God Seekers: Twenty Centuries of Christian Spiritualities

God Seekers: Twenty Centuries of Christian Spiritualities

God Seekers: Twenty Centuries of Christian Spiritualities

God Seekers: Twenty Centuries of Christian Spiritualities


Foreword by Phyllis Tickle

A fresh, readable introduction to Christian spirituality, God Seekers brings to life thirty-three spiritual masters from throughout Christian history. Through capsule biographies, selected quotations, and questions for reflection, Richard Schmidt presents and explores diverse ways of relating to God. Each chapter personalizes a major stream or movement of Christian spirituality by focusing on a particular key figure.

"While God Seekers may be read with delight or for information... it is impossible to engage it for long without being seized as well by the grandeur of the panorama it lays out before us. Here, in living people, in living saints, is the history of the church, the body of Christ as we and our kind have shaped it and are shaping it."
-- Phyllis Tickle (from the foreword)


Hagiography. It is a commanding word that, with all its circular and draping letters, sits handsomely on the page, just as, when spoken, it usually stops a moment to linger on the tongue. I was half-grown before I ever saw it in print, and an undergraduate before I ever heard it used with ease. Primarily, I suspect this deficiency resulted from the fact that I was raised in a very Presbyterian household by very devout parents. in the 1930s, Protestants of any stripe did not have saints. That is to say, if hagiography is a substantial and memorable word, what it names is even more so. Meaning “holy writing” literally, it refers to all writing about the holy. Over the centuries, though, it has come to refer almost exclusively to writing about human beings whose lives seem to the rest of us to have been holy and therefore worthy of our study.

It was the “worthy of study” part that Protestants like my parents were leery of, and for good reason. in the early days of Christianity, when hagiography as a genre of Christian literature was almost as new as the faith itself was, the stories were principally about martyrs; the tales those first stories told were written in order that converts and believers might find the courage likewise to suffer and die. However, over the centuries, after Rome’s fall and during Europe’s Dark Ages, the stories, like the culture around them, became more and more magical. Miracles, some of them too fantastical to be credible at any time, became the principal stuff of hagiographic literature; and the people who performed them were added to the ranks of the church’s saints.

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