New Owen-Towle book on Christmas

Longtime UU minister the Rev. Dr. Tom Owen-Towle, has written a book, Unwrapping the Inner Gifts of Christmas, to help Unitarian Universalists navigate the celebration of the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Owen-Towle writes, “Peddling Christmas as merely a holly, jolly affair diminishes the fullness of our humanity as well as the scope of the original gospel narratives. Here’s the key: When we bravely face, then embrace, the entire gamut of human emotions and experiences during December, we’re spiritually prepared to do so the rest of the year. We become whole persons whenever we willingly confront the whole of life.”

He acknowledges that emotions during the holiday period run the gamut from sadness to joy. The book has twenty chapters devoted to different perspectives about the holidays. It is $15 from the UUA Bookstore.

New books from Janamanchi, Tyger, and Owen-Towle

Three new books with meditative and inspirational qualities are available at the UUA Bookstore.

Falling into the Sky ($8) is the 2013 UUA meditation manual, edited by the Rev. Abhi Janamanchi and his son Abhimanyu Janamanchi, a leader in Unitarian Universalist youth and adult leadership circles. Falling into the Sky compiles forty writings from UU ministers, leaders, and lay people. These meditations evoke “vivid vistas of imagination and reflection,” according to promotional materials for the book.

Also newly available is War Zone Faith: An Army Chaplain’s Reflections from Afghanistan ($8) by Army Chaplain Capt. George Tyger, a UU minister, who served in parish ministry before entering the Army Chaplain Corps. Here’s the marketing copy: As an Army chaplain deployed to Afghanistan, George Tyger has seen and experienced things that many of us cannot fathom: naked children throwing rocks at him in the street, a playground in the middle of a Taliban graveyard, and incredible violence, anger, loneliness, and fear. Determined to find meaning in the midst of it all, Tyger reflects on his faith, his prejudices, and his privilege, and shares the unique perspective he has gained while serving and ministering in a war zone.

Both of these books are published by Skinner House.

The Rev. Tom Owen-Towle has self-published a new book, Wake Up! Daily Lessons for a More Liberated and Living Life ($18). The book is aimed at individuals and families. It could also be useful for spiritual-practice groups, for covenant and meditation groups, and for worship readings.

Writes Owen-Towle: “We will probably choose, on any given day, to accomplish at least one thing we truly enjoy. We always find time for the ‘must’ jobs too. We may even set aside moments for accomplishing a radically new or different task. However, most of us will do everything imaginable to circumvent quietude. We’re too busy filling up when we need to empty out. We need moments of plain, unadorned, unremitting stillness.”

Theology Ablaze latest from Owen-Towle

Theology Ablaze, the latest book from the Rev. Tom Owen-Towle, is a summation of his reflections on Unitarian Universalist theology. Owen-Towle has been a parish minister for 44 years, including 24 years as cominister of First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, Calif.

In Theology Ablaze, Owen-Towle explores 29 core theological themes, from gratitude to interdependence, to silence and evolution. Each chapter ends with a series of questions for reflection and discussion.  The book was written as part of the commemoration this year of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

“The premise of the book is simple,” Owen-Towle wrote recently on his blog, “Unitarian Universalist theology has caught fire in the past 50 years. In the decades since merger, Unitarian Universalism has been maturing spiritually. We’ve been growing in theological literacy, dialogue, and depth. We acknowledge that everyone in our fold is a bona fide theologian.”

He envisions Theology Ablaze being employed at weekend retreats, for religious education training workshops or series, small group ministry, leadership development seminars and governing board goal-setting sessions. He also recommends it for a newcomers’ mini-series and a UU orientation. Social Action committees may find it useful as theological grounding for witness and action in the world. Theology Ablaze is available for $20 from the UUA Bookstore.