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A Dynamic God : Living an Unconventional Catholic Faith
Passionately nonconformist spiritual reflections from an acclaimed essayist When Nancy Mairs published her ""spiritual autobiography"" Ordinary Time, Kathleen Norris greeted it in the New York Times Book Review as ""a remarkable accomplishment,"" calling Mairs ""a relentlessly physical writer, as fiercely committed to her art as to her spiritual development."" Mairs's new book on spirituality describes the alternative brand of Catholic worship that she observes in the American Southwest. Raised Congregationalist in New England, Mairs is a convert to Catholicism. She is also feminist, radical, political activist--and all this in a church that tends to scorn her kind of progressive iconoclasm. A Dynamic God explores why and how Mairs deals with those contradictions and still identifies as Catholic (Zen Catholic, as she sometimes says), and what she finds to love in that tradition. Doctrinally, Mairs parts ways with the mainstream Church with few regrets. The people she worships with celebrate communion in each other's homes without a priest, discuss politics, and defy Church opposition. But the Catholic rituals and imaginative structures that Mairs loves shape her life. In the Latino image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, for instance, she finds inspiration for a commitment to social justice. In her unmistakable, vibrant voice, she writes about sin and abundance; understanding vocation in a life circumscribed by multiple sclerosis; and celebrating life.
Mairs is an extraordinary woman. The acclaimed author of the spiritual autobiography Ordinary Time suffers from multiple sclerosis, yet is able to write with passion about a God that others in her position would have walked away from a long time ago. A convert to Catholicism, Mairs often finds herself on the other side of the political and ideological fence from her church's hierarchy, but her gift for finding the sacred in everyday life is so steeped in a Catholic worldview that she must keep practicing her faith. The author draws strength from prayer and some religious devotions, but she focuses that strength through her political activism in a world that needs justice. Her self-deprecating humor is wonderful-much like the writing of Anne Lamott, although Mairs manages to create her own style. As one who suffers from a debilitating disease, Mairs has been continually challenged with the spiritual truth that it is who people are rather than what they do that makes them worthy of divine love. This is a tough but integral lesson for anyone who takes spiritual matters seriously. Through her writing, Mairs illustrates the difference between orthodoxy and faith. She chooses the latter, and given her life experiences, she should know. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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August 31, 2007
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