Publisher's Letter - May 2019

Posted by Orbis Books on

Times of social turbulence make good times to revisit the Hebrew prophets. They were not prognosticators, except in the sense of understanding the moral law of cause and effect. The prophets read their historical situation through the lens of God’s covenant—and in that light measured their nation’s “greatness”—or its dereliction—in terms of such values as mercy, justice, and care for those on the margins.

Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev provides a fresh and inspiring review of this tradition in The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets: Then and Now. The prophetic journey, he shows, is rooted in the original Creation narrative and shaped by the story of the Exodus and the Deuteronomic covenant. But he goes beyond scripture to show how that liberating journey continues in the work of such contemporary figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Heschel, and bell hooks. In his Foreword, Walter Brueggemann, one of the foremost scholars on the prophets, writes, “I finished this book with waves of wonder and gratitude.”

One of the prophets of our time was the French Jesuit and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who died on Easter in 1955. His efforts to integrate Christian faith with evolutionary thought pointed to new horizons in contemporary spirituality. He saw evolution as marked by stress and struggle—and this was reflected in his own life, as he contended with censure and silencing by his religious superiors. Now, Kathleen Duffy’s new book, Teilhard’s Struggle: Embracing the World of Evolution, traces this element of struggle, both as a feature of his biography and as a central dimension of his spiritual vision.

In the midst of strife and struggle, doubtless one of the ingredients for a peaceful life is the capacity to forgive. The Way of Forgiveness, the latest in an Orbis series edited by Michael Leach, James T. Keane, and Doris Goodnough, provides essential readings on this theme. And what readings! The contributors are a who’s-who of some of the leading spiritual writers of our time, including Dorothy Day, C.S. Lewis, and Henri Nouwen, as well as Anne Lamott, Richard Rohr, Joan Chittister, and James Martin. Whether it is learning to forgive ourselves or others, or to experience the forgiveness of God, readers will find in the end what Marianne Williamson calls “the miracle of forgiveness.”

Two Orbis titles have won Nautilus Awards: the bestselling Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love, and Edwin E. Olson’s And God Created Wholeness: A Spirituality of Catholicity.

And meanwhile, Gerald O’Connell’s The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Account of the Conclave that Changed History, released only last month, is already in a second printing, stirred by glowing reviews and wide attention in the religious and secular press. Read it while supplies last!

Robert EllsbergIn the spirit of St. Francis, may we be instruments of God’s Peace.

Robert Ellsberg

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