Doing some early-1991 reminiscing the other day, I thought about the best books I have read in the last year. Though there have been an abundance of good books, a handful come most quickly to mind. A couple I have mentioned briefly before; others I have not. If you haven't already, try to catch a couple soon.
A New Vision
Early in the year I had the opportunity to read the page proofs of a New Society Publishers book, Ambassador of Reconciliation: A Muriel Lester Reader ($14.95, paper). Edited by Richard Deats, director of interfaith activities at the Fellowship of Reconciliation, this is a marvelous first-person account of a very interesting life.
Muriel Lester was an activist whose rebelliousness was based in the principled religious beliefs of faith, prayer, and nonviolence, and so unleashed the transforming energy of a prophet upon early 20th-century Britain. Her resilience against cynicism and despair challenged the power of the principalities of her age. Deats' choice of source material demonstrates Lester's celebration of the human spirit and captures the vision for reconciliation promoted by this unique and wonderful woman.
The "Dorothy Day of Britain" moniker reflects the caliber of this woman who easily could have chosen the creature comforts of her familial home over the less stable environs of antiwar activist and local charity provider. She chose to dwell with people of a different background, who had no choice where to live. Boundaries or differences never inhibited Lester; in fact they only compelled her to deeper relationship. Compassion was a driving force, undergirding her analysis as well as her activism.
Deats wisely allows Lester to speak for herself while providing at the beginning of each chapter some background information for context setting. This format certainly captures the vision of this unique woman.