2023 Catholic Media Association Honorable Mention, Faithful Citizenship/Religious Freedom
Has the contemporary American polity remained capable of asking itself questions about its purpose and integrity? We recall our optimistic beginnings, sure of God’s blessing, yet something has gone wrong. We are at odds with each other and even our friends. What brought us to this moment, and is there anything “we the people” can do?
In Claiming Your Voice, Vest examines four contemporary deforming patterns: market culture, American empire, climate crisis, and racism. In consideration of the Christian foundations in prophetic imagination and Benedictine spirituality, she illustrates that Americans are called to provide energy for hope, to cut through public numbness, and to penetrate the deceptions of imperial consciousness so that God and the sacred again become visible and empowering for all our people.
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Dr. Norvene Vest’s radical call for reform in Claiming Your Voice: Speaking Truth to Power names many complex levels of our culture, but perhaps is most urgent in the political landscape. Her expose will not settle for simply patching once again a sinking ship with the band aids of greedy, self-serving and economic bromides. She insists we entertain 'a prophetic imagination' to move us into a political theology of caring and serving the larger community—so to heal de-formations through compassionate re-formations. Anything less imprisons us in the same bloated, exhausted 'empire'; instead of continuing 'following the profits,' we must choose instead following the prophets.
In an age when some lament the absence of public theology, Norvene Vest's Claiming Your Voice is a welcome and timely articulation of an important role for religion and spirituality in social discourse. Readers will find its combination of the Hebrew prophetic tradition and the Benedictine wisdom tradition refreshing and thought-provoking.
Vest challenges us to put on our mature Christian 'pants' in order to face into the hard truths of our times. By speaking the truth in love, she invites us to center ourselves in the Holy Spirit while moving to bring about the change our communities and the world yearns for. The community renewal she urges will require deep listening, faithful prayer, acceptance of our human limits and courageous hope. This is a brave voice speaking to those who wish to be courageous Christians in the work of transformation.
Claiming Your Voice is an urgent appeal to heed for our times. Rooted in timeless Benedictine wisdom and the Old Testament prophetic tradition, Norvene Vest exposes us to the sobering realities we all confront in our world today and issues a challenge for us to elevate such witness into active public engagement that allows the 'sacred' to permeate our common life. A hugely provocative yet hopeful read!
With her Benedictine worldview in hand, Vest implores readers to pray: 'May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.' Readers beware.
Readers will be attracted by the call to bring a prophetic word and the riches of the Benedictine tradition to the task of restoring humane ideals to our culture in concrete ways not yet envisioned.
The breadth of this book is stunning. Norvene Vest's book is a plea to move past the denial and paralysis that scar the soul. She writes a theological response to the sufferings and challenges we face today. And she speaks to the urgency of the challenges we face, especially with the climate crisis. We should all be grateful for her important work.
Norvene Vest, PhD, is an Episcopal laywoman, Benedictine oblate, and respected teacher and guide. She has graduate degrees in political theory, theology, mythology, and depth psychology. Her earliest ministry was as a public servant, which gradually shifted to spiritual direction and adult faith formation. Among her published writings, Dr. Vest is the author of six books on Benedictine spirituality for the common life. Her passion is the relationship with the holy Mystery, through traditional practices (especially Benedictine spirituality) in dialogue with contemporary theology. Learn more at composury.com.