Tuesday, April 16, 2019

On the Brink of Everything: Book Review

Published 26 June 2018. 
Palmer J. Palmer was goaded into publishing this book--On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, & Getting Old (2018)--after his editor noted the theme of aging showing up in his recent writings. 

From his vantage point on "the brink" or the edge, Palmer observes: 

"What I know for sure is this: we come from mystery and we return to mystery. I know this, too: standing closer to the reality of death awakens my wonder at the many gifts of life" (p. 16). 
This book shares insights based on his growing awareness of his own mortality. 

Palmer is in his 80s, and has been a community organizer, author, speaker on the the topic of seeking the true self. (His work reminds me a bit of the quest that psychologist Carl Rogers describes.) 

Those who are concrete, literal, practical people will have very little patience for Palmer. Those who are contemplative, idealistic, and focused on exploring inner landscapes will be inspired. 

The book is a collection of essays (some previously published in books or on blogs) and poetry. Some material is new. Other reviews here at Goodreads indicate that the book revisits recurring themes in Parker's work, so it seems as though it's a good overview of his work. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Gracious Uncertainty: Book Review

Published 15 August 2017.
Jane Sigloh, who has experience as an Episcopal priest, published Gracious Uncertainty: Faith in the Second Half of Life (2017).

Because I am scheduled to teach Spirituality and Aging in the upcoming fall semester, I'm selecting 20 books on that topic so that each of my students can do a report to supplement the textbook.

Many of the books are tipped either to theology or to folk wisdom. However, too many of the books I've selected are steeped in theology (or even psychology or New Age theories).

Sigloh's book leans more towards the folk wisdom side of the spectrum. However, it's clear that she is well read and can take a more academic approach. She often chooses to be more accessible, and it's a strength.

Her chapters are brief, maybe three or four pages long, making them ideal as daily meditations. They might also serve as prompts for writing in a journal.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Can't Nothing Bring Me Down: Book Review

Published 27 February 2018.
I like to read about mature athletes, but usually I just read news stories.

I was delighted to read runner Ida Keeling's autobiography, Can't Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race against Time (2018).

Keeling, born in 1915, writes from the perspective of a centenarian. She was raised by parents who immigrated to New York from the Caribbean.

She worked in factories while raising four children. For the more part, she was a single mother. Later in life, she worked in the records department of the Harlem Hospital.

Not only does she describe her own experiences. She's a witness to larger cultural, political, and historical forces. For example, she describes the Great Depression, World War II, Civil Rights, and Vietnam. She also responds to the election of Obama to the presidency.