Here’s Your Contemplative/Interfaith Holiday Gift-Giving Guide for 2013

This is My Beloved Son

Last year I posted a list of suggested books for holiday gift-giving, and I’ve received a request from a reader to do it again. So here is a baker’s dozen of books for you to consider giving to your loved ones (including yourself). As you will see, these books cover both Christian contemplative and interfaith spirituality. Happy reading!

i told my soul to sing: finding God with Emily Dickinson by Kristin Lemay — using twenty-five poems by Dickinson as jumping off points for meditation, Lemay explores the rich spirituality of one of America’s most enigmatic poets and relates her insight to the theological landscape of today.

Hearing God: Devoloping a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard — an updated and expanded edition of Willard’s study on Divine Guidance, with new material and scripture reflections derived from his experience teaching spiritual guidance through the Renovaré Institute.

This is My Beloved Son: The Transfiguration of Christ by Andreas Andreopoulos — the Transfiguration is a key event in the Gospel narratives and am important element of mystical spirituality. This study by an Orthodox theologian reveals the ongoing power of the Transfiguration for Christians today.

Four Elements

Gregory of Nyssa: Sermons on the Beatitudes Paraphrased by Michael Glerup — Gregory of Nyssa was one of the greatest of the early Christian mystical theologians. This modern rendering of eight of his sermons — one for each of the beatitudes — makes his thought accessible for devotional reading.

Friends in Christ: Paths to a New Understanding of Church by Brother John of Taizé — Before Rutba House and the Simple Way, there was Taizé. In the spirit of Aelred of Rievaulx, this meditation on spiritual friendship considers how relationships form the heart of Christian spirituality.

Four Elements: Reflections on Nature by John O’Donohue — Celtic spirituality is known for its positive appreciation of nature, and this book collects poetry and meditations by the late Irish contemplative John O’Donohue on the shimmering presence of the Divine in the world.

Drawn In

Journey to the Kingdom: An Insider’s Look at the Liturgy and Beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church by Vassilios Papavassiliou — lex orandi, lex credendi: praying shapes believing. This book introduces Eastern Orthodoxy to the non-Orthodox by exploring the richness of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

Lazarus, Come Forth! by John Dear — noted Jesuit peace activist (and Wild Goose Festival speaker) John Dear uses the Gospel story of the raising of Lazarus to meditate on how Jesus calls us out of the “culture of death” (our culture of violence and war) into the “new life of peace.”

Drawn In: A Creative Process for Artists, Activists and Jesus Followers by Troy Bronsink — Once upon a time, creative geniuses like Bach and Michelangelo were inspired by the Christian faith. Emergent pastor Troy Bronsink seeks to reignite that splendor by celebrating the many links between faith and creativity.

Sermons on the Beatitudes

The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life by Joan Chittister — Now in paperback, this prose-poem explores the riches of Benedictine spirituality for those who are not called to actually become nuns or monks.

The Intentional Christian Community Handbook by David Janzen — a nuts & bolts guide to creating and sustaining neo-monastic or other forms of intentional Christian community. Perhaps this could be a new “Rule of St. Benedict” for the third millennium?

Outline of Sufism: The Essentials of Islamic Spirituality by William Stoddart — a concise introduction to the mystical spirituality of Islam, written by a westerner with an appreciation of the religious milieu in which Sufism emerged and thrived.

Wounded Wisdom: A Buddhist and Christian Response to Evil, Hurt and Harm by Ross Thompson — An Anglican priest and Buddhist practitioner, Thompson considers how both faiths respond to the mystery of harm and suffering, culminating in an interfaith “ninefold way” of responding to evil.

Disclosure: the books mentioned in this post were supplied to me by the publisher or its representative in order to have them reviewed on the blog. Many other books have been supplied to me over the past few months. It was my choice which books were featured here. If you follow the links provided and purchase the books from, I receive a small commission from Amazon. Thank you for doing so — it is the easiest way you can support this blog.

Busting the "Goody Two Shoes" Stereotype of Saints
Talking about "Befriending Silence"
Sanctity and Struggle, or, Why Saints Have Chaotic Inner Lives (Hint: It's Because We All Do)
Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • Mark

    Since I’m the reader that made the request, I should be the first to thank you for this list. The book on Emily Dickinson looks worthwhile.

    • Carl McColman

      You’re welcome. I think you would also enjoy the title by Andreopoulos, and Judy might enjoy Bronsink’s as well. ;-)

  • Quinn

    Thank you so much! There are a few here that I haven’t seen before – especially interested on the handbook for Christian community. Thanks again!

  • Greta Reed

    thanks, Carl. I had not heard of several of these books. Very intriguing.

    Peace, Greta