Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions by Dan Brennan (2009) – Brennan’s basic premise is that men and women can be intimate friends in total safety and goodness, and in fact, should be. I have always had close friendships with women, and my closest friend in the world is in solid possession of two x chromosomes. Brennan’s book opens up the vocabulary of these friendships and shows the right and pure sacredness of taking hands across gender lines and celebrating the beauty that is available there. You’ll be hearing more about this book and this topic, but for now – you need to read this.
Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher (1994) – This is hands down the best book I’ve ever read on female adolescent psychology, and no, that is not the equivalent of saying Yosi my favorite of my children. We have a shelf of related titles, but I wish I had gotten to this one sooner. Using stories of real girls without over interpreting them, but still sharing the breadth and depth of her clinical understanding, Pipher shows us the many dangers – and potential joys – of growing up female in modern America. The book was written in 1994, just before the internet boom but well into the age of modern television and print media, and I never felt like it was out of date at all. If you have a daughter or are interested in teen psychology or women’s issues, check this one out.
The View from a Monastery by Brother Benet Tvedten (2000) – This book is not the highest achievement in either depth of analysis or skill of prose, but is still a charming look into life within a community of Benedictine monks in the modern world. Brother Benet has lived at the Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota since 1958, and his stories of quarrels and loyalty, untrained puppies and trips to the movies, eccentric monks and bizarre visitors, lifelong friendships and lasting feuds. What I loved about this book is the presentation of these men as real human beings with faults and quirks and passions and problems. These aren’t outcasts or saints – they are men who have chosen a particular form of community and simplicity that works for them in their quest to find God.
Femininity Lost and Regained by Robert A. Johnson (1991) – Using the Oedipus story from Greek mythology and the tale of from the Indian as a backdrop, Johnson exposes the devaluing of the feminine in western philosophy and argues for a more robust understanding of humanity through a return to balance between our masculine and feminine natures. I found this particular paragraph interesting:
Anyone who undergoes a development of consciousness is immediately assailed by a sense of abandonment and excommunication from most of the values that formerly sustained one. The old kingdom dissolves beneath such a one, who is left to feel exiled and without any container for life. The masculine elements are particularly hostile to any change in consciousness. It has been said that Jesus had no trouble with the women near him but came to grief with the prevailing masculine law and order of his time.
What have you been reading?