Book review and other matters

imagesWell, not really. Just book reviews!

Yes, hi – I’m here. Trying to blog, but not being very consistent about it, am I? Part of the reason for any regular posting is that I have been reading a lot more lately. Ahhh, it has been lovely. 5 years of graduate school and all kinds of other distractions, such as social media, redirected my reading focus. But guess what! It is back!

You will see some book reviews appearing here in the next week. To begin with, I will review some Advent book resources.

advent-candle11Why Advent? Each year we are invited to slow down to consciously pray and journey towards the birth of Jesus during this season. Yet, the days of December are often the most hectic, hurtling us from our post-Thanksgiving food comas into a days of shopping, card writing, parties, wrapping gifts, and more. This can be positively numbing; the opposite of the quiet, holy waiting, and presence that we are called to during Advent. Often times, we can’t wait until Christmas so that we get to relax – or at least collapse into a heap on the sofa.

jesus-christmas-reason-for-the-season-bible-lock-screens-ipad-1In my experience, this causes the liturgical season of Christmas to dissolve, the season which begins once we celebrate the day. A season which often goes unnoticed by many – or just not noted, because there we are exhausted from the pre-December 25 hurly burly! I find this challenge in my own life. I will go so far as to say that having an actual Advent practice, one that stills and orients you towards Jesus,  imight be the best way to keep Jesus as the “reason for the season” rather than a bumper sticker, but hey – that’s just me. Not to mention that the “season” runs until January 12, 2014.

Thus, every year I look for a book to use as a prayer companion on my journey through Advent and the Christmas season. It is my experience that the use of a book dedicated to the season(s) is helpful. Kind of like an Advent calendar with a binding! In all seriousness, the right book, combined with my own morning prayer ritual, becomes a daily anchor, steadying my ship in a storm of busy-ness before December 25, and a reminder of the intentionality that the birth of Christ calls us to. This practice also orients me towards noting and celebrating the Christmas season itself.

If you look for Advent resources you may already know that there is a dizzying array of books out there, which is a great. Yet, so many choices can make for a harder decision. This year I began my search unusually early, and am offering a brief reviews of a few resources for your consideration. Those reviews will be published in the coming days.

img_f2914899aa1What are your Advent practices? How do you prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus? Do you use a book? An Advent calendar? An Advent wreath at your table or elsewhere? Is getting to mass or service a priority for you at this time? Or is it more difficult? Are there other practices woven into your own lives? If you are willing to write them up as a short post, I would like to try publish some of them, as space and time permits. Let me know via email (festinalente07 at gmail) or by leaving a comment. (Comments are moderated, so please feel free to write one that is meant as a note for me, with instructions not to publish it!)

-1But wait – there’s more! Next Monday, I am thrilled to be on the blog tour for one of the best books that I have read in a long time. On Monday I will be one of the first stops for author Kyle Cupp, whose new book “Living by Faith, Dwelling in Doubt” should be on everyone’s reading list. (You may recall my not-review of the book in September.)

ClothedMe.Cover_.Full_-e1372305936491And I might have a word or two, not a review, but an update, about a book that I am involved in, which is about to be published after a printing error and delay!

So stay tuned, follow along, keep reading, and let me know about your Advent practices! Thank you my faithful readers, thank you always!

No doubt about it, a not-book-review

Living+by+Faith,+Dwelling+in+DoubtThis is no doubt in my mind that Living by Faith, Dwelling in Doubt by Kyle Cupp, (Loyola Press, 120pp, #13.95) is an excellent book.  This however, is not a book review – just a warning. The review will come soon.

In full disclosure, I have known Kyle online for a number of years. First from his posts at Vox Nova, which caught my eye and engaged my heart and mind. Later, we became Facebook friends and I began to follow his other blog. He’s a pretty smart guy; I can’t claim to always understand him, but I always want to read what he posts.

Back to the book. I get lots of books, which I am deeply grateful for. There are piles of them in the spare room, on tables in various other rooms of the house. Some live in my car for awhile, or I bring them to work. Publishers often send me a review copy, asking me to host a blog tour stop. This book did come to me in advance, in the form of a gift, but not as a review copy.  (Most of the books I receive are never reviewed.Sorry!)

But – this is not a book review!

So what the heck is this post about?  I am planning my unsolicited review of Kyle’s book, which will be pretty glowing. I just want to give you some advance warning! Plus I have not finished the book yet, so I can’t review it.

Fine, but why write this post today? Forget the advance warning, I really just want to tell you that this book about faith and doubt is, *ahem-clears throat*no doubt one of the best books I have read about my favorite co-existing topics of faith and doubt.

It’s a slim volume, why haven’t you finished it yet? Good question! I am reading Kyle’s book with painstaking slowness. I read a chapter or two, I pick it up a few days later,  reread a bit, and then add another chapter. Short does not mean the book should be rushed through.

How do we know the rest of us will like it? There is no certainty that the rest of you will like this book. In fact, there are elements that are going to make some people uncomfortable. It could be because Kyle speaks freely about the depth of his faith, the elements of doubt, and questions of certainty that will cause some to challenge what he writes about faith itself. Others will shrink back from some of the personal stories that Kyle shares, because they have the potential to make one uncomfortable.

Why would we read a book about faith that makes us uncomfortable? Aren’t books about faith, the Bible included, have the potential for discomfort? They should make us uncomfortable; if not, we might have a problem. Shouldn’t our faith journeys cause us discomfort?

Enough questions for today. The only thing that I can add – without a doubt – is that this is a compelling little volume and I hope that you read it.