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The Best American Spiritual Writing 2008

by Philip Zaleski (Editor)

Other authors: Stephen M. Barr (Contributor), Wendell Berry (Contributor), Ben Birnbaum (Contributor), Joseph Bottum (Contributor), Jimmy Carter (Introduction)31 more, John Coats (Contributor), David James Duncan (Contributor), Paul Elie (Contributor), Peter Everwine (Contributor), Kate Farrell (Contributor), Noah Feldman (Contributor), Natalie Goldberg (Contributor), David Brendan Hopes (Contributor), Walter Isaacson (Contributor), Pico Iyer (Contributor), Heather King (Contributor), Maxine Kumin (Contributor), Ursula K. Le Guin (Contributor), James Loney (Contributor), Nancy Lord (Contributor), Thomas Lynch (Contributor), Adam Minter (Contributor), Richard John Neuhaus (Contributor), Robert Pinsky (Contributor), Richard Rodriguez (Contributor), Oliver Sacks (Contributor), Nick Samaras (Contributor), Mathew N. Schmalz (Contributor), Kurt Shaw (Contributor), Jason Shinder (Contributor), Sally Thomas (Contributor), J. Scott Turner (Contributor), John Updike (Contributor), Christian Wiman (Contributor), Charles Wright (Contributor), Hamza Yusuf (Contributor)

Series: The Best Spiritual Writing (2008), Best American (2008)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
844288,394 (3.72)5
In his introduction to this volume, President Jimmy Carter writes that The Best American Spiritual Writing "approaches the writing of both poetry and prose as a spiritual discipline, a way to explore the mysteries of the soul and the soul’s relationship with God.” As always, editor Philip Zaleski has assembled a wide-ranging and wonderfully eclectic collection that delves headlong into that spiritual discipline, looking to inspire, provoke, and offer insight into modern spirituality and religion. Here you will find Walter Isaacson’s brilliant and provocative portrait of Einstein’s religious life--a cross between his parents’ secularism, his native Judaism, and his Catholic grade-school education. Drawing from his own experience of trying to inhabit multiple worlds, Noah Feldman examines the difficulties facing faith communities as they adhere to tradition yet also strive to be modern, in "Orthodox Paradox.” When "Meeting the Chinese in St. Paul,” Natalie Goldberg, with the help of a broken rhinoceros fan, grapples with this question: how should I live, knowing the world is a confusing place? Pico Iyer weighs in on his tranquil retreat, the holiest place in Japan; Oliver Sacks gives a moving account of a man with retrograde amnesia, striving for a meaningful life devoid of memory; and Ursula K. Le Guin passionately explains, as only she can, the appeal and subtle morality of A. E. Housman’s "A Shropshire Lad: XXXII.” Committed to literary excellence, this "invaluable collection” (Library Journal) also features poetry from distinguished voices such as Wendell Berry, Maxine Kumin, John Updike, and Charles Wright. As Zaleski writes in his foreword, The Best American Spiritual Writing 2008 proves that the writing in this edition is a stirring "medium for contemplating, via the things of the flesh, the things of the spirit.”… (more)
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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
A wonderful, thought provoking collection of essays and poetry! I got it in particular to read Christian Wiman's essay "Love Bade me Welcome," (which funny enough you can find online), but so many were delightful and challenging. I so wish I had more time to stew and chew and reflect on them more. ( )
  nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
Great collection of essays, poems and reflections -- not religious per se, but certainly indicative of Belief. Zaleski clarifies in his intro: "By spiritual writing, I mean writing that sheds light upon the life of the soul, that reveals the manifold ways human beings repsond to truth, beauty, and goodness and the depth and mystery and suffering and glory of our relationship to God." One favorite poem included here is XYZ by Robert Pinsky and I enjoyed the essay "Einstein and Faith" which first appeared in Time magazine. "The Lost River" has a Native American spirituality and "The Closest to Love We Ever Get" is about finding the sacred amidst the shabby. This was the 10th anniversary edition of this publication and it's a good one. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Not my favorite in this annual series, but still good stuff. "The Closest We Ever Get to Love," an essay by Heather King, is a keeper. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
Definitely worth reading. Parts of it are pedantic and parts are brilliant, but I would probably be willing to buy it every year just for the true gems included. ( )
  TheBentley | Feb 12, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zaleski, PhilipEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barr, Stephen M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berry, WendellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Birnbaum, BenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bottum, JosephContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carter, JimmyIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coats, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duncan, David JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elie, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Everwine, PeterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Farrell, KateContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Feldman, NoahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goldberg, NatalieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hopes, David BrendanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Isaacson, WalterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Iyer, PicoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
King, HeatherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kumin, MaxineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Le Guin, Ursula K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Loney, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lord, NancyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lynch, ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Minter, AdamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Neuhaus, Richard JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pinsky, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rodriguez, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sacks, OliverContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Samaras, NickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schmalz, Mathew N.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shaw, KurtContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shinder, JasonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thomas, SallyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Turner, J. ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Updike, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wiman, ChristianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wright, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yusuf, HamzaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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In his introduction to this volume, President Jimmy Carter writes that The Best American Spiritual Writing "approaches the writing of both poetry and prose as a spiritual discipline, a way to explore the mysteries of the soul and the soul’s relationship with God.” As always, editor Philip Zaleski has assembled a wide-ranging and wonderfully eclectic collection that delves headlong into that spiritual discipline, looking to inspire, provoke, and offer insight into modern spirituality and religion. Here you will find Walter Isaacson’s brilliant and provocative portrait of Einstein’s religious life--a cross between his parents’ secularism, his native Judaism, and his Catholic grade-school education. Drawing from his own experience of trying to inhabit multiple worlds, Noah Feldman examines the difficulties facing faith communities as they adhere to tradition yet also strive to be modern, in "Orthodox Paradox.” When "Meeting the Chinese in St. Paul,” Natalie Goldberg, with the help of a broken rhinoceros fan, grapples with this question: how should I live, knowing the world is a confusing place? Pico Iyer weighs in on his tranquil retreat, the holiest place in Japan; Oliver Sacks gives a moving account of a man with retrograde amnesia, striving for a meaningful life devoid of memory; and Ursula K. Le Guin passionately explains, as only she can, the appeal and subtle morality of A. E. Housman’s "A Shropshire Lad: XXXII.” Committed to literary excellence, this "invaluable collection” (Library Journal) also features poetry from distinguished voices such as Wendell Berry, Maxine Kumin, John Updike, and Charles Wright. As Zaleski writes in his foreword, The Best American Spiritual Writing 2008 proves that the writing in this edition is a stirring "medium for contemplating, via the things of the flesh, the things of the spirit.”

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