The Love of Thousands:
How Angels, Saints, and Ancestors Walk with Us Toward Holiness
Christine Valters Paintner
Sorin Books, 2023
Many Christians observe All Saints Day on November 1, and Christine Valters Paintner’s newest book The Love of Thousands: How Angels, Saints, and Ancestors Walk with Us Toward Holiness (Sorin Books, 2023) provides plenty of ways to celebrate the day and carry its meaning throughout the rest of the year. Paintner mixes church history, theology, and spiritual concepts together with stories from her own life – relatable tales that pave the way for readers to make their own connections and engage with “all those sacred beings who dwell in spiritual form across the veil.” Activities, meditations, and blessings presented in the book also help readers to tap into the mystical love of angels, saints, and ancestors.
Paintner, who received her Ph.D. in Christian spirituality from Graduate Theological Union, is the online abbess of the Abbey of the Arts, a virtual online monastery; she encourages readers to attend to their intuition, especially when they are facing something new and amorphous on the horizon. This book demonstrates how symbols, dreams, meaningful coincidences, and other non-dominant ways of knowing can powerfully open minds and hearts, increasing one’s capacity to be fully present, to endure patiently, and to receive insights and assurance from these invisible yet potent sources of wisdom.
Mental Health Basics for Spiritual and Religious Leaders
Awa Jangha, Ph.D.
Seminary of the Southwest, 2023
While the stigma around accessing mental health care has decreased in recent years, misunderstanding – and yes, some stigma – persists in many places. Author Awa Jangha, Ph.D., the Louise Henderson Wessendorff Associate Professor of Spiritual Integration in Counseling at the Seminary of the Southwest, has authored Mental Health Basics for Spiritual and Religious Leaders (Seminary of the Southwest, 2023) an eBook for pastors, chaplains, spiritual directors, and other religious and spiritual leaders so they can better understand the range of mental health issues that affect the people they serve as well as themselves.
In clear, jargon-free language, she explains what mental health professionals do, explores the differences between pastoral counseling and mental health counseling, and examines the decision to refer someone for mental health counseling. Early on she addresses human growth and development and social and cultural diversity, then devotes a chapter each to four key areas: crisis and trauma; substance dependence and behavioral addictions; grief; and self-care and burnout prevention. Readers can find a list of therapy directories and diversity resources in the final chapter.
The book is available for free at ssw.edu.
Directed by Kris Kaczor
SuAnne Big Crow grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and led the Pine Ridge High School Lady Thorpes to the 1989 South Dakota state basketball championship – the first Native American girls’ team to clinch the title. Her high school career included traveling internationally to play basketball on a Native American exchange team and working to improve morale and conditions for young people in Pine Ridge. In February of her senior year, she was killed in a car accident.
Archival videos show Big Crow as a phenom on the court, a goofy teenager having fun with friends, and a wise-beyond-her-years role model and spokesperson. “I like to help people,” she says in one TV interview. “I like to see good things come out of our reservation.” Interviews with friends, family, and current Lady Thorpe basketball players describe her continuing legacy in the community.
This documentary addresses the abuse that generations of Lakota people endured under the U.S. government and the Catholic Church, as well as continued racism from outsiders. The reality of this mistreatment and the subsequent problems on the reservation make Big Crow’s impact even more impressive.
“She used basketball to convey her message of acceptance, her message of hope,” says Rayette Provost, a childhood friend. “She had big dreams to make the Rez a better place, to make the world a better place.”
Looking for Home
Directed by Alan Govenar
In Architectural Digest’s popular “Open Door” videos, celebrities show viewers around their home and talk about their prized possessions. In Looking for Home, Alan Govenar’s documentary on what people talk about when they talk about home, we see something completely different.
Over a four-year period, Govenar interviewed more than 60 people of different ages, cultures, and perspectives in New York City, Dallas, Paris, Buenos Aires, Nairobi, and beyond. Sometimes we see inside their homes, and rather than seeing things, we see actions: cooking, reading, talking, relaxing, playing. Additional “person on the street” interviews provide honest and heartfelt reflections on the topic. Over and over, we hear that home means safety, comfort, warmth, peace, love, and a sense of belonging. Home, many say, is closer to a feeling than a place.
The film touches on issues of family, homelessness, immigration and much more. The Covid pandemic struck halfway through filming; it’s fascinating to see how the understanding of home shifts when people are in lockdown. But the main takeaway is the inestimable value of a home – and how we can help each other feel at home, even just a little, no matter where we are.
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