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The Middle Ages were not so very dark, as the old textbooks say. As you will discover in this intriguing portrait of the first Franciscans, we live in dark ages whenever we become preoccupied with power. In this popular history, Jon Sweeney reveals the timeless temptations that come with being human---greed, competition, ego, and selfishness---as well as the many ways that Francis and Clare of Assisi inspired change and brought light into darkness.
Discover how Francis was first found by God and then joined by Clare despite the violent objections of her family. Explore a variety of issues that they faced, including the treatment of lepers in medieval society, corruption in the Church, and attitudes toward the created world. You will also learn how Clare's spirituality influenced that of other prominent women, how St. Francis lost control of his own movement, and why Francis's body was secretly buried upon his death.
The examples of early Franciscan spirituality challenge any of us who would follow Christ today. How would we view a young person today who rejected family for spiritual reasons? Is it possible for men and women to have deep friendship and remain true to a call to chastity? Is intentional poverty of any value? Have we sentimentalized family to the point of ignoring what Jesus taught his disciples on the subject?
Visit Jon Sweeney's blog at www.jonmsweeney.wordpress.com.
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Jon M. Sweeney is the author of many books, including The Road to Assisi, a selection of both History Book Club and Book-of-the-Month Club, and Strange Heaven. He lives in Vermont.From Publishers Weekly:
She was rudder to his sail and yin to his yang, but the relationship between medieval saints Clare and Francis of Assisi was hardly the love affair depicted in literature and film, as this joint biography makes clear. Sweeney, author of the St. Francis Prayer Book and The Lure of Saints, sketches the true nature of the liaison, which he says was marked by natural affection, but never led to marriage or an affair. There is little reason to believe that Francis and Clare shared any romance other than one that was jointly with God, Sweeney writes of the partners in the spiritual movement that revolutionized Western religion. Relying on early biographies of Francis by Thomas of Celano and Bonaventure as well as more recent scholarship, Sweeney examines Francis's conversion and decision to marry poverty, showing how Clare, 12 years his junior, fled her family to embrace his radical way of life. Sweeney deals, too, with the controversy and dissension that erupted in the movement after just two decades as some followers softened the radical mendicancy espoused by Francis and Clare. Readers interested in an accurate portrayal of these two powerful figures will find this an excellent introduction to a movement that has captured the imaginations of moderns more than 700 years after the deaths of Francis and Clare. (Aug.)
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