Posts Tagged spiritual

Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography. Harold Ivan Smith.

Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography. Harold Ivan Smith. Westminster John Knox Press. ©2017

My review is also on Amazon.com.

This is truly an outstanding look into the spirituality of a remarkable player on the international stage. Eleanor Roosevelt discovered early that her narrow Episcopal faith could not contain her growing acceptance of the many faith traditions that she encountered. She believed that since we were all created by the same God that we should treat each other as brothers and sisters. She believed as did St. Paul, “That we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The one glaring flaw in her spirituality was perhaps due to her strict Protestant upbringing and the aristocratic family circles in which she moved. She had a strain of anti-Semitic misgivings. She overcame them to a large extent later in life. She always regretted not doing more for the Jews.

Eleanor had a truly miserable childhood. She was forced to become her own person. She had the saying from Saint Francis of Assisi posted above her desk and she carried another copy in her purse, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”  Eleanor’s brand of personal Christianity won her unfaltering condemnation from the religious fundamentalists who were certain that she had not been “born again.”   According to Smith, “Eleanor took the Bible too seriously to take it literally.” Although FDR’s unfaithfulness hurt her deeply, they came to an understanding that allowed them to become the world’s most influential couple ever. Louis Howe is the one who saw Eleanor’s potential and helped her hone her skills as a leader. He was also a major player in FDR’s success.

Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography, may get a little wordy at times; however, it is an outstanding work.

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What Writing a Spiritual Memoir Can Teach You

While speaking at the Village in Summerville, South Carolina, Dr. Mitch Carnell was asked  what he learned while writing his most recent book, Our Father: Discovering Family, published by Wipf and Stock.

“When I started writing the book,” Carnell stated, “I had two questions stemming from an amazing experience at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. How did my spiritual development bring me to this point from where I started in a small provincial town in South Carolina? The second question was what am I to do with the remaining years of my life.”

Mitch continued, “As usual God had a much bigger idea. He wanted to expand my vision as to who is in God’s family. God always has a bigger plan than we have. I am reluctant to put words in God’s mouth, but it is as if he were saying, Mitch, you can’t understand me until you know who is in my family.

The process lead me to two conclusions. First, I needed to drastically expand my understanding of God’s family and second God had been preparing me all of my life to be a voice for fostering better understanding and communication between Christians and between Christians and the rest of the world. We need a more civil dialogue and that became my mission.”

The book is best described as a spiritual memoir. Mitch grew up in the segregated South where learning about the brotherhood of man wasn’t easy. He struggled through the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention and a church split. He gives credit to his late wife for challenging all of his provincial ideas in a loving way. Her death was an unimaginable tragedy. Dr. Thomas McKibbens, interim pastor of the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote the Foreword. Don Kirkland, former editor of the Baptist Courier of South Carolina, and Fifi DeGroot, alumni consultant at Mars Hill University, both wrote brief reviews for the back cover.

Mitch is the founder of the Say Something Nice Day listed in the Chase Calendar of Events and the Say Something Nice Sunday Movements.

This is his fourth major book. It follows, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, published by Smyth and Helwys. Our Father; Discovering Family, is available at most book stores and at Amazon.com, Barnes&noble.com and wipfandstock.com.

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Our Father: Discovering Family, Available at Barnes and Noble

RESOURCE_TemplateOur Father: Discovering Family, my new book, has been released by Wipf and Stock Publishers. It is available from them directly and is also available on Amazon either in paperback or electronic editions. You can also order it from me or any bookstore. It is now available at Barnes and Noble . They will probably have to order it for you unless you want the electronic edition. It is best described as a spiritual autobiography. It begins with an experience I had at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and weaves back and forth through my life. It tackles most of the problems we deal with on a daily basis.

Dr. Tom McKibbens, interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, the first Baptist Church in America, wrote the Foreword. Don Kirkland, retired editor of the SC Baptist Courier and Fifi DeGroot, Alumni Resources Consultant at Mars Hill University, wrote mini-reviews for the back cover. I am indebted to all three of these wonderful friends.

I take full responsibility for what I have written. It is my story of what I have experienced. I along with most of you have lived through an eventful period of history. Some of the trauma is still very active today. How we cope helps to determine who we are. When you read it, please write a review at Amazon.

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Norris Burkes: Trash Talk Goes to the Trash Can

Feb. 8, 2014   |  

Like many of you, I maintain a list of favorite things. For instance, my hamburger of choice is the mushroom burger. My preferred sport is football, and San Francisco is my most beloved city. Nothing on my list is too surprising except for a favorite trash can.

To understand why a wastepaper basket should inspire a spiritual column, you should understand that this particular bin sits in the office where I receive mail from my readers.

No, I don’t normally discard reader mail — far from it. Most of it comes from people sharing their personal stories or prayer requests; some of it from critical thinkers who ask that I reconsider my views.

This is the mail I share with my most critical reader, Mrs. Burkes. She will often explain how some of my readers were right and I was completely stupid. She loves me like that.

However, some missives are better suited for the blue recycle box. These letters begin with a bullying barrage of banalities and end with a litany of judgmental name-calling. As quickly as I recognize their hateful tone, I pitch them into the recycle box where I hope to see them reincarnated as daffodil stationery.

I’m not telling you this as a way of payback toward those nasty letter writers; I take them at their word that they no longer read the column.

I tell you this because, like me, you’ve known the sting of criticism from a passing acquaintance or rude co-worker who hasn’t bothered to know the real you. But unlike written criticism, verbal criticism that can’t be shredded.

How can you deal with such criticism? Allow me to share three strategies.

• Pray: Pray for two things. First, pray forgiveness for the critical person. Second, ask for wisdom to see and confess your part in the criticism. We do this because Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” It’s not what the prayer will do for the critical person; it’s what it’ll do for you. Prayer will also help you with the second strategy.

• Prioritize: Just as I sort the letters, you must sort criticism. Give the critique strong consideration only if it comes from someone who cares about the outcome of your life. In such a case, you must examine it for truth. There’s an old saying, “If one person calls you a donkey, ignore it. If three people call you a donkey, buy a saddle.” If the criticism comes from someone who wishes you harm, employ the next strategy.

• Purge: When it comes to the toxicity of negative criticism, look for the metaphorical equivalent to the trash can. Many of us purge through physical activity, such as gardening or hiking. Others use therapy pets.

I recommend purging with ritual or liturgy. For instance, take a moment to write the criticism onto paper. Fold it so no one can read it. Then, ask a family member, friend, or pastor to join you alongside a shredder. Ask your friend to pray that you’ll find the ability to let the hurtful words go. After saying, “amen,” run the paper through the shredder.

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