Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review

This review originally appeared on the Alan's Eyes & Ears blog:


Saints Behaving Badly, by Thomas J. Craughwell. Hardcover. 
The cover promises to tell the stories of “cutthroats, crooks, trollops, con men and devil worshippers who became saints.”
I knew the stories of many of these saints, including Augustine, Patrick, and Ignatius. But there were many more obscure saints and stories that I did not know. The story of St. Moses the Ethiopian, a violent gang leader in the 300s who later embraced the life of fasting and prayer after seeking shelter with a community of monks, was unknown to me. Also the biography of St. Alipius, a student of the Augustine (another infamous and notorious sinner turned saint), was "obsessed with blood sports" and all types of gambling. 
Balancing the humor inherent in some of these stories with the proper tone of reverence is not easy. But Craughwell does manage to accomplish this, with each of these small (4 to 10 pages) vignettes demonstrating his basic point that a saint is made and not born, and that nobody is beyond the reach of the grace of God.
Craughwell set out to present a readable, entertaining, and inspiring book of saint stories. And with those as his marching orders, I’d say he succeeded.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bruce Cockburn on How We Live

" ... no matter what, as we live and we die, we are always moving toward a sort of mutual absorption of and by spirit; that my soul remains rooted in the Divine; and that life is, or ought to be, ruled by love."
  --  From "Rumours of Glory: a memoir"

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bruce Cockburn on The Mysticism of Marriage

"The church where Kitty and I were married was a human construct built to accommodate and celebrate the possibility of a relationship with God. But I don't think it was about the building. It is the opening, the baring of souls to each other and therefore to the Divine, that allows these communications to occur. I will say, though,that we seemed to be i the right place at the right time, doing right by God in his house, and that might have helped."

  -- From "Rumours of Glory: a memoir"

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bruce Cockburn on Discovering the Mystics

"I discovered Tielhard de Chardin, the Jesuit priest/paleontologist whose writings defied Church doctrine, and behind him I found a trail of Christian mysticism I had not known existed, a strain so powerful that it had been strategically sidelined by mainstream church leaders whose temporal power was anchored in mythic history and rule-maikng"

  -- from "Rumours of Glory: a memoir"

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review

This review originally appeared at Alan's Eyes & Ears:

Little Black Sheep: A Memoir, by Ashley Cleveland. NOOK.

I have known of Ashley Cleveland since her debut album Big Town came out in 1991, and have had positive feelings about her and her music since. She was on the fringes of the Christian music scene in the nineties, and I was a fan of a lot of artists who were on the fringes of the Christian music scene in the nineties.

I lost track of the specific of her career over the years, other than the vague notion that she put out a critically-acclaimed album a few years ago. That album, Before the Daylight's Shot, in fact won a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Rock Gospel Album.

But I knew nothing about her life. This book fills in all of the gaps. Raw and vulnerable, Cleveland details her troubled upbringing with disconnected parents, and her own struggles and addictions. Even as she was winning Grammy winner in the Gospel music world, she was an alcoholic and addict.

The nice thing about memours by songwriters, is that they tend to be very good writers, and Cleveland's skill with words and images are obvious in the writing. She has come to a nice place in her life and her career as she approaches 50, and she hopes all her worst days are behind her. But as she details in the book, every day has its own struggles, and its own little victories.

Source: A group on Facebook posted that this book was free for a few days through the Nook store, and I grabbed it during that window of opportunity.

Friday, March 27, 2015

N.T. Wright on Jesus' Empire

"Instead of the eagle with its talons and claws, Jesus summoned people to a different kind of empire: peacemaking, mercy,humility and a passion for genuine and restorative justice."

  -- from "Paul and the Faithfulness of God"

Monday, March 09, 2015

John Paul II on Invitation

"We are all invited to participate in this process of leaving behind the well-known, the familiar. We are all invited to turn toward the God who, in Jesus Christ, opened Himself to us, "breaking down the dividing wall of enmity" (Eph. 2:14) in order to draw us to Himself through the Cross."

  -- from "Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way"

Sunday, February 08, 2015

NT Wright on Evil

"Monotheism of any kind always faces a challenge in dealing with the fact of evil; particularly human evil, but also the sense that the whole creation is somehow infected with a sickness that thwarts the creator's purpose, which is that his glory and power should fill the whole world."  --  from "Paul and the Faithfulness of God"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review

This review originally appeared on the Alan's Eyes & Ears blog:

 The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, by The Venerable Bede. Unabridged audio.

I am a sucker for church history, but it took me a while to get around to reading the most famous piece of church history from the first millennium.

The focus is on the Christian history of the British Isles. This has been a particular interest to me since I ran across the music of the UK-based band Iona more than 20 years ago. Bede hits the main characters and locals that I was hoping for, such as Iona, Lindisfarne, Columba, and Columcille.

There are certainly moments of dryness in the accounts, as many of the people and circumstances have been lost to time (save this book). But many of the accounts were colorful, and so although some of the chronologies did not stick with me, many of the stories did. The relationships between the various British peoples, both with each other and with the authorities in Rome, form a backbone for the history.

In terms of theology, the issue that Bede spends the most time on is the correct dating for Easter. Although backing the Roman interpretation, he is gracious to other believers who believe differently.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

John Paul II on Faith

"Beginning with Abraham, the faith of each of his sons represents a constant leaving behind of what is cherished, familiar, and personal, in order to open up to the unknown, trusting in the truth we share and the common future we all have in God."

  -- from "Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way"