. We watch others confront their unconscious resistance when they have to accept our choices to love. They too find themselves loving our children and grandchildren because they love us. Dyson finds this truth every now and then as he plumbs the depth of people who have decided to love someone who challenges the ugly reality of white privilege. Racism is a “genetic” disease of people who inherited a fatal flaw. The sooner we find a cure for it the better we will all be. In a sobering article on the origin of hate titled The Pathology of Prejudice I learned a lot of how this genetic disease is passed on. It is worth reading. My only suggestion for Dyson is a word change in the title. I would suggest What Truth FEELS Like. This is my take away from spending time with his valuable examination of what is holding us back.
Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love, is a deep look at the Franciscan charism. It is good read for any time of the year but especially for Advent. The subtitle: the alternative way of Francis of Assisi briefly sums up Rohr’s experience of having tried it and found it to work. Even though he would be the first to admit he is still trying it. Nonetheless is a way of being in the world that is very attractive to many. I have long felt that we are still a pre-Christian people. We are attracted to Jesus’ ways, but are waiting for more people to really live the life, before we commit to it fully ourselves. Maybe we now are standing of the threshold of having exhausted the other options and might give it a try. If so, this book will be a good handbook for the adventure. Rohr, Richard. Eager to Love. Franciscan Media, Cincinnati, OH. 2014
Robinson, Marilynne, Lila. Picador Pub. NY. 2014. I rarely read novels but a dear friend handed me this one and because I treasure her wisdom I brought it home to read. It was so different than anything I had encountered it kept me wondering from page to page, just like the woman/child Lila. At first I was reminded of another friend who took home a dog from the shelter that had been abused and his efforts to convince the dog it was safe and loved. He never quite accomplished that goal. The early painful experiences would not let the dog relax into his love. But as I finished the book and thought more deeply about it another image came to me. The story put in words what we all go through in life as we cycle through experiences that consciously or unconsciously affect our choices. In having Lila’s story told in this unique fashion we almost experience her in a lucid dreaming state. Not having read anything else by Robinson I was not influenced by the information that might have changed the way I responded to this creative work. I might now have to pick up some of her earlier books.
Pope Francis said “This book has done me so much good”. The book Mercy by Walter Kasper published by Mahwah, NJ. 2013. I wanted to read it in order to see why he said this. When Francis talks about mercy he means steadfast love. He doesn’t mean the pity extended by a superior being for someone they could crush if they wanted to which is often the “west’s” use of the word. Kasper over and over quotes the bible and always it is this concept of steadfast love. This love, loves, because it can only love. In that love the beloved comes to experience their being while at the same time discovering everyone else to be also loved in this same way. The subtitle of the book is “the essence of the Gospel and the key to Christian Life. I can say with Francis, “this book has done me so much good”.
I vividly remember a convention that featured Henri Nouwen as our main speaker. He had his friend Adam with him sitting on stage. Reading Genius Born of Anguish helped to fill out my awareness of this gifted man. I, along with multitudes of others, have been drawn to his willingness to plum the depths of his own growth in faith and share it with us in his many books, conferences, retreats etc. down through the years. If you too have found a soul friend in Henri, you will love this book.
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.
A Love That Dares to Question: A Bishop Challenges His Church, by Bishop John Heaps from Australia, is a courageous little book with much packed into its119 pages. Written in 1998 before all the chaos became so well known, it gives guidance and hope to confront the needs of the church today.
Often, what seems like a tragedy turns out to be a gift. Amir D. Aczel, in his The Jesuit & The Skull, gives us the heroic struggle that Teilhard de Chardin endured in his quest to bring together science and faith. The agony of exile turns out to be the laboratory of discovery. The long years of silencing forced Teilhard deeper than he might have gone if his energies had he spent traveling to speak to the multitudes who would have been attracted to his insights. His deep relationships with both men and women radiates in his understanding of love. For a while his thoughts were suppressed. Now his name and wisdom is popping up everywhere. If you are just beginning to explore the man, his life and work, this is a good book to start with