Synopses & Reviews
The Best American series has been the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction since 1915. For each volume, the very best pieces are selected by a leading writer in the field, making the Best American series the most respected -- and most popular -- of its kind.
The Best American Spiritual Writing 2005 includes
Mary Gordon • Natalie Goldberg • Oliver Sacks • Ptolemy Tompkins • Patricia Hampl • Gary Snyder • Charles Johnson • Harvey Cox • Todd Gitlin • Bill McKibben • Philip Levine • W. S. Merwin • and others
Philip Zaleski, editor, is the author of The Recollected Heart, The Book of Heaven, and, most recently, Prayer: A History (with Carol Zaleski). He is a senior editor of Parabola and a research associate in religion at Smith College.
Barry Lopez is the author of Arctic Dreams, the illustrated fable Crow and Weasel, and several essay and short story collections, including About This Life and Resistance. He has received the National Book Award and other honors.
The newest addition to the acclaimed Best American series brings readers the years best writing about faith and spirituality and is sure to enrich the lives of all readers. Includes writings that reflect Christian, Muslim, Jewish, secular, and pan-Hindu perspectives.
In this edition of The Best American Spiritual Writing, Philip Zaleski culls compelling and timely essays and poetry with selections ranging from perennial favorites to fresh new voices, all gracefully probing the role of faith in modern life while offering both spiritual insight and literary excellence. Contributors include Robert Bly, Adam Gopnik, George Packer, Marilynne Robinson, John Updike, and others.
The latest edition of this annual, assembled by the acclaimed writer and editor Philip Zaleski, not only showcases some of the finest writing of the year but offers astute perceptions on subjects that are universal, timeless, and yet deeply personal. Culled from an impressive variety of sources and ranging over topics as disparate as Shaker furniture, perfume, and the monastic life, the essays and poems collected here share a search for purpose beyond the mundane -- and find answers in the likeliest and unlikeliest of sources.
Here you will find George Packers The Moderate Martyr,” a profile of the peaceful Islamic visionary Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, alongside Sridhar Pappus report on the Preacher,” Bishop T. D. Jakes, the entrepreneurially inclined leader of one of the largest churches in the country. Garry Wills questions whether it is possible (or even desirable) to live according to the maxim What would Jesus do?” In response to the recent spate of atheist attacks on organized religion, Marilynne Robinson offers an insightful critique of Hysterical Scientism.” Adam Gopnik explores the link between Shaker beliefs and the austere beauty of Shaker creations, and Joseph Epstein muses on the reasons for broken friendships. Some of the essays are deeply personal: Mary Gordon examines her complex relationship with her mother, and Pico Iyer reveals the place where he goes to be himself.
Including powerful poetry from notable contributors such as Deborah Digges, Galway Kinnell, and John Updike, and an introduction by Harvey Cox, The Best American Spiritual Writing 2007 is one of those transformative magical books” that Zaleski describes in his foreword, a volume that gracefully probes the role of faith in modern life while offering both spiritual insight and literary excellence.
About the Author
HARVEY COX is the author of the groundbreaking The Secular City and manyother books, including The Seduction of the Spirit, which was nominated for the National Book Award. A professor of theology at Harvard Divinity School, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.PHILIP ZALESKI, editor of The Best American Spiritual Writing, is the author of many acclaimed books on religion, including The Recollected Heart, Gifts of the Spirit, and The Book of Heaven. His most recent book is Prayer: A History, written with Carol Zaleski. He is a senior editor at Parabola as well as a research associate in religion at Smith College.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Philip Zaleski x Introduction by Harvey Cox xvi
Dick Allen. And All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Thing Shall Be Well” 1 from The Hudson Review
Dore Ashton. On Constantin Brancusi 3 from Raritan
Fred Bahnson. Climbing the Sphinx 16 from Fugue
Robert Bly. The Head of Barley 31 from The American Poetry Review
Joseph Bottum. Christmas in New York 32 from First Things
Eric Cohen. The Ends of Science 35 from First Things
Robert Cording. Luna Moths 49 from The Southern Review
Madeline DeFrees. The Magdalen with the Nightlight by Georges de La Tour 51 from Image
Deborah Digges. The Birthing 52 from The New Yorker
Gretel Ehrlich. What Is the Worth of the Wind River Mountains? 54 from Shambhala Sun
Joseph Epstein. Friendship Among the Intellectuals 61 from Commentary
Kate Farrell. Faithful to Mystery 70 from The Journal for Anthroposophy
Natalie Goldberg. On the Shores of Lake Biwa 87 from Shambhala Sun
Adam Gopnik. Shining Tree of Life 97 from The New Yorker
Mary Gordon. My Mothers Body 109 from The American Scholar
Vicki Hearne. What Philosopher 128 from The American Scholar
Carol Huang. Tomorrow Is Another Day 129 from The American Scholar
Pico Iyer. This Is Who I Am When No One Else Is Looking 141 from Portland
Michael D. Jackson. In the Footsteps of Walter Benjamin 145 from Harvard Divinity Bulletin
Philip Jenkins. Liberating Word 167 from Christian Century
Galway Kinnell. Everyone Was in Love 176 from The Atlantic Monthly
Patrick Madden. On Laughing 177 from Portland
Frederica Mathewes-Green. Loving the Storm-Drenched 182 from Christianity Today
Dara Mayers. Love Divine 188 from Tricycle
Wilfred M. McClay. Idol-Smashing and Immodesty in the Groves of Academe 197 from In Character
Ann McCutchan. Reaching for the End of Time 209 from Image
George Packer. The Moderate Martyr 225 from The New Yorker
Sridhar Pappu. The Preacher 244 from The Atlantic Monthly
Marilynne Robinson. Hysterical Scientism 264 from Harpers Magazine
Huston Smith. The Universal Grammar of Religion 276 from Sophia
Mark Strand. Storm 282 from The New Yorker
John Updike. Half Moon, Small Cloud 283 from The Atlantic Monthly
Robert Louis Wilken. Jaroslav Pelikan, Doctor Ecclesiae 284 from First Things
Garry Wills. What Jesus Did 289 from The American Scholar
Franz Wright. Music Heard in Illness 298 from Ploughshares
Contributors Notes 301 Other Notable Spiritual Writing of 2006 305