Thursday, May 5, 2016

Elijah rides again

Once again Elijah and the Ravens of Carith has risen to the top of my book sales. Since it was published in 2009, it has been at the top except for a short period following the release of each new title. A new book will be at the top of the list for a brief -- all too brief! -- period, and then Elijah and the birds take flight again. It is the one book that often gets ordered in multiples, indicating that (Catholic?) bookstores are stocking it.

The book is a collection of reflections, mostly from my time with the Carmelites, although put together five years after I left the monastery. Elijah is an important model for the Carmelite Order. For centuries following their actual founding in the Middle Ages, they claimed that the prophet had been their true founder and that the community, in some form, pre-dated Christianity by almost a millennium. (Some of the then-Jewish Carmelites were in the crowd at Pentecost, heard Peter preach and were among the 3,000 baptized that day.) Nice story, not so historically accurate. I remember running across a book published in the early 20th century that still affirmed it. And in the 1970s I met a fairly young friar from another country who was amazed to learn that it wasn't the case. It didn't shake his faith but it did surprise him. It was what he had been taught when he entered the order in the 1950s.

If you will permit me the vanity of quoting the lone review from Amazon:  
The title of this book would lead a reader to expect a dry-as-dust commentary on the life of an old testament prophet. It is exactly the opposite in the sense that it is a very contemporary, easily readable and completely entertaining look at the modern-day life lessons that can be drawn from the biblical account of the life of Elijah. The author draws a great deal from personal experiences to make the lessons he's trying to get across both palatable and humorous. The highest praise I can give it is that it's a very good read.
Full disclosure: That was written by a (non-Carmelite) friend, but not one I would have expected to like the book much. Check out that first sentence. Dry-as-dust title! Ouch. My marketing department will hear about this. If you are familiar with the story from 1 Kings 17, you will appreciate Tom's cover. He did a fine job combining traditional Eastern Orthodox iconography of the prophet with a Western raven intruding into the scene.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this book and also got a lot out of it.