Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God Through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints

Christiana N. Peterson. Herald, $16.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-5138-0164-3
Peterson, contributor to Good Letters and Christianity Today, cannily crafts a lively memoir mixed with short biographies of appealing religious outcasts. She begins with St. Francis, her guiding saint, whom Peterson became interested in after receiving a statue of him at the same time that her daughter was learning about saints in kindergarten. , Peterson began researching other saintly figures, such as Clare of Assisi, Francis’s beloved cohort; Margery Kempe, a 15th-century English mystic; Dorothy Day, an American social activist and Catholic convert; and Simone Weil, a French political activist and poet. Finding herself attracted to mystics who were “less apt [than theologians] to be seduced by worldly things,” Peterson looks to these figures for guidance during difficult times. The bulk of her personal story explores her introduction to the Mennonite community of Plow Creek Farm in Illinois, where she moved from Washington, D.C., with her husband and six-month-old daughter so she can “have the life of St. Francis—bucolic and good.” While living there she learned to live a “simple life” of raising her own food and mending her own clothes. The couple had three other children at Plow Creek before eventually leaving after some discomfiting experiences hosting new guests. Toggling between her struggles adjusting to rural life and her brief but informative biographies of mystics, Peterson’s oddly organized book is carried by her zest for new experiences and passion for St. Francis. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-5138-0165-0
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