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It is said that we live in a secular age, yet religion and spirituality, belief and practice, are ever more powerful forces in contemporary culture, shaping both personal lives and world events. The newest addition to the acclaimed Best American series reflects this trend, bringing us the year's finest writing about faith and spirituality from a rich array of traditions sure to enrich the lives of all readers. Included is the work of some of our finest poets -- Mark Doty, W. S. Merwin, Philip Levine -- and most original essayists. Spiritual insight comes in both expected and unexpected places: Thomas Lynch writes of his work as an undertaker, Sallie Tisdale witnesses the miracle of an elephant's birth, and Patricia Monaghan finds consolation in Heisenberg's theory during a period of intense grief. In his introduction, Jack Miles writes, "American spiritual writing at its best is, in sum, a pluriform, multifarious acknowledgment of discomfiture and an opening of exits into a wider world . . . The reader is led to this volume, I imagine, by the question: 'There must be something more. Where can I find it?' The contributors to this volume answer, in effect: 'You will find it when it finds you.'"
The Best American Spiritual Writing 2005 includes collections of spiritual writings that represents a wide variety of spiritual traditions and do not subscribe to any one set of religious values.
Philip Zaleski, an acclaimed writer and the editor of the series, has once again assembled an outstanding collection of thirty-five pieces that range far and wide in subject matter and style exploring the possibilities of value judgment in literature.
The latest edition of this annual, assembled by the acclaimed writer and editor Philip Zaleski, not only showcases some of the finest writing of the year but offers astute perceptions on subjects that are universal, timeless, and yet deeply personal.
In his introduction to this volume, President Jimmy Carter writes that The Best American Spiritual Writing "approaches the writing of both poetry and prose as a spiritual discipline, a way to explore the mysteries of the soul and the soul's relationship with God." As always, editor Philip Zaleski has assembled a wide-ranging and wonderfully eclectic collection that delves headlong into that spiritual discipline, looking to inspire, provoke, and offer insight into modern spirituality and religion. Here you will find Walter Isaacson's brilliant and provocative portrait of Einstein's religious life-a cross between his parents' secularism, his native Judaism, and his Catholic grade-school education. Drawing from his own experience of trying to inhabit multiple worlds, Noah Feldman examines the difficulties facing faith communities as they adhere to tradition yet also strive to be modern, in "Orthodox Paradox." When "Meeting the Chinese in St. Paul," Natalie Goldberg, with the help of a broken rhinoceros fan, grapples with this question: how should I live, knowing the world is a confusing place? Pico Iyer weighs in on his tranquil retreat, the holiest place in Japan; Oliver Sacks gives a moving account of a man with retrograde amnesia, striving for a meaningful life devoid of memory; and Ursula K. Le Guin passionately explains, as only she can, the appeal and subtle morality of A. E. Housman's "A Shropshire Lad: XXXII." Committed to literary excellence, this "invaluable collection" (Library Journal) also features poetry from distinguished voices such as Wendell Berry, Maxine Kumin, John Updike, and Charles Wright. As Zaleski writes in his foreword, The Best American Spiritual Writing 2008 proves that the writing in this edition is a stirring "medium for contemplating, via the things of the flesh, the things of the spirit."
Drawing on the wisdom of teacher from the world's great religious traditions, including Robert Thurman, Sharon Salzberg, Ram Dass, Mother Mary Clare Vincent, Joan Halifax, and Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man, Gifts of the Spirit deepens our appreciation of such everyday routines as waking up, eating, and working, as well as the abundant rewards of enjoying music, gardening, walking, and being with others. Vivid descriptions of rituals from around the world help us find new spiritual meaning in life's key passages. Discover everyday spiritual riches through: Zen arts of cooking and eating Jewwish and Native American coming-of-age rituals Bedouin rules of hospitality and friendship Mindful approached to pregnancy and birth Ancient Christian practices that nurture the dying Shaker philosophies of daily work and craft The Buddhist way to a peaceful night's sleep
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