As we prepared to close one year and begin a new one, I took some time to look back through my calendar and recall the events of the year. Some things seem like yesterday and some like ancient history. I also took the time to look through my library and recall the books that I read this year. Some were drudgery, some were academic, and some were true gems. I would like to share the gems with you.
Perhaps my favorite book of the year was Becoming an Ordinary Mystic by Albert Haase. Fr. Haase does an excellent job of integrating the time honored spiritual traditions with the contemporary conversation on mindfullness and the self. His approach is thoroughly Christ centered without being tied to a specific school of Christian theology. All of this in an approachable and engaging writing style.
I also found Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer by David deSilva to be an excellent devotional. In forty-five reflections, deSilva walks through the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist and the liturgies for marriage and burial. The 5-8 page reflections take some space, both temporal and spiritual, to absorb. I appreciated not being tied to a calendar like many daily or weekly devotional books so that I could pick this book up when I made the space to savor it.
We were able to go to the Anglican Church in North America annual conference in June and discovered two more favorites there. James Bryan Smith was a keynote speaker and his book The Good and Beautiful God provides a fantastic introduction to spiritual self-care. The abbreviated prayer book Pray Daily from Christ Church Plano (https://www.christchurchplano.org/pray) has become a staple of our family rhythm of prayer.
Moving a bit more to the academic side but still very accessible to non-theologians looking for a fresh look on Scripture, I found Amy Jill Levine’s books on Passion Week (Entering the Passion of Jesus), Advent (Light of the World), and the parables (Short Stories by Jesus) well researched, well written, and refreshing. Dr. Levine is a New Testament Scholar and devoutly Jewish. She provides a perspective of Jesus and those who heard him within their context as first century Jews.
Other good books from my reading year include The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner, Mansions of the Heart by R. Thomas Ashbrook, and The Anglican Way by Thomas McKenzie.
Blessings in the coming year and happy reading!