Reviews - What do customers think about Francis of Assisi: A Revolutionary Life?
Francis' challenging example shines Oct 12, 2008
Writing a biography of a renowned and revered religious figure is a daunting task, since both skeptics and true believers are likely to take offence at some point. While I have my own reservations about some of the author's choices, for the most part the book does a good job of relating the impact that Francis' life had on his community, his church, his generation and history since.
His radical ideas were in opposition to the example set by the church of his day, yet he was entirely submissive to it. He was extraordinarily gifted and endowed in many ways spiritually, but these same gifts could make him an ineffective administrator. Bringing out these and other contrasts is an effective way to explain both his inspirational and human elements. I appreciate the author's discussion of some of the miraculous events attributed to him without being either dismissive or unquestioning. These make the book an excellent example of historical writing.
My only complaint is that I found the author's occasional comparisons to other religions to be more distracting than helpful. However he may be viewed today, Francis did not live his life as an ecumenical figure. He was wholeheartedly, entirely and unreservedly a servant of Christ. To stray too far from this takes away from a true understanding of his life and rather embellishes than enriches the narrative.
I was not impressed Jan 6, 2006
I bought this book because I thought it would give me a more indepth look into this remarkable man's life. Instead, I found myself severly dissapointed. The book does give a good overview of the world around St. Assisi, but really didn't give me any new insight into the facts surrounding the man. Not only that, the author seems to be delving into an almost Jungian religious view. I would not have minded a Catholic view (because St. Assisi was obviously Catholic)or a secular view, but I found the author's choice of religious viewpoint to be completely without rational or support.
Francis was the "Real Deal." Jan 2, 2006
I checked out this book at the library a couple of years ago and was so impressed by it that I had to have a copy of it in order to reread it at my leisure. That's saying something, my friend.
This biography is written for the non-religious and the pious alike. The author approaches Francis' life as he would anyone else's. This is refreshing to me because, especially if it is a religious figure, I want to see the subject of a biography in all his foibles. Why? Probably because I have many foibles also and I can relate to and consequently be more inspired by a real human being who, in spite of his or her foibles, was able to transcend them to do great things.
The author does a fine job of putting the reader inside the time, place and family in which Francis grew. Though he doesn't go into as great a depth about it as I'm sure other biographies do, Francis spiritual growth is well-written. His prayer life must have been genuinely awesome. The author at one point cites a person who peeked in on one of Francis' hidden prayer session and was in awe of it all, stigmata and all.
I think Francis has so much to say to us today. I really believe that any Christian who does study his life is the spiritually richer for it--and that probably goes double for any unbeliever as well.
Adds more context than insight to Francis' spirit Oct 24, 2004
The strongest parts of this biography are in House's relation of the changing feudal world around Assisi and Perugia to the papal-German battles in Italy and the rise of the mercantile class into which Francis was born. Also, the chapter that looks into the early spirituality of the first friars adds valuable understanding to what must have inspired many to take up the evangelical and mendicant challenge.
The excursion into the Middle East, especially the siege of Damietta, remains helpful for an appreciation of the never-ending cruelty of warfare in this contentious region, but you do lose sight as a reader of the place of this episode within the immediate experience of Francis' diplomatic apostolate. In later stretches of the narrative, the debate over poverty receives important attention, but the machinations of the friars replacing the discipline of the Order's founder with a more pragmatic system needed further explanation, as did the claim by House that the refusal of the Third Order to bear arms for a lord undermined the whole feudal structure and helped advance the power of the middle class. Certainly, the latter theory deserves much more depth than House gives to it here.
The few photos are excellent. One in particular, near to the life of the saint, shows his face hallowed out like an El Greco figure, if not as elongated, seemingly hunched over and suffering with an individuated expression as if drawn by one who knew him. It speaks eloquently for a man who, while praising nature, punished his Brother Ass of a body into an early death. Such a contradiction, House only can hint at, stands as his legacy.
This One Compelled Me to Buy It...'Nuff Said Mar 13, 2004
Usually, a historical text such as this one bores me to death with its "educated" language and more detail than one could ever care about. But today, while searching for a birthday gift for a friend who, like me, has been touched by the piety of Francis, I sat and read for an hour, and was compelled. I usually am especially intrigued by the relationship between Frances and his young protegé, Clare. I was pleased to find a book that admitted that theirs was a love affair, albeit unconsummated, and pretty much in her mind, only; a situation I can relate to, unfortunately, only too well. Finally, here is a text that shows me what Francis was about, but doesn't seek to convert or evangelize. Detailed enough to clear up some things I may have read elsewhere without boring me with too much. When I got to the photographs in the center of the book, it was the photograph of the bones of Francis that brought home to me that this man did exist, and I found myself mourning his loss right there in the bookstore. When a book does that to me, I've got to have it.
Did we need another biography on Francis of Assisi? In my opinion, yes, we did, and this is the best of all of them. This is a book that, once I was able to try it, I bought it. Not at the bookstore in which I auditioned it, but here, at this site.com, where it was cheaper.