My friend Irene Alexander is a psychologist, spiritual director and a spiritual direction formator. She lectures at Christian Heritage College and the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane, Australia, as well as at colleges in Asia. She is an elder of Servant to Asia's Urban Poor, a Companion of Northumbria Community in Brisbane, and is involved in a small community that follows a daily rhythm of prayer. Irene is a mother and grandmother.
Of Martyrs, Monks and Mystics
by Charles Ringma & Irene Alexander
Yearly Meditational Reader of Ancient Spiritual Wisdom
Cascade Books, Wipf & Stock, Eugene, OR. Forthcoming 2015
Everywhere there are voices calling for a new Reformation, marked by a return to older sources of Christian wisdom, and for drinking anew the inspiration of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the church fathers, those from the monastic tradition and the medieval Christian mystics.
This anthology of original sources in contemporary English, structured in a meditational mode, could well be the rich resource you are looking for in hearing the ancient Christian wisdom. Here are the deep wells of theological and spiritual insight that could guide you in walking a renewed path of faith in our precarious world. These voices from the past may well help you in living against the tide of late modernity with its rationality and utilitarianism that cannot sustain a well-lived and well-loved life. This book could sustain the hope for a renewed world through the life lived in the presence of the healing and empowering God.
“This is a remarkable collection of quotations from the communion of Saints across the ages, which will deeply enrich your soul, and transform your identity as a Christian. I know no other spiritual treasury like this. It should be at every Christian’s desk or bedside.”
James M. Houston, Board of Governor’s Professor, Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver.
“[This] is a remarkable collection . . . The result is a sparkling array of freshness from many lesser-known lived such as Gertrude the Great, Macarius of Egypt, and the Dutch poet Hadewijch conversing with us alongside Julian of Norwich, John Cassian, and Clare of Assisi . . . [T]his is a book that not only needs to be read slowly and prayerfully but also applied and lived as present-day wisdom.”
Trevor Miller, Abbot of Northumbria Community
Irene's other Books Include:
A Glimpse of the Kingdom in Academia: Academic Formation as Radical Discipleship.
Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2013.
Synopsis: University is a major way that our society prepares professionals and leaders in education, health, government, business, arts, church–all components of our communal lives. Although the beginnings of the first universities were Christian, academia has become more and more adrift from these foundations. We have lost not only the union, the interwovenness of theological and academic understandings, but also the relational and communal process of learning which teaches students to be other-centered in their practice.
A Glimpse of the Kingdom in Academia tells the story of the social sciences department of a small Christian university that took seriously the mandate to prepare their students to be salt and light in a secular society. Here are stories of the transformation in students' lives, as well as description of classroom practices, and the epistemological theory behind those practices.
The book explores academic knowing, Christian worldview, relational epistemology, inner knowing, and wisdom–all ways of knowing that a Christian university should teach. The process of transformation, the context of community, and the bigger picture of life's journey and changing images of God are identified as important aspects of kingdom life in academia. The institutional setting is also critiqued with the recognition that power practices need to align with the kingdom of the Christ who emptied himself.
"This book is an invitation to another way of seeing, but it is also dense in alternative epistemological sources. . . . This book should be read by all those involved with student learning and administration. It can also be read by any teacher or administrator, school or institution hoping to make learning more open and transformational in any discipline or context." (Nicola Hoggard Creegan, Lecturer in Theology, Laidlaw College).
"[This] is not simply a how-to book. It is a book that will move you into a more profound way of reading and entering the gospel story. It is a book marked by a theology of the Kingdom or reign of God and a holistic vision of God's redemptive and healing purposes for our world. It is a book also shaped by the newer liberation and feminist theologies. Moreover, it is a book marked by profound spirituality. . . . It is my hope that this book will be a precursor of what is to come, that it will point the way for others to take the shape of their life in Christ into the public sphere." (From the Foreword by Charles Ringma, Emeritus Professor, Regent College).
Stories of Transformation and Hope: Mary's Gospel.
Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2014.
Synopsis: What if the people I know were to be transformed by an encounter with the cosmos? The foreign woman who argues with the doctor, the homeless man on the street corner, the corrupt politician, the fisherman risking his life to make a living. What if I met up with them in a decade and found that each had experienced a life transformation after meeting the God-Man, Jesus, who touched them in the deepest core of their being? And what if one of Jesus' companions was to meet them and listen to their story, the story of their life and their encounter with the one who brought transformation?
This book collects the imagined stories of men and women of whom we know very little, only the bare bones of their encounters. It is a book for the foreign woman, the homeless man, the politician, and the fisherman–any of us who want to deeply encounter a God who meets us as a real person. The stories touch us because they are refashioned into the contextual thinking of our time and our culture–and yet they reflect the reality of another time, a time when God walked among us–in our streets, and our neighborhood, and into our homes.
Practicing the Presence of Jesus.
Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011.
Synopsis: Many Christians long to know God more deeply but find themselves limited by old understandings and ways of knowing. Practicing the Presence of Jesus rediscovers the centuries old Ignatian tradition of placing oneself into the gospel story to experience the presence of Jesus in a vital and real way. Each chapter explores another angle to come to the stories, while remaining true to the scripture.
Irene Alexander gives examples of her own retellings, and real life interactions with the gospels to illustrate the process and make it accessible to contemporary readers. Readers will be led through a process of entering the stories themselves, so that they connect with the Jesus, human and divine, in the present reality of their daily lives. Relevant for new believers as well as those who have known God for decades, these stories introduce readers to a vibrant way of being present to the reality of our God.
"Many Christians in the West no longer have a deep connection with the biblical story. They simply don't read it, except for the occasional Psalm and the story of Christmas. This book may revive their interest in re-engaging God's grand and invitational narrative. For as the author has so clearly demonstrated in this winsome and personal storytelling of psychological depth and spiritual insight, scripture is the profound story in which we can find ourselves with all of our life's issues. And where we can hear the invitation to become a renewed and enlarged self in the grace of Christ and the generative work of the Spirit." (Charles Ringma).
"Don't think of this as a book to read. Think instead of it as a wonderful conversation over coffee—or perhaps while on a long walk—with a warm and very wise Christian woman whose faith is grounded in her own ongoing dialogue with the living God. This isn't a book of ideas. It is much more personal than that. It is a book in which the author invites the reader to accompany her in engaging with scriptures—not as a text to be studied but as the living word of the Creator that must, therefore, be engaged with the senses and imagination, not just reason and analysis. Read it slowly and prepare for your life to be changed."(David G. Benner author of Opening to God and Soulful Spirituality).
Dancing with God: Transformation through Relationships.
SPCK Publishing, 2007
Synopsis: If we are to know true freedom, we need to recognize the things that help us 'dance with God': learning grace, accepting brokenness, self forgiveness. We also need to be aware of what hinders our progress: judgment, self criticism, shame, seeking others' approval. Down-to-earth, engaging and psychologically astute, "Dancing with God" takes us 'inside' the gospel stories, so we might explore these ideas through imagining ourselves to be in the presence of Jesus. What was it like to be the woman at the well meeting this unique stranger? Or the woman, washing Jesus' feet with her tears, criticized and unvalued? Or Paul, having your entire, carefully-ordered world turned upside down? As we envision the freedom and grace in which these individuals were invited to live, we may learn to forget the childhood scripts, the rules, requirements and laws that bind us, and allow ourselves instead to step out and dance with our creator – to be transformed, gently and continuously, through the all-encompassing love of Christ.
Interweavings: Conversations Between Narrative Therapy And Christian Faith.
(With Richard Cook). Create Space Books, 2008.
Synopsis: Narrative Therapy is an approach to counseling and community work that is having increasing influence in the helping field internationally. As well, the concept of narrative has become increasingly utilized in therapy, spirituality, organizational psychology and theology. This text is written for counseling practitioners, psychologists, pastors, social workers and chaplains who desire to integrate spirituality in their professional practice.
The book presents a conversation between Christian spirituality and Narrative ideas demonstrating the effectiveness of Narrative Therapy in transformational work. The book is edited by two lecturer/practitioners who both lead counselor education faculties.
Other contributors to the book are lecturers and therapists who are integrating these ideas in their practice in the counseling room and the classroom. Philosophical difficulties are discussed and practical applications are offered for using Narrative Therapy in a range of contexts.
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