Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Book Review Being Bread

If you are looking for some inspirational reading this spring then you need to read Being Bread by Stephen Muse. Muse is an ordained deacon in the Orthodox Church and is also a licensed pastoral counselor and directs the Pastoral Counselor Training Program and Clinical Services for the D.A and Elizabeth Turner Ministry Resource Center of the Pastoral Institute, Inc. in Columbus, Georgia. Stephen is also the author of numerous books and articles on mental well being and clergy self-care and is a a lecturer and teacher. Needless to say Stephen's own spiritual journey which is fraught with pain and suffering, combined with his many years as a mental health counselor has provided him the background to write this book.

Being Bread is a collection of articles which Stephen wrote for his local newspaper in Columbus as well as articles and talks that he has given in previous venues. Since this book is not a full narrative you can pick it up and at any point find some gems worth reading. The chapter titles alone should tell you something about the book:

Shark Tooth Grace

Pascha in July

Birds on a Wire

Rose of Sharing

Gurus, Stars, and Superheroes

I had the chance to meet Stephen only briefly on two occasions but his warmth, sense of humor, and most importantly, his humanity shines through this book. The theme that connects the chapters is the theme of bread. In the Divine Liturgy we are given the broken bread of Christ and we are given it so that we can become bread for others or as St. John Chrysostom said that we are to live the liturgy after the Liturgy. At the end of the Liturgy we are sent out to do the work of Christ, to be His hands and feet and to share our bread which we have been given with the rest of the world. Our bread multiplies too, while reading the various chapters I kept thinking of Jesus' miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. This miracle is found in all four gospels and in Matthew's version there are 12 baskets of leftovers, not only did Jesus feed the 5,000 but there was an abundance of bread for later. Jesus gives us so much and yet there is still more!

Being Bread is a quick read, mostly because Stephen is a good writer. Each story flows nicely and is appropriate for the subject matter. One could easily read two or three stories at a time and put the book down for later. The stories end with some questions for reflection which can be used for a small group discussion or for some quality spiritual journaling time. I plan on going back and using the questions for my own journaling time, thinking and ruminating over how I can become bread for others and to be grateful for the bread that I have been given.

Reading this book has reminded me that God is so generous with us that he gives us much more than we need, He gives it so that we can share our abundance with others and even have some leftovers for later.

For more information about Being Bread click here 

To read an interview with Stephen Muse on the Eastern Christian Book Blog click here