Spiritual Autobiographies to Choose
Here's a list around 50 spiritual autobiographies for you to consider choosing for your second paper. (SEE A COUPLE OF NEW ONES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST.)
To find out more about the books, go to Amazon.com and look them up to see if readers have done helpful brief reviews. You'll find that some of them are available cheaply in used versions through Amazon.com, and many are available in libraries. I also have quite a few, and can lend one if you are having no luck finding a copy.
I want each person do a different title, thus giving the whole class an introduction to a lot of good books to read in the future (you will be doing a BRIEF response to the book in our last class).
I have read many of these books, so I know they are good for the purposes of this assignment. I found a few on Amazon.com through searching on "spiritual autobiography" and found others excerpted in Katherine Kurs's Searching for Your Soul, an excellent collection of brief personal stories from many faith traditions.
These books are in no special order. I've put your names IN BOLD where one of you has made a choice, so those are not available for others to read (unless you convince someone to swap). Books with no names listed are still up for grabs, and you may choose one by e-mailing me (if you haven't chosen yet) or you may request a change (if you don't end up liking the one you chose).
I am open to suggestions for books not on the list, but will take a look at reviews or descriptions of what you suggest, and may turn you down if it doesn't seem to me the book will work for the assignment. Books must be (a) first-person accounts, not biographies written by someone else; (b) an account of the person's religious or spiritual experiences, or of their life in light of religious or spiritual convictions; and (c) showing a good degree of reflection and depth.
For those who haven't chosen, or are uncertain, I've put an asterisk (*) in front of some unclaimed books that I know from my own reading to be particularly well-written and interesting books.
Carl G. Jung - Memories, Dreams, and Reflections -- STEVE.
Joseph Campbell - An Open Life -- CAIDEN.
Bernadette Roberts - The Experience of No-Self (listed in K. Kurs) - Eric C?
Dan Wakefield - Returning (from Kurs) - GRETA
Margot Adler - Heretic's Heart: A Journey Through Spirit and Revolution (Kurs) - -- AMAND
Mary McCarthy - Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (Kurs)
Charles Fenyvesi - When The World Was Whole (Kurs) - CODJO
Mahatma Ghandi - Autobiography - ANITA
* Kathleen Norris - The Cloister Walk, or Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, or The Virgin of Bennington (written later, but covering her college and early professional years, through the move to the midwest)
Thomas Merton, esp. The Seven Storey Mountain and Asian Journals (doing both would give you 'bookends' - one written early in his life, and the other late) - ERIC
Annie Lamott - Traveling Mercies -- CONNIE
* Carol Christ - Oddyssey with the Goddess (could combine with earlier Laughter of Aphrodite: Reflections on a Journey to the Goddess) -- MAURA.
Luisah Teish - Jambalaya - OMICA
* Sue Monk Kidd - The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine (Sue Monk Kidd started out a popular Evangelical Christian writer, but moved out into feminist spirituality in the 1990s, then wrote a popular book of fiction, The Secret Life of Bees)
Ann Linnea - Deep Water Passage : A Spiritual Journey at Midlife -- JEAN.
Peace Pilgrim - a couple of books (or web site) -- BARB
Jane Goodall - Reason for Hope : A Spiritual Journey -- JOHN.
* Henri J. M. Nouwen - Road to Daybreak : A Spiritual Journey, or Genesee Diary (or both) --
* China Galland - Longing for Darkness : Tara and the Black Madonna, A Ten Year Journey , or The Bond Between Women : A Journey to Fierce Compassion (the selection on Sr. Chan Khong was a chapter in the second book)
* Carol Lee Flinders - At the Root of This Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst
* Joan Halifax - The Fruitful Darkness : Reconnecting With the Body of the Earth by Joan Halifax - out of print, so use a library
Diane Eck - Encountering God : A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras - an academic journey esp. through eastern faiths (I haven't read this one)
* Terry Tempest Williams - Leap - or others of her work (especially. Refuge)
* Patricia Hampl - Virgin Time
*** Mary Rose O'Reilley - The Barn at the End of the World: A Year in the Life of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd (Mary Rose O'Reilley teaches at the University of St. Thomas locally) - Eric C?
Jean Houston - A Mythic Life: Learning to Live Our Greater Story
Dorothy Day - The Long Loneliness (Catholic convert - co-founder of Catholic Worker's Movement) -- HIROKO Y.
C.S. Lewis - Surprised by Joy - autobiography -- MICHELLE T
Malcolm X - Autobiography of Malcolm X -- JOHNNY
Black Elk - Black Elk Speaks -- SHANAH
Paramhansa Yogananda - Autobiography of a Yogi -- AMY
Helen M Luke - Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made on: The Autobiography and Journals of Helen M. Luke -- Helen Luke was a pioneering Jungian woman earlier in 20th century - written at age 70 (she died in 1995 at age 90).
* Karen Armstrong - Through the Narrow Gate - early years in a convent prior to Vatican II , or better yet, the recent Spiral Staircase, the story of her life beginning in college and taking her through becoming a world-renouned scholar of religion, especially of the intertwining histories of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (or both)
Jean Shinoda Bolen - Crossing to Avalon: A Woman's Midlife Crisis (mid-life journey by physician/Jungian therapist) -
Marion Woodman: Bone: Dying Into Life - story of a bout with cancer in her 60's - written by a pioneering and prolific Canadian Jungian therapist and author. -- AMY??
Natalie Goldberg - Long Quiet Highway (writer and teacher of writing who became Zen Buddhist in Minneapolis - later moved to New Mexico) - Jocelyn
Annie Dillard - Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - a very well-known poetic and spiritual reflections about nature. Dillard also published An American Childhood, which could give more background into how she developed - it would be a good companion book to read. - PHIL
Etty Hillesum - Etty Hillesum (journals and letters of this remarkable Jewish woman who experienced a spiritual awakening and who subsequently died in a concentration camp) -- MICHELLE K
Feld, Merle -- A Spiritual Life: A Jewish Feminist
Kelly, Lorna -- The Camel Knows the Way - spiritual renewal including personal experience with Mother Theresa in Calcutta after 15-year struggle to find meaning.
Tickle, Phyllis -- The Shaping of a Life: A Spiritual Landscape - childhood in Tennessee, and journey into Christian practice (Episcopalian)
Willis, Jan -- Dreaming Me: Baptist to Buddhist, one Woman's Spiritual Journey - African-American professor who becomes Buddhist. Includes childhood in segregated Alabama. -- JESSICA
My Master's Robe : Memories of a Novice Monk by Thich Nhat Hanh - KATHY
* Grace Notes: The Waking Of A Woman's Voice BY HEIDI HART (Comments from QuakerBooks) -
"Hart's lyrical memoir shifts seamlessly back and forth through time as she traces her often-tortuous path toward spiritual grace. Raised and married in the Mormon faith, she found herself becoming a reflection of her own mother, a woman [with] no individual voice. As she became increasingly disillusioned with the direction of her own marriage and with the male-dominated and male-oriented [Mormon church], she found. solace in the diary of an early-nineteenth century kinswoman.. Drawing strength from [this communication], Hart was able to honestly evaluate her own past and find the inspiration to leave the [Mormon church] and become a member of the community of Quakers."-Booklist
Called To Question: A Spiritual Memoir BY JOAN CHITTISTER (comments from QuakerBooks)
Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir is Joan Chittister's most personal and intense writing to date. Following a moving prologue on the nature of faith, Called to Question is broken into six parts that explore key themes -- the inward life, immersion in life, resistance, feminist spirituality, ecology, dailiness. Within each theme is a wide array of topics that embody Sr. Joan's life's work as a sociologist, theologian, Benedictine nun, rights activist, and spiritual guide to countless people throughout the world. Alive with the raw energy of a journal each chapter is an engaging dialogue between Sr. Joan and many different sources of wisdom.
Sheed and Ward 2005 260 PP. Cloth
Driving By Moonlight: A Journey Through Love, War, And Infertility BY KRISTIN HENDERSON (comments by QuakerBooks) -- TARA.
After 9/11, Kristin Henderson's husband, a Lutheran Marine chaplain, is shipped out to Afghanistan, and Henderson, a Quaker, finds herself alone, and her own faith and belief in pacifism sorely tested. Together with her German shepherd, Rosie, Henderson sets off on a cross-country journey in her 1978 Corvette, exploring a changed country and her own altered emotional landscape. From the whispering Iowan corn fields and the simple fortitude of her Quaker kin, to the desolation of a snow-swept lodge in the Rocky Mountains and the quiet gifts of strangers, Henderson seeks guidance and searches for answers on the road.
Seal Press 2003 310 PP Paper
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love - KATHERINA
Sidny PoitIer, The Measure of a Man- A spiritual Autobiography - ROSE
Elizabeth J. Andrews, Swinging on the Garden Gate: A Spiritual Memoir (suggested by a student last year). Here is a quote from the author's preface, explaining why she wrote the book: "There was a time when I was not yet out of the closet when I'd stand for hours scanning the bookstore shelves for a book that dealt honestly with both sexuality and spirituality, that might reconcile the experience of being bisexual with the Christian faith."
* John Punshon, Encounter with Silence: Reflections from the Quaker Tradition. This book written by a well-known British "convinced" Friend (one who chose Quakerism as an adult) is both a modern classic among Quakers (published in 1987) about contemporary belief and practice, and a very personal account of John's convincement and religious experiences as a Quaker. He has experienced a very Christ-centered faith, which isn't true for all contemporary Quakers. Somewhat theological writing; not as much narrative as some.