Beginning the Traditions of Christian Spirituality Series

One of the upshots of reading Rachel Held Evans’s Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church—which, by the way, I heartily recommend and not just for the entire chapter relating two of my favourite things: Pando and denominationalism—is that I feel acutely the need to take my spirituality more seriously. As always, I approach this problem by doing research. I decided to start with a book on Anglicanism that my former church, St. Faith’s of Vancouver, had read in a book club I skipped out on: Alan Bartlett’s A Passionate Balance: The Anglican Tradition (Amazon and Goodreads). When looking it up to order it, I discovered it was part of a much larger series on traditions of Christian spirituality… almost a third of which I ordered.

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Photograph my own, 2016.

Now that A Passionate Balance has arrived, I’m announcing my intention to read eight of the books over a period of between eight to sixteen months, writing a minimum of one post per book. I think I can manage one book per month (understanding that I will surely want to read other books between them) and write and edit one post within a month of finishing each book. If I cannot keep up this pace, I will add one month to each book’s timeline.

I am announcing this in advance so that you can read along, if you like. If you read one of these books and wish to write a guest post, let me know and I’ll happily arrange it. Moreover, if you read another of the books in the series and want to write a review of it here or chez toi, I’d be even happier to host or link to it.

My proposed schedule is as follows:

  • September 2016: Read A Passionate Balance: The Anglican Tradition by Alan Bartlett
  • October 2016: Review Bartlett’s Passionate and read The Spirit of Worship: The Liturgical Tradition by Susan J. White (Goodreads)
  • November 2016: Review White’s Spirit and read Silence and Witness: The Quaker Tradition by Michael L. Birkel (Goodreads)
  • December 2016: Review Birkel’s Silence and read Contemplation and Compassion: The Victorine Tradition by Steven Chase (Goodreads)
  • January 2017: Review Chase’s Contemplation and read Standing in God’s Holy Fire: The Byzantine Tradition by John Anthony McGuckin (Goodreads)
  • February 2017: Review McGuckin’s Standing and read The Way of Simplicity: The Cisterian Tradition by Esther de Waal (Goodreads)
  • March 2017: Review de Waal’s Way and read Following in the Footsteps of Christ: The Anabaptist Tradition by C. Arnold Snyder (Goodreads)
  • April 2017: Review Snyder’s Following and read Eyes to See, Ears to Hear: An Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality by David Lonsdale (Goodreads)
  • May 2017: Review Lonsdale’s Eyes

My only request is that, if you do read one or more of the books, you try to read from a variety of traditions: if you’re familiar with non-liturgical churches, read a book about a liturgical tradition; if you’re familiar with non-Reformation churches, read a book about a Reformed tradition. I suppose I’ll have to trust that you are choosing books to challenge yourself, though, since not everyone fits neatly in those lines.

In case you want to go off-syllabus, here are the other books from the series:

  • At the Fountain of Elijah: The Carmelite Tradition by Wilfrid McGreal (Goodreads)
  • Brides in the Desert: The Beguines Tradition by Saskia Murk-Jansen (Goodreads)
  • Encountering the Spirit: The Charismatic Tradition by Mark J. Cartledge (Goodreads)
  • Faith Working by Love: The Methodist Tradition by John A. Newton (Goodreads)1
  • God’s Lovers in an Age of Anxiety: The Medieval English Mystics by Joan M. Nuth (Goodreads)
  • Grace that Frees: The Lutheran Tradition by Bradley C. Hanson (Goodreads)
  • Heart Speaks to Heart: The Salesian Tradition by Wendy M. Wright (Goodreads)
  • Journeys on the Edges: the Celtic Tradition by Thomas O’Loughlin (Goodreads)
  • The Language of Silence: The Changing Face of Monastic Solitude by Peter-Damian Belisle (Goodreads)
  • Letting God be God: The Reformed Tradition by David Cornick (Goodreads)
  • Light Through the Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition by John Chryssavgis (Goodreads)
  • Mysticism and Prophecy: The Dominican Tradition by Rich Woods (Goodreads)
  • Our Restless Hearts: The Augustinian Tradition by Thomas F. Martin (Goodreads)
  • The Poetic Imagination: An Anglican Spiritual Tradition by L. William Countryman (Goodreads)
  • Poverty and Joy: The Franciscan Tradition by William J. Short (Goodreads)
  • Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition by Columba Stewart (Goodreads)
  • What a Friend We Have in Jesus: The Evangelical Tradition by Ian Randall (Goodreads)

(I chose the ones I did based on a combination of factors: personal interest in the tradition, appeal of the blurb, personal lack of familiarity with the topic, historical and theological variety, price, and availability. Perhaps at a later date, if I have the interest and when I have the funds, I will purchase and review more of the series—but I will postpone that decision until I finish this run.)


  1. I had especially wanted to read this one because I know relatively little about Methodism even though its influence on Ontarian culture is significant and it is a precursor to the United Church of Canada, with which I am familiar; alas, I couldn’t find it on eBay or Amazon
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2 thoughts on “Beginning the Traditions of Christian Spirituality Series

  1. Pingback: A Widespread Hunger: Traditions of Christian Spirituality Series Index | Accidental Shelf-Browsing

  2. Pingback: An Uninviting Invitation: Susan White’s Liturgical Tradition | Accidental Shelf-Browsing

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