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Last Updated:
Apr 21st, 2005 - 21:10:55 


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Arts & Letters

Big Spirit, Small Press Looks at our Spiritual Journey in the World

Or What Jumping Jehoshaphat Understood

By Lois Barton, book reviewer

Posted on Mar 24, 2004

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A Catholic's Journey through Quakerism

by Irene Lape

Brazos Press
Grand Rapids, MI 49516
paperback 160 pages $13.99

Irene Lape explains in the introduction that one's path through life is highly dependent on the physical circumstances of one's experience. Having made that point, her narrative is a straight-forward report. She was born in 1945. Her childhood included a broken family, atheistic Marxist-leaning parents, grandparents who practically raised her. Her mother and one sister ended their lives in mental institutions. Her father remarried and his new wife wanted no responsibility for the children from his previous marriage.

All these details are presented matter-of-factly. The reader follows the physical and psychological development of the author with interest through her childhood and adolescence without sensing blame or criticism, but rather has a sympathetic response to an absorbing account.

Her grandfather had her baptised in the Episcopal church. Later she joined the Catholic Church. Still later she lost all religious ties, joined the "hippies," spent a year in Europe, had a bad marriage, trained as a lawyer, had her first child abducted, and eventually was divorced.

Over the years she'd had occasional contact with Friends, and by 1978 was returning to Quaker Meeting. Two-thirds of the book is devoted to describing early Friends theology, continuing revelation and related subjects. She gives a brief background on George Fox and the early Quaker movement, examines the testimonies. and the prophetic dimension of Friends' spirituality. She quotes early Quaker writings extensively.

She evenutally married a man she met in Friends circles. Over time she was drawn to renew her membership in the Catholic Church. She says."To me the truths the Catholic Church defends and the truths that I found among Friends represent the two necessary poles of the Christian gospel--the corporate and outward (or sacramental) pole on the one side and personal and inward pole on the other... It is the tension between them that makes the spiritual liife dynamic."

I found Irene Lape's story engrossing. I read the book through in one sitting. Theology has never been of absorbing interest of mine but this personal description of its impact on one mind and heart is revealing. Would that every seeker might experience such a positive outcome.

A Christian Calling

by Lon Fendall

Barkley Press, Newburg, OR 97132
paperback 173 p 2003

The inspiration for this book was apparently triggered by a Sunday school class, which the author taught, titled Biblical Principles Regarding Government and Politics. Lon Fendall was an aide to Senator Mark Hatfield in Washington, D.C. for some years. The book includes a foreword by Mark Hatfield.

Each of the seventeen chapters focuses on some aspect of Christian citizenship. It opens with an illustrative story from the Bible and includes quotes from Senator Hatfield and/or William Wilburforce calling us to "participate in politics." The last item in each chapter is an introduction to a present-day citizen whose life has embodied the call as it applies to that chapter.

Some chapter titles are: Praying for Government Leaders, Balancing Respect with Authority, Cheerfully Giving our Taxes, Truthfulness in Public Service, God and the Public are Watching, Influencing Public Decision Makers.

The book is rich in Biblical history. These lesser known names: Jehoshaphat, Absolom, Gideon, Ahab, Elijah, Bathsheba, Uriah, Nebuchadnezzer, Mordecai, Hannan, Nehemiah, Hezekiah as well as more familiar ones: Joseph, Saul, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and Esther belong to real people who played significant roles in the politics of their time.

A strong case is made for citizen involvement in political affairs at every level. Those pictures of personal impact on public decisions in long ago times are a welcome bonus for the reader.

Copyright © 2004 by Lois Barton

These reviews are an occasional feature by Lois Barton. In slightly different form they also appears in the hard copy of Friends Bulletin.
You may find these books at the link right here on this web page to your left. .

Lois Barton is a regular columnist for West by and shares local history and personal stories at her column, "The Sunnyside of Spencer Butte."

© Copyright 2000-2004 by West By

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