God in the Dark: Suffering and Desire in the Spiritual Life  -     By: Susan Pitchford
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God in the Dark: Suffering and Desire in the Spiritual Life

Liturgical Press / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 200
Vendor: Liturgical Press
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.37 (inches)
ISBN: 081463351X
ISBN-13: 9780814633519
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Contemporary Christianity is afflicted with two problems: First, our spiritual life is often bland and lukewarm. Distracted and fragmented by our lives, and malnourished on conventional piety, we feel out of touch with the God described in the Bible as a consuming fire." Second, we don't know how to make sense of suffering, especially the pain of spiritual darkness and aridity. The answer to both of these problems is passion.

In God in the Dark, Susan Pitchford explores the two faces of passion:desire, the mutual attraction between the soul and God; and suffering, especially our confusion and grief when we find ourselves in dark places. We often misinterpret times of darkness, assuming we've fabled and God has abandoned us. Pitchford suggests that darkness is not a place of abandonment but a place of intimacy and a special call to a deeper relationship with the God who desires us. Once we understand this, we will not have to fear the dark, and when the night closes in around us, we can experience it as an embrace.

Author Bio

Susan Pitchford is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Washington and a professed member of the Third Order, Society of St. Francis. She is the author of Following Francis: The Franciscan Way for Everyone and Identity Tourism: Imaging and Imagining the Nation. Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, Bob Crutchfield, and her golden retriever, Abby.

Editorial Reviews

Tapping into a broad spectrum of Christianity’s ancient mystical heritage, Susan Pitchford uses an accessible style and wry humor to offer readers a fresh awareness and appreciation of Christian mysticism and how it still thrives in the midst of today’s fast-paced, hard-edged world.

This remarkable book is a passionate call for the recovery of the Catholic tradition of passionate spiritual search. With her intensely personal and unflinchingly honest writing, the author encourages the seeker on a journey through suffering and joy, darkness and loneliness, towards enlightenment and union. Her special friends and guides on the difficult yet wonderful journey are the Beguine mystics of the fourteenth century, and other eccentric and (as she says) 'weird' friends, ancient and contemporary. This is a book for now: the author refuses to stick with no longer relevant spiritual metaphors or to accept once revered spiritual practices just because they are old. There is a freshness here, and a delightfully frank humor, but most of all a passionate love.
Rosemary Luling Haughton, PhD (honorary), theologian, author of The Passionate God, The Catholic Thing, Gifts in the Ruins

Many Christians play it safe by practicing a tepid, no-risk spirituality in which we domesticate the roaring Lion of Judah into a nice, safe pussycat. Susan Pitchford’s beautifully written book reminds us that an authentic relationship with God, others, and self depends on an embrace of whole-bodied desire on the one hand and the possibility of suffering on the other. This is a book that liberates us to let God be both the passionate Lover and the Roaring Lion God is.
Kerry Walters
Author of The Art of Dying and Living

There be in God, some say, a deep but dazzling darkness.’ The 17th century poet Henry Vaughan expresses a vital truth, which is explored with intelligence, passion and humor by Susan Pitchford. In spite of her disclaimers to be a theologian, her book is a discerning work of the moral and theological imagination. It is an exploration well suited for our times, marked as they are, by both shallowness and fierceness in religion. The God of God in the Dark is passionate and intractably mysterious. And because we are all made in that divine image, so we too are driven by passion to embrace the unknown. Spirituality isn’t a ’product.’ It can neither be bought nor sold and Susan Pitchford skewers this misunderstanding with down-to-earth accessible writing, marked with humor and honesty. The book is refreshing and yet stands in a long mystical tradition. It is a great gift for a floundering, atomized culture—water in the desert.
Alan Jones
Dean emeritus of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
            Honorary canon of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres
            Author of Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality

"In an accessible style, laced with rich metaphors, wry humor, and down-to-earth explanations, Susan Pitchford guides the reader to a fresh knowledge and appreciation of the Christian mystical journey. Since mysticism is about relationships, it inevitably involves passion (the enemy of boredom and apathy), whose two faces are desire (God desires us infinitely more than we desire God), and suffering (life’s pain can be understood in positive, life-giving ways).
            Pitchford advocates a return to the mystical metaphor of the spiritual marriage in a 21st century framework—an evocative, potentially enriching challenge. Intimacy with God is viewed in an inclusive way that resists the attitude that one size fits all. Rather, mysticism is a way of intense prayer open to all the baptized called and willing to follow the path of desire for God in their daily lives. 
            Pitchford takes a balanced approach to affirmative and negative prayer forms, but she focuses on the positive or kataphatic way that she believes has been neglected. Her favorite exemplars include her ’spooky sisters’—medieval beguines such as Beatrijs of Nazareth, Hadewijch of Brabant, Mechthilde of Magdeburg, and Marguerite Porete; Teresa of Avila and Mother Teresa; Francis of Assisi and John of the Cross. This book is an antidote to contemporary cynicism and indifference, a goad to those who desire to infuse their spirituality with new life and vigor."
            Elizabeth Dreyer
            Department of Religious Studies
            Fairfield University, Connecticut

Susan R. Pitchford has penned (or at least word processed!) a new book with a master’s touch in God in the Dark. Coming from a Franciscan orientation she has tapped into a broad spectrum of the ancient mystical heritage of Christianity in a way that speaks to the average person in a fast paced, modern world. Readers will find it a fine addition to their modern mystical books, or a great introduction to the mystical tradition for new seekers and first time readers.
John Michael Talbot
Founder, and Spiritual Father
The Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage

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