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Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope Hardcover – February, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chittister, a Catholic Benedictine nun who once dreamed of being a fiction writer, takes a major disappointment from her life and transforms it into a series of absorbing universal lessons in this book that is both contemplative and expository. The author (Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men) and lecturer tells how in the interest of "humility" she was instructed as a young nun to withdraw her application from a prestigious creative writing program and spend her summer as a camp cook. Although Chittister writes today as if she were still reeling from this disappointment's devastating blow, it is clear that in her struggle she found another way to express herself through writing. She ultimately discovered that she was still a writer, even though she was not free to write in the way she had hoped. Chittister uses the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with God to further illustrate the struggle that she says is part of every life, pointing out how such encounters can lead to growth and new direction. But even as she writes of the "gifts" of struggle, she is candid about its dark side and lasting impact. After all, she notes, Jacob got up limping from his night of wrestling with God. It is clear from Chittister's reflections that she has navigated the territory of which she writes. Her message should appeal to a diverse audience of readers who want more than platitudes and pat answers to life's challenges.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Association of Theological BooksellersTheologos Award for Book of the Year (2003)
Catholic Press AssociationThird Place, Spirituality (2004)

Martin Sheen
"As ever, Joan Chittister's voice rises up from the struggle to offer a powerful and transforming source of hope!"

Thomas Moore
"Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope is not really about hope. It is about the conditions that give rise to hope ? the honest emotions, the trusting vision, the steadfast struggle. I appreciate the way this powerful book offers a way toward hope without any cheating. No sentimentality. No false assurances. No spiritual illusions. It has the strong voice of personal experience plus a rare religious intelligence. Like the human character in its central story of Jacob and the angel, this book clings to life's complexity until it finds a blessing. It will help you get through, not around, the challenges that define you."

Rabbi Harold Kushner
"I was deeply moved by Joan Chittister's courage and insight and by her insistence that we are all capable of them as well."

Anne M. Luther
"Using the story of Jacob wrestling with God as backdrop, Joan Chittister reflects on her experience of disappointment and loss as the birthplace of hope. Touching on issues familiar to most of us, she explores the many dimensions of suffering in a movement toward transformation. This is a book you will revisit many times for the encouragement, challenge, and inspiration it provides."

Miriam Therese Winter
"At a time when the vision and values that define us as a nation seem under siege from all directions, Joan Chittister ? mystic and prophet ? has given us yet another perspective on holding fast to hope. Hope is rooted in the past, she says, but it believes in the future, for God's world is in God's hands. Hope is in the struggle. What a comfort it is to hear these words as we struggle to make our way in a world that keeps moving away from us."
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 111 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (February 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802812163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802812162
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,103,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vina Williams on April 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Joan Chittister has a wonderful way with words! No wonder when the offer of her getting an advanced degree in creative writing was withdrawn at the last moment, she struggled with deep disappointment, anger and fear. But she remained faithful to the vows of obedience that she had taken as a Benedictine nun and the great transformation of her life began. As she wrestled with her negative feelings, eventually she was able to see how she could use her writing skills in other ways. And the great gift to us all is her ability to help us along our own life's journey with its deep disappointments, losses and turns taken that we hadn't planned on. She illustrates in this wonderful book how all of us get scarred by life's struggles. That is a comfort when you believe you are alone in this. Then she goes on to show how, out of those very struggles, we are able to grow and mature, sometimes even living something undreamed of that goes well beyond what we had originally hoped for. I love this book and have recommended it to friends and family. I read it in two days, not being able to put it down. A friend has told me he has done the same. The book jacket states: "Neither a self-help manual nor a book offering pat answers, but supremely practical and relevant...(it)will richly reward those readers seeking solace in the empathetic, wise, and accessible meditations of a fellow struggler." Amen to that!
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Format: Hardcover
In this most personal of her many books, Joan Chittister uses the story of Jacob wrestling with God as a metaphor for the seemingly insurmountable struggles and disappointments that occur in every lifetime. Writing with passion and compassion, she shows how it is precisely in confronting our personal limitations and the limitations imposed on us, that we strengthen our spiritual muscles and learn to accept help from others. From struggle is born new life and conversion, as we open our hearts and minds to new possibilities. Only the experience of our own vulnerability will prepare us to understand others in their brokenness. Facing despair, we discover the depth of our faith, and dealing with depression, we learn the quality of our hope. Hope need not be heroic: it may be just putting one foot ahead of the other when we find no reason to do so. This is a practical, positive, and challenging book to be read slowly and pondered prayerfully.
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Format: Hardcover
For a while, the book SCARRED BY STRUGGLE, TRANSFORMED BY HOPE appeared as a recommended book by Amazon.com. I am not certain as to whether it was recommended to me because of my interest in spirituality or because of my interest in writing. Whatever the reason, I am happy this book was recommended.
Sr. Joan Chittister is a Catholic nun and a member the Benedictine community. As a young religious, she had the desire to be a fiction writer. This would have been during the years after Vatican II and the reforms of religious life, so this venture was within the realm of possibility for the young nun. For a reason she still does not know, her order decided that it would be best if she did not enter a creative writing program. While she continued as a religious, and more than likely did some very effective ministerial work, her heart was not in her activities and she had to deal with this very real disappointment. She had to face her own vulnerability and make rather difficult decisions. A biblical image that aided her in understanding is the Genesis story of Jacob wrestling with an angel. This rather curious story helped her understand the struggle she faced. This work is the fruit of her insight and lessons learned from the experience.
Sr. Joan sees struggle as involving eight characteristics: change, isolation, darkness, fear, powerlessness, vulnerability, exhaustion, and scarring. Each of the characteristics has a gift that can be gained: conversion, independence, faith, courage, surrender, limitations, endurance, and transformation. In each section she either uses her own experience of an experience involving someone she knows. She touches on personal experiences we all face and collective experiences such as the aftermath of September 11.
While Sr.
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Format: Hardcover
There are lines in books so penetrating that we rush to underline them, trying to hold on to the feeling they evoke in us. In Chittister's "Scarred by Struggle," nearly every single line is worthy of highlighting. I have read many, many good spiritual books, but none compare to this. For those who unexpectedly find themselves wrapped in darkness, suffocating from dread, and feeling as if they will drown in all of it, Chittister's words will save you. One knows that she has been tossed to this place called "nowhere," against her own will, and very slowly climbed out. What she says and the rare eloquence with which she speaks will be a miracle to those who need to find a way to hold on. The beauty of the book is that Chittister doesn't give easy answers to difficult questions -- rather she defines the agony of struggle so keenly that you feel less alone and less crazy while caught in it, and she leads you to small, simple ways to survive until you can be resurrected.
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