Why Protestants Should Read Jon Sweeney’s Latest Book on Saint Francis of Assisi

Sweeney saint francis book

I spent a week recently in Assisi, reflecting upon the legacy of St. Francis, with Jon Sweeney, author of When Saint Francis Saved the Church, as my companionable guide. That book is written by a Catholic, published by a Catholic press (Ave Maria), and directed toward Catholics. Why, some of you might ask, should Protestants read this book? Good question. Let me tell you. Embracing SilenceMany of us Protestants aren’t very good at silence, at meditation, at listening prayer. W … [Read more...]

Double Vision, Saint Francis Style

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Two BooksI came to Assisi with two books, or parts of books in hand: pages 559-594, torn out of Rick Steves’ Italy, and Jon Sweeney’s When Saint Francis Saved the Church: How a Converted Medieval Troubadour Created a Spiritual Vision for the Ages. Both have served me well. Rick Steves got me around this spectacular hill town in Umbria—the right tickets to buy, cafés with wi fi, viewpoints, basilica tours.Jon Sweeney’s book led me in another direction—an unexpected one—on a sort of pilgrim … [Read more...]

Why Hasn’t Disney Bought the Rights to Jon Sweeney’s New Book on Saint Francis of Assisi?


The book jacket of Jon Sweeney’s terrific (and very readable) book, The Saint Who Saved the Church, says that another of Sweeney’s books, The Pope Who Quit, was optioned by HBO. I’ve got to ask, Why hasn’t Disney bought the rights to Jon Sweeney’s new book, The Saint Who Saved the Church? Here’s why I ask.I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood, with signs of Saint Francis everywhere. There he stood, a child-sized cement statue with a tonsure (that’s a self-imposed bald spot) and a soap on a rop … [Read more...]

Jottings from Assisi on Jon Sweeney’s When Saint Francis Saved the Church


I read this book about St. Francis of Assisi all wrong.I should have read chapter five, Through Personal Poverty, in the Piazza del Vescovado, where St. Francis stripped himself naked and defiantly returned the clothes he had taken (read: stolen) from his father’s shop to distribute them to the poor. Instead, I read chapter five--on poverty--in the basilica of St. Francis, whose grandeur might have embarrassed him, according to Sweeney.I should have read chapter six, By Developing a New S … [Read more...]

Three Nuns

three nuns

Tucked into the second page of the Seattle Times under the heading, Newsline, and subheading, The World, I found this brief note. Nuns killed: Pope Francis on Monday led the Catholic Church’s mourning of three elderly Italian nuns, beheaded in Burundi following two separate attacks Sunday on the convent where they were serving as missionaries. Before we talk about these women, let's turn the page for a moment. I watched in horror over the past monthor two the saga of beheaded Americans, with a … [Read more...]

Ebola, Faith, and Friends of Ours


Yesterday, Anderson Cooper interviewed Nancy Writebol and her husband. Nancy is an American ebola survivor and a missionary, with her husband, in Africa. Her interview is moving--full of realism, compassion, and faith.This interview reminded me of another missionary couple--also with SIM--we've known for more than thirty years. I describe Steve and Mary Hawthorne on page 71 of Inspired: the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Faith. I think you should know them, too, because they share a faith with N … [Read more...]