Among those who write in the area of spirituality today, who’s being read? Here’s my list of spiritual writers who are highly influential today in the English-speaking world:
Father Henri Nouwen: Dutch/American Roman Catholic priest. Perhaps the most widely read and most influential among all contemporary authors in spirituality.Thomas Merton: Roman Catholic monk, one of the most influential spiritual writers in the past 100 years.C.S. Lewis: British Anglican layman. Well-known in religious and secular circles. Brought a literary genius to his articulation of the Christian faith.Jim Wallis: American Evangelical popular-evangelist, social activist and organizer. The closest our age has to a Dorothy Day. Widely read and respected across all denominational lines.Thomas Halik: Czechoslovakian Roman Catholic priest. Recent winner of the prestigious Templeton award.Parker Palmer: American Quaker layman. Much-respected across all denominational lines. Has written brilliantly on the spirituality of education and on achieving a Christian balance in life.Alan Jones: American Episcopalian, priest. Wisdom drawn from the deep wells of Christian tradition. Practical spirituality with depth.Carlo Carretto: Italian Roman Catholic hermit/monk. Carretto spent many years living as a hermit in the Sahara desert and writes out of that experience.Sister Ruth Burrows: British Carmelite nun. Deep insights into mysticism, faith and contemplative prayer. Eminent common sense, blended with a deep knowledge of the mystical tradition.Father Richard Rohr: American Franciscan priest, popular evangelist. Numerous books on prayer, scriptural commentary, masculine spirituality, addictions, overcoming dualism and sectarianism, and finding balance in your life.Wendy Wright: American Roman Catholic laywoman. A specialist regarding Francis de Sales and Jane Chantel, but with wider writings, especially about the place of devotions within our spiritual lives.Peter Tyler: British Roman Catholic layman. A specialist in Carmelite spirituality. An emerging young voice.Thomas Keating: American Roman Catholic monk. The widely-accepted “canon” on contemplative prayer.John Main: British/Canadian monk, a popular, trustworthy guide on contemplative prayer.Laurence Freeman: British monk, another trustworthy guide on contemplative prayer.Kathleen Norris: American Presbyterian, lay Oblate of St. Benedict. Deeply immersed in the tradition of the Desert Fathers and equally attuned to our spiritual struggles within contemporary culture.Trevor Herriot: Canadian Roman Catholic layman. A powerful apologia for protecting nature, but his more explicit spiritual writings are highly reflective essays apposite the place and role of our sexual energies in either protecting or despoiling nature.Barbara Brown Taylor: American Episcopalian priest and popular evangelist. Strong literary writer with an audience within secular circles. A unique blend of insight, scripture and tradition. Always a worthwhile read.David Steindl-Rast: American Roman Catholic monk, had the distinction of being Henri Nouwen’s spiritual director. Writes with depth, drawing many of his insights from the richness of monasticism.Father Anthony de Mello: Indian Roman Catholic Jesuit. Brings the insights of Buddhism and Eastern spiritualties into his articulation of Christian spirituality.Father James Martin: American Roman Catholic Jesuit. A key young voice within spirituality today. Widely popular, and deservedly so.Anne Lamott: American Episcopalian laywoman. A unique blend of insight, Christian commitment and blistering iconoclasm.Marilynne Robinson: American Congregationalist novelist. Not a spirituality writer per se, but an exceptional novelist whose characters express her spirituality. An exceptionally bright apologetic voice.Simone Weil: French Jewish laywoman. Her writings manifest a spiritual sensitivity and depth that includes her in most discussions about contemporary spirituality.Etty Hillesum: Dutch Jewish laywoman. Her writings exhibit an extraordinary insight into spirituality. And she backed them up with martyrdom.Scott Hahn: American Roman Catholic layman. Very popular, catechetical and instructional.Rabbi Abraham Hesche: American Jewish rabbi. Exceptional commentaries on the Jewish scriptures. Widely read and respected.Rob Bell: American Evangelical popular evangelist. A brilliant young voice. Good balance, good insights and an exceptional capacity to speak to a contemporary audience.Rick Warren: American Evangelist. Stunningly popular across denominational lines. His book, “The Purpose-Driven Life,” has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and is worth the read.John Allen: American Roman Catholic layman journalist. Most everyone’s ear-to-the ground vis-à-vis what’s happening ecclesially around the world.Joyce Rupp: American Roman Catholic nun. Good, insightful, particularly popular with women.Michael Higgins: Canadian Roman Catholic layman. Does a lot of highly insightful journalistic commentary on contemporary spirituality. The official biographer of Nouwen.Sister Joan Chittister: American Roman Catholic nun. Powerful social justice and feminist voice. Knows the tradition of monasticism very well and draws key insights out of its deep wells.Paula D’Arcy: American Roman Catholic laywoman. Inspires a near-cult following among devotees particularly apposite her spirituality of healing.Annie Dillard: American Roman Catholic (convert). Her writings invariably articulate an aesthetic and moral insight that is a natural friend of religion.Elizabeth Johnson: American Roman Catholic nun. An exceptional mentor for those who are searching for a better intellectual apologia for their faith.Bill Plotkin: American “Naturalist” layman. Challenging writings vis-à-vis the place of nature in shaping our souls.Belden Lane: American “Naturalist” layman akin to Plotkin.
My apologies to those whom I didn’t name, particularly those young, emerging voices such as Kerry Weber, David Wells and Bill McGarvey, among others who should be more widely read.