Book Review: Radical Spirit

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

radical spirit

There are few books I will pick up and not finish, but I admit this was one of them. Radical Spirit:  12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life by Joan Chittister was too academic, too theological, to be an enjoyable read. Unlike her Between the Dark and the Daylight, which I enjoyed thoroughly, this book felt like slogging through a theological text written for someone following the “Rules of Benedict.”  Which, of course, it is. The entire book is based on the principles of Saint Benedict. 

Rated #1 in Self-Help for Catholics right now on Amazon, I am sure there are Catholic readers who will get a lot out of reading this book, but I was not one of them, and that surprises me, considering the description:
Feeling burnt-out from life, strung-out from social media, and put out by a society that always wants more from you? Beloved nun and social activist Joan Chittister, who appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, offers a practical, character-building, and inspirational guide to help you take control of your emotional life and redirect your spiritual destiny.

Yes, I have felt burnt-out, strung-out from social media. I’m always searching for chracter-building, inspirational guidance. So, what went wrong in my attempt to read this book?

Granted, it might be that I am just not in the mood to draw on the “little known, ancient teachings of the saints” (from the book’s description) Maybe I couldn’t identify with the examples she used to illustrate her points. Maybe it was the constant references to the monastic life.

Whatever it was, I skimmed through the last half of the book, searching for little nuggets of wisdom. Apparently, the main points of the entire book can be discovered on page 205, as she summed up St Benedict’s Twelve Steps of Humility in today’s language, in simplistic language I wished she had used throughout the rest of the book:

  1. Recognize that God is God.
  2. Know that God’s will is best for you.
  3. Seek direction from wisdom figures.
  4. Endure the pains of development and do not give up.
  5. Acknowledge faults and strip away the masks.
  6. Be content with less than the best.
  7. Let go of a false sense of self.
  8. Preserve tradition and learn from the community.
  9. Listen.
  10. Never ridicule anyone or anything.
  11. Speak kindly.
  12. Be serence, stay calm.

Now, that’s advice I can say Amen to. If only Chittister had written the rest of her book in that manner.

Book Review: The Hideaway

Disclaimer: This book was given to me in exchange for a fair and honest review

I might have picked up The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton just for the cover, and I’ll admit that had something to do with my choosing this book. The cover is lovely and the story-line appealing. Who hasn’t wished they’d gotten to know a grandmother or other relative better, before it was too late?

When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.
Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

Maybe this book wasn’t meant to be Christian fiction, but the name Thomas Nelson/Zondervan on the back cover led me to believe God would be a part of this story, and he was, just barely. It wasn’t until one of the last chapters that one of the characters mentioned prayer or God.

An easy afternoon read.