Tag Archives: spirituality

Who wouldn’t want to be in bed with a good book?

Coleman, In Bed with the WordDaniel Coleman, In Bed with the Word: Reading, Spirituality, and Cultural Politics (Edmonton, AB: The University of Alberta Press, 2009).

In this fascinating book, Coleman offers reflections on reading and the spiritual life.

In ‘Reading and Longing’, he understands reading as ‘erotic’ in that, ‘like all eros, it leaps with energy and passion; it compels our focus; it reaches out toward an Other’ (p. 13). It leads to an experience of fusion, of being inhabited by another, which frees us from the confines of our own perceptions, opening us to those of others, thus facilitating growth and an intimate connection with the larger world.

‘Reading as Counterculture’ explores reading as quiet time, as a form of solitude, as ‘private and politically relevant contemplation’, as an ‘imaginative and dialogical’ practice that is slow, active and reflective – all of which is countercultural in a society that is ‘increasingly drawn away from silence, slowness, reflection, and internally generated imagination’ (p. 31).

In ‘Posture’, Coleman emphasises that, ‘if we are to rediscover a spiritually nourishing experience of reading, we need to rediscover … a posture of openness and expectation, … an intention … to connect with something larger than and outside of our own sphere of experience’ (p. 59).

‘The Structure of Absence’ includes reflections on how kenotic, self-emptying, reading that is imaginative and responsive leads to and indeed is in itself ekstasis, the transcending of ourselves by ‘paying fierce and generous attention to others as others’ (p. 70), which can lead to an experience of intimacy that is both erotic and profoundly spiritual.

Finally, in ‘Eating the Book’, Coleman explores how the book we read becomes us in that it shapes what we see, how we hear and what we perceive. Taking his cue from Ezekiel 2:8–3:3, where the prophet is told to eat a scroll of grief that tastes sweet as honey to him, Coleman also reflects on the transformative power of books of pain, sorrow and grief, on the pleasures of devastation, confirmation and surprise, all of which are equally important to a spirituality of reading, and on the empowering potential of books, which can lead to profound personal, social and political change.

Preview on Google books Preview on Google Books
Purchase on Amazon UK Purchase on Amazon UK

Insights from psychology and Christian mystics combine in these reflections on spiritual transformation

BennerDavid G. Benner, Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2012).

This book discusses spiritual transformation from a psychological perspective, which traces the development of the self through four key stages: the body-centred, mind-centred, soul-centred and spirit-centred self.

Benner includes insights from Christian mystics, he considers the role of spirituality in human awakening, and he explores the importance of the communal context for transformation.

Appendices on the function of dreams for human growth and transformation and on meditation, prayer and awakening complete the book.

Preview on Google books Preview on Google Books
Purchase on Amazon UK Purchase on Amazon UK

An introductory textbook for those wishing to explore spirituality

RuncornDavid Runcorn, Spirituality Workbook: A Guide for Explorers, Pilgrims and Seekers (London: SPCK, 2006).

Runcorn’s Spirituality Workbook falls into five parts. The first takes a historical perspective, looking at the desert tradition and its spiritual legacy, at Anglican and Orthodox spirituality and modern expressions in the Pentecostal and evangelical traditions.

Part two explores the spiritual life in the context of community, discussing, among other things, rules of life, communion and personality types.

Part three is devoted to identity, personhood and spirituality. This includes attention to the body, sexuality and the stages of life.

The fourth part focuses on different expressions of prayer: intercession, confession and forgiveness, the role of the Spirit in Christian spirituality, liturgy, and Ignatian spirituality.

The final section discusses how Christian spirituality is lived out in the real world. Here Runcorn considers issues such as creation, spirituality in times of uncertainty and transition, prayer in a world of violence, contemplative prayer and engagement with the world, and spirituality beyond religion.

This being a workbook, each chapter features helpful suggestions for thought, prayer, activity and further reading.

Purchase on Amazon UK Purchase on Amazon UK

Articles on reading Old Testament law

Reading the Law
J. G. McConville and Karl Möller (eds), Reading the Law: Studies in Honour of Gordon J. Wenham (Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 461; New York: T & T Clark International, 2007)

Preview on Google books Preview on Google Books
Purchase on Amazon UK Purchase on Amazon UK

This book is a Festschrift for Prof. Gordon Wenham. Its chosen theme is intended to reflect his central interests in his long career of writing on the Old Testament, in which he has exemplified the highest standards of scholarship, but also written for practitioners of biblical interpretation. The topic of ‘reading the law’ has three aspects which will be treated by the various contributions, namely: 1. Reading the Pentateuch: Pentateuchal criticism, narrative readings, rhetorical-critical readings; 2. Reading the Law: the law codes in historical and/or literary context, anthropological readings, the law in relation to prophets, wisdom, worship; 3. Reading the Bible ethically: e.g. ethics of marriage, war.

… a worthy set of essays collected in honor of a very worthy scholar.

Joe M. Sprinkle, Stone-Campbell Journal

Contents

Part I: Reading Pentateuchal Law

  • Being a Man in the Book of the Covenant
    David J. A. Clines
  • ‘Fellow Citizens’: Israel and Humanity in Leviticus
    J. G. McConville
  • Commanding an Impossibility? Reflections on the Golden Rule in Leviticus 19:18b
    Nobuyoshi Kiuchi
  • The Case for the Pre-Exilic and Exilic Provenance of the Books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers
    Jacob Milgrom

Part II: Reading the Law in the Prophets

  • The Meaning of תורה in Isaiah 1–39
    Ronald E. Clements
  • Torah in the Minor Prophets
    Thomas Renz
  • The Trial of Jeremiah
    Raymond Westbrook

Part III: Reading the Law in the Writings

  • Reading, Singing and Praying the Law: An Exploration of the Performative, Self-Involving, Commissive Language of Psalm 101
    Karl Möller
  • The Ethics of Lament: Lamentations 1 as a Case Study
    Robin Parry
  • The Torah and History in Presentations of Restoration in Ezra–Nehemiah
    H. G. M. Williamson

Part IV: Reading the Law for Theology

  • The Theology of Place in Genesis 1–3
    Craig G. Bartholomew
  • The Regal Dimension of the תולדות־יעקב: Recovering the Literary Context of Genesis 37–50
    T. Desmond Alexander
  • On Learning Spiritual Discipline: A Reading of Exodus 16
    R. W. L. Moberly
  • The Week That Made the World: Reflections on the First Pages of the Bible
    Robert P. Gordon

Part V: Reading the Law and History

  • Going Down to Sheol: A Place Name and Its West Semitic Background
    Richard S. Hess
  • The Tablets in the Ark
    Alan Millard
  • Memory, Witness and Genocide in the Book of Joshua
    Pekka Pitkänen
  • Towards a Communicative Theology of the Old Testament
    J. W. Rogerson

Preview on Google books Preview on Google Books
Purchase on Amazon UK Purchase on Amazon UK

Reflections on transformation and our true self

Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (London: SPCK, 2013).

Written in Rohr’s inimical style, this book contrasts our false and true selves, exploring how we can find the latter through a process of true transformation.

Along the way, there are many astute reflections on a variety of issues, including non-dual thinking, judgementalism, atonement, intimacy, vulnerability and love.

Here’s what Rohr has to say about loving and dying:

Every time you choose to love, you have also just chosen to die. Every time you truly love, you are letting go of yourself as an autonomous unit and have given a bit of yourself away to something or someone else, and it is not easily retrieved – unless you choose to stop loving – which many do. These first moments of ecstatic release from imprisonment in yourself are wonderful, erotic, and immensely live giving.

As always, Rohr is well worth a read for his profound theological and psychological insights.

Preview on Google books Preview on Google Books
Purchase on Amazon UK Purchase on Amazon UK