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Publication Date: 2015
"There is a part of the soul that stirs at night, in the dark and soundless times of day, when our defenses are down and our daylight distractions no longer serve to protect us from ourselves," writes beloved author, Joan Chittister. "Its then, in the still of life, when we least expect it, that questions emerge from the damp murkiness of our inner underworld…These questions do not call for the discovery of data; they call for the contemplation of possibility."
In words as wise as they are inspiring, Between the Dark and the Daylight explores the concerns of modern life, of the overworked mind and hurting heart. These are the paradoxicaland often frustratingmoments when our lives feel at odds with everything around us.
Only by embracing the contradictions, Chittister contends, may we live well amid stress, withstand emotional storms, and satisfy our yearnings for something transcendent and real. By delving into the chaos, this book guides us through the questions that seemed easier to avoid and enlightens what has been out of focus.
With her signature elegance, wit, and spirit, the bestselling author of The Gift of Years and Following the Path opens our eyes and hearts in these times of confusion. With simple and poignant meditations, Between the Dark and the Daylight reveals how we can better understand ourselves, one another, and God.
From the Hardcover edition.
JOAN CHITTISTER is an internationally known author and lecturer, and the executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality. She is past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Her books include The Gift of Years, The Breath of the Soul, Called to Question, and Following the Path. She is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania.
From the Hardcover edition.
★ Publishers Weekly
"One of the most well-known and trusted contemporary spiritual authors has tackled a significant topic that will speak to seekers of all faiths. Benedictine nun Chittister (The Gift of Years) posits that contradictions, paradoxes, and ambiguities all play an important role in the life of the spirit, although it is not always apparent. Since the dawn of humanity people have sought peace and contentment. But the same obstacles that plagued humanity thousands of years ago are still wreaking havoc on human psyches and spirits. How to navigate the treacherous waters of the unknown and the seemingly nonsensical? It is in darkness, chaos, and insecurity, the author insists, that people find the most spiritual fruit. Risk is an important factor in any life, because security is a mirage. Personal and professional achievements are fleeting, and being certain about anything in life will only lead to disappointment. Chittisters beautifully crafted short reflections are salve for the soul and an antidote to the apathy, depression, and obsession with material goods that beset so many."
"Here, at last, is a book for those ready to make peace with the unsolvable riddles of present-day life. Why are we so lonely in a world of so little privacy? Why do we work so hard for control we can never achieve? Whether the problem that keeps you up at night is how to find safety in a world that is always changing or how to deal with guilt in a life that is far from perfect, Sister Joan has good news for you: these are the questions that make you human, and can make you more joyously human if you choose." -Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Learning to Walk in the Dark
"The great spiritual writers knew that truth can be found most often in paradoxes and contradictions. To find light you must go through darkness. To seek knowledge you must admit that you know little. To live you must die to self. Joan Chittister's new book explores the meaning of some of the most profound spiritual paradoxes and, in the process, helps the reader find her or his way to new life. Sister Joan has long been one of my favorite spiritual writers, and with this new book she has given us more of her trademark common sense, insight and wisdom." -James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage.
"As always, Joan has put her finger and her pen to the right and needed words. She well describes those liminal spaces wherein human beings best grow and become their best selves. She could never describe them so well if she had not walked through them herself." -Richard Rohr, OFM, Founder of Center for Action and Contemplation and author of Falling Upward
"This little tome is an alarm clock for the spiritual journey. It wakes the reader up to the fact that our life journey is unique for each of us, yet we are twined together in the presence of God in every moment. Joan brings her years of faithful monasticism to open up the painful contradictions of our time: Wake up! The time is NOW!" -Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK, author of A Nun on the Bus
"Joan Chittister has written what promises to be a spiritual classic--a guide for those of us who have ever spent sleepless nights wrestling with our own frustrations, fear of the unknown and pain of loss and separation. Through the wisdom of a woman who has experienced all of these, we learn how doubt can lead to greater clarity, hopelessness to new life and solitude to deeper connection. In short, how the paradoxes that confound life can transform it. This the most poetic writing yet from a woman who is a modern prophet." -Judith Valente, author of Atchison Blue and correspondent for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on PBS-TV
"This book could be life-changing for many. Joan Chittister highlights the paradoxes and contradictions of life, things that we experience as obstacles, as life-denying, such as loss, confusion, doubt, failure, emptiness, exhaustion, and shows convincinglythe strength of the book lies herehow each one offers an opportunity for fuller growth. Turning the pages we maybe perceive how much of our life we fail to live, how many opportunities we waste. It is my hope that this book will reach a vast number of people experiencing the pain and splendour of being human. They will be enlightened and comforted." -Ruth Burrows, OCD, author of Essence of Prayer
"In a one-word nutshell, life is best defined as a conundrum. Every high flees the hot pursuit of a low; certainties emerge from the shadows of doubt; endings are invitations to new beginnings. In this beautiful book, Joan Chittister focuses her discerning eye upon these conundrums. Turning the pages is like turning a kaleidoscope of insight because it helps us to see, admire, and appreciate the infinite colors and shapes of life. At times, Between the Dark and the Daylight sparkles with ageless wisdom; at other times it glows like the quiet embers of a best friend's advice. This is a book to which you will return over and over and, each time you do, you will discover new treasures of optimism." -Maura Poston Zagrans, author of Camerado, I Give You My Hand
"Chittister has earned her place as one of the illuminators of our age." -Chicago Tribune
"Between the Dark and the Daylight by Joan Chittister reveals her passion as a meaning-maker who keeps on asking the right questions and sharing her grace-filled epiphanies with us." -Spirituality and Practice
"It is profound truths which Chittister explores in this book, and for the most she does so superbly." -Carl McColman, A Contemplative Faith
"Joan Chittisters Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life is a hymn to spiritual stature." -Bruce Epperly, Living a Holy Adventure
"[This book] is a powerful, modern proclamation of the potential and possibilities for present day seekers for living a wise, good, compassionate, just, balanced life in communion with God and humanity." -Chuck Queen, Faith Forward
From the Hardcover edition.
HomeschoolChristianMomAge: 25-34Gender: female2 Stars Out Of 5Emphasis on Self-Effort; Disagree with the Author's Interpretation of ScriptureApril 26, 2015HomeschoolChristianMomAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 2Meets Expectations: 2This book was somewhat like reading the author, Joan Chittister's, inner logic on difficult situations or paradoxes in life. It was like hearing someone think through a conflict (or apparent conflict) or negative circumstance and end on a slightly upbeat and motivated note. In reading, I discovered many thought evoking quotations which would be great to reference in articles or pass on in conversation. Here's a quote I enjoyed in the chapter on frustration, "There is really no such thing as frustration, except in ourselves. We call frustrating anything we want the world to confirm as justification for being unable to control the way we think." While most of the book's content is the author's musings, she includes frequent quotations, often of saints. Charles Spurgeon is quoted in a chapter on exhaustion, and in a chapter on guilt and growth, Louis Kronenberger is quoted as saying, "One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame we have killed off so much real shame as well."
I guess for a book so closely walking the line of pondering the meaning and direction of life, the area I found drastically lacking was that of God's involvement. Since I am a Christian, I knew I would desire to see Jesus given more attention because I am a dedicated follower of His. I understood the author held different beliefs, being Catholic, but I guess I expected, or hoped, that the Lord would play a bigger role in the author's writings and musings. Some areas felt slightly like circular logic and justification, but I am not without fault in my thought process, either, so I won't cast the first stone.
The beginning of the book concerned me slightly when the author stated, "Centering on spirits within us, rather than being obsessed with the vicissitudes and petty imperfections of life gives the soul its stability, whatever the kinds or degrees of turbulence to be dealt with around it." Exactly what kind of spirits? [We never really find out.] And, Chittister finishes the book with a chapter on spiritual seeking which includes an interpretation of the account of the tower of Babel which is not true to Scripture. The author writes the following:
The Hebrew Scriptures... tells us that in their passion for the spiritual life- when the whole world still had only one language, were one race, one nation and were, then, capable of working together on such a great project- the people decided to dedicate themselves tot he building of a great high tower. The goal was to build the tower high enough to enable them all to go up to God together. ... But then the story goes on, God looked down and saw them all at work and instead of being impressed by their plan was deeply disturbed at the very sight of it. This great tower, this singular definition of one path to heaven, this foolish notion that God was available for capture made a mockery out of the very spirituality for which they sought: the awareness that God was everywhere, that God was with everyone, that God is the very Life of life.
She goes on to explain that God confused all the people's languages and dispersed them, but emphasises that she feels God did this so they would be forced to learn about the Lord from each other, "Otherwise, they would always think that their one experience and perspective and relationship was all there was to know about God." That last statement is a pretty strong theological ground to take without Scriptural support, but the Bible isn't silent on this issue, nor does it support Chittister's theory. God Himself states why He was upset at the building of the Tower of Bable, and it wasn't because He was displeased by the people's great spiritual efforts. He was disgusted by their pride, you can see for yourself in Genesis 11:1-9 that the motive for building a tower was not to get closer to God, but to make a name for themselves and keep from being scattered. They were building a monument to show just how awesome they were and to mark their city.
Genesis Chapter 11 (King James Bible)
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top [may reach] unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people [is] one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Because this book ends by suggesting, at least indirectly, that there are many paths to Heaven, and because much of the emphasis of the book is on personal effort rather than placing trust in the Lord to guide and sustain, I would not recommend this book to anyone. I was looking to find sustaining hope and encouragement in this book, but all I found was rationalization toward self-sufficiency. I think we will all fail repeatedly and we are in need of Jesus Christ as a Savior to provide us with His grace. We simply cannot "fix" ourselves on the deepest levels. We're far too broken, and many people die trying.
In the interest of full disclosure: I didn't realize this book was written by a Catholic author when I ordered it. I understand I will have to agree to disagree with the Catholic viewpoint and hope those who read my review can be respectful of my viewpoint. Also, a copy of this book was provided to me at no cost for the purpose of reviewing by Blogging for Books.
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