Spiritual Directors International

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Spiritual Reading for Summer

Guest Author: 
Bruce Tallman

(Editor's note: We encourage you to dive into some spiritual reading this summer. Of course, this is only one list put together by one spiritual director - albeit an experienced one. No doubt our readers could add to it with their favorite titles. Feel free to do so in the comments below.

P.S. We have taken the liberty of including links to sample pages from each book - or other background information - so you can get a better feel for what experience the book might hold for you.)


Why not do your own personal spiritual retreat this summer?

This less busy time is perfect for contemplation and development in religious understanding. And there is no better way to do that than getting into a good book. Here are some major works I have found helpful over the years.

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. This world-renowned Buddhist scholar focuses on the remarkable similarities between Christian and Buddhist teachings.

Radical Amazement: Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas, and Other Wonders of the Universe by Judy Cannato. She explains the new cosmic story emerging from science.

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived  by Rob Bell. The former pastor of a megachurch explores the possibility of universal salvation in this popular book.

Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. Considered by many as the greatest work of one of the greatest spiritual teachers of our times.

Becoming Human by Jean Vanier. By opening ourselves to “outsiders,” those we perceive as weak, different, or inferior, we find true personal and societal freedom.

Arise My Love: Mysticism for a New Era by William Johnston. A Jesuit who lived in Japan for forty years, Johnston integrates eastern and western mysticism.

The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Outlines the “hero’s journey,” a universal archetype of adventure and transformation that runs through all of the world’s mythic and religious traditions.

Confessions by Augustine. An impassioned description of the wrestling of a great fourth century saint with sexuality, Manichaeism, and Christianity.

A Thomas Merton Reader edited by Thomas P. McDonnell. Gives a good overview of the key writings of this Trappist monk who continues to be one of the most influential Christian thinkers of the modern era.

The Documents of Vatican II edited by Walter M. Abbott. Key writings of the 1960s council that brought Catholicism into modernity. Explains how Catholics relate to church, scripture, science, culture, and other religions.

Contemporary Theologians: An Overview of Influential 20th-Century Thinkers Who Helped Shape Christian Dialogue by James J. Bacik. Overviews of the thought of Paul Tillich, John Macquarrie, Martin Buber, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosemary Ruether, Gustavo Gutierrez among others.

Christ In Evolution by Ilia Delio. She takes Bonaventure, Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, Raimon Panikkar, and Bede Griffiths as her dialogue partners in discussing the Cosmic Christ as the center of an evolving universe.

The Koran translated by Arthur J. Arberry. Christians [Ed.: And others who do not follow Islam] can profit by finding out what it actually teaches and grow in understanding Islam, their Muslim neighbours, and their own faith by comparison and contrast.

The Integral Vision: A Very Short Introduction to the Revolutionary Integral Approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything by Ken Wilber. A highly readable condensation of Wilber’s “theory of everything.” I personally consider this to be the greatest book of the 21st century so far. Wilber puts our fractured world back together with this new worldview.



Bruce Tallman is a London spiritual director, marriage coach, and religious educator of adults. For more information, see: brucetallman.com This post was also published in the London Free Press.

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