To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf

April 16, 2014

“If you had to choose one book to help a person embarking on pastoral ministry, what would it be?” We posed that question to some pastors and professors. Here are their choices. —Ed.

Woolf’s novel meticulously details the hidden dimensions of human life to which ministers should be attentive: the unknowable more that each person contains; the distances across which we try to connect; the ordinary illuminations our lives offer, “matches struck in the dark.”

Woolf’s novel also mourns warmaking as the extinguishing of light and creativity and offers a vision of the artist—a vision I want to claim for the minister as well—as a lover whose work it is to create from disparate fragments new wholes “over which thought lingers, and love plays.” Woolf sharpens our attention to the world around us and makes us want to live differently—like the best ministers do.

Read all reflections.