When Arriving at Amen, my book on learning to pray, came out, I gave a talk on some of the unexpected ways I found to reach out to God (Fermat’s Little Theorem, people mummified in honey, etc). First Things has just made the video available, if you’d like to check it out!
[The video isn’t embeddable, but if you click, it will open in a new tab]
And this seems like a good time to share one of the recent reader reviews of Arriving at Amen that I really enjoyed receiving:
Leah Libresco is a gem of a writer that merits a place in the company of our greatest contemporary Catholic authors. Arriving at Amen does not pretend to offer any provocative or new theological insight. Instead, it is a vulnerable and deep look into the heart of her prayer life, a terrifying feat that would humble even the meekest of us. She presents over the course of seven chapters her quirky, charming, and ultimately brilliant solutions to overcoming barriers to authentic prayer: fear, pride, apathy, even boredom. Peppered with the most unusual cultural references (kintsugi? Joss Whedon? Twelfth Night?), she weaves in and out of narrative and prose with a skillful ease that transforms Arriving at Amen into so much more than a book about prayer. In a way, I felt like this book was a prayer itself. It is an invitation to vulnerability, honesty, and sincere, hard work.As a convert myself, I can certainly relate to the perception of prayer as an elitist practice, a special, intimate dance with the Trinity that only the most pious are invited to participate in. Leah so swiftly dismantles such bastions and instead presents prayer as something much more gutsy, earthy, and repetitive. Prayer isn’t a five-course dinner. It’s much more like playing in the sandbox, building a castle, knocking it down, and making it again. It’s about persevering when your shoes are filled with sand, and your formations look much more like amorphous blobs than a structure fit for a King. Sometimes showing up is the best you can do. And fortunately, the Church has given us an endless fodder of prayers to help us along the way. that she is able to observe patterns of grace in her rational world.
If you’ve read Arriving at Amen yourself, leaving a review on Amazon is a big help to me.
And, if you liked it and found it fruitful, you could always buy a copy for a friend and then have a kaffeeklatsch about prayers you’ve struggled with or want to try.
One reason I really like giving talks on the book is because it’s like giving a campus tour — sharing my joy with someone else strengthens it in myself. I definitely recommend finding excuses (whether via my book or any other way) to talk to friends about your prayers, to stoke up joy and (in my experience) to dissolve some anxieties that sound silly when you say them outside your head.