Michael Plekon is a professor in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology in Religion and Culture at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is also an ordained priest in the Orthodox Church in America. He is the author of Hidden Holiness (2009), where he called for a reframing of saints from seeing them as celebrities to knowing them as ordinary people being holy in a variety of interesting ways, and Living Icons: Persons of Faith in the Eastern Church (2004), which examined the lives and writings of visionaries in this tradition who have been pioneers of the spiritual practices of hospitality and openness.
This is the third in a series of books on holiness and the adventures of people of faith as they put their spirituality to work in a world badly in need of love and repair. Most of those profiled here are accomplished women writers who have shared their encounters with God, church communities, and the wider world through their memoirs.
Among those covered are Kathleen Norris, Barbara Brown Taylor, Diana Butler Bass, Patricia Hampl, Lauren Winner, Nora Gallagher, and Sara Miles. Reading Plekon's graceful and meditative commentaries on their lives, losses, miseries, challenges, and triumphs, it not hard to salute the high quality of spiritual memoirs in our times.
These contemporary saints live messy lives of imperfection but stretch their souls and ours with their exquisite writings. Some of them come face-to-face with the toxins of the institutional church while others continue to find solace and joy in worship, community, and service of others. Plekon brings saints down from pedestals and shows them active in the world, animated by grace and buoyed by Divine love.