Publisher's Letter - November 2019

Robert Ellsberg

With each of her books Sister Ilia Delio has struck out for new horizons. From Christ in Evolution and The Emergent Christ, to The Unbearable Wholeness of Being and Making All Things New, she has followed the intuitions of Teilhard de Chardin and the implications of an evolving universe, to chart a bold new understanding of faith and the meaning of “catholicity.” Now, in her new memoir, Birth of a Dancing Star: My Journey from Cradle Catholic to Cyborg Christian, she traces her own spiritual evolution. Prepare yourself for the ride!

From the Baltimore Catechism and the suburban malls of New Jersey, through a somewhat wild adolescence, to the halls of scientific research (she earned a PhD in pharmacology), to a monastic cloister, to studies in theology, and an eventual home in a post-Vatican II experiment in religious life, Delio recounts a journey of awakening and spiritual adventure. Along the way we learn how she discovered in Teilhard and the Franciscan view of the cosmos a “locus of God’s self-revelation and self-becoming,” a guide to a new frontier between religion and science.

In Christine Schenk’s To Speak the Truth in Love: A Biography of Theresa Kane, RSM, we find the story of another prophetic pioneer. In 1979, Kane, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, attracted the world’s attention when she greeted Pope John Paul during his visit to America and asked the pope to open all the ministries of the church to women. That was only the beginning of an extraordinary story, including her years as president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Union, in which she fought tirelessly for women’s equality. Through her story we see a model of faithful leadership exercised by speaking truth to power—with love, wisdom, and grace.

Sadly, that model of leadership stands in contrast with a culture of clericalism, all too central to the story of recent scandals in the church. In his new book, Abuse and Cover-Up: Refounding the Catholic Church in Trauma, Gerald A. Arbuckle, a trained theologian as well as anthropologist, shows why nothing less than a radical change in culture will restore credibility, wholeness, and healing to the wounded church.

On a final note, we mourn the passing of Dr. Cain Hope Felder, a groundbreaking scholar and one of our bestselling authors. His 1989 work, Troubling Biblical Waters: Race, Class, and Family, uncovered the forgotten story of Africans in the Bible. Remarkably, that book remains one of the top-ten bestselling titles in all of Orbis history. In honoring the faith of his ancestors, Felder laid a foundation for generations to follow.

So we remember all the prophets, pioneers, and explorers who have prepared our way.


Robert Ellsberg

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