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Stalking the Divineby Kristin Ohlson
2004 American Society of Journalists and Authors' Best Nonfiction Book Award
Synopses & Reviews
In Stalking the Divine, a Cleveland woman attends Christmas Mass at an old city church seeking holiday cheer and comfort in the trappings of a faith she abandoned more than 30 years ago. Instead, she finds a tiny threadbare congregation and a nearly forgotten group of aging, cloistered, contemplative nuns with a mission to pray day and night for the sorrows of the world. Thus begins a three-year dialogue between the nuns and Kristin Ohlson, who struggles to understand how these women gave up the world — and continue to do so joyfully — for their faith. Ultimately, Ohlson finds that talking to the nuns becomes a way of opening herself up to the possibility of the sacred — which is, in its way, an answered prayer
"A longing for belief at midlife has provided endless book material for authors, but Ohlson's beautiful writing, gritty honesty and parallel story of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration set this one apart." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Ohlson's gracefully written account of the Poor Clares is blended with the narrative of her own search for faith..." Washington Post Book World
"A quietly moving, surprisingly humorous testament of faith." Booklist
"A captivating look at a cluster of forgotten women and ultimately a layman's examination of faith." Chicago Tribune
"In telling the stories of the shy nuns we glean Ohlson's immense writing talent. As she explores their diverse backgrounds, callings, and challenges to meet their divine mandate, we start to share her fascination and tender affection." Ms. Magazine
"Ohlson's tale is witty and wry, insightful and inspirational — even for the non-Catholic, the non-Christian or those teetering on the heretical." Rocky Mountain News
"Kristin Ohlson is a scrupulous observer and a wonderfully intent writer. She brings us right up against the mysterious silence of the Poor Clares and gets us to feel the pressure of their devotion. A fascinating book." Sven Birkerts
"One of those beautiful rare books that churns in a reader's heart long after you put it down, Stalking the Divine elegantly and honestly articulates the ache for faith in our world, in the solitude of the modern self — faith in anything, anyone, if not God — and Kristin Ohlson's lucid prose and deft reportage have persuaded me that this quest alone is the fundamental act of grace available to humanity. Indeed, the journey defines our humanity, shapes it, expands it, haunts it." Bob Shacochis
One lonely Christmas morning, Kristin Ohlson wandered into a downtown Cleveland church for mass. Once there, she was moved by the traditions of her childhood, but more than that, her curiosity was captured by a group of cloistered nuns. They were the Poor ClaresÂ—a tiny, threadbare congregation of elderly nuns with one mission: to pray day and night for the sorrows of the world.
As Ohlson, a longtime skeptic, opens up to the Poor Clares, she opens herself to the possibility of the sacred. The result is an inspiring personal journey as well as a poignant reflection on the power of church and faith.
Wandering into a forgotten downtown Cleveland church for a Christmas mass, Kristin Ohlson discovered the Poor Clares--a tiny, threadbare congregation of cloistered elderly nuns with one mission: to pray day and night (literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) for the sorrows of the world. Ohlson--utterly enchanted by these devoted women--started to attend church for the first time in many years. So began her three-year dialogue with the Poor Clares, a dialogue that afforded Ohlson a fascinating, unprecedented glimpse into the intensely private nuns and their life in the cloister. Why, she wonders, have the these women retreated from the world to joyfully devote themselves to perpetual adoration? How do they sustain their faith? And what, ultimately, is faith? As Ohlson--a long-time skeptic--opens up to the Poor Clares, she opens herself to the possibility of the sacred. The result is an inspiring personal journey as well as a poignant reflection on the power of the church and faith, no matter what our religion may be.
About the Author
Kristin Ohlson has published articles and essays in the New York Times, Ms., Salon, O, Discover, Food & Wine, and many other publications.
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