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08 / autumn : letting go


In the seven ways that we approach practices for cultivating, Reading is listed first because it is the primary way for most of us to feed our capacity to think, to reason, to know, to discern, and even to remember. We do not only read words, though words are essential. We also read between the lines. We read times, faces, seasons, hearts, meaning, and spaces. We read. Reading is the process of synthesizing meaning out of forms into coherent understanding and thought.

Reading is the wellspring of learning, expanding our worldview, and affirming all the truth revealed to us. It gives us direct interaction with The Word and with all the other little words that spring from Him. Cultivators tend to be readers, even those of us who serve principally in visual or musical arts. Certain lines of thought, certain ways of remembering, become a kind of DNA that is passed on from one person to another to another, from one age to the next. Reading is a map, a portal, a passport, and a marker that allow to carry forward key ideas and concepts and share them anew with each other. It is the venue of language that reaches across time to one another and binds us together.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” ~ John 1.1-5


What is

“But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”

~ C.S. Lewis, Experiment in Criticism 

“That anyone at all in the world would set their sad heart and tired hands to working beauty out of chaos is a monument to Grace. It reminds us of light and high beauty, and it laments the world’s great sorrow. It gives the heart language to rejoice and language to mourn.”

Andrew Peterson 

autumn READING


Literary Life is an uncommon feast for literature lovers. It is the single richest resource we know online for a daily, steady diet of pure, true, soul food from the best of literature coupled with stunning photography. Deeply steeped in the Word, Lit Life presents thoughtful, short selections for their readers to consider, and incorporates salient introductions to each author, with commentary and options for digging deeper. The book studies are a treasure. Do not miss it! 

literary life

After Prayer

adorning the dark

Beholding and Becoming

the prayers of
jane austen

Praying with Jane Austen

the common rule

In ever marvelous Lit Life, this October, Rachel Dodge will be guiding the discussion of her book, Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen, a devotional book based on the three prayers Jane Austen wrote during her lifetime for the purpose of corporate family prayer. In this discussion Lit Life readers explore the faith and religious life of one of the world’s most famous female authors, and also discuss the impact her faith had on her writing.

praying with jane

From Amazon: "In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary ― widely used in schools around the world ― was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions ― the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual ― became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.

Ten years later, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that will conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature. The Lost Words is that book ― a work that has already cast its extraordinary spell on hundreds of thousands of people and begun a grass-roots movement to re-wild childhood across Britain, Europe, and North America."

Lancia: "This is an exquisite book and truly not to be missed. The enchantment of reading these words afresh with your favourite young readers, turning pages and exploring the illustrations, will richly repay the effort and expense to acquire the book. This is a beautiful and valiant defiance against losing words that shape our view of the vast and nuanced natural world gifted to us. Highly recommended!" 

lost words

October 15 is the official release date for a new collection of Lewis' thoughts on the essentials of a reading life. Pre-Orders are available now. Zach Kincaid, of Harper Collins writes, "Lewis has a good deal to say about reading. We might think he provides advice on reading high-minded books, ones that perhaps Oxford dons leisurely read and the rest of the population labor to enjoy, let alone comprehend. It isn’t true.

While Lewis was a ferocious reader ever since his early school days, though his references accompanied an intimacy with Greek and Latin, and despite his professional life being steeped in medieval literature, we don’t see his call to the everyday reader to be altogether heady in reading choices. He even posts a warning through the demon’s mouth in The Screwtape Letters: “You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the ‘best’ people, the ‘right’ food, the ‘important’ books.”

The Reading Life

The Reading Life

For further reading enjoy these essays:

Seeing With Other Eyes




PLACEMAKER – Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace

Christie Purifoy drew her readers into a sanctuary for the soul in her debut book Roots and Sky, a memoir about her search for home and reaching it in Maplehurst - an old farmhouse in Pennsylvania. In Placemaker, Christie’s newest release, she builds a deeper foundation on the story of Maplehurst for creating places of incarnational beauty and peace. Placemaker acts as a lens or prism for every reader to find the truth about their own places to tend on their way home.

Christie’s voice is like no other voice in literature – beauty seems to roll off every word and invite us to consider a whole new way of seeing our lives and purpose. My own copy of Placemaker is already dog-eared, underlined, and noted in the margins. It is a book I will go back to many times. It is available today for pre-order and will prove to be one of this year’s best books. Give yourself a gift of quiet and get yourself a copy. (Lancia E. Smith)

Malcolm Guite, Chaplain at Girton College continues to enchant and illuminate his readers with this delicious column that runs each week on the back page of the Church Times. Delightful, thoughtful, and insightful – each week the reader is offered a glimpse in to life in various corners of England, as well as Malcolm’s own wealth of observations about modern life intertwined with our literary foundations. As a renowned poet, each week’s post is dipped in a perfect dose of poetry letting the reader come away with something as beautiful as it is anchoring. Many of these exquisite little essays have curated into a lovely collection published by Canterbury Press under the title In Every Corner Sing.

Literary Life is an uncommon feast for literature lovers. It is the single richest resource we know online for a daily, steady diet of pure, true, soul food from the best of literature coupled with stunning photography. Deeply steeped in the Word, Lit Life presents thoughtful, short selections for their readers to consider, and incorporates salient introductions to each author, with commentary and options for digging deeper. The book studies are a treasure. Do not miss it! 


It was my great privilege to be interviewed by Christianity Today to discuss their remarkable work in Beautiful Orthodoxy, Christ-Centered journalism, and how those two intertwine with the work we are doing with Cultivating. Christianity Today has been my hero in publishing for as long as I have been a Christian and it is an honour to help let others know about their magnificent work. 


Sky Meadow

The Shepherd’s Life 

The Shepherd’s View

Canadian musician Steve Bell sits down with Convivium's Hannah Marazzi to talk about his sources of inspiration and the geography found beyond physical parameters. 

The Prairies and a Theology of Brokenness

the true, the good, and the beautiful

Among educated people (especially in France and Britain and Germany, too) there was an attempt to find a rival source of meaning to the religious—to find that rival source of meaning in art because for various reasons, art struck people as having a different status from science. Science was a threat to religion. That’s true, because it was undermining the old explanation of things in which God took such an important place. But art seemed to represent a different way of looking at the world from science, one which preserved the mystery of things and didn’t undo the mystery. Since the mystery was so important, why not look to art as a source of meaning?

Eminent Scholar of aesthetics Roger Scruton raises important questions about the individual’s relationship with morality and the arts.

Adorning the Dark