Bread and Wine
An anthology of readings for Lent and Easter.
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An anthology of readings for Lent and Easter.
Though Easter (like Christmas) is often trivialized by the culture at large, it is still the high point of the religious calendar for millions of people around the world. And for most of them, there can be no Easter without Lent, the season that leads up to it. A time for self-denial, soul-searching, and spiritual preparation, Lent is traditionally observed by daily reading and reflection. Hence this new collection, which promises to satisfy the growing hunger for meaningful and accessible devotions.;Culled from the wealth of 20 centuries, the selections in Bread and Wine are ecumenical in scope, and represent the best classic and contemporary Christian writers. The book includes approximately 50 readings on Easter and related themes by Thomas a Kempis, Frederic Buechner, Oswald Chambers, G.K. Chesterton, Alfred Kazin, Jane Kenyon, Soren Kierkegaard, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Oscar Romero, Blaise Pascal, Christina Rossetti, Dorothy Sayers, Edith Stein, John Updike, Walter Wangerin, William Willimon, Philip Yancey, and others.
William H. Willimon is Presiding Bishop of the Birmingham Area of The United Methodist Church. Prior to his current position he served for twenty years as Professor of Christian Ministry and Dean of Duke University Chapel. He is the author of fifty books and over a million copies of his books have been sold including Sighing for Eden: Sin, Evil, and the Christian Faith, Thank God It's Friday, Conversations with Barth on Preaching, Proclamation and Theology, Sinning Like a Christian, Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry and Proclamation And Theology: Horizons in Theology Series (Horizons in Theology)His articles have appeared in many publications including The Christian Ministry, Quarterly Review, Liturgy, Worship, and Christianity Today. His Pulpit Resource is used each week by over eight thousand pastors in the U.S.A., Canada, and Australia. He was selected in a Baylor University survey as one of the "Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World."
Dorothy L. Sayers is the author of novels, short stories, poetry collections, essays, reviews and translations. Although she was a noted Christian scholar, she is most known for her detective fiction. Born in 1893, she was one of the first women to be awarded a degree from Oxford University. Her first book featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, "Whose Body?, " was published in 1923 and over the next 20 years more novels and short stories about the aristocratic amateur sleuth appeared. Dorothy L. Sayers is recognized as one of the greatest mystery writers of the 20th century. ý Letter from the Editor: C
John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. Since 1957 he has lived in Massachusetts. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, & the Howells Medal.
Growing up in a strict, fundamentalist church in the southern USA, a young Philip Yancey tended to view God as 'a scowling Supercop, searching for anyone who might be having a good time in order to squash them.' Yancey jokes today about being 'in recovery' from a toxic church. 'Of course, there were good qualities too. If a neighbour's house burned down, the congregation would rally around and show charity if, that is, the house belonged to a white person. I grew up confused by the contradictions. We heard about love and grace, but I didn't experience much. And we were taught that God answers prayers, miraculously, but my father died of polio just after my first birthday, despite many prayers for his healing.'
For Yancey, reading offered a window to a different world. So, he devoured books that opened his mind, challenged his upbringing, and went against what he had been taught. A sense of betrayal engulfed him. 'I felt I had been lied to. For instance, what I learned from a book like To Kill a Mockingbird or Black Like Me contradicted the racism I encountered in church. I went through a period of reacting against everything I was taught and even discarding my faith. I began my journey back mainly by encountering a world very different than I had been taught, an expansive world of beauty and goodness. Along the way I realized that God had been misrepresented to me. Cautiously, warily, I returned, circling around the faith to see if it might be true.'
Ever since Yancey has explored the most basic questions and deepest mysteries of the Christian faith, taking millions of readers with him. Early on he crafted best-selling books such as Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts? while also editing The Student Bible. He co-authored three books with the renowned surgeon Dr. Paul Brand. 'No one has influenced me more' he says. 'We had quite a trade: I gave words to his faith, and in the process he gave faith to my words.' More recently, he has felt the freedom to explore central issues of the Christian faith, penning award-winning titles such as The Jesus I Never Knew, What's So Amazing About Grace? and Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? His books have garnered 13 Gold Medallion Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers. He currently has more than 15 million books in print, published in 35 languages worldwide.
Yancey worked as a journalist in Chicago for some twenty years, editing the youth magazine Campus Life while also writing for a wide variety of magazines including Reader's Digest, Saturday Evening Post, National Wildlife, and Christianity Today. In the process he interviewed diverse people enriched by their personal faith, such as President Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, and Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. In 1992 he and his wife Janet, a social worker and hospice chaplain, moved to the foothills of Colorado. His writing took a more personal, introspective turn even as his activities turned outward. 'Writing is such an introspective act that I found myself looking for ways to connect with the planet bodily. My interests include skiing, climbing mountains, mountain-biking, golf, international travel, jogging, nature, theology (in small doses), politics, literature, and classical music.'
'I write books for myself,' he says. 'I'm a pilgrim, recovering from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that most interest me. My books are a process of exploration and investigation of things I wonder about and worry about.' Yancey writes with an eye for detail, irony, and honest skepticism.
So, just how does a man who's been through all Yancey has, draw close to the God he once feared? He spends about an hour each morning reading spiritually nourishing books, meditating, and praying. This morning time, he says, helps him 'align' himself with God for the day. 'I tend to go back to the Bible as a model, because I don't know a more honest book,' Yancey explains. 'I can't think of any argument against God that isn't already included in the Bible. To those who struggle with my books, I reply, 'Then maybe you shouldn't be reading them. Yet some people do need the kinds of books I write. They've been burned by the church or they're upset about certain aspects of Christianity. I understand that feeling of disappointment, even betrayal. I feel called to speak to those living in the borderlands of faith.' He lives with his wife in Colorado.
French Mathematician Blaise Pascal did much to set in motion what is known today as modern mathematics. An unusually creative mathematician, he developed a number of theorems and mathematical structures, including the beginnings of probability theory and a more sophisticated understanding of the geometry of conic structures. At the age of 16, Pascal wrote a brilliant paper on conics; the paper consisted of one single printed page on which he states his major theorem - the opposite sides of any hexagon inscribed in a cone intersect in a straight line. This theorem led Pascal to develop several hundred related theorems in geometry. Pascal's activities, however, were not confined to pure mathematics. When he was about 19 years old, he built a calculating machine that he demonstrated to the king of France. It worked well enough to allow him to build and sell about 50 of them over a few years' time. His work on problems in atmospheric pressure eventually resulted in an early version of the gas law. At the age of 25, Pascal entered a Jansenist monastery to begin an ascetic life of study and argument. However, he continued his mathematical work. With Pierre de Fermat, Pascal laid the foundation for the theory of probability. In 1654, Pascal's friend, the Chevelier de Mere, had asked him to analyze a problem arising from a game of chance. Pascal in turn exchanged a number of letters with Fermat about the problem. This correspondence became the starting point for a theory of probability. However, neither published the ideas developed in the correspondence. The letters did inspire one of Pascal's contemporaries, Christian Huygens of Holland, to publish in 1657 a short tract on the mathematics of games involving dice. Pascal's name is now attached to "Pascals' Triangle" of binomial coefficients which plays and important role in the study combinations and probability. The triangle was known at least 600 years before Pascal became interested in it, but because of his contributions to its study, the triangle eventually became associated with his name. A sensitive and temperamental man, Pascal was obsessed with religious philosophy, a subject on which he wrote extensively. In his general philosophy he was very much taken with the concept of the infinite, which unsettled him and inspired in him a sense of awe. Over a period of years, he wrote on many religious, philosophical, and mathematical subjects. His notes and letters were edited and published posthumously as his Pensees.
Wendell Berry, an essayist, novelist, and poet, is the author of more than forty books. He lives in Henry County, Kentucky.
Born in France, Thomas Merton was the son of an American artist and poet and her New Zealander husband, a painter. Merton lost both parents before he had finished high school, and his younger brother was killed in World War II. Something of the ephemeral character of human endeavor marked all his works, deepening the pathos of his writings and drawing him close to Eastern, especially Buddhist, forms of monasticism. After an initial education in the United States, France, and England, he entered Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, where he remained until a short time before his death.
His working life was spent as a Trappist monk. At Gethsemani, he wrote his famous autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948); there he labored and prayed through the days and years of a constant regimen that began with daily prayer at 2:00 a.m. As his contemplative life developed, he still maintained contact with the outside world, his many books and articles increasing steadily as the years went by. Reading them, it is hard to think of him as only a "guilty bystander," to use the title of one of his many collections of essays. He was vehement in his opposition to the Vietnam War, to the nuclear arms race, to racial oppression. Having received permission to leave his monastery, he went on a journey to confer with mystics of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He was accidentally electrocuted in a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 10, 1968.
The internationally renowned priest and author, respected professor and beloved pastor Henri Nouwen wrote over 40 books on the spiritual life. He corresponded regularly in English, Dutch, German, French and Spanish with hundreds of friends and reached out to thousands through his Eucharistic celebrations, lectures and retreats. Since his death in 1996, ever-increasing numbers of readers, writers, teachers and seekers have been guided by his literary legacy. Nouwen's books have sold over two million copies and been published in over 22 languages. His books include The Return Of The Prodigal Son, Here And Now: Living In The Spirit, In The Name Of Jesus: Reflections On Christian Leadership.- Publisher.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in London, England, in 1874. He went on to study art at the Slade School, and literature at University College in London. Chesterton wrote a great deal of poetry, as well as works of social and literary criticism. Among his most notable books are The Man Who Was Thursday, a metaphysical thriller, and The Everlasting Man, a history of humankind's spiritual progress. After Chesterton converted to Catholicism in 1922, he wrote mainly on religious topics such as Orthodoxy and Heretics. Chesterton is most known for creating the famous priest-detective character Father Brown, who first appeared in The Innocence of Father Brown. Chesterton died in 1936 at the age of 62.
Matthew Wangerin played both high school and college basketball, serving as team captain at both levels. He enjoys public speaking and has dedicated himself to encouraging others to avoid life's pitfalls. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he manages a restaurant. 'Father and Son' is his first book. A
Oswald Chambers was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1874. Converted in his teen years under the ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, he studied art and archaeology at the University of Edinburgh before answering a call from God to the Christian ministry. He then studied theology at Dunoon College. From 1906-1910 his career of service took him to the United States and Japan, but the two outstanding periods of his work were as principal of the Bible Training College at Chapham, England (1911-1915), and his ministry to Australian and New Zealand troops as a YMCA chaplain at Zeitoun Egypt during World War I. He died there on November 5, 1917. More than 30 books bear his name, and his best-known book, My Utmost for His Highest, is a Christian classic. - Publisher.
Flamboyant man-about-town, Oscar Wilde had a reputation that preceded him, especially in his early career. He was born to a middle-class Irish family (his father was a surgeon) and was trained as a scholarship boy at Trinity College, Dublin. He subsequently won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was heavily influenced by John Ruskin and Walter Pater, whose aestheticism was taken to its radical extreme in Wilde's work. By 1879 he was already known as a wit and a dandy; soon after, in fact, he was satirized in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience. Largely on the strength of his public persona, Wilde undertook a lecture tour to the United States in 1882, where he saw his play Vera open---unsuccessfully---in New York. His first published volume, Poems, which met with some degree of approbation, appeared at this time. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, the daughter of an Irish lawyer, and within two years they had two sons. During this period he wrote, among others, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), his only novel, which scandalized many readers and was widely denounced as immoral. Wilde simultaneously dismissed and encouraged such criticism with his statement in the preface, "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all." In 1891 Wilde published A House of Pomegranates, a collection of fantasy tales, and in 1892 gained commercial and critical success with his play, Lady Windermere's Fan He followed this comedy with A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). During this period he also wrote Salome, in French, but was unable to obtain a license for it in England. Performed in Paris in 1896, the play was translated and published in England in 1894 by Lord Alfred Douglas and was illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley. Lord Alfred was the son of the Marquess of Queensbury, who objected to his son's spending so much time with Wilde because of Wilde's flamboyant behavior and homosexual relationships. In 1895, after being publicly insulted by the marquess, Wilde brought an unsuccessful slander suit against the peer. The result of his inability to prove slander was his own trial on charges of sodomy, of which he was found guilty and sentenced to two years of hard labor. During his time in prison, he wrote a scathing rebuke to Lord Alfred, published in 1905 as De Profundis. In it he argues that his conduct was a result of his standing "in symbolic relations to the art and culture" of his time. After his release, Wilde left England for Paris, where he wrote what may be his most famous poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), drawn from his prison experiences. Among his other notable writing is The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891), which argues for individualism and freedom of artistic expression. There has been a revived interest in Wilde's work; among the best recent volumes are Richard Ellmann's, Oscar Wilde and Regenia Gagnier's Idylls of the Marketplace , two works that vary widely in their critical assumptions and approach to Wilde but that offer rich insights into his complex character.
Frederick Buechner, author of more than thirty works of fiction and nonfiction, is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He has been a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and was honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His most recent work is "Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC's of Faith".