Cover image for The best spiritual writing 1999
The best spiritual writing 1999
Zaleski, Philip.
Publication Information:
San Francisco, Calif. : HarperSanFrancisco ; London : HarperCollins, 1999.
Physical Description:
342 pages ; 21 cm
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PS509.S62 B47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The debut volume of this annual anthology series garnered critical plaudits and an impressive following. Drawing on essays and poems that first appeared in periodicals as well as on previously unpublished matierals, the 1998 edition covered the whole r

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Zaleski (a senior editor of Parabola who teaches religion at Smith College) follows up his popular Best Spiritual Writing 1998 with this edifying, well-chosen collection of essays and poems. These are diverse in form and subject but have a common function, as Zaleski states in his preface, to "tell us something about truth, beauty, and goodness... about how to live the good life." Anita Mathias's "The Holy Ground of Kalighat" depicts glimpse of the sanctity of life in the face of death in Mother Teresa's Calcutta, and Annie Dillard explores the miracle of life through newborn eyes first alert to the world in "Acts of God." ("How many centuries would you have to live before this... ceased to astound you?" she asks.) Family relationships are explored in such diverse works as Walt McDonald's touching love poem, "The Waltz We Were Born For," and Mary Gordon's painful attempt to come to grips with her mother's senility ("Still Life"), while Tracy Cochran, in "My True Home Is Brooklyn," offers a witty portrayal of her experience with her young daughter at a Zen Buddhist retreat. Thomas Moore's "On Memory and Numbers" describes the turn of the millennium as a "special gift of time" in conceptual, abstract terms whereas Douglas Burton-Christie investigates time more concretely through a friend's journey to death. Although most choices in this anthology are excellent, one in particular stands out: Tom Junod's "Can you Say...`Hero'?" brings children's icon Mr. Rogers to life. One hilarious incident involves the cardigan-clad Rogers boarding the subway at Penn Station and being spotted by viewers ("Holy s--t! exclaims one young fan. "It's Mr. F---ing Rogers!"). (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Philip ZaleskiKathleen NorrisVirginia Hamilton AdairMax AppleMarvin BarrettWendell BerryS. Paul BurholtDouglas Burton-ChristieLeonie CaldecottTracy CochranRobert CordingAnnie DillardBrian DoyleAndre Dubus IIIAlma Roberts GiordanBernie GlassmanMary GordonRon HansenSeamus HeaneyEdward HirschPico IyerTom JunodPhilip LevineBarry LopezAnita MathiasWalt McDonaldThomas MooreLouise RafkinPattiann RogersJonathan RosenDavid RothenbergLuci ShawEliezer ShoreLouis SimpsonJack StewartBarbara Brown TaylorPtolemy TompkinsJanwillem van de WeteringMichael VenturaPaul J. WillisLarry Woiwode
Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. xv
"Zazen" (from The New Yorker)p. 1
"Max and Mottele" (from Pakn Treger)p. 3
"Praying in the World: A Case History" (from Parabola)p. 12
"The Rejected Husband" (from Chronicles)p. 28
"Sacred Threshold" (from Parabola)p. 29
"Living on the Edge of Eternity" (from Weavings)p. 38
"Harrowing Hell" (from Parabola)p. 50
"My True Home Is Brooklyn" (from Tricycle)p. 62
"Sam Cooke: 'Touch the Hem of His Garment'" (from Double Take)p. 69
"Acts of God" (from Northeast)p. 72
"Eating Dirt" (from Orion)p. 86
"Fences and Fields" (from Hope)p. 89
"What This Old Hand Knows" (from America)p. 99
"My Wife Died Unexpectedly Last March" (from Tikkun)p. 102
"Still Life" (from Harper's Magazine)p. 104
"Stigmata" (from Image)p. 119
"A New Work in the English Tongue" (from The New Yorker)p. 130
"Zora Neale Hurston" (from Double Take)p. 133
"Why We Travel: A Love Affair with the World" (from The Shambhala Sun)p. 136
"Can You Say ... 'Hero'?" (from Esquire)p. 148
"After Leviticus" (from Image)p. 171
"The Language of Animals" (from Wild Earth)p. 174
"The Holy Ground of Kalighat" (from Notre Dame Magazine)p. 184
"The Waltz We Were Born For" (from First Things)p. 196
"On Memory and Numbers" (from Parabola)p. 197
"A Yen for Cleaning" (from Tricycle)p. 202
"Watching the Ancestral Prayers of Venerable Others" (from Double Take)p. 210
"The Talmud and the Internet" (from The American Scholar)p. 212
"The Necessary Note" (from Parabola)p. 223
"Some mornings she simply cannot"p. 229
"A Single Glance: A Retelling" (from Bas Ayin)p. 230
"A God in Darkness: Literature and Belief" (from Image)p. 235
"Bible Studies" (from Poetry)p. 256
"The Day We Were Left Behind" (from Christianity Today)p. 258
"Lao Tzu's Water, Chuang Tzu's Mud"p. 266
"Seeing into Your Nature and Other Pastimes"p. 292
"Fifty-Two" (from The Sun)p. 305
"The Wardrobe Wars" (from Books and Culture)p. 310
"A Fifty-Year Walk" (from Books and Culture)p. 315
Biographical Notesp. 325
Notable Spiritual Writing of 1998p. 331
Reader's Directoryp. 335
Creditsp. 339