Thursday, August 03, 2006

More on book reviews by me, and links to them...Books about spiritual and God matters...

A Mystical Portrait of Jesus: New Perspectives on John's Gospel (Paperback)

Here is the beginning of the Chapter "Love Gives All." Just two sentences that say so much: "The story of the crucifixion and death of Jesus is summed up perfectly in the words of John: 'Having Loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end' (13:1). This is a little like being reminded at Christmas time that Jesus will die on the cross. There is a mystery to the life of the man Jesus, part of it for me is that it was so short. We were given only three years of his ministry to look at for wisdom and saving grace. In this book Demetrius Dumm uses the text of John with his comments to help us as a guide through a reading of John.

The Oblate of St. Benedict (Dedalus European Classics) (Paperback)

The Author Joris-Karl Huysmans is French, and this novel is set in France, translated from the French. That tells you a lot. One learns more of the genre, which I call religious, when one learns the book was originally published in 1904. That makes it what the publisher calls a European Classic. From my understanding, the author was an Oblate in the Roman Catholic Church. I had the distinct feeling that the Oblate thought himself both superior to the average or common man, and at the same time found a way to make himself and his order seem humorous. That is a French kind of humor--foolish and a fool involved with a life of prayer and seeking God. Sometimes called a man who can be a fool for God. The Oblate is a man under a promise to a monastery who lives in the world, but in this case spends much time attending the prayer offices of the monastery near which he lives.

Word into Silence (Paperback)

The title intrigues me, as does this book by Dom John Main, OSB. The writer, a monk, is telling us about using a word as a prayer to bring us to silence inside that we allow us to pursue and find God. If you are Christocentric, as am I, you will find this a seminal book, so clearly written on meditation and taking ones life into the realms of relationship with God throughout the day. Not so much a how-to book as a book on practice, this quote from the beginning of "Word into Silence" gives a summary and authority to the belief we can come to the Lord: It is from Chapter 5 of Paul's letter to the Romans: "Therefore, now that we have been justified through faith, let us continue at peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom we have been allowed to enter the sphere of God's grace, where we now stand. Let us exult in the hope of the divine splendour that is to be ours...because God's love has flooded our inmost heart through the Holy Spirit He has given us."

Ten Commandments (Hardcover)

First, I want to mention how I stumbled on this book. With luck I did stumble on it, too. I was searching for poetry about The Ten Commandments. This is a book that is like a series of confessions and conceits, a book about living life and the failings that we even good people have when it comes to the yardstick of The Ten Commandments. A lively hardback, to my surprise the book arrived with a charming art-like dustcover, in hardbook, on good paper and well layed out all for a song. Remember, I'd not heard a word of this book of poetry before finding it. Now I am a fan of J.D. McClatchy, for anyone who can capture and poetically state a tenor of lives caught in living, and wrought with a poet's sense is someone well worth the time to consider. I suppose I am raising my very modest voice to a host of others, but mostly I am saying this is probably an overlooked book because it says "Ten Commandments."

Echoes From Calvary: Meditations On Franz Joseph Haydn's Seven Last Words Of The Christ (Paperback)

I found "Echoes from Calvary" by way of an article in The San Francisco Chronicle by a writer named Peter Steinfels under the label "Beliefs." It says as headline, "Haydn's music on Christ's last words, a transforming journey from concert hall to sacred setting." The book is a text of meditations and is titled "Echoes from Calvary: Meditations on Franz Joseph Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Christ." This lovely book has 2 CDs, the complete performance with the spoken word and one CD with music only. One intriguing part of the book is the first which goes through the musical and spiritual journey of the man who put all this together, a musician named Richard Young. Now I think this is a heavy kind of reading, for it is a Good Friday text--so why at Easter time. That's when I read it. I am interested in the resurrection, from a religious viewpoint, and of course the entry way is Holy Week and Good Friday. There you have my reason.

Christ and the Universe (Hardcover)

This is a book that originally was a doctoral thesis, mine printed around 1972.It is a work that allows the reader to participate in a thought process and intuitive, yes even intuitive, scholarly study of Teilhard de Chardin and the Cosmos. I recommend the book, a slim volume of good writing that is understandable to the layman or anyone interested in the cosmic idea of the Christ and the considerations of God (the Triune) in our lives. The writer, who is known to me as the Very Reverend is part of the Order of Saint Benedict, Camaldoles. The work holds the imprint of his order, showing its acceptability as doctrine.

The Golden String: An Autobiography (Paperback)

There is a formative sense to his writings, a recollection in faith and Godthat is delicately wrought and said with a sense of the imminence of God inhis life as a young man, and the beauty of poetry. I like that he comes tothe subject of generations and of the various human forces of mankind intwentieth century history with a willingness of being open to someimaginative life that seems touched with the Holy Spirit. I wonder aboutthis man of Christ, and his life that is lived in a way that is reallyoutsidemy experience and observation (saintly); here is Dom Bede's genuineness in faithand his own religious devotion.

Celebrating the Seasons: Daily Spiritual Readings for the Christian Year (Hardcover)

There is a holiness about this book of readings, "Celebrating the Seasons: Daily Spiritual Readings for the Christian Year." I bought my copy at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco in 2000. Here are some of my writings about that event, and I call it an event since the book has meaning to me: "January 11, 2000. I visited Grace Cathedral Gift Shop and bought this since the 12 days of Christmas are over. I was going to get a new pew copy of The Book of Common Prayer. I ducked into the Cathedral--while waiting for a friend--this turned out well...God loves a sinner and seeks the lost sheep and the lamb."

Christian Meditation : Experiencing the Presence of God (Hardcover)

There is so much in this hardback with the attractive dustcover that it is difficult to know where to start. The author, James Finley, says what his book is about from his perspective as the writer, and what could be better: "...I am sharing with you what I have learned thus far in my ongoing spiritual journey." For people who see their life as a spiritual journey, even a pilgrimage or travel through the desert, James Finley has written an articulate if somewhat detailed text on being with and learning to seek God in ones life.

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