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Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places Paperback – September 9, 2013
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—Frances O'Dell, OSF, Catholic Library World
About the Author
After graduating from the University of Detroit Mercy, Joe earned a master of arts from Columbia University, where he also did doctoral work in organizational development, and received a master of divinity from Woodstock College in New York. McHugh is a regular contributor to the Soul Matters” column in the National Catholic Reporter, and also writes for America magazine, the Twin Cities Business Journal, and Presence magazine.
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Top Customer Reviews
But actually, finished is the wrong word to use here. I had consumed McHugh’s incredible insights like a very hungry person consumes a good dinner, and I found that I had not “finished” the book at all. Indeed, I had only just begun, and so I opened it again about a week later and began to read, a little more slowly this time. Once more, I was pulled inexorably through it -- although this time, it took me a sitting and a half to get through all 122 pages.
The third time – and yes, I’ve already committed to a third time – I plan to take Fr. Joncas’ advice and read just a chapter at a time, “do(ing) the homework Joe suggests in many of the essays to become a partner in the conversation.” That’s because this book is indeed a series of conversations with a warm and gentle spiritual director, one who invites the reader into a deeper, richer relationship with a God who is truly, thoroughly and lovingly omnipresent.
The premise of the book is disarmingly simple: that God is present to us most often in places that we don’t expect to find him.Read more ›
The book features more than 30 short vignettes, many of which show God turning up unexpectedly in the lives of those who are open to faith, hope, and love. The stories are grouped under three headings: (1) What? Dilemmas of Perspective; (2) So What? Dilemmas of Discipleship, and (3) Now What? Dilemmas of Discernment. McHugh offers specific exercises at the end of many entries and suggests that readers construct their own activities for others. He recommends not just reading through the book for information, but using it with another person or a group, an approach that will demonstrate the special presence of Jesus among those who gather in his name.
In an early story, McHugh explains that he suffers from “binocularity,” (using only one eye at a time) and relates this physical condition to the spiritual. He notes that some see only grace or guilt, but not both; likewise death or resurrection, loss or gain, and self-giving or self-fulfillment. Instead of this one-sided view, he writes, we need to “see ourselves as God sees us: a loved sinner.” He encourages those prone to either/or thinking to pray frequently for healing and to meditate on Scripture passages in which Jesus opens the eyes of the blind.