Christian main page Books on spirituality

So many books, so little time. Here are some worth your attention.


A Practical Guide to Spiritual Reading
Susan Annette Muto
Dimension Books, 1976

She has made an admirable attempt to organize the spiritual corpus into themes (for example, "Silence and Solitude of Deset Experience") and list Bible passages that relate to each.

Also valuable for an extensively annotated Bibliography.

Christian Spirituality: The Essential Guide to the Most influential Spiritual Writings of the Christian Tradition
eds, Frank Magill, Ian McGReal
Harper and Row, 1988

Short (5-8 page) descriptions of major figures from throughout Christian history right down to the present. A bookphiles treasure. Interesting how many of these awknoledged spiritual leaders were persecuted or considered heritics by the church.

Ways of Imperfection: An Exploration of Christian Spirituality
Simon Tugwell
Templegate, 1985

A bit of a mix between the previous two books, Tugwell both reviews the history of spirituality and comments on its insights and limitations.

A Lost Tradition: Women Writers of the Early Church
Patricia Wilson-Kastner,
University Press of America, 1981

The problem with it being 'a lost tradition' is that it is (almost) totally lost: there are few 'ordinary' women writers whose texts have survived. A few have, and many of them are recorded here along with helpful introductions.


The Inner Kingdom: vol 1 of the collected works
Bishop Kallistos Ware
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001, 230 pages

For those who have encountered only dry discussions of theology or a statement of Christian views that is narrow or fanatical, finding someone like Bishop Ware is a relief.  His articulation of various topics is both wise and warm, filled with the love of Christ and always intellectually rigorous as well.  Ware has chapters on worship, prayer, silence, the nature of time and salvation.  The last two sound particularly dull, but are in fact among the best of the sections. In particular, the chapter on salvation deals with the question of universal salvation, which leads into a discussion of hell.  Anyone troubled by the way most churches present hell, predestination and the concept of eternal damnation (as you should be) would do well to see how Ware situates these ideas in the context of God’s unending love and God’s desire for all to be saved. If only most pastors taught this way about Christianity, many would not have left the church.

The chapter on worship is also particularly valuable.  Most discussions of worship theology are hopelessly dull, or debate arcane points of the tradition or treat worship choices as etiquette decisions.  Ware articulates worship as being intended to express God’s beauty and bring us into the presence of God.  By that standard, most worship falls horribly short.

This was to be the first of six volumes of his collected works, but subsequent volumes seem not to have appeared as yet.

Peace Weavers: Medieval Religious Women, vol. 2
Ed. John Nichols, Lillian Thomas Shank
Cistercian Publications, 1987.

Studies of various medieval women writers and leaders.

The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Doubleday, 1976

The noted writer Henri Nouwen spent seven months in a monastery that observed a fairly strict routine of silence and fasts. He records with openness his struggles with various spiritual difficulties.

The Gift of Peace
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin
Image Books, 1997

As he was dying of cancer, the Cardinal penned this very personal book that positively glows with his spiritual presence.

Enneagram Spirituality: From Compulsion to Contemplation
Suzanne Zuercher
Ave Maria Press, 1992

The Enneagram is a technique for understanding personality issues. People fit into one of nine types, that fit into three triads of head, heart and gut orientations. It sounds flaky, but has great explanitory power. One of its virtues is that it understands that your greatest gift is found by healing your greatest sin, not by discarding that part of your personality. So the "helpful person" has to go from being bossy to being really helpful, rather than being told to stop helping..

Zuercher links each type with a Biblical personality.

Last updated 6/13/06; first posted 11/28/03; © 2006 John P. Nordin