Mary Magdala Community

Have you read a really interesting book, short story or article lately? How about letting others at Mary Of Magdela know? Drop me an email with the subject line “Book” and I’ll post it on the “Reading Recommendations” page so that others can look in on it too. If you have some comments or a review to be posted along with it, Include that information also.

So, are you looking for something to read during your liesure time? Check back here regularly and see what’s been recommended by your friends at Mary of Magdela.

Book Suggestions

In Praise of Risk

by Anne Dufourmantelle, Fordham University Press, NY, 2019

When she drowned off the coast of St. Tropaz, France in July, 2017 in an attempt to save two children caught in rough surf, the fact that 6 years earlier she had published this book on risk caught the attention of many. The book has made a mark on me precisely because her view of risk being a call to life and the future, rather than being a treacherous thing on the edge of the abyss. She applies her skills as a philosopher and psychoanalyst with a discipline (within entries of 2-4 pages in length) to get to the point, make it, and offer resolution. I hope this gives you a taste, and maybe even a thought of getting a copy. It is well worth the read. . 

………….. Suggested by Jim Ryan

Thomas Merton and the Noonday Demon: The Camaldolese Correspondence,

by Donald Grayston

Thomas Merton’s desire for and realization of becoming a hermit, in its runup to actually happening, took up – more or less – 12 years of his life. The very active work he did to receive the transitus (transfer) from the Trappists to a hermetical community is covered in this book by way of a set of letters between 1952-1955. These letters reveal the sometimes desperate, sometimes all-too-human sides of Merton as he included many people in his effort. The effort, in particular revealed the relationship between Merton and his Abbot, Dom James Fox. This is a fascinating read as well as a case made by the author of Merton’s own living through what ascetics call acedia. This is a condition – likely what we all endure at one time of life or another – in which one asks oneself, “Is that all there is?” Or am I being called to further and deeper relations with the divine One who calls? Read the letters, reflect on the author’s proposition, and you decide. 

………….. Suggested by Jim Ryan

White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

by Robert P. Jones

Drawing on history, public opinion surveys, and personal experience, Robert P. Jones delivers a provocative examination of the unholy relationship between American Christianity and white supremacy, and issues an urgent call for white Christians to reckon with this legacy for the sake of themselves and the nation.
(Click here to read this article.)

………….. Suggested by Jane Rassmussen/ Review by Alice M. Iaquinta

Jesus was not white. Here’s why we should stop pretending he was. 

A magazine article by James Martin, S.J.

“If Jesus is white and you’re not, what does that say about your relationship with him? What does it mean that Christ came for “all,” if you feel left out? Representations of the saints are often just as bad. They’re almost always white—even, say, St. Augustine, who hailed from North Africa-.”
(Click here to read this article.)

………….. Submitted by Susan Adrians

White Fragility

by Robin DiAngelo

A New York Times bestseller for more than a year.  In September, 2019, Slate noted that “White Fragility” has yet to leave the New York Times bestseller list since its debut in June, 2018, making it the fastest-selling book in the history of Beacon Press.
One of the best books on challenging racism by discussing many different ways of how white people may show their reactions to entrenched injustice. Personally, I found the book provocative, insightful and eye-opening.

………….. Submitted by Susan Adrians

The Nonviolent Life

by John Dee

The author has and is involved in peace and justice issues for some time. He was dismissed from the Jesuit community of which he belonged and continues his ministry through giving retreat, writing and speaking on important issues related to non-violence and building peace-making.  Personally I found this book very helpful in my quest to deepen my commitment to live a nonviolent life.  I found and still find this book as inspirational, practical and a guide to a faith-based path to personal, interpersonal, and global nonviolence.

………….. Submitted by Susan Adrians

People’s History of the United States

by Howard Zinn, 1980. 

Chapter 9, Slavery without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom,” for sure!

………….. Submitted by Alice M. Iaquinta

Lies My Teacher Told Me

by James W. Loewen, 2018

(updated and expanded from earlier editions, Chapter 5, “Gone With the Wind: The invisibility of Racism in American History Textbooks,” for sure. 

………….. Submitted by Alice M. Iaquinta

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?

by Frederick O. Douglas, 1852,

Entire July 5th, 1852 Frederick O. Douglas speech, (get free online unabridged version of 15 pp.) 

………….. Submitted by Alice M. Iaquinta

ONEING: An alternative Orthodoxy – Liminal Space

“Oneing” is a CAC collection of articles by various contributors on what liminality means to them. To quote Richard Rohr, “When we embrace liminality, we choose hope over sleepwalking, denial, or despair.” 

This time of Covid, Interratial upheaval, and upcoming elections may be just the time for this book.

………….. Submitted by Beverly Wendling


by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu (2011)

This book is written by Desmond Tutu with the help of his daughter, Mpho Tutu, who are Anglican priests.  Both of them believe, first of all, that we are designed for goodness, and when we recognize that truth, it makes all the difference in the world.  Second, they believe that everyone is perfectly loved by God with a love that requires nothing of us, so we can stop “being good” and live into the goodness that is our essence.  And third, God holds out an invitation to us – an invitation to turn away from the anxious striving that has turned stress into a status symbol.  It is an invitation to wholeness that leads to flourishing for all of us. 

The Tutus believe that God has given us the gift of freedom and that in order for freedom to be real, we must be free to choose right and equally free to choose wrong.  With our freedom comes certain hard questions:  Where is God when we suffer?  Where is God when we fail.  Why does God let us sin?  And when we do suffer, fail, or sin, how do we find our way home to goodness?

Besides using scripture, the Tutus share stories that have shaped their outlook as spouses, parents, religious leaders and through the fires of apartheid South Africa.  The book is about 200 pages long with discussion questions for each chapter.  The chapters are short and each one ends with a poem written as if God is speaking to the reader.

………….. Submitted by Ann Roeder

THE UNIVERSAL CHRIST: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe 

by Richard Rohr (2019)

Rohr articulates a transformative view of Jesus Christ as a portrait of God’s constant, unfolding work in the world. “God loves things by becoming them” he writes, and Jesus’s life was meant to declare that humanity has never been separate from God – except by its own negative choice. When we recover this fundamental truth, faith becomes less about proving Jesus was God and more about learning to recognize the Creator’s presence all around us and in everyone we meet. Chapter topics include: Christ Is Not Jesus’s Last Name, Accepting That You are Fully Accepted, Revealed in Us – as Us, Original Goodness, Love Is the Meaning, A Sacred Wholeness, Going Somewhere Good, The Feminine Incarnation, Why Did Jesus Die? The Resurrection Journey and a few more. Rohr draws from scripture, history and spiritual practice, to explain his philosophy.  The book is about 250 pages with several appendices and a significant bibliography.

………….. Submitted by Ann Roeder

THE SHACK: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

by Wm. Paul Young (2007)

This is a book that I had read years ago and I had watched the movie version. I reread it while I was reading The Universal Christ and found that Richard Rohr’s philosophy was found throughout the novel, making the story more understandable from a theological standpoint. 

The novel follows Mackenzie Philips, the father of Missy, his youngest daughter, who has been abducted during a family vacation. There is evidence that she may have been brutally murdered in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. What he finds there will change his world forever. 

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant THE SHACK wrestles with the timeless question: Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain? The three persons of the Trinity make an appearance. I also hear strains of the book MADE FOR GOODNESS in this novel. About 250 pages. 

………….. Submitted by Ann Roeder