What can saints and mystics teach us about faith, ourselves, and life in community?

April 17, 2018

What can saints and mystics teach us about faith, ourselves, and life in community?

HARRISONBURG, Va.— With untested ideals and a thirst for adventure, Christiana Peterson and her family moved to an intentional Christian farming community, Plow Creek, in the rural Midwest. It sounded like a simple and faithful way to follow Jesus, not to mention a great place to raise kids.

In Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints, Peterson shares her discovery that community life is never really simple. She needs resources beyond her own to weather the anxiety and exhaustion of trying to save a dying farm and a floundering congregation.

Peterson turns to Christian mystics like Francis of Assisi, Simone Weil, and Dorothy Day to find sustenance for the everyday struggles and unique hardships of community life. With a contemplative’s spirit and poet’s eye, Peterson leads readers into an encounter with the God of the sometimes “wild” mystics and “weird misfits.” Along the way, she helps readers discover new perspectives on simplicity, hospitality, contemplation, church, and death.

Jon M. Sweeney, author of more than two dozen books and a scholar of Francis of Assisi, wrote the foreword, describing Mystics as “achingly beautiful … a long love letter to holiness. The mystics with whom Peterson engages are ones who wanted so much to be holy, as Jesus asked us all to be, and did it in ordinary and extraordinary ways.”

Endorsers include Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, who writes, “I opened this fine book out of curiosity, and found it so well written and so filled with gems, that I knew I had to pass on the good news! Read [it] even if you think you don’t have time.” D. L. Mayfield, author of Assimilate or Go Home, calls it “the perfect blend of idealism tinged with mortality, of contemplation marred by depression.”

Christiana N. Peterson is a regular contributor to Good Letters, Image Journal blog, Christianity Today Women, Off the Page, and Art House America. Peterson now lives with her husband and their four children in Ohio. She has a masters in theology and a PhD in creative writing from St. Andrews University in Scotland. Find more of her writing and connect with her at Christiananpeterson.com.

Mystics and Misfits is available from Herald Press for $16.99 (paperback) and $13.99 (ebook). Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877‑846‑1593), Parasource (800‑263‑2664), and elsewhere.

To schedule an interview with Christiana Peterson, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

 

Pop Christian and secular cultures distract from who God has called us to be

April 3, 2018

Pop Christian and secular cultures distract from who God has called us to be, says author of new book, Worthy

HARRISONBURG, Va.— Growing up as a preacher’s kid, Melanie Springer Mock often felt the strain of expectations to be perfect. Even though her mother told her that she needed to grow into her own person, Mock says, “For much of my life, I never truly believed my mom.”

Now a professor, author, and book reviewer, Mock takes on the cultural and religious messages that have formed her and many others in book just released from Herald Press, Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else.

 By plumbing Scripture and critiquing the ten-billion-dollar-a-year self-improvement industry, Mock offers life-giving reminders that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Set free from the anxiety to conform to others’ expectations, we are liberated to become who we are, created in God’s image. Accepting ourselves means “swimming against expectations that would tell us to be something, or someone, else,” Mock writes. “It’s about recognizing that embracing our inherent worthiness is much more than a self-help enterprise; instead, it is part of a justice movement that recognizes every person as an image-bearer of God, already, just as they are.”

Through lively and often humorous prose, the author challenges messages both from popular culture and the Christian marketplace, which Mock says “is flooded with self-improvement products that have a Jesus-flavored vibe.” She debunks ideals of Christian womanhood, dramatic conversion narratives, and what it means to be “blessed.” Worthy helps readers embrace their own unique, God-created selves rather than trying to live up to standards or molds set out by the world, Christian culture, or peer groups.

Shirley Showalter, author of Blush, calls Worthy a “beautiful, vulnerable book,” and writer Elrena Evans calls it a “must-read for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.” Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church and Malestrom, writes the foreword, and the book is accompanied by free downloadable reflection and discussion questions.

Mock’s work has appeared in Christianity Today Women, The Nation, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Christian Feminism Today, and she is the author or editor of five other books. Mock is a professor of English at George Fox University, and she and her husband and sons live in Dundee, Oregon. She also is a frequent book reviewer in Mennonite World Review.

Worthy is available from Herald Press for $16.99 (paperback) via 800‑245‑7894 and $13.99 (ebook) at the Herald Press webstore, www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources. Canadian customers can order from CommonWord (877‑846‑1593), Parasource (800‑263‑2664), and elsewhere.

To schedule an interview with Melanie Springer Mock, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540‑908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.