Contemporary Christianity is afflicted with two problems: First, our spiritual life is often bland and lukewarm. Distracted and fragmented by our lives, and malnourished on conventional piety, we feel out of touch with the God described in the Bible as a "consuming fire." Second, we don't know how to make sense of suffering, especially the pain of spiritual darkness and aridity. The answer to both of these problems is passion.
In God in the Dark, Susan Pitchford explores the two faces of passion: desire, the mutual attraction between the soul and God; and suffering, especially our confusion and grief when we find ourselves in dark places. We often misinterpret times of darkness, assuming we've failed and God has abandoned us. Pitchford suggests that darkness is not a place of abandonment but a place of intimacy and a special call to a deeper relationship with the God who desires us. Once we understand this, we will not have to fear the dark, and when the night closes in around us, we can experience it as an embrace.
Susan Pitchford is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Washington and a professed member of the Third Order, Society of St. Francis. She is the author of Following Francis: The Franciscan Way for Everyone and Identity Tourism: Imaging and Imagining the Nation. Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, Bob Crutchfield, and her golden retriever, Abby.
This remarkable book is a passionate call for the recovery of the Catholic tradition of passionate spiritual search. With her intensely personal and unflinchingly honest writing, the author encourages the seeker on a journey through suffering and joy, darkness and loneliness, towards enlightenment and union. Her special friends and guides on the difficult yet wonderful journey are the Beguine mystics of the fourteenth century, and other eccentric and (as she says) 'weird' friends, ancient and contemporary. This is a book for now: the author refuses to stick with no longer relevant spiritual metaphors or to accept once revered spiritual practices just because they are old. There is a freshness here, and a delightfully frank humor, but most of all a passionate love.
Rosemary Luling Haughton, PhD (honorary), theologian, author of The Passionate God, The Catholic Thing, Gifts in the Ruins
Tapping into a broad spectrum of Christianity's ancient mystical heritage, Susan Pitchford uses an accessible style and wry humor to offer readers a fresh awareness and appreciation of Christian mysticism and how it still thrives in the midst of today's fast-paced, hard-edged world.
Susan R. Pitchford has penned (or at least word processed!) a new book with a master's touch in God in the Dark. Coming from a Franciscan orientation she has tapped into a broad spectrum of the ancient mystical heritage of Christianity in a way that speaks to the average person in a fast paced, modern world. Readers will find it a fine addition to their modern mystical books, or a great introduction to the mystical tradition for new seekers and first time readers.
John Michael Talbot
Founder, and Spiritual Father
The Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage
In an accessible style, laced with rich metaphors, wry humor, and down-to-earth explanations, Susan Pitchford guides the reader to a fresh knowledge and appreciation of the Christian mystical journey. Since mysticism is about relationships, it inevitably involves passion (the enemy of boredom and apathy), whose two faces are desire (God desires us infinitely more than we desire God), and suffering (life's pain can be understood in positive, life-giving ways). . . . This book is an antidote to contemporary cynicism and indifference, a goad to those who desire to infuse their spirituality with new life and vigor.
Elizabeth Dreyer, Department of Religious Studies, Fairfield University, Connecticut
Many Christians play it safe by practicing a tepid, no-risk spirituality in which we domesticate the roaring Lion of Judah into a nice, safe pussycat. Susan Pitchford's beautifully written book reminds us that an authentic relationship with God, others, and self depends on an embrace of whole-bodied desire on the one hand and the possibility of suffering on the other. This is a book that liberates us to let God be both the passionate Lover and the Roaring Lion God is.
Author of The Art of Dying and Living