While American church culture (and American culture at large) seems largely designed for the extroverted, it's estimated that half of the American population is introverted, and they're often left wondering how, even if, they fit in the kingdom of God. As one of them, popular radio host Brant Hansen brings news. It's wonderful, refreshing, and never-been-said-this-way-before good news.
While the book focuses on what it is like to feel like a misfit in the author's Fundamentalist Christian sub-culture, it may help introverts regardless of their religious beliefs or the organizations they belong to. I grew up in what we used to call a &quot;standard brand&quot; Protestant church i.e. Methodist, Lutheran, Congregational et al. So the author's church experience is far different from mine. But there are introverts in Methodist churches and I'm told Episcopalians tend to be introverts. The book is helpful in arguing that just because you are an introvert and not bubbling over with enthusiasm for your faith tradition like some of your extraverted co-religionists, it doesn't mean that you're not religious or somehow lacking the real deal however it might be defined in your church. Just because you have what St. Paul called &quot;gifts differing&quot; doesn't mean you're a fake or an imposter or somehow lacking. Because what's left of religious culture in the United States tends to be expressed emotionally, extraverts tend to believe that if you are not emoting and dancing in the streets or whatever, you're faithless. Even in the larger secular culture, people who are quiet are often seen as deficient. This book makes a strong case that introverts/misfits are not less than the extraverts who brag about being on fire for their religion. I don't know of another book that addresses this issue. Brant Hansen makes a convincing case for the introvert's right to practice their religion in their own way.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Letting Go describes a simple and effective means by which to let go of the obstacles to enlightenment and become free of negativity. During the many decades of the author's clinical psychiatric practice, the primary aim was to seek the most effective ways to relieve human suffering in all of its many forms. The inner mechanism of surrender was found to be of great practical benefit and is described in this book.
Completed in the last year of Dr. David Hawkins life, this book is a masterpiece summation of his teachings. Written in easy to understand language, well read by Peter Lownds, "Letting Go" guides you through steps to free yourself from feelings and emotions that are blocking you from true happiness. This is the best book of its type that I have ever read.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Have you ever wondered just what it would take to experience miracles as everyday occurrences in your life? In Living A Course in Miracles : Applying the Course's Messages of Wisdom, Courage, and Forgiveness, renowned Course expert Kenneth Wapnick takes you on an extraordinary journey of spiritual transformation. As he shares his insights, you may discover that shifting the way you perceive your life may open doors that you weren't even aware existed.
I bought this after watching some YouTube videos of Ken Wapnick. He seemed to have a rye sense of humor and insights into A Course in Miracles. And if this audio had just been Wapnick it might have been okay. But there is a un-credited narrator who comes on between segments to tell you either what Wapnick is going to say or what he has said. This narrator sounds like a car salesman. Then in the final third of the program, a woman named Gloria comes on to add her two-cents worth. Gloria seems to have suffered through the Course and seems determined to make the listener suffer, too. She takes what Wapnick keeps referring to as a simple spiritual program and turns it into a staggering complicated ordeal. There are steps on a ladder that "students" of the course must climb. There are stages, some of them painful, which "students" must go through. Gloria's experience with the Course is hard to listen to. If she were a Christian missionary, there would be very few Christians because she makes this "spiritual program" seem like a death march. Perhaps a young masochist would find Gloria's version of the Course attractive as she invites listeners to embark on a lifetime struggle that does not appear to have made her a happier person. Wapnick's parts are interesting and sometimes amusing but between the syrupy narrator and Gloria's suffering, the end result of listening to this workshop is pretty much a complete turn off.
13 of 15 people found this review helpful
Anne Lamott is known for her perceptive and funny writings about spirituality. Listeners of all ages have followed her faith journey through decades of trial and error (sometimes more error than Annie wanted), and in her new book, she has coalesced all she knows about prayer to three essentials: Help, Thanks, and Wow. It is these three prayers - asking for assistance from a higher power, appreciating all that we have and all that is good, and feeling awe at the beauty of the world around us - that can get us through the day and can show us the way forward.
Anne Lamott is a streetwise funny liberal Christian operating in a piety-free spiritual zone. "Help me not to be such an ass" is just one example of her take on prayer. It is a refreshing break from the mega-church prosperity gospel that preaches dogma straight out of the Republican playbook where Jesus is a CEO and "consider the lilies of the field they neither toil nor spin" is some kind of misprint. Lamott doesn't seem to believe in a God who will help you pray and grow rich. She talks about the God of pet owners suffering with their dying cats, parents of children with brain cancer, nature lovers trudging through life with Lou Gehrig's Disease, and alcoholics struggling to stay sober one day at a time. This book is infused with the spirituality of storefront Alcoholics Anonymous meetings where strugglers pray to a higher power of their own choosing, NOT one forced on them by a TV preacher. Early on, Lamott makes it clear that she doesn't care what you call God. She explains that some people call their higher power Howard having presumably heard the Lord's Prayer in an A.A. meeting and recited: "Our Father which art in Heaven, Howard be thy name ..." Names don't matter. Piety doesn't count. Being a nice person is beside the point. The important thing is to make honest contact with a power greater than yourself. This is a book about prayer for people who understand the old saying: "Religion is for people who don't want to go to Hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there." But beyond the gritty lefty slant to Lamott on prayer, there is a commitment to telling the truth about life no matter how painful and of finding little ways to ask for Help when you're in trouble, give Thanks when you get a break and occasionally say Wow when the Universe gives you glimpse of beauty.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
A high school history teacher in a small Colorado town, Guthrie is raising his two young sons alone. Thoughtful and honest, he is guiding them through a world that is not always kind. Victoria, one of his students, is pregnant, homeless, and vulnerable to the scorn of the town. When Guthrie helps two elderly ranchers take the young woman into their home, an unlikely extended family is born.
This book is very well written and the narration is great but the story was too bleak for my taste. It may be realistic in its depiction of small town life with ordinary people trying to cope with eccentrics and bullies but overall it has a hopeless feel to it. Certainly a lot of 20th Century literary legends like Faulkner wrote similar stories. It was recommended to me by a friend who loved it. I did not love it and felt more like I was enduring it. Basically this falls in the category of the kind of literary realism you'll like if you like that kind of thing.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Anne Lamott writes about faith, family, and community in essays that are both wise and irreverent. It's an approach that has become her trademark. Now in Small Victories, Lamott offers a new message of hope that celebrates the triumph of light over the darkness in our lives. Our victories over hardship and pain may seem small, she writes, but they change us - our perceptions, our perspectives, and our lives.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Wilson, Dorothy Parker and Martin Luther King Jr. walk into a bar and the bartender says: "Who are you? Anne Lamott's spiritual grand parents?"
Probably no other living literary essayist is as hard to pigeon hole as the author of Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. What do you say about a super liberal, recovering alcoholic, darkly witty solipsistic, Christian activist?
Most people with her mixed bag of viewpoints would end up writing letters to the editor that never got printed. But Lamott is an author has great gifts. She writes honestly and sometimes scathingly about family and friends, but unlike most bloggers she manages to make her rants and raves entertaining and insightful.
She has a two-part essay here about her struggles with her mother, who despite being a Bay Area leftie intellectual lawyer was also a nightmare as a parent. Despite being 20+ years sober in AA and a liberal version of a born again Christian, Anne was in a rage about her mother even after the old woman died. It took Anne two years using every trick in the AA and socialist Jesus books to come to any terms with her mother at all.
Anne LaMott does not engage in the kind "podium talk" where a recovering alcoholic gets up at an AA meeting and says how wonderful their life is now that they are sober. Ditto for getting up in a pulpit and extolling the amazing and cool things that have happened to her since she found Jesus.
Listening to Anne read her essays, you wonder how she can stand to live her own life filled with horrid politicians and nasty PTA mothers, dying and trying family members and friends, and the author's own foibles and personal failures.
But her writing is redeemed by wit as when she refers to turning 60 as entering "extreme middle age." And it graced by those minor miracles, which make a troubled life bearable.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
You are invited to sit at the feet of a contemplative master. After a radical conversion experience, Thomas Merton became a Trappist monk in the Abbey of Gethsemani. At the heart of Merton's transformative conversion was contemplation. Now, this series invites you into that profound contemplative experience in six remastered conferences delivered by Merton. As you listen to Merton in his own voice, you will encounter his most profound teachings on prayer and contemplation.
Hearing Thomas Merton (1915 - 1968) teaching is very different from reading his books, wonderful as they may be. Readers of THE SEVEN STORY MOUNTAIN (1948) will be familiar with the story of a worldly Columbia University student surprising his New York literary pals by converting to Catholicism and then becoming a Trappist monk at Abbey of Gethsemani, in Kentucky, Readers of NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION (1962) will be familiar with Merton’s mysticism and commitment to nonviolence, which made him a leading Catholic voice in opposition to the Vietnam War. Readers of THE WAY OF CHUANG TZU (1965) will be familiar with Merton’s exploration of Eastern religions and his discussions with D.T. Suzuki on Zen and the Dalai Lama on Buddhism.
All of those books are terrific. But actually hearing Merton teaching classes for the young men studying for the priesthood at the monastery is a completely different experience, and a rewarding one. In the books, some of Merton’s wit survived the editing of his monastic superiors but a reader would be forgiven for thinking Merton was a pretty serious guy.
Lucky for Merton fans, the monks at Gethsemani had the brilliant idea of recording Merton’s lectures to the young monks in the 1960s. Recorded on the reel-to-reel machines available at the time, the lectures were available on cassette tapes in the 1990s.
For those of us who loved Merton’s books, the cassettes were a treat. In a classroom full of young men, there emerges a Merton, who was not available in his writings. Merton was a great teacher. Obviously he was a polymath, able to discuss T.S. Eliot’s poetry, the politics of the Second Vatican Council, American politics, Catholic theology and Zen Buddhism. He was also very funny. His often self-deprecating humor kept the novices laughing throughout many of his classes. His language was free of stuffiness often associated with professors and prelates. On the tapes, you hear Merton refer to the novices as “you guys” and explaining theological concepts translated from Latin into 1960s slang. Suddenly he exclaims: “This is the kind of junk you can get out of this Latin stuff.” Leading a discussion of contemplation in terms of the CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, the classic book on Christian mysticism, Merton warns his students not to take “this unknowing kick too far.”
Had Merton stayed at Columbia, he would have given Joseph Campbell and Huston Smith a run for their money as best professor of their era. (Merton died while Bill Moyers was still working in LBJ’s White House press office and so he didn’t get to be featured in the PBS interviews that made Campbell, the lapsed Catholic, and Smith, the Methodist minister, famous as teachers of mythology and comparative religion.)
As iTunes and other digital audio download services emerged since 2000, cassette tapes in general and the ones featuring Merton’s lectures became harder and harder to come by. While trying to preserve my small cache of surviving Merton tapes, I began to despair of finding any more even though I knew that there were hundreds of hours of original reel-to-reel tapes of Merton’s lectures. They were available to academics but not to uncredentialed fans like me.
This spring a publisher with the unlikely name Now You Know Media, Inc. began selling digitally remastered Merton lectures on Audible.com. The quality of the digital version is superior to what was available on the old cassettes. Among other things, the questions and comments by the novices has been enhanced so you can hear their originally un-miked voices much clearer.
The first release, Thomas Merton on Contemplation, is three hours and 50 minutes of lectures on the heart of his spiritual practice. In simplistic terms contemplation is what Trappist monks and Catholic-tradition practitioners do where Buddhist and Hindu monks and devotees do mediation. Of course, these lectures will not be for everyone since contemplation is not everyone’s cup of tea. But then neither is Zen meditation or Kriya Yoga. But for those of us for whom Merton’s teachings have resonated, these recorded talks are a joy. So I optimistically say this digital download is a “first release” because I am hopeful there will be more.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
A masterful, intensely suspenseful novel about a reader whose obsession with a reclusive writer goes far too far - a book about the power of storytelling, starring the same trio of unlikely and winning heroes King introduced in Mr. Mercedes. "Wake up, genius." So begins King's instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn't published a book for decades.
Presented as an offbeat detective story, the best parts of Stephen King's Finders Keepers is his meditation on great books, famous authors, and the readers who love and sometimes obsess over them to the point of insanity. The careful reader with a notebook (preferably a Moleskine notebook as it is integral to the plot) could develop a pretty good American Lit reading list from King's asides. (Philip Roth's American Pastoral is highly recommended.) Say what you will about King, he is a serious literary man down to his fingertips.
What the reader cannot read is the Jimmy Gold novels by the reclusive John Rothstein because King made them up. Rothstein is a none too thinly disguised J.D.Salinger although the Jimmy Gold books sound more like John Updike's series of novels about Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom than Catcher in the Rye. However, the impact Jimmy Gold has on fanatical young readers is closer to Holden Caulfield's legendary status in American literature. Readers could spend the rest of their lives in the library reading back issues of The New Yorker from the 1950s onward if they wanted to pick up all the allusions King makes in Finders Keepers. I suspect that Stephen King is living a counter life where he is still the high school English teacher he was before Carrie happened.
The detective/thriller plot of Finders Keepers is basic good versus evil, which is what separates King from the postmodern novelists of the New York literary set where King is generally considered a bull in a china shop.
So King has written a tale of two literary fanatics. The evil Morris Bellamy, who loves the Jimmy Gold books so much that in the ultimate act of literary criticism, he murders the reclusive author in his New Hampshire hideaway. (Shades of Salinger fan Mark David Chapman murdering John Lennon because the Double Fantasy album didn’t meet the standards of Catcher in the Rye.) This is not a spoiler as the murder happens in the first chapter. Breaking into the author’s safe, Bellamy steals Moleskine notebooks containing two unpublished Jimmy Gold novels. Bellamy buries the literary treasure for later reading but his evil-doing ways catch up with him quickly and he is sentenced to prison for life before he can dig the books back up.
Decades later a good high school American lit student, Pete Saubers, finds the lost Rothstein novels along with a considerable amount of cash and uses it to help his family recover from the Great Recession of 2008.
But no good deed goes unpunished, so Saubers grand plan to help his sister by selling the lost Jimmy Gold novels turns into a train wreck.
Finder Keepers is ostensibly a Bill Hodges detective novel ~ the second in a trilogy of King's own ~ the retired policeman shows up to try to save Pete and his family. But the Hodges part of the story feels tacked on. It is as if King suddenly found himself halfway through a thriller about a murdered author and lost literary treasure when it suddenly hit him that he was supposed to be writing a Bill Hodges story.
Being a master craftsman, King gets the added room to fit into the architecture of the house. Hodges even helps the author build in a little more suspense near the end. But the reader may still notice that the Hodges parts could have been edited out and the story of lost literary treasure would have been just as good. Maybe even better.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Curious, confounding and brilliant, Wittgenstein is a philosopher whom people find it easy to get obsessed with. In Investigating Wittgenstein, Giles Fraser explores the secrets of his attraction. The How to Believe series explores the teachings, philosophies and beliefs of major thinkers and religious texts. In a short, easy-to-access format, leading writers present new understandings of these perennially important ideas.
At little more than half an hour this is a very short introduction to Wittgenstein. It might be ideal for the student who wanted to know just enough to get by in a class discussion or a spouse wanting to prepare for a philosophy faculty cocktail party, if such things even exist anymore. I found some of what Giles Fraser had to say about the limits of language interesting. But too much time was spent on his personal conversion to Christianity. His experience may be life changing for him but it is frankly not that interesting. And it was not really what I was looking for in something titled Investigating Wittgenstein.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Philip K. Dick's impassioned final novel is a wild and visionary alternate history of the United States. It is 1969, and a paranoid president has convulsed America in a vicious war against imaginary internal enemies. As the country slides into fascism, a struggling science-fiction writer named Philip K. Dick is trying to keep from becoming one of that war's casualties.
God comes to Orange County, California, via satellite. A thinly veiled Richard Nixon becomes President of the United States but is actually a Community Party member aligned with the Soviet Union. Pop recordings carry subliminal messages exposing the truth. Welcome to Philip K. Dick's world. And it is personal. This novel, which features a main character who is a science fiction writer named Phil Dick, is a Mister Toad's wild ride through the 1960's political landscape. Some of the technology and the cultural satire may seem dated to younger readers. But this book is a reminder that political corruption and conspiracy theories are nothing new in these United States. And paranoia never goes out of style.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful