I don’t like to be told what to do. If you’ve read this blog for more than about 30 seconds, you probably have realized this. It’s definitely something I’ve struggled with in my life; hence, why I work for myself, from home. 🙂
But I especially don’t like it in the books I read. I don’t want someone to preach at me, or lecture me, or tell me how I “should” understand the world. That kind of stuff makes my teeth hurt.
Particularly when it comes to faith because, well, I just don’t think that lectures are the way to win someone to your perspective, especially in writing.
Instead, I think good stories matter, personal experiences, ponderings even (I would have said “musings,” but Ed Cyzewski said bloggers must never use that word. ;)) have a way of slipping into our consciousness and shaping our hearts more than any sermonizing ever will.
So today, I’m sharing my 10 favorite spiritual (mostly Christian because that’s my faith journey) writers who have challenged me, encouraged me, helped me think without once telling me what to do:
1. Barbara Brown Taylor – Despite the fact that I usually call her Barbara Taylor Bradford (clearly, the romance novelist has a larger market share), I love this woman’s writing. It’s honest. It’s simple, and yet it’s rich like a chocolate cake with only 5 ingredients. Particularly at this place in my life, her work speaks loudly to me.
2. Anne Lamott – Yep, her again. She shows up on most of the lists I create because, well, she’s awesome in her thinking but also because she makes a good Dorothy Parker reference. I love her perspective on Christianity, but I also love the amount of grace she seeks every day. (By the way, I linked to her Facebook page, which you might like to follow if you don’t already, because she doesn’t have a website, which I think is incredible.)
3. Pema Chodron – A student of mine, Kim, recommended Chodron to be many years ago, and while I still need to delve more fully into her work, every time I read something she says, I feel something inside my chest rise up to meet her words. Beautifully compassionate, strong, and wise – love her.
4. Shawn Smucker – As I said last week when I reviewed his new book, I love Shawn as a person, but I also love his work because while it is embued with his deep faith, it is never preachy, never sermonizing, never precise in the way that people who are too self-assured can be.
5. Kathleen Norris – Norris is so churchy her books might be marketed well with incense, but she is also complicated and rich and righteous in the most unsolid way. I love her, and honestly, she is perhaps the reason I did not lose my mind when my whole plan for life crumbled just after college. (Also, she does not have a website. I’m seeing a pattern here.)
6. Marilynne Robinson – Sigh. I’m not even sure how to explain why I appreciate her perspective on faith so much except to say that she write about faith with an intellect that seems to often be intentionally excluded from many religious conversations. Plus, her writing is small, circumscribed but profound. (Again, no website. Hmmm.)
7. Thomas Merton – Of all the folks on this list, Merton is perhaps the most pedantic, but even when he is stepping into the roll of teacher, he’s grounding that role in himself. I can appreciate that. His writing on silence and solitude, in particularly, has pushed me inward to a healthy quiet space.
So as you’ll see, this list is made up of mostly a bunch of white, American, (mostly) Christian writers. I KNOW there are writers of color and writers from places other than America that write about faith, but clearly, I need to be educated here . . . so help me out. What writers of color who write about faith (any faith) do you recommend?
What writers have particularly influenced your faith experience? I’d love to hear about those books for any faith.
Only 6 spaces left in the Painted Steps Writers Group that begins February 1st. Join us for 6 months of accountability, support, and encouragement. Visit this link for more information – http://andilit.com/painted-steps-writers/.