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Many people as diverse as McConaughey and Bradley find similar spiritual common ground in Public Lives, Private Prayers. Actress Julie Harris and Richard F. Grein, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New York, seek solace in St. Teresa of Avila's Prayer; Dow Jones & Co. chairman Peter Kann and Oregon Governor John A. Kitzhaber both find inspiration in the Rudyard Kipling poem "If."
Much more than a recitation of spiritual buzz words, Public Lives, Private Prayers, expresses the deepest feelings of people many of us know only from sound bites on the evening news or saccharine interviews on "Entertainment Tonight." Author Danielle Steel wrote, "Although I don't normally contribute to books and collections about or by allegedly famous people, this subject matter did catch my interest. There are indeed a few ‘standbys' I hang onto in hard times" (Isaiah 41:1, Isaiah 41:13).
Organized into six chapters, Public Lives, Private Prayers celebrates the themes of Living, Loving, Working, Doubting, Dying and Adoring. Contributions include texts from Goethe and Emily Dickinson to the Bible and Shakesphere to Hillel the Elder and the prophet Mohammed.
More than 130 people — including Anna Quindlen, Queen Noor, Sister Helen Prejean, Pete Seeger, Margaret Thatcher, Robert Pinsky, Brigitte Bardot, Ann Landers and George and Barbara Bush — contributed to Reath's collection of prayers and poems, offering a rare glimpse inside the private, spiritual lives of people we thought we knew. Public Lives, Private Prayers not only illuminates those lives, but ours as well.
Author Biography: Since 1987, Mary Reath has been the publisher and vice president of Collectors Reprints, Inc. a company that reproduces American classics. Recent projects include The First Edition Library, a 64-volume series of first-edition reprints of American fiction, and The Library of American Poets, a series of the first editions of American poetry.
A former elementary school teacher, Reath is the author of God of the Starlight, an anthology of prayers of many faiths for children. She also served as a visiting scholar at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Her latest book, Public Lives, Private Prayers, grew out of an interest in the prayers of well-known people and how their spiritual reflections influence their life and work. "That association," Reath says, "allows one to enter into prayer in a way one wouldn't be able to do if you read the prayer cold. Knowing Desmond Tutu's history, for example, you can relate more intensely to the words he prays."
Reath and her husband, Henry, currently live in Princeton, New Jersey.