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VINE VOICEon March 11, 2010
This book invites us to say "Alleluia" for the things in life we may not feel like giving thanks for.

Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams have done an outstanding job reminding us of the countless opportunities we have in fact, of singing praise to God. There are 23 short subjects, 18 of which Chittister wrote and 5 by Williams. The topics by Williams are the longest and most fully developed. His chapter entitled GENESIS is perhaps the best in the entire book. He cleverly points out in that chapter that although the book of Genesis is a book of beginnings, it's actually more of a book of people continually leaving home. (Adam and Eve, Abraham)

Chittister's contributions are equally sharp. Two of her best are WEALTH and SUFFERING. In the chapter on wealth, she beautifully informs us that its purpose is.."reckless generosity, the kind that sings of the lavish love of God, that rekindles hope on dark days, that reminds us God is with us always." (pg.22)

From SUFFERING: .."When we have suffered enough not to care if the hurts of life have all been healed, but only that they no longer bind us, we have finally learned to live."

This is a book you'll want to read more than once.
And both times you'll end up saying "Alleluia" for the lessons given.
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VINE VOICEon April 7, 2010
As soon as I saw something new fell from the prolific pen of our great anglo-American Benedictine Prioress the Reverend Sister Joan Chittister OSB (author as well of The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully and co-author of The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians, and Muslims and of the prayer brochure Mary, wellspring of peace: Contemporary novena for peacemakers : Scripture reflections as well as countless other wroks of Roman Catholic spirituality), I knew I had to get it, no matter who that other guy might be.

It turns out the other guy is the renowned and respected Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, leader of the Anglican observance.

In this time of rapprochement with our Anglican sisters and brothers, in which the Pope opens wide the door to the discontented and dissident anglican clergy and faithful, how very like the ReverendSister Joan Chittister OSB to bridge dialogue where there could well be division.

In her brilliant and generous Introduction, Sister Chittister explains that 'This book is, then, a kind of dialogue between two people, both of whom are deeply involved in the urgency of pastoral demands but equally involved in understanding the relationship between what is now and what is meant to become in us in our private little futures. It is an alleluia view of every present moment, a view that welcomes its complexity and subjects it to the more lasting view, the long view, of life. To that, alleluia (p. x1).'

This miracle comes published through the mainstream Benedictine Printing House in Collegeville, Minnesota called the Liturgical Press at Saint John's Abbey, a sure guarantee of orthodoxy.

As so often in our Church, the woman does most of the heavy lifting; to this dialogue Archbishop Williams adds five thick chapters to Sister Joan's nineteen. The only means of discerning authorship is through small marks on the Contents page; there is no indication within the text itself, and what a sacred union of hearts beating as one this provides. This thusly reads as a monologue of our Faith.

This thick treatise is divided into three sections: Discovering What We Are; Becoming Who We Are, and Growing Into The Unknown. The Archbishop writes on Sinners, Saints, Genesis, and Friday. Sister Joan covers the rest, and covers it very well indeed.

Please read this book. I am now too busy reading it to write more; forgive me, and I hope to say more about it later. but please join me now in the reading and then in dialogue with this great work of our theology.

Permit me please to offer one brief excerpt from the Reverend Sister Joan Chittister OSB's chapter on Peace:
===============================
Peace Be With You
A commitment to peace, to being peaceful, to peacefulness draws from a very deep well. It is a source beyond the corruptions of either ambition or pride. It transcends addiction to either power or personality cults.

Once peace comes to a person, the need for power simply disappears and goes to dust inside ourselves. We are enough for us. There is no reason to suppress the other, no need to make sure that no head in the room is higher than our own.

All the need for wars, either public or personal, evaporates. There is nothing valuable enough to gain from them to risk either the loss of the peace or the death of the other.

So we say an alleluia for the coming of peace, for the death of ambition, for the passing of pride that enables us to be happy with who we are and what we have.

And how does peace come? Simple. By accepting who we are and what we have as enough for us. By recognizing and respecting who the other is and what they have as theirs. By finding within ourselves "the pearl of great price," the richest thing there is in life, the sense of the presence of the God who loves and companions us through all the pressures of life. "In moderating, not in satisfying, desires," Reginald Heber wrote, "lies peace."

Then we find that we have changed. We have become peaceful. We have come to realize now that we have all we need. We begin to see that our own role in life is only to spread the peace we have.

Then we begin to dedicate ourselves to that highest possible level of humanity that not only does good but, most of all, does no harm. We come to understand that simply doing good can be such a political ploy. Election periods abound in promises to do good that are no more than some kind of social bribe. To do no harm, on the other hand, requires real care, genuine compassion, true realization that the glow of the other diminishes no glow of my own. Then my own life begins to shine even more.
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on May 22, 2010
This is truly a book with hope as its message. My suggestion is for a prophetic philanthropist to assume the pleasure of purchasing thousands of copies of Uncommon Gratitude and send it to those folks who refuse to acknowledge progress in anything, those who see doom and gloom in everything. Through a peaceful read of this book the optomist in me would hope that maybe they'd begin to see some light in their darkness.
Alleluia for Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams!
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on January 14, 2012
I had really high hopes for this book. I have really learned from and enjoyed other books by Joan Chittister and have great respect for Rowan Williams. Unfortunately, this book was too fragmented to come together with a theological statement that was more insightful that that God Alleluia can be found in all situations. Some of the individual essays were good, but few were challenging. Overall, the book is not bad, but it left me a bit cold.
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on January 4, 2013
This book is not the common feel good about the world book. It takes the human condition and looks carefully at our common joys and sorrows and finds a reason for gratitude in some difficult situations. It made me think. It made me more grateful.
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on June 27, 2016
Short, informative "chapters" make for easy reading. She gives real meaning to offering Alleluias in times, and situations, when offering a alleluia might be the furthest thing from your mind.
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on December 18, 2011
This book was in excellent condition and was sent promptly. I was very pleased with the service. The book itself is just what I had hoped for. It can be picked up and opened at any place to find some words that will be helpful for the moment. There is always a time we need that. At the same time, it is not too heavy reading for someone who already has enough problems to deal with.
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on April 1, 2016
I chose this rating because this book helped in some way to answer questions and to bring clarity to some thoughts. I am not in agreement to all written but what was written makes one wonder and ask questions. I recommend this book to all people, because we are God's creation and it can give one a more open minded perspective of all He created us to be.
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on January 30, 2014
Really enjoyed this book. Chittister and Williams take various topics in our lives and give us thoughts on why we should be grateful for most everything that happens in our lives because it all goes to make us the unique persons we are today. Find the lesson or the worth in everything that happens and be grateful for everything...
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on May 12, 2010
I highly recommend this small book to anyone seeking insight about faith, doubt, wealth, poverty, saints, sinners and other challenges on life's journey. Both authors come from reflective backgrounds and write in very approachable styles.
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