January 19, 2018

What's Happening This Week at SpiritualityandPractice.com

Editors' Pick   

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat   
From the more than 300 books we reviewed in 2017, we have choosen the 50 Best Spiritual Books and 10 additional Best Spiritual Children's Books, those which have most impressed and inspired us. Through diverse approaches, these titles explore the quest for meaning and purpose, wholeness and healing, commitment and community, contemplation and social activism.


The phrase "to see through another's eyes" has a long history as an image of empathy. But have you ever thought of empathy as civilization's most essential quality? As an inner necessity? As an overlooked element of love? Here are a range of resources to help you discover empathy's many dimensions. This is our newest topic for The Practicing Democracy Project.

"The spiritual life is a reaching out to our innermost self, to our fellow human beings and to our God," said this prolific Christian spiritual writer, psychologist, and theologian. For him, writing was a devotional discipline in which he conveyed his struggles and vulnerabilities as a "wounded healer."
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Entitlement is pervasive not only in our culture and public life but also in our families and private lives. But we can make changes in our thoughts and behavior to lessen the energy of entitlement. Here are some spiritual practices to try.
Practice Groups  

Open registration through February 9, 2018          
Join a group of contemplative photography buffs -- at all levels -- who explore together images that restore our hearts and our world. Here's a sample of how members explored the theme of "Patterns in Nature":
Practice Group Gallery: Patterns in Nature 
Read more about this group and sign up here: 

An e-course by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat  
January 1 - February 9, 2018 
Gandhi and the Shoe. The Two Dragons. The Wealthy Merchant's Diet. A Hindu, a Rabbi, and a Critic Went into a Barn. These (and other!) stories are every bit as delightful and intriguing as their titles, and course participants' commentaries are special, too. Registration remains open until the last day. Join us!
A new e-course by Jan Phillips        
January 1 - 26, 2018
This robust e-course brings you poetry, videos, photographs, stories, and creative exercises to help you explore your own personal myth, master your ordeals, and reframe "creativity" so that you perceive it as a birthright. Joining now, halfway through the course, means you get ongoing access to the Practice Circle as well as all sessions. Read more and sign up: www.SpiritualityandPractice.com/PropheticImagination   
Contemplative Outreach Year-Long Programs  

A new year-long program by Contemplative Outreach   
January 8 - December 27, 2018 
Registration will remain open through February 1, 2018, for this lovingly crafted formation program that provides a solid conceptual background for the practice of contemplative prayer and the spiritual journey for our times. Read more and sign up:
By Mary Ann Best       
January 7 - December 30, 2018
This special Practice Group offers contemplative reflections based on each Sunday's scripture (in the Roman Catholic lectionary), woven with the teachings of Thomas Keating and other contemplative wisdom voices. You have until next Wednesday if you would like to join. Read more and sign up:

Directed by Ziad Doueiri
This compelling and parabolic drama vividly conveys the roiling tension of an insult that escalates into a court case. But just when we think the two adversaries will never be able to find peace within themselves and with the other, there are moments of grace.

More Films: All the Money in the World, Vazante 

Directed by Reginald Hudlin 
As the first African American elevated to the high office of Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall was an outspoken liberal in a court dominated by conservatives. This timely biopicture tells the story of complications in one of his early cases that is infused with racial bigotry.
More DVDs: Breathe; Brad's Status; I, Daniel Blake; Mark Felt; Polina; Una

Ninety-Nine Names of the Beloved
By Camille Hamilton Adams Helminski
"The Divine is so generous with the qualities of Being that in any moment they may be perceived in new ways, in varied intermingled resonances ... to touch our hearts and minds and souls and bodies, and awaken us in awe," writes Helminski. Her book focuses on the Names of God in the Qur'an and is part poetry, part praise, part prayer.
Living Compassion
By Andrew Dreitcer  
Compassion is, according to Dreitcer, "the highest standard of what it means to live the Christian life." Scientists studying compassion define it as "the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering." Dreitcer provides both context and practices to help us fully develop this spiritual art.  
Rumi's Secret
By Brad Gooch 
This remarkably detailed account of Rumi's life recounts incident after incident in his story, interspersed with lines from his poetry reflecting the influence of his surroundings. (Be sure not to miss the tale about Rumi's cat at the end of the review!)

More Books: UnSelfie; Thou, Dear God  

Loving Vincent
Directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman
In this visually rich production -- the first-ever fully-oil-painted feature film -- familiar paintings come to life, as if the characters are stepping out of Vincent Van Gogh's canvases. What is clear from his paintings and this cinematic tribute is that Van Gogh attended to the details of life; he loved deeply and he loved tenderly.


Process Musings Blog
By Patricia Adams Farmer
Does the elegance of soft white steam rising from a teacup into the cold light of a winter morning draw you? Then this poetic reflection on the spiritual practice of warming yourself with tea and centering yourself in its fragrance will be a high point in your day.
Spiritual Literacy Blog
By Frederic Brussat
Can art penetrate the walls that separate us and make us kinder? The Minneapolis Institute of Art is teaming up with science-of-emotions pundit Dacher Keltner and his research team at the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory in a five-year project to research ways that museums can foster empathy, compassion, and awe.
From Our Wisdom Archive   

The Arts as Treasured Companions on Our Spiritual Journeys
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat 
Think of the times when you have used a piece of music to give you the courage to carry on. Think of photos, paintings, or sculptures that have caused you to consider a new perspective. The arts shed light on the human condition and demonstrate ways in which creativity is an essential spiritual gift.
A Thought to Carry with You  

In Awakening, Sufi Master Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan writes, "It is important to point out that every Divine Quality has its shadow side, and that it is precisely because of our fear of falling into the shadow that we have difficulty developing a particular quality. The shadow side of mastery, for instance, would be ruthlessness or selfish manipulation."

In your quiet moments this week, see if you can identify a quality that you lack because you want to avoid misusing it. Perhaps you've seen people be mercilessly vengeful, and in trying to avoid that pitfall you have neglected to build a strength that's wedded to a sense of utmost dignity. Perhaps you detest the excesses of materialism, and so you forget to be happily amazed over life's gifts flowing from the fundamental goodness, generosity, and compassion of the Divine.

Simply seeing what's missing and understanding why is an excellent start. Then look for positive manifestations of that quality which can serve as inspirations to you.
Your Spirituality & Practice Team 
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat 
Patricia Campbell Carlson 
Darren Polito