In this series, we highlight books we think our readers may enjoy, written by authors affiliated with the Collegeville Institute.
The Soul of Higher Education: Contemplative Pedagogy, Research and Institutional Life for the Twenty-first Century
Information Age Publishing, 2019
By Margaret Benefiel and Bo Karen Lee, eds. Lee is a former Resident Scholar
This new book edited by Lee and Benefiel addresses the importance and implications of a contemplative grounding for higher education. It includes essays by noted scholars from both Eastern and Western traditions that shed light on several issues related to contemplative teaching, learning, and administration. The Soul of Higher Education considers the epistemological grounding for contemplative teaching, learning, and research and its conflict with current higher education. Authors consider how a contemplative culture can be nurtured in the classroom and the difference it makes, as well as the effect of contemplative practices in the classroom. Finally, the book explores the role of institutional leadership in creating and sustaining a culture of contemplative education and carrying that into its own organizational structure to increase effectiveness of committees, faculty meetings, and administrative teamwork.
Oxford University Press, 2018
By Dana Greene, former writing workshop participant
Elizabeth Jennings was one of the most popular, prolific, and widely anthologized lyric poets in the second half of the twentieth century. This first biography by Dana Greene, based on extensive archival research and interviews with Jennings’s contemporaries, integrates her life and work and explores the “inward war” the poet experienced as a result of her gender, religion, and mental fragility. Jennings believed poetry was “communication” and “communion.” She wrote of nature, friendship, childhood, religion, love, and art, endearing her to a wide audience. Yet lifelong depression, unbearable loneliness, unrelenting fears, poverty, and physical illness plagued her. These were exacerbated by her gender in a male-dominated literary world and an inherited Catholic worldview which initially inculcated guilt and shame. However, a tenacious drive to be a poet made her, “the most unconditionally loved writer of her generation.”
Herald Press, 2018
By Melanie Springer Mock, former workshop participant
Like most people, Melanie Springer Mock, a college professor in Oregon, often felt the strain of expectations to be perfect, to follow a clear life script, and to become like all other presumably “biblical” women, making her own granola bars, wearing feminine clothing, pining for The One she was told would find her. When she chaffed against these expectations, she felt alone, isolated from those who deemed her unworthy of inclusion. Worthy explores what happens when a life goes off script, and when we are called to a different way. Using her own life as a narrative frame, Springer Mock argues that we need to accept—really, truly accept—what the psalmist proclaims, that we are all “fearfully, wonderfully” and uniquely created by God. Worthy offers an unflinching and spirited look at the ways expectations limit us, making us feel unworthy of love, causing division within communities, and keeping us from being who God created us to be.
Torchflame Books, 2019
By Andrew Taylor-Troutman, former workshop participant
In this collection of first-person essays and poems, writer and pastor Andrew Taylor-Troutman invites readers to contemplate what it means to raise caring children, why we need the wisdom and guidance of mentors, and how we can shape our lives in ways that support communities. While candid about the challenges, including the realities of racism and sexism, Taylor-Troutman believes that the answers we seek are present in the people we love. Gently Between the Words claims that stories are the best prayers, for by speaking and listening with empathy, we can transform hearts and minds, including our own.