Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In the True Spirit of Christmas, Some Spiritual Book Recommendations For Last-Minute Shopping...

Because of my recent travels, I'm way past due getting out these book recommendations, but hey, if you're a last minute shopper in search of some spiritually edifying gifts, this post is for you!

Does this image of parcels, snow, and Mr. Tumnus' furtive glance as he talks with Lucy Pevensie in the movie adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, make you think of the angst that often accompanies Christmas shopping?
Thank goodness we're not in a land where it is "always winter but never Christmas". However, in this final countdown towards Christmas, we need to take time to slow down and remember to pray, or we might experience "always December but never Advent".  Christmas Eve will suddenly be here, but we'll be too stressed to even remember what we're celebrating!

And consider, what better time than Christmas to give spiritual books, as presents that can help our loved ones remember His Presence!

Today I'm sharing some nice gift offerings, especially for my Orthodox followers, from Ancient Faith Publishing...I'm always excited to see which review copies from AFP will show up on my front doorstep - they're like new friends who I look forward to meeting. (If you're not familiar with this Orthodox Christian publishing company, go here.)



For my Orthodox readers: this little gem is the perfect size to fit in a child's Christmas stocking! Compiled and edited by AFP, this book is beautifully illustrated with mixed media by Megan Gilbert.
A Child's Guide to the Divine Liturgy is just what it's title states: as opposed to an exact "follow-along-with-every-word-in-the-service-booklet", it's a nice little volume that is a perfect "pocket companion" to help guide kids through what the Orthodox Divine Liturgy is all about.  Colorful illustrations showing children in a variety of traditional Orthodox settings (many jurisdictions' traditions, vestments, etc. are represented) are featured on every page - making this book engaging for children from about ages two to ten. Each section of the guide is color coded, so even beginning readers can easily navigate the contents.  The book includes liturgical prayers, explanations and icons of the 12 major Orthodox feast days, a glossary, and more.  A grand guide in a small package! Ordering info and a look inside this book feature here.

FROM GOD TO YOU, The Icon's Journey to Your Heart by John Kosmas Skinas.  

This book is a follow-up to the popular PICTURES OF GOD, which I posted about here.  In his new picture book, Skinas delves into the history and sacred role of icons.  The first page sets the tone of the book beautifully with this quote: "The icon is a place of meeting where you and God can gaze at each other from the two sides of eternity."  The author relates the story of how God sent the first icon ("The Icon Not Made by Hands", also called "The Holy Napkin") and we are introduced to many other icons and traditions that have been handed down throughout our church's history. With scripture references and a "Notice This" feature for every holy image, this book is a wonderful help for children ages 4-10.  Can be ordered here.


THE MYSTERY OF ART, Becoming an Artist in the Image of God by Jonathan Jackson.

If you know a young adult Christian artist who is pursuing music, dance, acting, or painting...please consider this book!
Do you know about Jonathan Jackson?  Besides his career in Hollywood and music, he's an Orthodox Christian (short bio here).

My 25-year-old musician son is devouring this book! He commented, "I really needed to read this right now.  It's speaking to a lot of things that I'm currently dealing with spiritually."

I really wanted to give you my own book review of The Mystery of Art, by Jonathan Jackson, but I couldn't pry my review copy from my son's hands long enough to read it myself!  Instead, I'm sharing the book description from Ancient Faith Publishing's website:

Emmy Award-winning actor and musician Jonathan Jackson explores the profound implications of human creativity in the image of God, along with the process of becoming an artist (of any sort) dedicated to practicing his or her art from the context of a deep relationship with God. The true Christian artist is not necessarily one who treats religious themes, but one who creates through the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God.
Can be ordered here.

NEARLY ORTHODOX, On Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Tradition by Angela Doll Carson.

Here's one for the girls (18 and up)!  Not to be missed.
Open this book, and you'll find yourself traveling with Angela along what is for her a new, yet Ancient Road on her journey towards chrismation into the Orthodox Church.

Her style - intentional, yet free flowing, is full of poetic metaphors - she puts you right there with her.  Smack.  In the midst of whatever struggle she is facing, and whatever emotion she is feeling.

In the Introduction she tells us: "The mapmaking of this book, my spiritual geography as it were, depends on those intersections of the past, the present, and the future.  They are intricately woven. They are sometimes congested and confusing."

Not chronologically, Angela's pilgrimage begins "in the middle, the muddy middle" to East from West. The stories she tells intertwine, like her winding journey from Catholicism to Protestantism to Orthodoxy.

We travel with her as she fights "Giants in the Road", and we follow as she leads us "Into the Roar."  She honestly observes and confronts her modern experiences and outlook on life as she sees them in juxtaposition with ancient Eastern Orthodox spirituality.

Along her journey she has passed landmarks that must be confronted: her parents' divorce, her inner punk rocker, and feminism, to name a few.  She begins to encounter and consider the Orthodox Traditions of liturgy, icons, prayer, confession (and some not universally practiced "small t" Orthodox traditions as well), as she travels toward the day of her chrismation, and realizes the road and journey don't stop there.

The appeal of Angela Doll Carlson's book (besides her engaging, poetic writing) is that Angela's intimate and honest questions, struggles, fears, and reflections about herself and her faith make you more aware of your own!

She reminds us that the Ancient Road, "a long lifetime road", though full of struggle, will help lead us to our destination, a true and healthy dependence on God, not ourselves. After all, aren't all of us just "nearly Orthodox", trying to live out our faith?  Ordering info here.


THE ANCIENT FAITH PRAYER BOOKEdited by Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou 

This beautiful green prayer book would make a festive Christmas gift; but order a few extra volumes for wedding, baptism, namesday, and birthday gifts! It's small enough to tuck away in a purse.  And I have to mention, besides a collection of some of the most beautiful ancient prayers of the Orthodox Church, this devotional includes some helpful and compassionate prayers for marriage, family life, pregnancy, childbirth, and miscarriage.  You can order it here.

Last but not least, Ancient Faith Publishing has a beautiful selection of Christmas cards, ornaments, icons, jewelry, and more in their CHRISTMAS STORE!  Go here to see their wonderful offerings. Remember, there are 12 Days of Christmas in which to give gifts...December 26 - Epiphany, January 1.

No comments:

Post a Comment