Press Room

Image Author, Sister Joan Chittister, to Appear on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday”

 

“Super Soul Sunday - Oprah and Sister Joan Chittister:  A Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy”  airs Sunday, March 1 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Oprah speaks with Sister Joan Chittister, a Roman Catholic nun and author of over 50 books, for a discussion about new ways of looking at God, the vital force that women represent in the church and in society, and the divinity of merging spirituality and science.  Sister Joan is an outspoken advocate of justice, peace and equality – especially for women all over the world, and has been one of America’s visionary spiritual voices for more than thirty years.

Photos courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns

Chittister’s newest book is Between the Dark and the Daylight.

 

 


INTERVIEW: Sister Joan Chittister

Q&A with Joan Chittister

Author of

Between the Dark and the Daylight

 

Q. What is your hope or goal for this book?

I am hoping to generate good conversations about the unseen elements of life that often affect our decisions more than they should.  It’s a matter of helping people think through all the dimensions of life as we deal with the rest of it.

To put it another way: Life is made up of context as well as content. These things—the social environment, out attitudes, our goals, our sense of self—all affect the way we come to our decisions and why. The purpose of this book is to bring those things to consciousness so we can come to understand why we think what we think as we go through life.

It’s an attempt to make the invisible parts of life visible to us in ways that free us to operate at our best.

 

Q. What made you decide to write about this topic?

I think this topic helps to take the sense of aloneness out of life. Everyone deals with each of these things like what it means to be part of the crowd, for instance. The question is when is the crowd helpful—and when not. What part of being in a crowd is more harmful than good. Discussions like that alone make the discussion of particular issues both more real and more honest.

Life is a series of paradoxes—contradictions that are as true as they are false—that confront us all our lives. The point is to look at each of them from every perspective and bend them to our strengths, not simply surrender to the pitfalls they present us with.

 

Q. In the introduction you write, “Whatever it is that we harbor in the soul throughout the nights of our lives is what we will live out during the hours of the day.” How do we focus our souls during the nights so that we can live with purpose and stability during the days?

In the first place, we have to focus on the attitudes we bring to every challenge in life. We have to ask whether or not we have examined each of them thoroughly or only with prejudice.

We have to grow beyond our fears in order to become our best and strongest selves. But to do that we need to look them in the eye, up close and personal. Then, we can concentrate on the issues we’re dealing with and not be distracted by elements of life that have not real bearing on the issue itself.

 

Q. You talk about this premise that the spiritual life begins within the heart of a person and so “when the storms within recede, the world around us will still and stabilize as well.” What a great visualization! Can you offer a few practical tips for settling our inner storms?

By admitting our fears and prejudices to ourselves we make room for other ways of thinking. Then we no longer get up in the morning geared for battle.

Fear and prejudice end when we can admit each of them, examine each of them with others, and understand the value and weakness of each position. Once we do that, we will be capable of talking out other difficult things together, too.

 

Q. If you could choose one message from the book to really drive home to your readers, what would it be?

A culture in transition is a culture of prejudices, of polarized populations, of ideas cemented in fear. It’s time to examine all of them in the light so that we can all move on together,  open to new ideas, full of courage and understanding of people who think other than we do.

 

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Joan Chittister, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


PRESS RELEASE: Trekking the Messy Terrain Between Joy and Dark Nights of the Soul

 

“There is a part of the soul that stirs at night, in the dark and soundless times of day, when our defenses are down and our daylight distractions no longer serve to protect us from ourselves,” writes Joan Chittister in her latest book Between the Dark and the Daylight (Image, Feb. 24, 2015).

“It’s then, in the still of life, when we least expect it, that questions emerge from the damp murkiness of our inner underworld,” writes Chittister. “These questions do not call for the discovery of data; they call for the contemplation of possibility.”

In her latest undertaking, internationally known author of The Gift of Years examines the paradoxes of spirituality, offering poignant insights for understanding the chaos that surrounds us.

In her observations, Chittister shines light on the inner confusions of our age and shows how only by embracing the contradictions may we live well amid stress, withstand emotional storms, and satisfy our yearnings for something transcendent and real.

“For all of us, paradox underlies the question of what it means to be human,” writes Chittister. “These thoughts that rise out of nowhere in us between dark and dawn seem to have no content but will not let us rest.”

This book guides readers through the life questions that seemed easier to avoid and enlightens what has been out of focus. Getting at the heart of what it means to be human, Between the Dark and the Daylight is not about finding all the answers, but rather surrendering to self so that we can find rest in the arms of God.

 

 

About the Author

JOAN CHITTISTER is an internationally known author and lecturer, and the executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality. She is past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Her books include The Gift of Years, The Breath of the Soul, Called to Question, and Following the Path. She is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania.

 

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Joan Chittister, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


INTERVIEW: Randy Boyagoda

Q&A with Randy Boyagoda 

Author of

Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square

 

Q. As a writer, you are known for your novels Governor of the Northern Province (2006) and Beggar’s Feast (2011). What made you decide to write a work of non-fiction, and why did you choose Richard John Neuhaus as the subject?

My first novel was about a genocidal African warlord who moves to Canada and becomes a convenience store clerk. My second novel was about a runaway boy Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka who becomes a globe-trotting street hustler. At first glance, in other words, there would seem to be little connection between these stories and the story of a conservative Catholic priest and intellectual. And yet I was drawn to the life story of Richard John Neuhaus because it was filled with unexpected events and encounters, from his boyhood in small-town Canada through to his longtime prominence as a man of God, man of ideas, and man on the march, in New York, Washington, and Rome. I was drawn to the telling of his story by the great storytelling opportunity it offered, to explore, make sense and do justice to the life and times of a controversial and influential person moved by his love of God and driven by his personal ambitions both to play a major role in American public life, across decades of dramatic events in American politics and culture.

 

Q. This is a long book! It obviously required a great deal of research. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

My wife and I have four children under the age of eight, I have a full-time job as a professor and administrator at a university, I’m constantly writing book reviews and essays for various newspapers and magazines, and my second novel was published around the world during the course of my researching and writing this book, an effort that on its own terms required multiple trips to New York, Washington, rural Canada, rural Texas, and Rome, among other places. So my writing process is basically to write whenever I can, wherever I am! Often enough, this has involved early morning sessions in my home office, in Toronto, and there was one stretch, two summers ago, where my wife and our children went to stay with my wife’s family in Milwaukee for three weeks so I could complete a major section of the book by basically working on it all day, and much of the night. I began procrastinating the morning after they left, by trying to dislodge a wasp nest on our deck, which left me with two dozen wasp bites on my arms and hands. This made for some difficult typing, but I got it done.

 

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

My goal was to write a book that was neither hagiography nor hatchet job. In other words, I hope I’ve told the story a heroic Christian life that was not without its mistakes, and that I’ve done so in a way that’s responsible to the fullness of his life and work, and also fine and fun to read. Neuhaus was, from the earliest possible age, a charismatic and controversial figure. In researching the book and speaking to people who knew him at various points in his life, I appreciated just how influential he was, on their own senses of what it means to bring your faith commitments to bear upon your intellectual life and your work in the world, and vice-versa. With this book, I hope to reveal the complex and rich fullness of the personal relationships and private experiences that informed his well-known public accomplishments and persona. I hope people will read this book and appreciate that whether you agree or disagree with all of the things he said and did in his life, either way you’ll recognize that he made a signal effort to live out his Christian commitments in big ways.

 

Q. In your opinion, what were some of Richard John Neuhaus’ greatest contributions to American public life?

I think Neuhaus made the best possible case, in his writings and actions both, that religion has a very important role to play and a permanent place in American public life. The question isn’t whether religion should be involved in politics. The question is how should religion be involved in politics. By no means do I think his particular interpretation of what these roles and places are accounts that everyone will agree with! Instead, I’d simply say that his decades-long effort to demonstrate religion’s importance to matters of public import ensured that this conversation was lively and robust, not least because of how much he inspired others to do likewise, whether in agreement with his views or in direct and vehement disagreement with him. I think he also demonstrated to many that you can be a person of serious religious faith and a person of cosmopolitan intellectual interests. Finally, and more specifically, I think he established an influential role for Catholic teaching in late twentieth century American culture unlike what it had ever enjoyed before, and likewise forged ecumenical and interfaith connections between Catholics and Evangelicals, and between Christians and Jews. He did this through the founding of the magazine, First Things, and through his various coalition-building efforts, all of which gave shape and voice once more to a serious and supple religious presence in an American culture and politics whose leading secular-minded figures might otherwise presume there was no need or place or even possibility of this kind of presence.

 

Q. What do you think were some of his biggest mistakes?

Oy. What a question to ask the biographer. Every word I write here is more rope for his biggest fans and/or his biggest haters. Readers of the biography will know I’ve identified mistakes for sure, mostly concerning the gap between what he believed he was doing at various points in his life, and how his efforts were understood and experienced by others. For more details, please consult the biography!

 

Q. Why is it important for contemporary Americans, and perhaps Canadians, to know about Richard John Neuhaus?

It’s very important to know about someone who was arguably the most influential man of faith in American life, from the 1960s through to the 2000s, from antiwar left to neoconservative right, from conservative Missouri Synod Lutheranism to conservative Roman Catholicism. Here was someone who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and breakfasted with John Paul II, someone who was roughed up by Chicago police during 1960s street demonstrations and advised presidents on public policy. He also inspired many young people to vocations to religious life, led a thriving inner city black congregation in Brooklyn, and held court most Friday nights at his Manhattan apartment, sipping bourbon, smoking cigars, and talking ideas until the wee hours. Across all of this, he understood himself and his work, foremost, as inspired and ordered to and by his love of God and the Church. That someone could have such a remarkable life, after growing up in small-town Canada and never even finishing high school, seems to me important, even inspiring, for many Americans and Canadians too to know about.

 

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Happy reading!

 

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Randy Boyagoda, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.

 



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