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My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

by Christian Wiman

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302968,097 (4.28)3
"Composed in the difficult years since [having written a now-famous essay about having faith in the face of death] and completed in the wake of a bone marrow transplant, [this book] is a ... meditation on what a viable contemporary faith--responsive not only to modern thought and science but also to religious tradition--might feel like"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This is a wonderful book exploring difficulties of faith when confronting great challenges. Wiman is a wonderful writer. I recommend this to just about everyone. ( )
  Aldon.Hynes | Sep 14, 2021 |
I thought this book about the difficulties, joys, and anguishes of belief was stunning. The prose is dense and lyrical, not surprising given that Wiman is a poet by trade. Much of the book is, paradoxically, an argument against certainty as being a form of idolatry. It definitely speaks a religious language that will appeal more to modern intellectuals than to the average believer, and even by Wiman's terms I'm not sure whether that's a criticism or a compliment. I loved it, though. ( )
  jalbacutler | Apr 30, 2021 |
My Bright Abyss is not a book that you read, but one you must savor. It is slow-going, contradictory and painful; however, few books pull you deeper into the mysterious abyss of life like this one. It will be a book I read again.

It is a book that will challenge your faith and grow it, nudging you toward Jesus and confusing your connection to divinity. I loved the process of reading it; however, there's little I can recall after finishing. It's a book that gives very few answers but is a helpful companion for the journey. Recommended. ( )
  nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
What you must realize, what you must even come to praise, is the fact that there is no right way that is going to be come apparent to you once and for all. The most blinding illumination that strikes and perhaps radically changes your life will be aso attenuated and obscured by doubts and daliness that you may one day come to suspect the trust of that moment at all. The calling that seemed so clear will be lost in the echoes of questionings and indecision; the church that seemed to save you will fester with egos, complacencies, banalities, the deepest love of your life will work itself like a thorn in your heart until all you can think of is plucking it out. Wisdom is accepting the truth of this. Courage is persisting with life in spite of it. And faith is finding yourself , in the deepest part of your soul, in the very heart of who you are, moved to praise it."
My Bright Abyss Christian Wiman p 29
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  leebill | Apr 30, 2020 |
Wiman's collection of essays on his faith, poetry, theology, pain and suffering, and facing the stark reality of death is a truly moving read. The poet captures ideas and ways of being in the world, oriented toward God and life. I finished this book in a particular kind of awe, the sensation when an author speaks your own thoughts to you in a way that is far more beautiful than you could've articulated them yourself.
  b.masonjudy | Apr 3, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Mr. Wiman works out his "meditation" in brief sections, many no longer than a page, among which he intersperses poems—his own and others'—as well as quotations from theologians and philosophers such as Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Simone Weil. Mr. Wiman's book belongs on the same shelf as these authors' works, bringing their inquiries into the present
Wiman's new essay collection, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, is an exploration of his faith and life in extreme crisis. Noting how cancer's ever-presence has challenged his faith in Christianity, Western philosophy and lyric poetry, Wiman has chosen to plumb his ambivalence (his bright abyss) about all three rather than simply cementing his beliefs.
added by eereed | editNPR, Walton Muyumba (Apr 11, 2013)
What Wiman chooses to believe is that “we have souls and that they survive our deaths, in some sense that we are entirely incapable of imagining.” He knows how easy it is to dismiss such faith as wishful thinking. In fact, throughout the book he questions his every statement or speculation about ultimate things, especially those that comfort him in the extremity of pain and fear brought on by cancer. He anticipates the objections of skeptical readers, for he has had to wrestle with those objections himself: “Live long enough in secular culture, long enough to forget that it is secular culture, and at some point religious belief becomes preposterous to you. Atavistic. Laughable.”
In My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, to be released in April by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Christian Wiman—himself a fine poet and translator of the Russian poet and essayist Osip Mandelstam—contemplates the meaning of poetic incarnation in specifically Christian terms, drawing on a wide range of authors. He blends poetry (his own and others'), criticism, theological speculation, and memoir in ways that defy easy categorization, although this work might well be considered a distant offspring of Pascal's Pensées (1669), which offered a skeptical audience at the beginning of the Enlightenment a defense of the Christian religion in the form of "thoughts" that resembled journal entries.
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"Composed in the difficult years since [having written a now-famous essay about having faith in the face of death] and completed in the wake of a bone marrow transplant, [this book] is a ... meditation on what a viable contemporary faith--responsive not only to modern thought and science but also to religious tradition--might feel like"--Dust jacket flap.

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