The third of Barbara Brown Taylor's books that I read this year, and like all of them, it is well written. Some repetitive ideas in this, but mostly aThe third of Barbara Brown Taylor's books that I read this year, and like all of them, it is well written. Some repetitive ideas in this, but mostly a pretty beautiful meditation on darkness. Nothing that really transformed my way of thinking about darkness, but she pointed the way to some other writers and books I want to read. Mostly though this reads as a spiritual memoir, a process that she began with Leaving Church and followed with Altars in the World, and rounds out with this. This is something that she acknowledges herself in the beginning of the book, so it is not a flaw in the book, it is just lacking in deep substance in regards to philosophical, psychological and/or theological thought. Which, again, is okay, because it does seem that the process of writing this book was a transformative one for Taylor, and I think many that read it will find things to resonate with, just as I did. ...more
This poem is absolutely devastating and gorgeous. I have no idea how he was able to write such a book, so raw with the emotions off loss and grief forThis poem is absolutely devastating and gorgeous. I have no idea how he was able to write such a book, so raw with the emotions off loss and grief for his son, and yet so beautifully crafted. It is a memoir of a father's memory of his son's life and death, written in narrative poetic form, interweaving all the poets who have grappled with the deaths of their children through the centuries. Heartbreaking and filled with uncomprehending love....more
Good book over all. Beautifully written and humanely imagined story of a priest in the midst of the Irish child abuse scandal of the 90s and 00s. WritGood book over all. Beautifully written and humanely imagined story of a priest in the midst of the Irish child abuse scandal of the 90s and 00s. Written from the perspective of a likable flawed, naive and flawed narrator. Ends up being a beautiful meditation on the nature of innocence and responsibility. ...more
I like some of his novels, despite some cheap POV tricks, but this collection is just navel gazing misogynistic self indulgent and ultimately boring sI like some of his novels, despite some cheap POV tricks, but this collection is just navel gazing misogynistic self indulgent and ultimately boring stories. ...more
Excellent collection of short stories, all set in working class streets of Chicago, where Chicago is as much a character as any of the other characterExcellent collection of short stories, all set in working class streets of Chicago, where Chicago is as much a character as any of the other characters in the collection. Especially stirring are his stories that are made up with shorter linked stories and vignettes. Beautifully crafted....more
Wow. James Baldwin is an absolute master. I've read and taught "Sonny's Blues," so many times over the years, but this is the first time I've read thiWow. James Baldwin is an absolute master. I've read and taught "Sonny's Blues," so many times over the years, but this is the first time I've read this entire collection, and it just devastated me in that way only the best fiction and writing can do. He writes from so many different POVs and perspectives, from the perspective of young kids, with two stories following the same two kids, as the older of the two, and the only one from the mothers pre-married life, endures the hate of his step-father, and the loneliness of his love for his best friend; he writes from the perspective a black woman in her twenties living in Greenwich Village and sleeping with an unfaithful white artist; he writes from the perspective of a musician who lived in France for 12 years, and now is facing returning to America with his white Swedish wife and his son who has never known racism and hate; and in the very last story in the collection, and the most devastating, he writes from the perspective of a Southern white deputy, facing the civil unrest and civil disobedience of the civil rights movement, and he remembers not just nearly beating a black man he arrested earlier, but then dips deeper back in his memory to remember the first lynching his father and mother took him too, in all its graphic horror. The feat of empathy that Baldwin achieved to write the voice of that white man filled with such hate and confusion, and to imagine him as an eight year old innocent, who loses his innocence, is truly astonishing. ...more
A really fascinating look at the liminal call of the vowed life (i.e. monastic living), focusing on the three traditional vows of Poverty, Celibacy anA really fascinating look at the liminal call of the vowed life (i.e. monastic living), focusing on the three traditional vows of Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience, but looking at them through the lens of non-violence, and how we can understand those vows as a way towards non-violence. He begins with the premise that sustained human violence and dis-harmony began during the Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago, and is not innate to humanity, and to think it is innate, is indeed sacrilegious if we are truly creatures of not just creation, but of God. It is a beautifully written and challenging book about how to better strive for interrelatedness. He ultimately redefines each vow as:
The vow of Poverty = The Vow For Mutual Sustainability in which the monastic strives not for austerity, perfectionism and deprivation, but rather for stewardship, corresponsibility, living simply so that others may simply live, and Holiness through wholesome sharing. In this re-interpretation of the vow, he extends it beyond the monastic working with the poor and disenfranchised people, but also for the Earth itself, which has been so injured by humans.
The Vow of Celibacy = The Vow For Relatedness, so that rather than focusing on deprevation and striving to become asexual, and viewing sexuality (in all its manifestations) as carnal and wrong, but rather celebrating human sexuality as a natural embodiment of God an a way of relatedness, as "an incarnational gift that engages every human person on the journey to wholeness," (56) and the celibate can still "feel the full repertoire of sexual feeling and emotion" (63) and thus foster a "well developed capacity to relate warmly and lovingly with other human beings."(57)
The Vow of Obedience = The Vow For Mutual Collaboration as a way of challenging traditional patriarchal hierarchical structures to discover (or rediscover) a way of collaboration rather than competition and violence.
I could write so much more from this, but basically, this is an interesting and challenging read asking hard questions. Readers will not agree with everything O'Murchu states (nor would he expect you to - he says as much in the book) but rather the book is a way toward a dialogue, and more than anything, it is a really beautiful statement of purpose and reason for those who have followed, or are hearing, the call to vocation. He writes of the monastic as one who demonstrates and lives the:
"willingness to risk everything in the process of value radiation. We encounter our ever-changing world in its light and in its darkness, and connect with those people and situations in seeking greater transparency for the fundamental gospel values of justice, love, peace and liberation." (35)
He is not saying that this book is expressing a way forward for everyone, he is speaking to the need for the monastics to live on the edge of things, and in that liminal existence, bear witness and radiate alternative values and ways of being in striving to heal our world that we have fragmented and harmed through our violence....more
Gorgeous book of poetry, engaging with science, God, love, hate, current events and story-telling. Really, truly beautiful. My favorite poem is probabGorgeous book of poetry, engaging with science, God, love, hate, current events and story-telling. Really, truly beautiful. My favorite poem is probably, "It & CO" but there are others I love as well.
I also love this line at the end of the poem "Savior," on therapy and therapists:
". . . I remember thanking him each time The session was done. But mostly what I see Is a human hand reaching down to lift A pebble from my tongue." (22)
This won the Pulitzer in 2011 and I'm not sure why it has taken me this long to reach it. ...more
Began the year reading Bossypants (second book read in 2014) and am ending it with Poehler's Yes Please (well, will likely read another five books, orBegan the year reading Bossypants (second book read in 2014) and am ending it with Poehler's Yes Please (well, will likely read another five books, or so, before year is out, but still, its December). Both books I read because I was with friends that had the books, which gave me permission to read books I would normally never seek out, even though I am a fan of both of these women and their shows. I'm just not much of one for the celebrity memoir. That said, this book is well written and tangential, funny and serious, and Poehler further endears herself by being quite aware of the privilege she had growing up in a loving and stable lower-middle class household as a white woman, and the even greater privilege she continues to enjoy, while also not diminishing the fact that she can be as anxiety prone and self-doubty as the rest of us, and that she also worked hard to get where she is (while also acknowledging the safety net of her family beneath her). Anyway, if you like Amy Poehler, you will like this book, even if you generally read more "literary" books....more