December 25, 2006

Persons looking for daily readings for reflection and meditation for the new year might find something among these worthy candidates:

Each day there is an assigned text from the Psalms, for which a page of comment is offered. Johnson doesn’t shrink from some of the difficulties inherent in these texts, such as those found in the imprecatory psalms. He provides something of a middle ground between a scholarly and a devotional approach to the texts, and adds a short introduction to the Psalms at the back.

Peterson assumes that it is from Jesus that we learn to pray. He selects brief passages from two Gospels—Matthew and John—on which he provides very brief comments that lend themselves to meditative reading.

Unlike the previous selections, this is not a daily book of readings for the whole year. Rather, it is a prayer book, drawing on the writings of Thomas Merton, with prayers for each day of the week for four times of the day—dawn, day, dusk and dark.

Coleman Barks has helped to popularize the work of the Sufi mystic Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet. Barks sets Rumi’s work in context and offers some thoughts about poetry that deals with the mysterious.