Suggestions for nourishing the mid-life soul

Published October 1, 2000

IN THIS BOOK, mid-life is “birth into life’s second journey.” The author, former host of the United Church’s Spirit Connection program on Vision TV, writes with the same chirpy cheerfulness she reveals on-camera as she explores the spiritual and practical dimensions of mid-life. Acknowledging that people can’t live the second half of their lives as they lived the first, she draws on insights from a variety of mid-life people – Christian and non-Christian – and adds her own reflections as leader of mid-life retreats. Personal stories, with which many readers may identify, supply the basis for exploring many issues. The book combines practical common sense with helpful suggestions for nourishing the mid-life soul.

THE SUBTITLE summarizes the book: “A cautionary tale on death, dignity, and physician-assisted suicide” (PAS). Treating the issue in a fictional way enables the author to present it in human terms rather than as legal or political debate. While the book is fairly balanced and copiously annotated, the sub-title reveals the author’s position. Its non-polemical approach is reflected in a comment by the author during a promotional interview: “…people on both sides of the question of legalizing PAS are genuinely compassionate.”

THIS CHARMING little book aims to help the very young discover the significance of mealtime prayers by answering the question: “Please … what does God have to do with macaroni and cheese?” Around Harvest Festival and Thanksgiving it can help children connect the display of produce and sheaves with the food on their plates. Offering a whimsical explanation of how God provides food, the book invites children to thank God for the gift of food in prayer. A happy little recipe for thankfulness to God – for everything.

WHILE IN MANY ways this could be a handy, cheap, quick reference to 300 key words, especially useful to the growing numbers of people engaged in lay theological education, for the Anglican it’s just not adequate. One example: “the real presence (of Christ in the Eucharist) is taught by Lutherans and Roman Catholics” – not, apparently, by Anglicans. The entries on “Anglican” and “Book of Common Prayer” show a distinctly protestant bias. The Apostles Creed isn’t mentioned though the Nicene is. The authors offer it as a “crib sheet” and it could still be useful to Anglicans – just don’t crib from it without additional verification.

[pullquote] This book is an accessible, well-balanced collection of essays by people seeking a Christian vision of labour-management relations, including Anglican consultant Rev. Graham Tucker. The dilemmas of Christian trade unionists and managers, school trustees and teachers, as they seek non-adversarial ways to face issues affecting both management and labour are fairly and effectively presented.

THIS FOLLOWS one young woman, a graduate of Harvard, daughter of a liberal, interfaith home, called to priesthood, through her first year at New York’s General Theological Seminary, the “close” of the title. It unfolds as a personal meditation on belief, doubt, vocation and the challenge between sacred and secular – experiences common to all theological students. Now a deacon, the author looks back with this key observation: “… the spiritual lives and character of seminarians weighs equally with grade point averages and liturgical literacy.”

The Flying Angel is the flag-emblem of the Mission to Seamen (now Seafarers), the Anglican society ministering in more than 300 ports worldwide to ?they that go down to the sea in ships? regardless of race or creed. Joseph D. Parker spent more than 30 years as a port chaplain in Dublin and Belfast, Ireland, and in Vancouver after the tragic death of his 14-year-old son in an IRA car bombing. This is a personal memoir of life at the Flying Angel clubs, together with some insights on the troubles in Northern Ireland, and helpful thoughts about forgiveness. Rich with anecdotes both happy and sad, the book’s linking theme is of reaching out in love to tend the welfare of people many miles and many months from home, perennial strangers in strange lands.

(available from Mission to Seafarers, 401 East Waterfront Rd, Van., BC V6A 4G9)

Bill Portman is the book review editor of the Anglican Journal.


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