Newsweek Loves The Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldaña

Lisa Miller in Newsweek loves The Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldaña and we have no clue why.

Miller says it is because of how she writes about prayer. Just give us a little hint...but no,
...What sets Saldaña's book apart from so many others is the very convincing way in which she writes about prayer—and the difficulty of praying. The best section of Elizabeth Gilbert's best seller Eat, Pray, Love was the first—forever etched in my mind as "Eat"—in which the heartbroken narrator wanders around Rome, seeking comfort in pasta. "Pray," though—an account of her tenure at an ashram in India—is a disaster; in a book hailed for its authenticity, Gilbert's attempts at penetrating the spiritual experience are clumsy and too-cute. "I got pulled through the wormhole of the Absolute, and in that rush I suddenly understood the workings of the universe altogether." The wormhole? Dante, poor man, spins.

Some of Christianity's first monks and hermits inhabited the same caves that Saldaña seeks out, in a desert that's as frigid, desolate, and inhospitable as any place on earth. Saldaña knows well this desert's history and its importance to her own tradition. When she wrestles with the demons and angels that are her thoughts—which come to her through close reading of Scripture—she is rooted (unlike Gilbert) in decades of Catholic practice, and in her more recent study of biblical literature. In the monastic tradition, she writes, the desert is "a mirror, where the silence and emptiness become so vast that the only things left to meet here are the self and God…Here is the strange world where the blue line between the interior and the exterior world collapses, where the imagination is given a body. Our thoughts take on flesh in the empty air." Alone in the desert, Saldaña weeps, she sleeps, she gnashes her teeth. One believes in her visions. Better, one believes in them without being embarrassed for her....more...

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