Guides for spiritual seekers
For many, the holidays are a season for reflection. For gifts that deliver an uplifting message or daily direction for practicing your faith, consider these inspirational new releases.
Perfect as a gift for yourself or a friend, Becca Stevens’ Love Heals outlines a path to healing, peace and forgiveness through love. Stevens, an Episcopal priest and founder of the Nashville nonprofit community Thistle Farms, has been widely recognized for her work with women who’ve faced horrific circumstances. She has focused on the healing power of love as the guiding principle for both her personal faith and her 20 years of working with survivors of addiction, trafficking and prostitution. Using her own experiences and those of Thistle Farm residents, Stevens shows how love can help us regain strength, power and purpose in our lives. “Healing may mean finding peace after trauma, feeling hope in the midst of grief, forgiving after being hurt, or just relief from the daily wear and tear of living in a broken world,” she writes. She intertwines personal stories with scripture, poetry, prayers and step-by-step advice to help readers step out of their comfort zones and take action to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.
In God: A Human History, bestselling author and former CNN host Reza Aslan asks readers to reconsider what they believe they know about God and where their ideas originate. With extensive knowledge of biblical Greek, theology, history and philosophy, Aslan takes readers on a journey through time, from the theory of creation to the present. He contends, “The entire history of human spirituality can be viewed as one long, ever-evolving, and remarkably cohesive effort to make sense of the divine.” He questions why we have diminished the greatness of the divine by assigning human characteristics to a nonhuman entity when we so desperately want to have faith in the unknown. Aslan’s accessible prose and well-researched arguments invite readers—whether atheists or believers—to dive in and consider his theories on the humanization of the divine.
For some of us, the process of aging is traumatic, while others appear to handle their advancing years with grace. In Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy, Thomas Moore, author of the bestseller Care of the Soul, inspires readers to approach their later years with purpose and dignity. Moore argues that aging is not a matter of years, but of experiences—the events and decisions that form our very core—and we have the ability to age while “becoming a full, rich and interesting person.” With empathy toward those who fear growing old, Moore addresses not only the aging soul but also the aging body and mind. How can we deal with anger and loneliness as we age? How can we make the most of our retirement years? Moore answers these questions and more, and offers a guide to growing old and accepting who we are while seeking joy, contentment and fulfillment in our final season of life.
Tyler Perry offers readers a glimpse into his spiritual life with his second book, Higher Is Waiting. Known for his success in film, television and theater, as well as his strong faith, Perry presents personal journal entries that illustrate how his difficulties have led him higher and closer to God. Writing in a conversational tone, he shares stories, scripture and questions to inspire deeper reflection. A Tree of Life metaphor infuses this collection, which is divided into four parts: Planting the Seeds, Nourishing the Roots, Branching Out and Harvesting the Fruit. Perry walks readers through the difficulties of his childhood, including his father’s alcohol abuse, and shows how faith was revealed through his spiritual role models—his mother, Maxine, and his Aunt Mae. His introspection pushes us to contemplate how our own “soul-filled experiences” can teach us that lessons can be found in disappointment. Perry explains how to depend on the strength of our branches of faith and the people who raise us up. Finally, he advocates moving toward a life of gratitude, not only for what we have but also for what we can give to others.
God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, written by Presbyterian pastor Timothy Keller with his wife, Kathy Keller, offers a yearlong daily devotional for following God’s path, with entries drawn from the book of Proverbs. In the book’s introduction, the Kellers explain how this new volume differs from their 2015 bestseller, The Songs of Jesus, a devotional based on the book of Psalms. While the Psalms tend to push us gently toward faith in God, they write, the book of Proverbs is a wake-up call to do God’s work in the world and to live as God calls us to live. Each section of the book highlights a different area of our lives—from friendship and parenting to justice, wisdom and foolishness—and shows how the Proverbs can help us develop a stronger relationship with God. Each daily entry includes scripture, reflection, opportunity for journaling and prayer. Through the Kellers’ beautifully written devotionals, readers will be inspired and motivated to practice what they read “in thought, word, attitude or deed.”