Silence: A Christian History (2013) by Diarmaid MacCulloch
MacCulloch, Professor of Church History at Oxford, provides a gracefully written history of silence from the Bible, to the early Christian monks and the Reformation, and finally to contemporary issues. Courageously, MacCulloch tackles the downside of silence in some Christian churches on their responses to slavery, gays and lesbians, and clergy sexual abuse of minors. Greater attention to the theme of God’s silence, in response to such matters as the Holocaust and (sometimes dry) interior devotion, would have made this fine book even better.
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (2009) by Barbara Brown Taylor
I liked this book because Taylor talks about meeting God in our everyday lives by engaging in simple, spiritual practices, such as walking, working, and praying. She explains how simple acts, such as these, can be meditational if we take time to notice the sights, smells, and sounds around us. According to Taylor as we incorporate these practices into our daily lives, we discover altars everywhere we go. Finally, this text reinforces the pastoral messages which we, at WPC, received when we had a series of sermons on spiritual practices which help us live with purpose. A simple read, this book will feed your soul.
Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (2005) by Rob Bell
I was drawn to this book while attending the Silent Retreat in May. Shared by Rev. Matt Hardin from his library, I was curious about this book with such an odd title, and the table of contents with chapters such as “Jump,” “Yoke,” “True,” “Dust,” “New.” What I read seemed simple yet profound as insights into our faith. Now I am sitting down with it cover to cover, and have just sent copies to my college aged niece and nephew.
Calling the Doves/El Canto de Las Palomas (2001) by Jean Felipe Herrera
He was recently appointed U.S. Poet Laureate, the first Hispanic to hold this title. The book is a beautifully illustrated children’s book written in both English and Spanish. This is a story of his childhood growing up with parents who were migrant workers in California fields.
The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May (The Black House, The Lewis Man, The Chess Men, 2013-2015)
Delving into a different type of mystery, this trilogy is set in the Isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides of Scotland, an island where chess pieces from the 12th century were discovered in 1831. This series of murder mysteries is intriguing and gives much of the history and lore of the land, by a wonderful writer.
All of the Light We Cannot See (2014) by Anthony Doerr and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2014
The book is hauntingly beautiful. It tells the tale of a blind French girl living in occupied France, and a boy from Nazi Germany during World War II. This talented, sensitive German boy is caught up in the machine that was Nazi Germany. The book is also about how their lives are intertwined in an unexpected, intricate unfolding of events. I am also reading a devotional guide, At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time (2011) by Sarah Arthur. Ordinary Time, running for roughly 29 weeks from Pentecost Sunday in the spring until the first Sunday of Advent, is the longest season of the church year, with few significant events along the way, which gives it an ordinariness the other seasons lack. With themes for each week, and including the writing of such novelists and poets as Austen, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Garrison Keillor, St. John of the Cross, and Kathleen Norris, the pages open to “worlds to be explored, characters to meet, images to gaze upon, phrases to savor” (Paraclete Press).