Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith

( 3 )

Overview

"Gracefully written and moving ... Things Seen and Unseen starts with Nora Gallagher entering the labyrinth of her life ... and ultimately it leads to the center of her being."--The Boston Globe

It started with an occasional Sunday, a "tourist's" visit to a local church. Eventually Nora Gallagher entered into a yearlong journey to discover her faith and a relationship with God, using the Christian calendar as her compass.

Whether writing about ...

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Overview

"Gracefully written and moving ... Things Seen and Unseen starts with Nora Gallagher entering the labyrinth of her life ... and ultimately it leads to the center of her being."--The Boston Globe

It started with an occasional Sunday, a "tourist's" visit to a local church. Eventually Nora Gallagher entered into a yearlong journey to discover her faith and a relationship with God, using the Christian calendar as her compass.

Whether writing about her brother's battle against cancer, talking to homeless men about the World Series, or questioning the afterlife ("One world at a time"), Gallagher draws us into a world of journeys and mysteries, yet grounded in a gritty reality. She braids together the symbols of the
Christian calendar, the events of a year in one church, and her own spiritual journey, each strand combed out with harrowing intimacy. Thought provoking and profoundly perceptive, Things Seen and Unseen is a remarkable demonstration that "the road to the sacred is paved with the ordinary."

"Like Kathleen Norris in Amazing Grace, Gallagher is renewing the language of ultimate concerns."--San Francisco Chronicle

"The deep serenity that suffuses Gallagher's work, the lyrical cadences in which she writes, do not blunt the sharp edges of what she discovered in her quest for meaning."--Los Angeles Times

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Editorial Reviews

Edith Milton
An appealingly modest book, which largely stays within reach of Gallagher's expereinces in the church and her personal meditations on these experiences....Gallagher is admirable in her total inclusiveness of all varieties of spiritual exercise as serious and valid religious practice.
Women's Review of Books
Robert Taylor
A gracefully written and moving account of her spiritual journey.
Boston Globe
Jonathan Kirsch
Enriched and enlivened by her experience in the secular world, a wry sense of humor and an admirable refusal to preach.
Los Angeles Times
Peggy Rosenthal
An inspired book.
Commonweal
Library Journal
This is a book for those who doubt their faith, resist the institutional church, and yet are drawn to both. Faith, says journalist Gallagher, is "an accumulation of events and experiences of a different order." The author offers her insight into faith in artfully written chapters sprinkled with the wisdom of an array of writers from C.S. Lewis to medieval mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg. This is not, however, a collection of platitudes but a story of faith practiced in understanding and supporting a gay priest and in helping the homeless, hungry, sick, and dying, primarily through the Episcopal church to which she belongs. She avoids "cheap and casual religious jargon" to tell of work, doubt, searching--and moments of grace. -- Linda V. Carlisle, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville
Booknews
Writer/journalist Gallagher's book is as much the story of a year in the life of her Trinity Episcopal Church as of her own spiritual development. During this year she struggles with faith and community, a fatal illness in her family, guests in the church soup kitchen, and the efforts of a priest who is a gay man and the church's vestry to decide whether he should be called as their rector.
Jonathan Kirsch
Enriched and enlivened by her experience in the secular world, a wry sense of humor and an admirable refusal to preach.
Los Angeles Times
Peggy Rosenthal
An inspired book.
Commonweal
Edith Milton
An appealingly modest book, which largely stays within reach of Gallagher's expereinces in the church and her personal meditations on these experiences....Gallagher is admirable in her total inclusiveness of all varieties of spiritual exercise as serious and valid religious practice.
The Women's Review of Books
Kirkus Reviews
A reflective, honest journey through the liturgical year with essayist Gallagher, whose writing has appeared in the New York Times, Mother Jones, and elsewhere. Her autobiographical musings stand out from among the spiritual introspections of other Baby Boomers. Like them, Gallagher's concerned with issues of authority and social justice, but her journey is far less solipsistic. Her refreshingly communal approach is guided by the rhythms and cadences of something larger than herself: the liturgical calendar. (In this, the author follows precedents set by fellow liturgical Protestants Madeleine L'Engle and Kathleen Norris. Her work is worthy of their legacy.) Beginning with Advent, Gallagher reflects on a single year in her life and in the life of Trinity Episcopal, her Santa Barbara parish. Quotidian concerns—-such as parish fund-raising and the soup kitchen where Gallagher works are interspersed with larger theological questions about sin, redemption, and the Incarnation. Through the year, she grapples with her brother's cancer while her temporary priest, who has revealed to the church's vestry, or board of directors (of which she is a member), that he is gay, struggles with the question of whether he should come out to the congregation. At Easter, the joy of resurrection is tempered by the death of a homeless man in the congregation and a stillborn birth to a parish couple. Gallagher juxtaposes personal sagas brilliantly with the church year; she recounts her own conversion (still in process) during Epiphany and her priest's early battles to overcome the "sin" of his sexual orientation during Lent (having previously spent ten years away from the ministry, he decided that Godaccepted him the way he was). At Pentecost, the church's celebration of the Holy Spirit, Gallagher claims that the spirit descended on their vestry meeting as they decided to hire their beloved interim priest as their permanent rector. Upon learning the news, the usually staid congregation leapt to its feet, applauded, and shouted affirmation "entirely un-Anglican" behavior, Gallagher notes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679775492
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/28/1999
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 621,435
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.91 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Nora Gallagher lives in Santa Barbara, California.
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Table of Contents

Advent 3
Christmas 28
Epiphany 59
Lent 80
Holy Week 107
Eastertide 134
Pentecost 158
Ordinary Time 201
Acknowledgments 235
Notes 237
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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted June 3, 2010

    NORA GALLAGHER'S THINGS SEEN AND UNSEEN, A YEAR LIVED IN FAITH

    Born in New Mexico, Nora Gallagher was the daughter to Julie Walcott Gallagher and David Gallagher. Her career originally started as a reporter in San Francisco, where she was hired by the highly acclaimed TIME Magazine. Since then, her career has transitioned into being a professional journalist. Her writings have appeared in a number of highly recognized publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times Magazine are just a few to mention. She is also the author of a spiritual memoir I have recently read entitled Things Seen and Unseen, A Year Lived in Faith. In addition to her memoir Things Seen and Unseen, A Year Lived in Faith she has also published a number of different memoirs including Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace, also Changing Light, and finally The Sacred Meal. The making of her spiritual memoir, Things Seen, and Unseen, A Year Lived in Faith, came about following some difficult times in her life. Gallagher was rejected by nearly every publisher in New York for a book proposal, which was about families living in Prague. Shortly thereafter, her agent at the time then quickly fired her. Gallagher then decided to take a life-changing trip to Santa Barbara, California where she rediscovered Trinity Episcopal Church. That trip, along with some notes she had stashed away that dealt with her spiritual life at the time period then turned into her spiritual memoir Things Seen and Unseen, A Year Lived in Faith which was published by Knopf in 1998.
    I enjoyed reading Nora Gallagher's spiritual memoir, Things Seen and Unseen, A Year Lived in Faith because I could personally relate to the exploration of her own doubts and struggles within her own faith. I too in my life had a struggle when it came to my own spirituality and faith. In my opinion, my own personal doubts surrounding my faith and the church are certainly comparable to Gallagher's, which made for an interesting read. In Gallagher's book Things Seen and Unseen, A Year Lived in Faith, she shares her thoughts, feelings, and experiences during a yearlong spiritual journey at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, California. Her memoir begins on a typical Sunday where Gallagher visits a local church Trinity Episcopal in the late 1980's. Little does she know, but that one visit to Trinity Episcopal Church ends up turning into yearlong journey in search of her own faith and to discover a relationship in which she has with God. Over the span of the year she spends at Trinity Episcopal, Gallagher uses the Christian calendar as a guide, which directs her into a religious world full of 'things seen and unseen'. During this year of faith, she serves the church and religious community in vestry, where she was given the position of a temporal and spiritual leader of the congregation at Trinity Episcopal Church. Throughout her spiritual memoir, Gallagher's describes a number of different challenges that she faces while attending the church but also conflicts that surround Trinity Episcopal Church itself.
    In the midst of Gallagher trying to find her faith and spirituality as well as trying to develop and relationship with God, Gallagher learns of many peoples struggles within the church as well as facing her own struggles at the time. She converses with a friend in church who is dying of AIDS, and shares her grief as she also explains how her brother is dying of

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2000

    joyous, real, life enhancing

    this book is so beautifully written it is to be savored over time, like an exceptional wine. it moved me deeply, delighted me in a literature sense, and was always a compelling joy to come home to. this woman is a stellar writer; surely she could speak of the phone book and be just as mesmerising, but when the topic is faith, it is indeed a rare spiritual feast. brava to a sublime author and a worthy topic. I recommend it not just as a library piece, but also as a special gift for any friend with a soul......

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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