Robert Ellsberg

Several new books call us to see and listen, attending to the inner life in ways that shape our action in the world. One of these is the first in a series, edited by Walter Fluker and Peter Eisenstadt, collecting the thematic “sermon series” of Howard Thurman, the great mystic and preacher who was a mentor to leaders of the Civil Rights movement. Moral Struggle and the Prophets includes Thurman’s sermons on the biblical prophets and on other individuals from history and literature who engaged in life-transforming moral struggles.

A similar cast of saints and prophets--including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dorothy Day, and Mother Teresa—appears in pastor and theologian Bruce Epperly’s Mystics in Action. These “Twelve Saints for Today” were inspired by their encounters with God to engage the needs of their time.

            In Deep Calls to Deep: Mysticism, Scripture, and Contemplation, Chad Thralls offers a brief primer on the mystical dimension of Christianity, drawing on scripture, masters of the contemplative life, and other modern spiritual teachers so readers can appreciate not only the sources but the practices that are key to the cultivation of a mystical consciousness

            Finally, in O Death, Where Is Thy Sting? Jesuit brother and writer Joe Hoover, reflects on the experience and search for God in the midst of pain and darkness. In the words of Ron Hansen, this “brilliant” book gifts us “with an intense, wonderfully poetic, and exceptionally moving interrogation of how we should feel about loss, justice, and holiness amid the upheavals of life.” 

            In the midst of all the upheavals and traumas we have experienced this year, and in hope of renewal to come, may we be attentive to the still small voice that calls us deeper.




Robert Ellsberg