A city full of sacred music: 7-18-13
When labels just confuse: 7-20/21-13

Discerning new books: 7-19-13

Fans of the late Henri Nouwen (and they are legion) will be delighted to know that his editors and friends have compiled another posthumous volume of his mostly unpublished writing.

DiscernmentThis latest one is called, simply, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, and instead of critiquing it I want simply to give you a few examples of the kind of insights you'll find in the thinking of this prolific Catholic priest who became the senior pastor of L'Arche Daybreak in Toronto.

* "The way of discernment begins with prayer. Praying means breaking through the veil of existence and allowing youself to be led by the vision that has become real to you, whatever you call that vision. . ."

* "Discernment is a spiritual understanding and an experiential knowledge of how God is active in daily life that is acquired through disciplined spiritual practice."

* "Discernment is expressed concisely by the apostle Paul in the Letter to the Colossians: 'We ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord' (Col.1:9-10 NRSV). By 'spiritual understanding,' Saint Paul means discerning, intuitive and perceptive knowledge, usually found in solitude, the fruit of which is a profound insight into the interconnectedness of all things, through which we can situate ourselves in time and space to know God's will and do God's work in the world."

* "The purpose of discernment is to know God's will, that is, to find, accept and affirm the unique way in which God's love is manifest in our life."

* "While discernment begins in solitude, individual seekers of God always come together in community, for the Spirit gathers all believers into one body for accountability and mutual support."

* "How do we know when to act, when to wait? How will we know when it is our time to lead rather than our time to follow? Discernment calls us to spiritual understanding but also to action."

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Now I want to add to your possible summer reading list several other books that I won't be reviewing in detail but will link you to sites at which you can read in some depth about them to see whether they might interest you.

* Shaking Hands with the Devil: The Intersection of Terrorism and Theology, by William J. Abraham. The author is a professor at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. I will be returning to this intriguing book in a later post to begin to explore the connection between terrorism and religion.

* Dynamics of Catholic Education: Letting the Catholic School Be School, by Louis DeThomasis. The author is the former president of St. Mary's University of Minnesota.

* There Is No God And He Is Always with You: A Search for God in Odd Places, by Brad Warner. The author is a Soto Zen monk.

* Hidden in Christ: Living as God's Beloved, by James Bryan Smith. The author teaches theology at Friends University in Wichita.

*Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer. The author works at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, a prime advocate for the concept of intelligent design.

* The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic, by John Shelby Spong. This is the latest in Bishop Spong's remarkably long list of challenging books.

* Yoga Wisdom at Work: Finding Sanity Off the Mat and On the Job, by Maren Showkeir and Jamie Showkeir.

* Walking the Disciple's Path: Eight Steps That Will Change Your Life and the World, by Linda Perrone Rooney. The author is a hospital chaplain and spiritual director.

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A new poll shows Americans are about equally divided on the question of whether capitalism and the free market economy are consistent with or at odds with Christianity. I'm surprised. I would have guessed capitalism had a lot more backing than that. Surprised but pleased. In May I wrote this National Catholic Reporter column about capitalism and Christianity.


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