cover image Another World: A Retreat in the Ozarks

Another World: A Retreat in the Ozarks

William Claassen, . . Sheed & Ward, $17.95 (195pp) ISBN 978-1-58051-222-0

After his first stay at a monastery 25 years ago, writer and social activist Claassen knew monastic retreats were destined to become a significant part of his life. Having found a community that understood his hunger for silence and solitude, he went on to repeat the experience many times at monasteries in North and South America. This book, an account of one such retreat at Assumption Abbey in Missouri, brings together Claassen's many and diverse experiences both inside and outside various monastery walls. In the context of his own retreat, the author skillfully mingles details from his life with those of the monks and monastery visitors he meets during his stay, adding flashbacks to his past and sketches of his dreams. In so doing, he shows how “The retreats are not an escape, but rather an opportunity to come face to face with my shadows and with my light.” Claassen, who was raised as a Protestant, confirmed as a Catholic and now attends Quaker meetings, writes appreciatively of the welcome he has always received at the various monasteries he has visited. Such communities, he says, are inclusive and nonjudgmental, rejecting the “conquer and convert” approach to religion. Claassen's blended religious background and perspective make this an inviting book for readers of any or no faith, and his photographs provide added visual interest. (Nov.)