Book of Interest—Big Love

Posted September 26th, 2017 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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What do you do with the truth?

Scott Stabile is already a phenomenon in the world of social media, and he’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Now he’s about to make waves in the world of print, with this very relevant group of reflections on life. His message is deceptively simple—face life full on with eyes wide open and engage what you find honestly.

It’s a book that’s as much about truth as it is about love, but he writes from a place of spiritual insight where those two words begin to become synonymous. His language is as direct as his approach to life. He doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff but he shows us, over and over again, that we can choose not to become victims of our circumstances. It’s a powerful message for today’s chaotic times.

My favorite thing about this book is that Scott Stabile is gay. He lets us know that early in his writings but then he moves on to more universal territory. There is nothing gender, racial, or sexual-orientation specific in the thoughts that he shares with readers. This is the new spirituality. It is person-to-person based, a joining of hands without judgement, and an exchange of wisdom gained. Scott Stabile has made a sizeable contribution with this book. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2017 Anna Jedrziewski and

Book of Interest—Renewing the Christian Mind

Posted January 22nd, 2017 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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Is the Good News of Jesus relevant to us today?

Born out of a file cabinet full of ideas and articles in Willard’s office, this compilation of his work is truly spectacular. Willard was an ordained Southern Baptist minister who built a career as one of the foremost teachers of philosophy in his time. He maintained a unique balance between progressive and conservative thinking which positions him to be increasingly relevant during current ideological debate and its resulting clash of ideas. Black compiled this book with the intention of presenting the full range of Willard’s thoughtful teachings so that readers will have the broadest sense of his work possible.

Despite a career teaching philosophy, Willard firmly believed that spirituality must be solidly grounded in the physical world in order to have true value to human beings. According to Black, Willard had a core belief in the power of ideas to affect everyday life. He devoted much of his career to keeping the Good News of Jesus and his teachings alive and well for humanity. The timeliness of his writings is summed up in the first sentence of the first article in the book: The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon.

Those of you who have given up on Christianity might want to take a look at what Willard distilled from the teachings of Jesus, separate from the religious trappings that have been added on to them since his death. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2017 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks

Book of Interest—Christian Mystics

Posted December 26th, 2016 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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Hampton Roads Publishing

How does God speak to you?

The Christianity that most of us are familiar with is layered over with hierarchical ritual and rules which often distant people from the very thing they look to religion to find. In recent times, social trappings have been added to create the illusion of the free flow of Spirit in return for allegiance. The truth is that Christianity was born at a crossroads of major spiritual/religious influences from around the world. If one has the patience to sort through the history and literature with a listening heart, rather than a chattering mind, the roots of all that spiritual wisdom can be found in the written records of the many, many people who have found the door to transcendence within the Christian faiths.

This is not just a book about “saints”, a term which has come to have more to do with morality than spirituality. McColman includes the wisdom of the “heretics” as well. He asks readers to look past the limitations of individual people and understand the spiritual experience of the soul contained within the body.

Written for people who want to encounter the mystics rather than study them, McColman encourages us to read the book devotionally rather than academically, allowing the Holy Spirit to enter our lives and transform us.

This book provides a broad range of examples, from C.S. Lewis to Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King Jr., all of whom have something to share with us, regardless of our motivation for reading about Christian mysticism. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks

Book of Interest—Catching the Big Fish

Posted December 4th, 2016 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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Where do these crazy ideas come from?

There’s a safety in thinking in a diner. You can have your coffee or your milk shake, and you can go off into strange dark areas, and always come back to the safety of the diner. That’s David Lynch sharing his insight into the creative process. Anyone who’s ever left a work project and gone out to sit alone in a restaurant to clear her or his head will recognize it as a gem. It’s one of many contained in this book.

Reprinted as a Tenth Anniversary Edition, it might be more relevant today than ever. Creativity seems to be one of the victims of the money-first, electronic world we live in. It is becoming artisanal, a scarce and illusive commodity. A gift which everyone is born with, most people today have less access to their creative component than their great grandparents did.

David Lynch’s creative credentials are impeccable. I know this first hand. (My personal favorite is Twin Peaks. Sorry, big screen buffs.) To follow Lynch as he meanders through his process is a privilege and a gift. NOTE TO MILLENIALS: Think Steve Jobs and work backwards. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and

Book of Interest—No Greater Love

Posted September 9th, 2016 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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New World Library

How do you feel about following Jesus’ example?

For Sister Teresa it was always personal. “I don’t like people to send me something because they want to get rid of it. Giving is something different. It is sharing.” She helped people because they were there and needed her help, not because she was engaged in the business of helping. It brought her challenges from the establishment but it also brought the love of people around the world. And now it has brought her sainthood.

This Commemorative Edition of Mother Teresa’s book, first published in 1995, includes a foreward by Thomas Moore and a reprint of the homily delivered in 2003 by Pope John Paul II at her Beatification Mass. The heart of the book remains, however, Mother Teresa’s words of explanation and exhortation. Schooled by Jesuits and initiated into religious life by the the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto, she was called again and again to more advanced challenges as she offered herself in service and learned from her devoted endeavors. In a way it is all brought full circle as she is made a saint by Jesuit Pope Francis. It seems, perhaps, a Thank You from the other side for the spiritual foundation she was given and on which she built so magnificently

This is the first time I’ve read this book. The first edition was sometimes referred to as naive in its basic philosophy. To the contrary, I thought as I read. She has a unique and driving clarity about the essence of Jesus’ teachings. Devoid of religious trappings, her words speak more powerfully today than ever about the universal principles of simple Love that lights the way.

© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and

Book of Interest—Five Meditations on Death

Posted July 9th, 2016 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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Inner Traditions

Dare you look into the eyes of your own death?

Poet-philosopher Cheng tells us that death is a part of life, and that life-time-death are inextricably merged, much as we might struggle against that. Thus bodily death, which has become such a terror to most of us, is necessary for life—and for gratitude for the gift of life. He references Etty Hillesum, who before her death in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, wrote in her journal: “…by excluding death from our life, we deprive ourselves of a complete life, and by welcoming it, we enlarge and enrich our life.”

Make no mistake, this is not a morbid text requiring that we face the inevitable. It is rather a testament to life and an exploration of what gives life meaning.

It can be viewed as synchronicitous that this book has been released at a time when facing death has become an unavoidable topic around the world. It is almost constantly in the media at the moment, and as journalists and talking heads search for new ways to talk about what is happening at an alarmingly increasing rate, they are also stumbling across keys to giving meaning to death beyond the mundane experience and the power that it summons as a weapon in the material world.

Written in soaring language, filled with poetry from across the ages, Cheng begins by describing himself as coming from the tribe of the damned, the have-nots. The five meditations were originally presented orally and maintain that interactive quality within the printed words. Readers engage in exploration with Cheng rather than being passively informed by him.

I have spent the last few weeks crying, raging, and trying to make some sense of what I am seeing on TV. The review copy of this book seemed to call to me from the pile it was in. I feel as if it is a gift from the heavens. I won’t pretend that I think I understand what it really means or the impact that it will have on my life. I recognize it as an invitation to transcend the chaos in the world and search for better answers. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks

Book of Interest—Way of Love

Posted April 10th, 2016 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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Harper One

Are Jesus’ teachings relevant to today’s Christianity?

While Christian scripture espouses and explains love, simply reading the Bible doesn’t instantly make one a loving being. Wirzba prefers to think of Christianity as training for becoming a loving person. He tells readers that Jesus’ original vision of the church was for it to be that training ground for love and that modern Christianity should honor that original calling.

A professor of theology, he discusses issues like Learning in Community, Knowing the Love of God, Perceiving Creation, God’s Gardening Way with the World, Freedom and Restraint, The Disaster of Sin, The Ritual Forms of Communal Life, and The Dangers of Heaven, and tells us that “faith without love is deadly”. He’s asking today’s Christians for a renewal of  the commitment to practice love as an act of faith and spiritual growth.

This is a heartfelt dissertation, grounded in common sense, the teachings of both the Old and New Testaments, and Wirzba’s personal story of growth as a loving Christian. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks

Book of Interest—Becoming Nature

Posted April 3rd, 2016 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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Bear & Company

Can you enter Animal Mind?

Following up on his successful book, Entering the Mind of the Tracker, Tamarack Song now offers readers 12 steps for learning to move from observing nature to becoming nature. His system teaches the intuitive skills of our hunter-gatherer Ancestors using story and experience rather than traditional study. He tells readers that we all have innate, though largely ignored, primal aptitudes for these skills which are imbedded in our DNA.

From Step 1 which introduces us to the wordless language which Song calls Nature Speak through Step 12 which teaches readers how to learn to literally touch animals in the wild, this is an easy-to-read, step-by-step process for learning to reconnect with nature on all levels. In addition to the simple, yet very specific, exercises offered, Song takes us through the dynamics of engaging with nature from our primal minds. The book contains detailed discussions of the drawbacks of rational-mind dominance, recognizing the experiential mindset, how instant access to information disconnects us from the real world, the cost of sustained sound, busting the night owl myth, and reentering silence. The  exercises include four very interesting sensory-attunement exercises, six sensory-awareness games, and ten tricks for seeing animals in the wild.

This is a powerful call to leave the virtual/intellectual world and reclaim our roots in the natural world. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and

Book of Interest—Secular Meditation

Posted March 27th, 2016 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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New World Library

Does meditation exist outside of religious tradition?

Rick Heller and the Humanist Community at Harvard believe that it does. They are working hard to not only provide a place for people who are religion-adverse to come together to share meditation practice, but they are also reconciling traditional meditation teachings with cutting-edge scientific research. Heller has been a facilitator for that work at Harvard for five years.

What is now known as mindfulness practice has been extracted from Buddhism, leaving behind the magical components and lifestyle limitations, so that participants can experience the benefits of the practice without the dogma of any organized religion. Heller points out that one of the problems of that distillation is that attention training is stripped of its ethical moorings. His solution is to focus on training people in both attention and loving-kindness is equal proportions, allowing for inner guidance to replace the external constraints of organized spiritual philosophies. He makes a powerful case for his conclusions as he turns a skeptical eye to both Buddhist teachings and scientific research, positioning readers to come to their own conclusions.

The result of it all is a series of streamlined and accessible guided meditations based on topics like loving-kindness, sympathetic joy, ambient sound, body scans, mantras, mindful hiking, mindful eating, intentional daydreaming, and don’t know mind. It’s a very rich and practical book about an increasingly popular subject. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks

Book of Interest—Jesus Before the Gospels

Posted March 20th, 2016 by anna and filed in Anna's Books of interest
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Will the real Jesus please stand up.

Ehrman has established himself as one of the foremost voices in the historical Jesus debates. In this, the latest of a long list of influential books, he combines his ideas about Jesus with cutting-edge research from cognitive psychology, cultural anthropology, and sociology. He states that his intent is to provide complicated academic theory, dating back a century, in a form which is both interesting and accessible to general audiences. He more than succeeds in achieving his goal.

Was Jesus actually more zealot than apocalyptic prophet? Did Jesus have siblings? Are the “Gnostic Gospels” really Gnostic? Are traditional gospel teachings based on distorted memories? How reliable is eyewitness testimony? Who were the real authors of the canonical gospels? What impact does collective Christian memory have on the world we live in today? Ehrman offers more insight and information than answers when tackling these questions. By doing so, he is positioning this book to bring an entirely new audience to a thoughtful examination of what has previously been accepted as the truth about Jesus. Highly recommended. SHOP FOR THE BOOK

© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and