The Middle of the Pile:
Words such as 'Christ,' 'heresy,' 'repentance' and 'salvation' seemed dauntingly abstract to me, even vaguely threatening. They carried an enormous weight of emotional baggage from my own childhood and also from family history. For reasons I did not comprehend, church seemed a place I needed to be.
But in order to inhabit it, to claim it as mine, I had to rebuild my religious vocabulary. The words had to become real to me, in an existential sense.
This book is a report on the process by which they did so. In this book she tries to do exactly what she describes above, take individual words that she found, and many others still find, off putting from the Biblical and Christian lexicons and reconcile herself to their meanings, however harsh or judgmental or intimidating they may seem.
She does this in a series of very brief essays--about 80 in less than four hundred pages--covering such words as: Dogma, Heresy, and Pentecostal. Between the number of topics she covers and the very personal reflections they provoke, no one will agree with everything she has to say, and many will disagree with most of it.
But she brings two extremely important qualities to the task: One aspect of her humility is particularly important, her open-mindedness with regard to the traditions and teachings of the past.
One of the most unbecoming aspects of modern man is the assumption that all that came before us was a kind of superstition blinded Dark Age, from which we have nothing to learn. Norris tries very hard, more often than not successfully, to assume that there were reasons, perhaps good ones at the time, perhaps good ones still, for even the most initially unappealing of the concepts she contemplates.
Meanwhile, though most do not associate skepticism with religious belief, for many people in the modern age it is one of the surest paths to eventual belief, and Kathleen Norris is an excellent example of this.
In the first place, a rigorous skepticism, one which we turn back even upon ourselves, serves admirably to keep us humble. You can not seriously question everything that you assume you know to be true and come away from the exercise close minded.
Nor can you open up this kind of intellectual abyss the recognition of how little we truly know without feeling the need to cling to something, if just to avoid being sucked in. For some folks, like the Existentialists, it is enough to exist in conjunction with the abyss.
Others, of whatever religion, believe in a God beyond the abyss or find it sufficient to partake of the abyss. But wherever you end up, this is the process of questing and questioning by which we orient ourselves in time and space and give meaning to our own existence.
The number of us who over the history of the species have ended up on the common ground of the great monotheistic religions--while it does not prove that such beliefs are necessary--does suggest that they have some lasting value, and are worth investigating and taking seriously. This realization is a common enough first step on the path to faith.
We've left out one group though, the scientific rationalists, who deny the abyss and insist that we really they do know a great deal and know it with great certitude, and it is here that we see the importance of genuine skepticism. Many people today feel that they can kind of amalgamate Physics and Evolution into a grand set of theories that explains everything and removes the cloud of unknowing.
There's an obvious arrogance to this mind set, particularly in the easy assumption that we are the special generation that gets to know it all.
Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that within five years we'll understand perfectly the entire process by which the Universe developed from Big Bang to today; well and good. But what came before the Big Bang?May 21, · The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, pages.
Riverhead Books, New York, Here is a list of authors (and sometimes texts) cited. They are listed as they appear in the book. You will notice the balance of poets, theologians and writers. Paul Philibert, Seeing and Believing. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris About the Book Part memoir, part meditation, The Cloister Walk is the movingly written and thought-provoking record of a married.
Read "The Cloister Walk" by Kathleen Norris with Rakuten Kobo. A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR . Cloister Walk In The Cloister Walk, American poet Kathleen Norris takes the reader through herexperiences with life in a Benedictine monastery. She writes 75 short tales,each one dealing with a different observation.
The Cloister Walk [Kathleen Norris] on metin2sell.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR “Vivid.
Kathleen Norris is the award-winning, bestselling author of Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith; The Cloister Walk; and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, in various anthologies, and in her own three volumes of poetry.