The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk

The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk

by Lawrence Kushner
     
 

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"According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words. God just spoke and the world became reality. (The Aramaic for 'I create as I speak' is avara k'davara, or in magician’s language, abracadabra.) ... This does not protect words from the numbing effects of overuse in any religious tradition.... We need to dust off

Overview

"According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words. God just spoke and the world became reality. (The Aramaic for 'I create as I speak' is avara k'davara, or in magician’s language, abracadabra.) ... This does not protect words from the numbing effects of overuse in any religious tradition.... We need to dust off the words, shake away the accretions, wonder again about what they originally might have meant and enable ourselves to live in the word."
—from the Introduction

With creativity and poetry (and occasional heresy) Kushner dusts off thirty classical Hebrew words, shakes them free of the effects of generations of overuse, "re-translates" them and liberates their ancient holy power. The result is a contemporary spiritual guide for your personal religious life.

According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words. God just spoke and the world came into being. Words therefore are not merely sounds signifying something else; they are instruments of creation, primary reality itself. They need only to be read, spoken and interpreted. And to know them is to know reality itself.

Kushner has designed the book himself, seamlessly blending graphics and content. In doing so he evokes the aesthetics of an ancient manuscript and a vision of our power to shape the future.

Each finely crafted chapter begins with a Hebrew word and Kushner’s provocative English translation. At the bottom of the page is a transliteration of the Hebrew along with its more customary English rendering. In addition to his own intriguing definition, he includes a biblical citation anchoring the word, along with a more recent text showing the word’s evolution. Finally, we are offered a personal, meditative exercise designed to enable you to “live in the word.”

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"What a delightful wholeness of intellectual vigor and meditative playfulness, and all in a tone of gentleness that speaks to this gentile."
Rt. Rev. Krister Stendahl, former dean of Harvard Divinity School, bishop emeritus of Stockholm

"It is wonderful! A surprise at every page. His translations and elaborations provoke and stimulate the religious imagination."
Rabbi Neil Gillman, chair, department of Jewish philosophy, Jewish Theological Seminary

“Lifts the spirit from the mundane, through the vast expanse of tradition, to the face of God and then, quite miraculously, returns the spirit to daily life. . . much more than a book of words; it is a way of faithful living.”
The Rev. Dr. Richard Valantasis, assistant professor of theological studies, St. Louis University

“We have another Buber here, a Heschel ... Kushner expresses the truly profound with joy, lightness and humor.”
Father M. Basil Pennington, St. Joseph's Abbey

“Breathes new life into a vocabulary that many may have thought to be irrelevant or outdated. Kushner is one of the great spiritual teachers of our time. He once again succeeds in offering us wisdom and inspiration.”
Dr. Ellen M. Umansky, coeditor, Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality

“To bring new light to old words is the gift that a wise person gives to us. For that reason we are all deeply in debt to Rabbi Lawrence Kushner.”
Dr. Lawrence S. Cunningham, chairman, department of theology, Notre Dame

“Provides wonderfully easy access to the riches of Jewish spiritual tradition.... He is a seeker who blazes a trail for others to joyously journey.”
Dr. David A. Teutsch, president, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Library Journal
Rabbi and rabbinic professor Kushner has written, designed, and illustrated this revitalization of Hebrew/English holy words, words full of re-creative power such as secrecy and faith , terror and life , and vision , and truth . Kushner's meditative reflections, supplemented by Biblical and Talmudic wisdom, reveal hidden power and contemporary relevance, as well as humor. Many of Kushner's thoughts may delight non-Jews as well as Jews with the enthusiasm for life and profound sense of the sacred, e.g., when he elaborates on the sacredness of laughter and finds Purim important especially because ``it makes us laugh at ourselves.'' Recommended for public and seminary libraries.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781879045354
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
11/01/1993
Series:
The Kushner Ser.
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.41(d)

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What People are saying about this

Neil Gillman
It is wonderful! A surprise at every page. His translations and elaborations provoke and stimulate the religious imagination.
M. Scott Peck
A powerful book.

Meet the Author

Lawrence Kushner, author, lecturer and spiritual leader, is regarded as one of the most creative religious thinkers and writers in America. A commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, he has focused us on spiritual renewal with wisdom and humor. Through his books and lectures, people of every faith and background have found inspiration and new strength for spiritual search and growth. It has been said that some spiritual leaders blend religion and psychology to help us walk better on the ground, but Lawrence Kushner draws on the wisdom of the mystics to help us dance better on the ceiling.

Kushner's acclaimed books include I’m God; You’re Not: Observations on Organized Religion & Other Disguises of the Ego; Honey from the Rock: An Easy Introduction to Jewish Mysticism; Invisible Lines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary; The Book of Letters: A Mystical Hebrew Alphabet; Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians; and In God’s Hands, an inspiring fable for children, with Gary Schmidt (all Jewish Lights).

Kushner served as rabbi at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts, for almost thirty years; he is currently the Emanu-El scholar at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, and an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. He is fascinated by graphic design and computers (designing most of his Jewish Lights books). He enjoys Mozart, hanging around sailboats, and making his granddaughters giggle.

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