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Jon's review of Marco Politi's new book:

June 14, 2016

Papal politics and perils

"Catholic progressives love to read Marco Politi. Four years ago he published a book about Pope Benedict XVI in Italian. The narrative became a familiar one: Benedict was a theologian first and a leader second. Politi wrote speculatively about the 2005 conclave that elected Cardinal Ratzinger, and in this book he speculates about the conclave that elected Ratzinger’s replacement. His account is more revealing than anything yet published in book form about what happened among the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel on those days in March 2013..."

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A review of The Enthusiast:

April 10, 2016

The Enthusiast by Jon M. Sweeney

"This is a biography of St. Francis of Assisi "through the lens of the relationship that most consoled him", with Brother Elias of Cortona. Elias is called "Francis's friend, confidant, and source of strength." Elias often played the role of social buffer for iconoclast Francis, and many other traits of the men melded well so that Elias could be called Francis's soul mate. The reader gets a front row seat for the conflict in the real medieval world between an idealist and a realist, Francis the idealist, Elias the realist. Today's pilgrims to Assisi know mainly the monuments created by the realist to honor the idealist, even if the basilicas in Assisi are the last things Francis would have wanted built..."

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Award: Honorable mention, Excellence for nonfiction religion book, 2016 Religion News Association, for Phyllis Tickle: Essential Spiritual Writings:

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Richard Rohr, OFM, in one of the frequent mentions Inventing Hell in his daily meditations:

December 2, 2014

Do Not Be Afraid

"Kathleen Dowling Singh, an inspired author and hospice worker, says that many times those who, in the last hours of life, fight death the most are very religious people. Fear of God and fear of death are the same thing. When it’s all a matter of counting, earning, meriting, and achieving by various performance principles, you’re afraid of death and also afraid of God. Why wouldn’t you be? Until..."

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Jon's review of Grant Wacker's bio of Billy Graham at The Tablet:

October 30, 2014

AMERICA’S PASTOR: BILLY GRAHAM AND THE SHAPING OF A NATION

"Author Jon Sweeney has a gift for making Church history accessible, interesting and relevant for a whole new generation of readers, and his latest book ably bears out that reputation. As he writes at the beginning of the book, it isn’t a history book in the strict sense of the term. Instead, it’s the story of Francis’s spiritual vision: how it came to be, its effect on the world he lived in, and how it has continued importance for us today, people of any faith or no faith..."

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A review of When Saint Francis Saved the Church:

September 30, 2014

Review of Jon M. Sweeney, “When Saint Francis Saved the Church”

"Author Jon Sweeney has a gift for making Church history accessible, interesting and relevant for a whole new generation of readers, and his latest book ably bears out that reputation. As he writes at the beginning of the book, it isn’t a history book in the strict sense of the term. Instead, it’s the story of Francis’s spiritual vision: how it came to be, its effect on the world he lived in, and how it has continued importance for us today, people of any faith or no faith..."

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A review of Jon's memoir (co-written with Rabbi Michal Woll) at Interfaithfamily.com:

October 28, 2013

Book Review: Mixed-Up Love

"Jon M. Sweeney and Michal Woll have written an excellent addition to the growing canon of interfaith memoirs, called Mixed-Up Love. It is written with the intent of placing their particular relationship within the larger framework of a society that finds its security less and less through rigidly protected social boundaries and more and more through cross-cultural relationships. In other words, we are all learning that we can thrive only when people who are different from us have a stake in our survival. We accomplish this by having a stake in theirs..."

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A review from 2004 of The St. Francis Prayer Book:

The St. Francis Prayer Book

"Francis of Assisi pioneered a Christian life of action and contemplation, notes Episcopalian author Jon Sweeney (Praying with Our Hands: 21 Practices of Embodied Prayer from the World's Spiritual Traditions). This Catholic saint was committed to a daily practice of prayer or fixed-hour prayer, as it is called in liturgical churches today. He communed with God in the presence of others and also spent time in contemplative solitude in woods, caves, and abandoned churches. St. Francis loved to pray in the middle of the night when others were asleep..."

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