August 30, 2006

The Book Meme

Jeff tagged me for the book meme, so here goes:

1. One book that changed my life

New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. For better or for worse, this collection had an immense influence on the early development of my sense of prayer, religious practice, and Christianity in general.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I read it every year around Christmas. It's funny and sad at the same time, and the combination really gets me.

3. One Book you’d want on a desert island

I think I would want a breviary. Keeping to the daily prayers might help me not to lose my mind, and it would keep me close to the Word.

4. One book that made you laugh

How to Become a Bishop without Being Religious by Charles Merrill Smith. This roast of the ministerial life is priceless. It's protestant in tone, but the chapters on preaching, clerical attire, church finance, and managing committees hit home for everyone.

5. One book that made you cry

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. This little glimpse into the immense suffering we not only demand of our brother and (mostly) sister animals, as well as the misery we insist on for ourselves and those who work on our behalf really got me when I first read it.

6. One book you wish had been written

How to Survive Religious Formation: A Spiritual Handbook. Sometimes, in a grandiose moment, I think of trying to write something like this. But then I remember that I'm not even writing the thesis I'm supposed to be writing by virtue of obedience.

It's just that, for most guys who enter religious life, their image and expectations of the life come from the movies, the lives of the saints, and from EWTN. These are hardly a fine preparation for many unexpected and yet standard experiences of disappointment and being scandalized that await the new religious. Hence the need for this honest treatment.

7. One Book that you wish had never been written

Whatever it is that we call the work of Parmenides. I'm still convinced that he's one of the great villains of the history of thought.

8. One book you are currently reading

Augustine of Hippo, by Peter Brown. I received it for a final profession present, and I'm up to Augustine's conversion to the life of "philosophy." It's good so far.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read

For another profession present, I received a signed first edition of Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk. The movie spoke to my journey and conversion a good deal, so now it's time to go to the source.

The inscription, by the author himself, reads, "Best wishes in your search for God."

10. Now tag five people

I tag Chiara, Mike, by the bay, PMP, and Kelly. Forgive me if you've done it already and I missed it!

1 comment:

Kelly Joyce Neff said...

'How to Survive Religious Formation' - I'd read it! I'd buy it! But I wouldn't be brave enough to write it, though there are certainly pitfalls, in my experience.

Fratre, you speak of 'unexpected and yet standard experiences of disappointment and being scandalized that await the new religious' - Yes! and getting into the nuts and bolts of parishes (I assume it is the same with monastic houses) is even more 'interesting' - that balance beam of being a little 'unworldly' community with very worldly concerns... like deferred maintenance of buildings, for instance.

In my work, I have discovered that it's very much like an episode of 'Father Ted', and in formation, well let's just say we don't cease being human because we become religious =). Yes, I know, we have been told this for aeons, but you have to have the experience before it soaks in.

Be that as it may, I'd choose a breviary on a desert island, I think - O the immense richness of it!