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Knowing Beyond Words: Reflections on the Inexpressible [Hardcover]

By John McQuiston II (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   197
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.79" Width: 5.51" Height: 0.79"
Weight:   0.61 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 31, 2002
Publisher   Morehouse Publishing
ISBN  0819219010  
EAN  9780819219015  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
"God employs many translators," said John Donne. In his new book Knowing Beyond Words, John McQuiston, bestselling author of Always We Begin Again, has collected inspired and inspiring prose and poetry from many of the brilliant men and women who have tried to translate the inexpressible for us. The words of any one person, McQuiston says, may simply be inadequate to talk about the nature of God, the creation of joy, the search for meaning, giving, prayer and meditation, humility, and death. But we are compelled to try to say something. The contributors here, representing the variety of world religions and philosophies, attempt to bring illumination to what is ultimately difficult or impossible to say. McQuiston uses the classic images and language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a starting point, and proceeds to the words of writers and thinkers across centuries and traditions. These include Teresa of Avila, T.S. Eliot, Reinhold Niebuhr, Rabbi David Cooper, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Confucius, Thomas Merton, John Shelby Spong, Annie Dillard, Krishnamurti, The Dalai Lama, St. Francis of Assisi, Karl Rahner, Shakespeare, and many more. In Knowing Beyond Words, McQuiston helps readers discover more of the true spirit behind these words-words that help us to understand the inexpressible. John McQuiston II is an attorney and an active lay leader in his congregation in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of Always We Begin Again: The Benedictine Way of Living.

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Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John McQuiston II is an attorney and an active lay leader in his congregation in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of Morehouse's bestselling Always We Begin Again: The Benedictine Way of Living.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
one of the many exquisite and prayerful quotes from spiritual masters in this brilliant book:

"Almighty God, bestow upon us the meaning of words, the light of understanding, the nobility of diction and the faith of the true nature. And grant that what we believe we may also speak." ---Saint Hilary.

Lawyers don't talk like this. Lawyers do not write like this. Yet McQuiston writes from the heart, as he prays, and sees the limitations of words, and their profound value. He uses words not as lawyers use them for deceitful advantage, but as he has received them from those who seek to convey truth, the eternal verities, in the incomplete package and broken basket of human words. Therefore he labels each of his chapter meditations as "Attempts" only, knowing the frailty of our words.

McQuiston is extraordinary, a holy lawyer, a careful writer with something of profound value to write, for us to read. He has also written a wonderful meditation on the Benedictine life called Always We Begin Again: The Benedictine Way of Living, and are we not truly blessed and grateful when we receive that opportunity to begin once more after falling so very many times?

Here McQuiston writes of our many attempts in life, to know and to follow our God, the God of Love who wishes peace for all creation. Thus we see each chapter entitled first with the words "Attempts to speak of . . ." the nature of God, creating joy, search for meaning, giving, prayer and meditation, forgiveness, humility, death . . .

Lawyers are not known to speak of such things. Humility? Yet McQuiston does so brilliantly, humbly, prayerfully, with generous quotes from our Saints and others which serve well to illuminate rather than conceal. When McQuiston humbly realizes his own failure to communicate he turns for authority and clarity to the great saints past and present, the RUle of Saint Benedict, to our Holy Scripture, often the Letter from James, and, oftener, to our Book of Common Prayer, as in: "Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, That the words that we have heard this day with our outward ears, May through thy grace be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, That they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living."

This book attempts to tell us what that good living means, and serves thus a powerful role for meditation and prayer. It finally serves to assist us in encountering through our Faith that final mystery of death, remembering with the Book of Common Prayer "Death is swallowed up in victory; Oh death, where is thy sting?"

Where have you ever found a lawyer to write and to pray such as this? Where have you ever found a lawyer so helpful on our fragile human journey? Read this book of prayer and receive gratefully the aid of a mighty advocate.
Expressing the Inexpressible  Apr 3, 2002
As theologian Abraham Heschel has said, "God's voice speaks in many languages, communicating itself in a diversity of intuitions. The word of God never comes to an end. No word is God's last word."

In his second book on the spiritual life, "Knowing Without Words," author John McQuiston is the first to acknowledge that he has undertaken a daunting task, the use of words to represent ultimate reality. His introduction cautions that we tend to forget that words are merely man-made symbols, and that in attempting to use them to express the inexpressible we run the risk of idolatry, of falling into the worship of our own religion.

Having thus taken note of the pitfalls, McQuiston proceeds to serve up an impressive collection of efforts by a pantheon of religious and secular sages to express the reality that lies beyond the power of language. The book is divided into eight sections dealing with attempts to speak about ultimately indefinable themes such as the nature of God, the search for meaning, forgiveness, and death. With commendable humility, McQuiston's own thoughts are limited to a short but illuminating introduction at the beginning of each chapter.

The author's erudition is readily apparent in the breadth of the sources represented, which range from the Bible, to the Bhagavad Gita, to the Tao Te Ching. They include the reflections of scientists, poets, mystics, and philosophers including T.S. Elliot, Shakespeare, Meister Eckhart, Annie Dillard, and the Dalai Lama. One recurring source is the 1662 version of the Anglican "Book of Common Prayer." (McQuiston, an attorney, explains that this edition was selected because it is no longer protected by copyright law.) This wide-ranging cross-cultural approach eloquently reminds us of the truth of John Donne's observation that "God employs many translators," and that attempts to express the inexpressible are universal and not limited to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

"Knowing Without Words" is a beautifully crafted book, appropriately spare and austere in its design. One of McQuiston's achievements is the imaginative pairing of contrasting and complementary reflections from disparate sources arranged on facing pages. The layout makes use of generous amounts of empty "white space" which encourages the reader to pause between successive images and suggests that a higher reality lies beyond the words. This is important; one needs to pause in the face of a startling observation such as Paul Tillich's that "God does not exist. He is being itself, beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him."

Unlike so many popular works on "spirituality," McQuiston's book offers no easy shortcuts to enlightenment. It is unlikely to appeal to the reader who finds comfort in a formulaic approach to religion or the conviction that truth is the exclusive province of a single tradition. But for the individual who can accept the ambiguity of metaphor, who values the full breadth of human experience, and who takes seriously the search for meaning in life, "Knowing Without Words" is a work to be treasured. Its rediscovery of the spirit that lies behind traditional religious images and its unexpected juxtaposition of familiar and unfamiliar sources make for lively reading and sustained reflection. McQuiston himself sums up this search for better metaphors for the sacred. "If we no longer think of God as `out there' or `up there,' we may look `within us' or `between us.'"


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