Posted May 22, 2015
Contemporary Writers in Spirituality
Among those who write in
the area of spirituality today, who's being read? Here's my list of spiritual
writers who are highly influential today in the English-speaking world:
Henri Nouwen -- Dutch/American, Roman Catholic, priest. Perhaps the most
widely-read and most-influential among all contemporary authors in
Thomas Merton -- Roman Catholic, monk, one of the most
influential spiritual writers in the past 100 years.
C.S. Lewis --
British, layman, Anglican. Well-known across both religious and secular circles.
Brought a literary genius to his articulation of the Christian faith.
Jim Wallis -- American, Evangelical, layman, popular-evangelist, social activist,
social organizer. The closest our age has to a "Dorothy Day". Widely read and
respected across all denominational lines.
Thomas Halik -- Roman
Catholic, priest, Czechoslovakian, recent winner of the prestigious Templeton
Parker Palmer -- Quaker, layman, American, much-respected
across all denominational lines. Has written brilliantly on the spirituality of
education and on achieving a Christian balance in life.
-- Episcopalian, priest, American. Wisdom drawn from the deep wells of Christian
tradition. Practical spirituality with depth.
Carlo Carretto --
Roman Catholic, hermit/monk, Italian. Carretto spend many years living as a
hermit in the Sahara desert and writes out of that experience.
Burrows -- British, Carmelite, nun. Deep insights into mysticism, faith, and
contemplative prayer. Eminent common sense, blended with a deep knowledge of the
Richard Rohr -- American, Franciscan, priest,
popular evangelist. Numerous books on prayer, masculine spirituality,
addictions, overcoming dualism, overcoming sectarianism, finding balance in your
life, scriptural commentary.
Wendy Wright -- American, lay woman,
Roman Catholic. A specialist regarding Francis de Sales and Jane Chantel, but
with wider writings, especially about the place of devotions within our
Peter Tyler -- British, Roman Catholic, layman. A
specialist in Carmelite spirituality. An emerging young voice.
Thomas Keating -- American, Roman Catholic, monk. The widely-accepted "canon" on
John Main -- British/Canadian, monk, a
popular, trustworthy guide on Contemplative prayer.
Freeman -- British, monk, another trustworthy guide on Contemplative prayer
Kathleen Norris -- American, Presbyterian, lay, Oblate of St. Benedict. Deeply
immersed in the tradition of the Desert Fathers and equally attuned to our
spiritual struggles within contemporary culture.
Trevor Herriot --
Canadian, layman, Roman Catholic. A powerful apologia for protecting nature, but
his more explicit spiritual writing are highly reflective essays apposite the
place and role of our sexual energies in either protecting or despoiling
Barbara Brown Taylor -- American, Episcopalian, priest,
popular-evangelist. Strong literary writer with an audience within secular
circles. A unique blend of insight, scripture, tradition, and balance. Always a
David Steindl-Rast -- American, Roman Catholic,
monk, had the distinction of being Henri Nouwen's spiritual director. Writes
with depth, drawing many of his insights from the richness of monasticism.
Anthony de Mello -- Indian, Roman Catholic, Jesuit. Brings the insights of
Buddhism and Eastern spiritualities into his articulation of Christian
James Martin -- American, Roman Catholic, Jesuit. A
key, young voice within spirituality today. Widely popular, and deservedly
Anne Lamott -- American, Episcopalian, lay woman. A unique
blend of insight, Christian commitment, and blistering iconoclasm.
Marilynne Robinson -- American, novelist, Congregationalist. Not a spirituality
writer per se, but an exceptional novelist whose characters express her
spirituality. An exceptionally bright apologetic voice.
-- French, Jewish, lay woman. Her writings manifest a spiritual sensitivity and
depth that includes her in most discussions about contemporary
Etty Hillesum -- Dutch, Jewish, lay woman. Her
writings exhibit an extraordinary insight into spirituality. And she backed them
up with martyrdom.
Scott Hahn -- American, Roman Catholic, layman.
Very popular, catechetical and instructional.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel
-- American, Jewish, Rabbi. Exceptional spiritual commentaries on the Jewish
scriptures. Widely read and respected.
Rob Bell -- American,
Evangelical, popular-evangelist. A brilliant young voice. Good balance, good
insights, and an exceptional capacity to speak to a contemporary audience.
Rick Warren -- American, Evangelist. Stunningly popular across denominational
lines. His book, The Purpose-Driven Life, has sold over 30 million copies
worldwide, and is worth the read.
John Allen -- American, Roman
Catholic, layman, journalist. Most everyone's ear-to-the ground vis-à-vis what's
happening ecclesially around the world.
Joyce Rupp -- American,
Roman Catholic, nun. Good, insightful, particularly popular with women.
Michael Higgins -- Canadian, layman, Roman Catholic. Does a lot of highly
insightful journalistic commentary on contemporary spirituality. The official
biographer of Nouwen.
Joan Chittister -- American, Roman Catholic,
nun. Powerful social justice and feminist voice. Knows the tradition of
monasticism very well and draws key insights out of its deep wells.
Paula D'Arcy -- American, Roman Catholic, lay woman. Inspires a near-cult
following among devotees particularly apposite her spirituality of healing.
Annie Dillard -- American, Roman Catholic (convert), lay. Her writings invariably
articulate an aesthetic and moral insight that is a natural friend of
Elizabeth Johnson -- American, Roman Catholic, nun. An
exceptional mentor for those who searching for a better intellectual apologia
for their faith.
Bill Plotkin -- American, "Naturalist", layman.
Challenging writings vis-a-vis the place of nature in shaping our souls.
Belden Lane -- American, Layman, "Naturalist", akin to Plotkin.
to those whom I didn't name, particularly those young, emerging voices such as
Kerry Weber, David Wells, and Bill McGarvey, among others. Who should be more