Among those who write in the area of spirituality today, who’s being read? Here’s my list of spiritual writers who are highly influential today in the English-speaking world:
· Henri Nouwen- Dutch/American, Roman Catholic, priest. Perhaps the most widely-read and most-influential among all contemporary authors in spirituality.
· Thomas Merton – Roman Catholic, monk, one of the most influential spiritual writers in the past 100 years.
· C.S. Lewis – British, layman, Anglican. Well-known across both religious and secular circles. Brought a literary genius to his articulation of the Christian faith.
· Jim Wallis – American, Evangelical, layman, popular-evangelist, social activist, social organizer. The closest our age has to a “Dorothy Day”. Widely read and respected across all denominational lines.
· Thomas Halik – Roman Catholic, priest, Czechoslovakian, recent winner of the prestigious Templeton award.
· Parker Palmer – Quaker, layman, American, much-respected across all denominational lines. Has written brilliantly on the spirituality of education and on achieving a Christian balance in life.
· Alan Jones – Episcopalian, priest, American. Wisdom drawn from the deep wells of Christian tradition. Practical spirituality with depth.
· Carlo Carretto – Roman Catholic, hermit/monk, Italian. Carretto spend many years living as a hermit in the Sahara desert and writes out of that experience.
· Ruth Burrows – British, Carmelite, nun. Deep insights into mysticism, faith, and contemplative prayer. Eminent common sense, blended with a deep knowledge of the mystical tradition.
· Richard Rohr – American, Franciscan, priest, popular evangelist. Numerous books on prayer, masculine spirituality, addictions, overcoming dualism, overcoming sectarianism, finding balance in your life, scriptural commentary.
· Wendy Wright – American, lay woman, Roman Catholic. A specialist regarding Francis de Sales and Jane Chantel, but with wider writings, especially about the place of devotions within our spiritual lives.
· Peter Tyler – British, Roman Catholic, layman. A specialist in Carmelite spirituality. An emerging young voice.
· Thomas Keating – American, Roman Catholic, monk. The widely-accepted “canon” on contemplative prayer.
· John Main – British/Canadian, monk, a popular, trustworthy guide on Contemplative prayer.
· Laurence Freeman – British, monk, another trustworthy guide on Contemplative prayer
· Kathleen Norris – American, Presbyterian, lay, Oblate of St. Benedict. Deeply immersed in the tradition of the Desert Fathers and equally attuned to our spiritual struggles within contemporary culture.
· Trevor Herriot – Canadian, layman, Roman Catholic. A powerful apologia for protecting nature, but his more explicit spiritual writing are highly reflective essays apposite the place and role of our sexual energies in either protecting or despoiling nature.
· Barbara Brown Taylor – American, Episcopalian, priest, popular-evangelist. Strong literary writer with an audience within secular circles. A unique blend of insight, scripture, tradition, and balance. Always a worthwhile read.
· David Steindl-Rast – American, Roman Catholic, monk, had the distinction of being Henri Nouwen’s spiritual director. Writes with depth, drawing many of his insights from the richness of monasticism.
· Anthony de Mello – Indian, Roman Catholic, Jesuit. Brings the insights of Buddhism and Eastern spiritualities into his articulation of Christian spirituality.
· James Martin – American, Roman Catholic, Jesuit. A key, young voice within spirituality today. Widely popular, and deservedly so.
· Anne Lamott – American, Episcopalian, lay woman. A unique blend of insight, Christian commitment, and blistering iconoclasm.
· Marilynne Robinson – American, novelist, Congregationalist. Not a spirituality writer per se, but an exceptional novelist whose characters express her spirituality. An exceptionally bright apologetic voice.
· Simone Weil – French, Jewish, lay woman. Her writings manifest a spiritual sensitivity and depth that includes her in most discussions about contemporary spirituality.
· Etty Hillesum – Dutch, Jewish, lay woman. Her writings exhibit an extraordinary insight into spirituality. And she backed them up with martyrdom.
· Scott Hahn – American, Roman Catholic, layman. Very popular, catechetical and instructional.
· Rabbi Abraham Heschel – American, Jewish, Rabbi. Exceptional spiritual commentaries on the Jewish scriptures. Widely read and respected.
· Rob Bell – American, Evangelical, popular-evangelist. A brilliant young voice. Good balance, good insights, and an exceptional capacity to speak to a contemporary audience.
· Rick Warren – American, Evangelist. Stunningly popular across denominational lines. His book, The Purpose-Driven Life, has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, and is worth the read.
· John Allen – American, Roman Catholic, layman, journalist. Most everyone’s ear-to-the ground vis-à-vis what’s happening ecclesially around the world.
· Joyce Rupp – American, Roman Catholic, nun. Good, insightful, particularly popular with women.
· Michael Higgins – Canadian, layman, Roman Catholic. Does a lot of highly insightful journalistic commentary on contemporary spirituality. The official biographer of Nouwen.
· Joan Chittister – American, Roman Catholic, nun. Powerful social justice and feminist voice. Knows the tradition of monasticism very well and draws key insights out of its deep wells.
· Paula D’Arcy – American, Roman Catholic, lay woman. Inspires a near-cult following among devotees particularly apposite her spirituality of healing.
· Annie Dillard – American, Roman Catholic (convert), lay. Her writings invariably articulate an aesthetic and moral insight that is a natural friend of religion.
· Elizabeth Johnson – American, Roman Catholic, nun. An exceptional mentor for those who searching for a better intellectual apologia for their faith.
· Bill Plotkin – American, “Naturalist”, layman. Challenging writings vis-à-vis the place of nature in shaping our souls.
· Belden Lane – American, Layman, “Naturalist”, akin to Plotkin.
My apologies to those whom I didn’t name, particularly those young, emerging voices such as Kerry Weber, David Wells, and Bill McGarvey, among others. Who should be more widely read.