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The Best Spiritual Writing 2001 by Philip…

The Best Spiritual Writing 2001

by Philip Zaleski

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Comparative Religion; Mythology (No Longer Used) > Other Religions > Religion
  FHQuakers | Feb 13, 2018 |
This collection of stories provided the spiritual thought fodder I was expecting to kick off Lent this year. My favorite was probably "How to Pray: Reverence, Stories, and the Rebbe's Dream" by Ben Birmbaum. Birmbaum shared several stories about his Jewish upbringing, including the tale he read about a Rabbi who traveled to a far-off town to find a teacher, who turned out to be a woodcutter who ate ernestly as a result of a deep commitment to God. He also relates a spiritual teaching about the meaning of the proximate stories of the man who tried to catch the Ark of the Covenant and David's ernest dancing before the Lord. "Grace Notes" by Brian Doyle was an enjoyable essay in the Montaigne style about how Grace can be found in so many ways. "Bear Butte Diary" by John Landretti and "Stillbirth" by Leah Koncelic Lebec were vivid but don't sit deep in my memory. "Toward Humility" by Bret Lott was interesting both as a story and for the relevance to the life of a writer. "Being Saint Francis" by Valerie Martin was a very personal introduction to the life of Saint Francis Assissi. Others that I appreciated include "Holy Land Pilgrimages: A Diary" by George Weigel (an analysis of Pop John Paul II's pilgrimage in 2000). The poems didn't resonate with me. ( )
  jpsnow | Apr 27, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0062517724, Paperback)

Senior editor for Parabola magazine Philip Zaleski has a finely tuned sense of strong writing and strong spirit, as evidenced in the fifth installment of his highly esteemed Best Spiritual Writing series. The introduction by Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog) sets the stage for the writers to follow. He tells of stumbling upon a "spiritual bookstore" while vacationing and how he immediately recoiled from the incense, crystals, goddess posters, and bookshelves labeled "Transcendence" and "Healing." On the same street he discovered a bookstore with a cigarette-smoking clerk and familiar genres: fiction, poetry. While one store shouted spiritual slogans and quick fixes, the other invited his soul to travel the gritty mysteries of characters, dialog, landscape, and story. "And it occurred to me that the form of spirituality I trust most comes directly from the sensual mass of life itself." Indeed, the host of heavenly voices in this anthology seems to rise from the complicated "sensual mass" called life. Bestselling author Brett Lott speaks of Oprah selecting Jewel for her book club and how it set in motion a series of humiliating lessons. In "Stillbirth," Leah Konselik Lebec reckons with the death of her 28-week-old son in utero. Some essays rise from a seeker's wonderment, such as Valerie Martin's essay "Being St. Francis." There are the occasional dry spots, but they remind readers that spirituality is not an entertainment industry. Rather, it is a reverent process born out of the willingness to listen and pay close attention. Other contributors include Terry Tempest Williams, Thomas Moore, and Pattiann Rogers. --Gail Hudson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:34 -0400)

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