God Underneath: Spiritual Memoirs of a Catholic Priest

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9780385501804: God Underneath: Spiritual Memoirs of a Catholic Priest

A delightfully different approach to religion and spirituality, this collection of engaging personal tales transcends specific doctrines to reveal the presence of God in everyday life.

Father Edward L. Beck spins tales like a master, presenting with candor and a touch of irreverence incidents and events that will resonate with readers. Exploring such universal themes and concerns as friendship, sexuality, illness, alcoholism, loss, and death, the vignettes and stories in this collection are animated by intriguing characters, pitch-perfect dialogue–and a surprising twist. Probing beneath the surface of ordinary life, each selection contains a hidden message, a subtle but powerful reminder of the signposts that mark a spiritual journey.

Quotations from the Scriptures introduce the tales, providing a context that will help readers uncover the meaning the story holds for their own personal lives and beliefs. To encourage further reflection and rumination, Beck offers insights into the specific religious and theological themes that inspired the writing of each tale.

A lively, unabashed look at the challenges of living a spiritual life in contemporary times, God Underneath will appeal not only to Catholics, but to all spiritual seekers, regardless of religious affiliation.

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Review:

God Underneath, a memoir by the Catholic priest Edward L. Beck, is composed of moving, funny, and profound vignettes that blur the line between sermon and story. Beck's reflections meander through a variety of topics, including friendship, sexuality, illness, alcoholism, death, demanding mothers, reticent fathers, and the political struggles that doomed a spiritual retreat in Peoria, Illinois. Like a homily, each chapter begins with a verse of scripture, then proceeds to tell a story that helps readers understand that verse and, even more, learn to live it. In the book's introduction, Beck describes his belief in "incarnational spirituality," which he explains as follows:

God chooses to be revealed in the people and events of our lives. ("Incarnate" comes from the Latin incarnati, to be made flesh.) Thus, this spirituality is of the very stuff of our lives. God becomes incarnate, a God with skin.
Beck's way of telling stories is faithful to this mode of spirituality: he describes people whose lives describe truth, welling up from the God who is underneath and in all. -- Michael Joseph Gross

From the Back Cover:

The very first time I saw Father Edward’s face, I knew I would learn something about ‘men of the cloth’. A little the way you come to realize that your most erudite teachers have nightmares and hurt feelings and stomach aches. I had always been a little too much in awe of Priests, monks and other clergy or theological types. Maybe this is because they have to keep a distance in order to have you (the hopeful believer) believe they are a link to the great unknown. Edward Beck allows us close enough to see the emotions of a man. Because of the flawed humanity revealed, there is more reason to see that link. It will mean something special to the reader to see the courage that enables him to reveal himself so simply and honestly. To identify with him: to empathize, to feel his doubts , and then his overriding desire to go beyond and through them, is what his journey is about.
-Carly Simon

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