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Marilynne Robinson

Hymns of Gratitude

An Essay on the Work of Marilynne Robinson
on the Occasion of her newest novel, Lila

By Rachel Marie Stone


(This essay originally appeared in our print magazine, Advent 2014 issue. Are you a subscriber? Get more info and signup now!)


“I don’t know how to say this,” I said to Marilynne Robinson, as she signed her name to my copy of her fourth and most recent novel, Lila, “but I feel that your writing has changed my life for the better, and I want to thank you for that.”
“Thank you for telling me,” she said, looking right into my eyes, utterly in earnest—none of the “yes, yes, thank you for reading” dismissal one might expect from a writer who has received as much attention and acclaim as she has. “That is good to know,” she said. I gathered up my signed copy and ducked away, blushing. I felt like I was leaving the communion rail.


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In honor of National Poetry Month, here are 10 of our favorite living poets reading from their work!


Maurice Manning:


Maurice’s newest book is:

The Gone and the Going Away (2013)


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Poems for All Saints Day!

November 1, 2014 — 2 Comments


Poems - St. Francis

I’ve been on a poetry kick recently, so I thought it would be fun to comb our archives for poems by and about saints…

Here are the poems that I found:

*** Also, Recommended Stories of the Saints

Vachel Lindsay

Would I might wake St. Francis in you all,
Brother of birds and trees, God’s Troubadour,
Blinded with weeping for the sad and poor;
Our wealth undone, all strict Franciscan men,
Come, let us chant the canticle again
Of mother earth and the enduring sun.
God make each soul the lonely leper’s slave;
God make us saints, and brave.


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The fire has its flame and praises God.
The wind blows the flame and praises God.
In the voice we hear the word which praises God.
And the word, when heard, praises God.
So all of creation is a song of praise to God.”
– Hildegard of Bingen
Today is the feast of St. Hildegard

Poem of the Day:
The Desolate Field
William Carlos Williams,
who was born on this day, 1883
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*** This poem is one of three poems by Williams that we featured here
Read our review of The Poetry of William Carlos Williams of Rutherford
By Wendell Berry


Kindle Ebook Deal of the Day: 
A Year of Biblical Womanhood
by Rachel Held Evans
ONLY $3.99!!!      [ Tweet this ]

*** NOTE: This stated price is for the United States. Unfortunately, this offer may or may not be available in other countries. Sorry!

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The Wake Up Call – September 17, 2014


The Wake Up CallThe Wake Up Call –
9 April 2013


Like the smell of strong coffee wafting down the hall, we offer a few book-related thoughts and stories to jumpstart your day…


*** Receive an email with The Wake Up Call (and daily ERB posts) in your inbox each morning! Sign up for The Daily Book Morsel


“He who loves his dream of a community more that the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died on this day 1945
*** Books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.” – Charles Baudelaire, *** Books by Charles Baudelaire

Book News:


Thanks be to God for this new day, may it be full of beauty and grace!


The Wake Up Call image via WikiMedia Commons

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Garry WillsSacrifice and Belief

A Feature Review of

Why Priests? A Failed Tradition

Garry Wills

Hardcover: Viking, 2013
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Joseph Krall


Three days before the publication of Why Priests? A Failed Tradition (Viking, 2013), Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. His action comes after decades of dissent within the Catholic Church and massive revelations of abuse from within the Catholic hierarchy. At such a time, Garry Wills’s question – “Why do we need priests at all?” – is particularly pointed, and particularly relevant.

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Jacques Berlinerblau - How to be SecularWho is Fit for the Secular Kingdom?

A Review of

How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom

Jacques Berlinerblau

Hardback: HMH Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Matthew J. Kaul

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. I listened to a lot of Christian rock. One of my favorite bands was Audio Adrenaline. Audio A’s second album, and the one that introduced me to them, was called Don’t Censor Me. Listening to it now is a bewildering experience.


The album’s theme — remember, this is rock music — is a defense of what many would call “traditional values.” It’s full of rock-n-roll protest songs that call for a defense of the Christian family-values establishment. And no small amount of the Christian rock that I listened to (which is to say, the most popular Christian rock) took this form: in addition to several tracks on Don’t Censor Me, songs by the Newsboys and dc talk expressed similar sentiments.


What concepts help us understand such strange juxtapositions as rock and conservative politics? What’s the best way to understand what it means to headbang to lyrics like “You can take God out of my school / you can make me listen to you. / You can take God out of the pledge / but you can’t take God out of my head”? Who was I, as I was doing so?


In Jacques Berlinerblau’s terms, I would be a good little “revivalist.” What’s a revivalist? It’s tough to say, because he never defines the category. He’s not using it in the tradition sense of someone who works for or participates in a revival meeting. For Berlinerblau, the “Revival” (both terms are always capitalized, because they’re really scary) is simply the fact that religion hasn’t died off yet:

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My November Guest
Robert Frost

Robert FrostMy Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.


Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

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The Ladder of St. Augustine
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth LongfellowSaint Augustine! well hast thou said
   That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
   Beneath our feet each deed of shame!


All common things, each day’s events,
   That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasures and our discontents,
   Are rounds by which we may ascend.


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I’m very intrigued by this trailer video for this new novel that came out this week:

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel

Vaddey Ratner

Hardback: Simon and Schuster, 2012
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

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