…Feeding the spirit through the mind

Book list for these times:

I was asked to compline a book list for this time of sequestration.  Maybe if we approach this time well, it can serve as a sabbatical from our ordinary lives.

Here are some things that have helped me.  They are all in print, and most are not too obscure to be available as ebooks if not audiobooks.  (Local Library users, don’t forget about Overdrive, a portal to a bunch of electronic resources to borrow on line).

Good Spiritual Books.

  • The Holy Bible. (Really. You have time). Acts is a great place to start. So is Genesis – Exodus and the historical books (1&2 Kings, 1&2 Samuel)
  • The Dream of God – Verna Dozier. Anglican theologian. She is amazing.
  • The Spiritual Life – Evelyn Underhill. One of our most important modern spiritual writers in the Anglican communion. Anything by her is good, but this is her best
  • Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time – Marcus Borg. Opens up Christian faith to the piercing gaze of reason. This was a key book to my own return to the Church
  • The Last Week – M. Borg and JD Crossan. Great book about the first Holy Week from two of the best scholars of historical Jesus.
  • The Day the Revolution Began – N. T. Wright A great opening of the theology of the Cross. Good lead up to Easter.
  • The Meaning of Jesus Borg and N. T. Wright A back and forth between two acclaimed scholars with very different ideas about the Christian faith (both compelling).
  • The Long Loneliness Dorothy Day. Her heartbreaking (and inspiring) autobiography.
  • Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict Esther de Waal. A classic on St. Benedict’s rule. Much more interesting (and helpful) than you might expect.
  • Life of the Beloved – Henri Nouwen. Anything by Nouwen is brilliant. This is a great entry.
  • The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography Alan Jacobs. A good introduction to the history of the BCP
  • Orthodoxy and Francis of Assisi G.K. Chesterton. A great mind with a keen British wit and a clear voice.
  • Mere Christianity S. Lewis. A wonderful unpacking of Christianity. Surprised By Joy is another key text by Lewis which describes his journey to the faith.

Deeper Dives

  • Prophetic Imagination – Walter Brueggemann (really anything by him).  He is one of the best Old Testament scholars of our time.
  • Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was Gerhard Lohfink. Great study of Jesus, particularly His Jewishness by a renowned Catholic scholar.
  • Moral Man, Immoral SocietyReinhold Niebuhr. This is the dense classic that so informed The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.  It takes a long time, but we have it.
  • Confessions – St. Augustine Surprisingly readable. The most important memoir/autobiography ever written
  • The Seven Story Mountain – Thomas Merton. According to Evelyn Waugh, this is the secondmost important memoir/autobiography ever written.
  • New Seeds of Contemplation – Thomas Merton. A deep read of the nature of silence and how we commune with God.
  • The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is his most important book.
  • Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor – Leonardo Boff Brazilian liberation theologian’s take on ecology from a Franciscan perspective
  • Community and Growth – Jean Vanier. Founder of the L’Arche movement. He is a Quebequois saint walking among us in his most powerful vision of the Church.


  • Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength (The Space Trilogy) & The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S Lewis
  • East of Eden – John Steinbeck. A telling of the Cain and Able story.
  • Gilead– Marilynne Robinson. Stunning book written as a letter from an older preacher to his seven year old son.
  • Barchester Tower s- Anthony Trollope. Hilarious Victorian drama set in the Church of England. There are several books in this series.
  • Godric – Fredrick Buechner A semi-fictional account of an 11th century saint.
  • Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham. Maugham’s 1915 masterpiece about an orphan raised in his uncle’s vicarage.

Pastoral Care

The ministry of caring at the heart of the church’s life. It may include hospital visitation, counseling, and ministries of shared presence, listening, and support. Pastoral care can refer to the ministries of hospital chaplains, pastoral counselors and therapists, social workers, and other professionals who serve in the name of the church. It also includes parish ministries of clergy and laity who respond to human need.  (from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.)

Christian Formation

The Christian Formation Ministry provides opportunities that encourage growth in knowledge, understanding and discernment. It provides multiple avenues of learning — and teaching — that invite dialog and enable shared experience of God’s presence in our life. All are welcome to take part in several different programs through this ministry:

Adult education includes Wednesday Seekers, a discussion group that meets every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. to discuss a book, a video series, or other topics. Group members come from the Blue Hill Peninsula, other local churches and the community of St. Francis. Recent programs have included studies on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Merton, Celtic Spirituality, the Devine Feminine, Meister Eckhart and many other broad ranging topics. church-007-150x150

The Adult Forum is an informal gathering every Sunday after the 10 a.m. service that covers a broad range of topics from the study of the historical roots of the Anglican Church to reflections on finding God in travels abroad.

Refer to Time & Talent to learn more about the various groups who give of their time and talent St. Francis.

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