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Vintage Saints and Sinners: 25 Christians Who Transformed My Faith Hardcover – September 12, 2017
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"The winsome brilliance of Karen Wright Marsh's ability to encapsulate gorgeous little vignettes of history's greatest contemplative mystics and fierce justice advocates makes Vintage Saints and Sinners a timely work. From the most spectacular to the uttermost undramatic conversions, each hero and shero Karen introduces highlights an embodied example of vocational fidelity that is both inspiring and inviting." (Christopher L. Heuertz, cofounder of Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism, author of The Sacred Enneagram)
"Sit down and pour yourself a glass of Karen Wright Marsh's Vintage Saints and Sinners. At first sip, you are transported into delightful stories of Christians past. As you drink more deeply, Vintage Saints and Sinners engages difficult issues of faith, doubts and loves, wisdom, and the practice of justice in the world. This is a gracious book full of charming prose and profound truths with just the right complexity of spiritual insight for everyday life. Taste and see!" (Diana Butler Bass, author of Grounded: Finding God in the World―A Spiritual Revolution)
"Righteousness, we know, is endlessly complicated. In Vintage Saints and Sinners, Karen Marsh shows that it's also a living process, a communal drama of joy and liveliness into which we're invited. With wit, care, and deep lyricism, Karen helps us to see that saints―who are also always sinners―are on our side. Where we are, they've already been. We get to meet their messy witness with our own. One day at a time." (David Dark, author of Life's Too Short to Pretend You're Not Religious)
About the Author
Karen Wright Marsh is executive director and cofounder of Theological Horizons, a student-centered ministry that advances theological scholarship at the intersection of faith, thought, and life. She holds degrees in philosophy and linguistics from Wheaton College and the University of Virginia. Since its founding in 1991, Karen has served Theological Horizons by leading the staff, directing daily programs, writing resources and curriculum, teaching weekly classes, speaking at retreats and campus ministries, and mentoring students in the Horizons Fellows Program. She lives at the Bonhoeffer House in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, Charles Marsh, and their three children.
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So, no surprise, but a deep delight to me to find Karen sharing some of the inspiration she has found in the lives and writings of Christ-followers who have gone before in the pages of her new book, Vintage Saints and Sinners: 25 Christians Who Transformed My Faith.
I now live in Southern California, and having Vintage Saints and Sinners on hand delights me and draws me to new fellowship and encouragement offered by those who have followed Christ in cultures and through crises I may never know, but in many ways parallel my own pilgrim’s path, pitfalls, and challenges.
I have always loved biographies of missionaries and Christians who, motivated by God’s love and presence in their own lives, took on great things much larger than they could imagine taking on in their own strength. Such lives of other Christ-followers have always encouraged me. Vintage Saints and Sinners offers just such real, not polished, encouragement from the lives of 25, make that 26, such people.
I’m not just encouraged by those in past generations and foreign cultures, but especially by a contemporary in my time and culture. Karen shares her life and wisdom while sharing the lives and wisdoms of others in Vintage Saints and Sinners. Karen’s reflections, insights, and experiences, drawn from her own life and encounters with these vintage Christ-followers, encourage me as much as their lives do.
I hope you will be encouraged as I am, and may this encouragement inspire us to transform the world around us as we walk together in gratitude and grace.
Perhaps the most intriguing saint featured is Flannery O'Connor. The author raves about O'Connor, placing her "among the greatest American writers, and at the top of my English syllabus." She notes that "One cannot get through a Flannery O'Connor story without encountering the strangeness of God."
Wow! I admit I am now motivated to read Flannery O'Connor.
Of course, I was familiar with Mother Teresa, but after reading the chapter on her life, I realize how little I actually knew. Letters made public after her death show a soul who feared she had been abandoned by God: "I feel the terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me. . . " This surprised me. Mother Teresa--feeling abandoned by God?
The author includes "Conversation Starters" at the end of each chapter. Just like it sounds, this section has some excellent discussion points. For example, "Dorothy Day said, 'Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed to easily.' What makes us bristle at the term saint?"
So all in all, I found VINTAGE SAINTS AND SINNERS to be an inspiring book, full of wonderful, inspiring lives. After reading this book, I am motivated to research more on many of these figures. So, whether you are Roman Catholic or Protestant, there is something to inspire everyone in this bright book.
This book is also part-autobiography, as the author recounts her own spiritual struggles. In the chapter on John Wesley, Karen admits, "Now I feel that I've stepped out from the spotlight of center stage and down into a living faith where God is breathing spiritual life into my soul."
Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher.