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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

Book Bites: Tish Harrison Warren

By Cheryl Arnold

Father Jonathan recently attended the RADVO conference in Dallas, Texas, where one of the speakers was Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican priest and writer. In addition to many articles and essays, she has written two books which have had a deep impact on my faith.

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices for Everyday Life was awarded Book of the Year by Christianity Today in 2018. In the book, Warren looks at everyday life through the lens of liturgy and helps us see the sacred in the ordinary and the ordinary in the sacred. She writes that God is forming us into a new people and says the place of that formation is in the small moments of each day. Chapters cover topics such as making the bed, brushing teeth, eating leftovers, checking email, fighting with a spouse, sitting in traffic and more, and she relates every act to a spiritual practice as well as our Sunday liturgy. She shows how even the smallest of our daily actions shape us into who we are. Drawing on the work of Christian author and philosopher James K.A. Smith, another RADVO conference speaker, she writes, “We don’t wake up daily and form a way of being-in-the-world from scratch, and we don’t think our way through every action of our day. We move in patterns that we have set over time, day by day. These habits and practices shape our loves, our desires, and ultimately who we are and what we worship.” You will not see your daily life in the same way after reading this book.

Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep was published earlier this year. Warren wrote this book after walking through a very difficult season of loss and grief, and during that season she held fast to the prayer of Compline when she could not come up with her own words to pray. She writes, “Compline speaks to God in the dark. And that’s what I had to learn to do—to pray in the darkness of anxiety and vulnerability, in doubt and disillusionment. It was Compline that gave words to my anxiety and grief and allowed me to reencounter the doctrines of the church not as tidy little antidotes for pain, but as a light in the darkness, as good news.” Each chapter explores a different phrase from the Compline prayer. In examining each phrase, Warren shows readers how to walk through the darkness of vulnerability and suffering in faith, and how to find hope and light in the dark. You will come away with a rich understanding of Compline as well as wise pastoral counsel for how to walk by faith in all circumstances.

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