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Joy in the Journey!

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Austin Foster
Austin Foster

Everyday Saints And Other Stories ((NEW))

Everyday Saints is a collection of stories mostly recounted from the life of the author, Archimandrite Tikhon. The book mainly takes place during the Russia's Soviet period, during which the author is baptized and joins the Pskov Caves Monastery. The reader encounters stories ranging from the lives of the relatively unknown saints from this period, to the life of a man who impersonated a hierodeacon. Challenging, yet edifying, Everyday Saints is a necessary addition to an Orthodox library.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories

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"We also had a strong impression that we were to remain true to their original stories," she said. In her research, "it was almost as if they were unaware that they had courage." As they emigrated, "it was like there was electricity in the air among the members as they set off each others' energy and encouraged each other as they went."

One of the most unexpected things that I have come across in University is how it provides opportunities to understand things of which we are already aware. It takes the phenomena of everyday life and dissects them, leaving them open to observation and vulnerable to interpretation. It is one of the most exhilarating things that I have been a part of through my development, but is also scary; it forces those who participate to re-evaluate how they have seen the world and the things within it. For me, this manifested itself as the re-evaluation of how I situate myself and my identity through the way I narrate my experiences. University did not show me things that I had never seen before. Rather, it showed me how to see and talk about things that I had been surrounded by my entire life in a different way. By offering alternative discourses and the ability to conceptualize old truths in new ways, post-secondary education provided, for me, the means to re-write my story. The present research investigated how other students, past and present, discovered this process of re-authoring as a function of their education.

Generally, the "presenting problem" in therapy, as conceptualized from a narrative perspective, is a life story that is self-defeating (McLeod, 1996). These stories could be defined as "closed" (Gustafson, 1992), "patchy" (Omer, 1993), or "silenced" (Lister, 1982), and the person is often left with an incoherent narrative and therefore experiences psychological distress (McLeod, 1996). This problem can manifest itself in themes perpetuating meaninglessness or stories that are repetitive, consistently ending in negative outcomes. Therapeutic interventions are varied and are applied only in certain circumstances (McLeod, 1996). Some include the use of metaphor to explain a story, while others use autobiographical writing or offer stories in which the client can situate themselves as characters (e.g., a folk tale; Gersie, 1991). Russel and Van den Broek (1992) suggest that the intervention strategies applied by the therapist can be categorized into three types: the differentiation of rival narratives, the judgment of one narrative to be superior in coherence and applicability over another, and the offering of the support to allow a weaker narrative to be inserted or incorporated by the dominant one. The intervention and overall goal of narrative therapy is to loosen the hold of a narrative that is too strong and work to decenter it (McLeod, 1996). This allows a more differentiated and therefore more flexible self-narrative to assert itself and describe, more powerfully and accurately, the unique reality of the client.

Not only is narrative the expression of our realities, but a determinant of our actions (Gonçalves , Matos, and Santos, 2009). This idea has developed from the assertion that humans understand, perceive, and make choices based on how they have come to narrate their lives (Sarbin, 1986). This concept of narrative as a regulatory agent of action distinguishes the "I" and the "me" in the construction of life stories (James, 1890, as cited in Gonçalves et al, 2009). The "I" is a manifestation of the author and the "me" is the actor; the "I" writes the story while the "me" experiences it (James, 1890, as cited in Gonçalves et al, 2009). The authorship process is a result of constant tension and dialogical negotiation between different parts (or voices) of our selves (Hermans, 1996; Sarbin 1986). In other words, an individual is made up of many different authors, each representing different aspects of her identity and each gaining, losing, and sharing power depending on the situation she find herself in. It is in this negotiation that a person is given the freedom to realize potential, to open herself to change, and also to be vulnerable to what she does not understand. When they lose this complexity, individuals often find themselves being authored by one voice (Gonçalves et al, 2009), dominating their self-perception and blocking the ability of their "I" to take into account all of what happens to their "me."

Lavishly illustrated with over 100 color photographs, Places of Faith takes readers on a fascinating religious road trip. Christopher Scheitle and Roger Finke have crisscrossed America, visiting churches in small towns and rural areas, as well as the mega-churches, storefronts, synagogues, Islamic centers, Eastern temples, and other places of faith in major cities. Each stop on their tour provides an opportunity to introduce a particular current of American religion. Memphis serves as a window into the Black Church, a visit to Colorado Springs provides insight into evangelicalism, and a stop in Detroit sheds light on American Muslims. Readers visit Hare Krishnas in San Francisco, the Amish in central Pennsylvania, and a "cowboy church" in Amarillo, Texas. As the authors journey across the country, they retell unique religious histories and touch on local religious profiles and trends. They draw from conversations they had with pastors, imams, bishops, priests, and monks, along with ordinary believers of all kinds. Most of all, they tell the reader what they saw and heard, putting a human face on America's astounding religious diversity.

"Habits" is a collection of 100-word stories about the life of Roman Catholic nuns in the twentieth century. These vignettes are based on material from oral histories and other stories. They chart changes to religious life and the experiences of American Benedictine women in the Midwest from the 1920s-1990s, with special focus on community life, prayer and work.

"Crisp snapshots of men and women conducting everyday lives, skirting the aches of both love and loss. With a nod to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Karmel's (Being Esther, 2013) short story collection opens with a woman planning, evolves through a series of meditations on the past, and ends with a party. The families of many of Karmel's characters have been brutalized by the Holocaust, and their lives are fraught with ghosts and trauma; her stories often abruptly break at the end, the emotional terrain too difficult to traverse. The narratives echo with memories of pots and pans confiscated by the Nazis, wedding photographs burned in concentration camps, flight from the ambiguous boundary between Poland and Russia, and a violence that reverberates from suburban parks to Iraq. Instead of planning an evening soiree like Clarissa Dalloway, Sophie is planning a visit to her grandmother's grave, remembering her Nonna's love of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, her refusal to accept the Arnaz divorce, her talented matchmaking, and her insistence on thoughtfully selected bouquets. In one of the more heartbreaking tales, Lydia cannot pass through her grief over her daughter's death, creating a shrine made of jars of marmalade through which the sunlight conjures her presence —yet to Lydia's husband, Lyle, the marmalade symbolizes the past's malevolent pull on their marriage. In the end, William Hill throws the closing party for his wife, Nora, who is quickly succumbing to breast cancer despite his hopes for one final moment of grace before his identity shifts from husband to widower. Blue silks and satins, sprigs of bougainvillea, mikvahs performed in the still water of a backyard swimming pool—these and other leitmotifs thread through several of the stories, tethering the characters to each other and creating a mournful harmony. Beautifully wistful, quiet portraits of grief. "— Kirkus Reviews 041b061a72


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