Some Books that I Really Like

by Mark Votava

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1. Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart by Kathy Escobar.

I really love this honest and thoughtful book by Kathy Escobar.  Faith Shift draws us through various stages of development in our spirituality when things are no longer working for us.  How do we find what is authentic and life-giving in the midst of being disillusioned with everything?  This book presents Kathy Escobar’s own unique journey of embracing her own pain, letting herself ask honest questions and accepting the loss that comes with a Faith Shift.  This is one of the best books you will ever read!

“I am an expert at minimizing.  I know how to gloss over pain and take the blame, to do almost anything not to feel hard feelings.  My pull-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps skills usually come back to bite me. One of the hardest parts of my spiritual journey has been acknowledging how much I have truly lost over the years through this stripping process.  It’s easy to look at my life now and see how much I’ve gained.  It’s true, I am freer and healthier than I’ve ever been. But I still lost much of what held me together for so long.  People, places, and beliefs that buoyed me are now completely gone.” 

2. God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Mirabai Starr.

I appreciated this book because of its ecumenical stance in looking at the good we can find in the three traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Mirabai Starr focuses on love as the unifying theme of these traditions.  This is a fascinating book that helps us to look at our spirituality with deeper understanding.  She draws out themes of radical wonderment, welcoming the stranger, compassionate action, the feminine face of the divine, contemplative life, the path of suffering and gratitude.

“How do we strike a balance between tending to our own welfare and serving the endless needs of humanity and the earth, between pouring ourselves out into the world and seeking to refill our own cup?  How do we ensure that we are not rolling down a path of convenience, showing up to serve when it suits our comfort and boosts our prestige, withholding our gifts when we are feeling impoverished and underappreciated?  

3. Radical Optimism: Practical Spirituality in an Uncertain World by Beatrice Bruteau.

This is a wonderful book that is very contemplative.  Beatrice Bruteau shares how there is a radical optimism of possibility through the difficulties of life.  In a world of violence and pessimism how do we find an authentic spirituality in our world today?  This is the question she gets at through various themes such as leisure, stillness, meditation, the heart of Jesus, listening, mysticism, compassion and love.

“The most important thing in initiating a contemplative attitude toward life is being still and open.  I see it as involving various levels of relaxation and silence, the kinds of not-doing that are so essential to the contemplative life.” 

4. A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness by Marlena Graves. 

Marlena Graves takes us on a journey through the wilderness experiences of darkness where difficult seasons of life become our reality.  In these dark nights of the soul what do you do?  How do you survive in a peaceful way? This is a book about the deep pain we all experience as humans beings in this life.  Marlena Graves is a guide that will help us to cultivate silence, survive the death of our dreams, find our identity beyond illusions and become human beings that are fully alive even though we suffer some harsh realities in life.

“In the wilderness, we remember that God did not bring us out here in the desert to die…  God ever and always has our flourishing in mind.  It is we who must learn to receive.”

Which book looks most interesting to you?