April 20, 2009

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris


Decided on a book for the Taste And See Book Club for women. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.

ACU is hosting Kathleen Norris during Summit this year. So I decided it would be a great opportunity to read her work before she presents. The three books that jumped out at me seem to have been read by so many of us that I thought something a bit more fresh would be a good choice. Our first Taste and See Book Club will be May 5th at 7:30pm at Southern Hills Church on Buffalo Gap. All women are invited.

I just ordered my book on Amazon from the used dept. I did pay for expedited shipping but even with that the book was $7.98, several were being sold for .01 plus shipping. I thought that the used book shop in California that guarantee's next day shipping would be a good choice, so I paid a whole whopping .99 cents then extra for a quick ship. I am sure that most of the local book shops carry the book, Lifeway, Mardel's, ACU bookstore. Call before you go to make sure they carry it. Once I receive the book in the mail I will get the reading schedule up and posted.

The book has an over all review of 4 stars and a bit more.

Here is one review from the Amazon website regarding the book.

"Even most christians today seem to find the idea of the monastery archaic, extreme and unappealing. Here, Ms Norris, a hesitant believer, makes the convent seem appealing, beautiful and full of wisdom.
Once you get past the gimmick - a modern poet finding centering in a monastery - there is still much to like about this book. It is a combination of a lot of things - a painfully personal journal, a catalog of discoveries and musings, a polished essay on laundry that was published in the New Yorker, and several brilliant pieces that stand as academic writing, ready for a feminist publication or academic journal.

I think the latter were my favorite. It is informative and enjoyable to find Ms. Norris taking on the virgin martyrs, looking at catholic history and practice with a modern feminist eye, and finding much to like, and much to weep over. Another similar essay comparing the role of biblical prophets and modern day poets (both dwellers on the "margin" of society, yet deeply necessary to that society) is also excellent.

Norris' respect for the Word is wonderful, as well. She writes much and often about the poetry of the Bible - psalms, Jeremiah - and how they fit and fill her life. She brings new life to what, for many of us, have been wrongly dead words.

Her reflections on the monastery are good. She gives monks and nuns an earthy reality, talking about their quirks, their sense of humor, their doubts and struggles as well as their achievements, discipline, and success. She spends a fair amount of time digging into the heritage and history of monasticism and christianity - apparently she is reading Christian classics as she is living at the monastery - and I learned much about ancient monks, martyrs, and saints.

There is much wisdom in this book, and I appreciate Kathleen Norris' awareness and poet's sensibility. It reveals a richness in the Christian tradition that I gladly and happily claim as a follower of Jesus. It's not all WWJD bracelets and "Left Behind" novels."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good choice. I'm hoping to be there!

Love you,

Jana Beck

Anonymous said...

Just bought my "used" copy from OK! Looking forward to being with you.
DeLynda Gray