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Some shameless self-promotion
I had a recent online chat with a reader of this Substack page who had just finished reading one of my books. She asked me if I had written any others. I don’t know whether or not she was surprised to learn that I have ten books in print, with an eleventh on the way this summer (it will be a collection of eleven ghost stories, all of them set in the Patapsco River region of Maryland during the early 1960s — about which, more to come as the publication date approaches). As I say, she may or may not have been surprised, but I realized right after our exchange that I’ve been a lousy self-promoter (something shamefully un-American, I admit). So, listed immediately below, in chronological order, with all the details from the publishers’ websites, are my ten published books. All of them can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, direct from the publishers, or through just about any other book dealer.
The only outlier of the ten books listed is Confessions of the Antichrist, a sardonic Gothic-horror-thriller-satire and my first published work of fiction. The rest are what one might expect from the author of this Substack page.
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Knowing Darkness: On Skepticism, Melancholy, Friendship, and God (Eerdmans, 2009)
Too often, Christians who discover melancholy or skepticism occupying a place in their hearts are perplexed, troubled, or even ashamed. Knowing Darkness is a frequently provocative apologetic for the benefits of both skepticism and melancholy for biblical, Christian faith.
Arguing that these phenomena are not detrimental to faith but are often decidedly helpful, Addison Hart draws from such figures in Scripture as Job and Qoheleth of Ecclesiastes, and from the well known life and experience of Mother Teresa. Understanding the challenges that melancholy and skepticism present to those who experience them, he reflects on the need for genuine human friendship in the life of faith.
Writing in a forthright, engaging style, Hart inspires us to look more deeply into troublesome matters of the heart and soul -- emotions we would often rather ignore or condemn -- and therein find a far more authentic faith.
"Alongside the biblical injunctions to adhere, as the normative standard of faith, to what I will call 'conventional piety,' the Scriptures also present a much more complex and variegated interaction with God. On the level of adult faith, nothing is monochrome or monolithic when the canon is taken as a whole. The approach to God includes uncertainties of doubt and darkness, and melancholy and skepticism are unapologetically present in these holiest books of Christianity and Judaism."
-- from chapter 1
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
senior editor of Touchstone
"In the sustained dialogue within this work, we hear the alternating voices of ancient sources and modern concerns. Father Hart's close familiarity with the former is matched by his critical evaluation of the latter. Thus, his investigation of Ecclesiastes and Job — the 'problem books' of Israel's Wisdom literature — follows closely on his sharp analysis of contemporary skepticism. .�.�. An eminently pastoral work."
"Hart persuades us not to mistake faith for hope or orthodoxy but to take it as itself, lived during times of joy and desolation alike. Recommended for the Christian or spiritual seeker."
The Yoke of Jesus: A School for the Soul in Solitude (Eerdmans, 2010)
A compact yet substantial guide for Christians seeking to encounter God
The Yoke of Jesus by Addison Hodges Hart is an inviting, inspiring guide for any Christian seeking to encounter God anew. In vivid, thought-provoking prose Hart explores the meaning of faith, our need for stillness and solitude, how to pray the Psalms, and much more, emphasizing throughout the individual's devotion to Jesus.
A wise and gifted teacher in this "school for the soul in solitude," Hart is at once informative and pragmatic in his approach, grounding essential spiritual disciplines in both Scripture and patristic sources and making them supremely relevant for followers of Jesus in the twenty-first century.
Rodney A. Whitacre
— Trinity School for Ministry
"Hart succeeds admirably in his effort to provide concepts that will help people reflect on their own practice of solitary prayer and stillness. Drawing upon Scripture and a wide range of ancient and contemporary resources, he offers thought-provoking insight into the meaning and nature of such prayer. The result is not only a deeper understanding of solitude and stillness in Christian discipleship but also encouragement and motivation to continue on the path. I am finding great benefit in repeated readings of this book."
John H. Armstrong
— president of ACT 3, author of Your Church Is Too Small
"We live in an age when dogma and loving God are too easily separated. Addison Hodges Hart believes the Christian's goal is the knowledge and love of God, but dogma is necessary to provide the signposts along the road. We need his emphasis on the soul in solitude more than ever if we are to bear the yoke of Christ faithfully in these times."
Taking Jesus at His Word: What Jesus Really Said in the Sermon on the Mount (Eermans, 2012)
Blessed are the poor in spirit. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. You cannot serve God and mammon. Judge not, that you be not judged. Though such sayings from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount are very familiar, many people -- including Christians! -- struggle to fully understand and follow them. For those who are brave enough to reconsider what Jesus really said, Addison Hodges Hart offers Taking Jesus at His Word.
"Finally, someone who not only studies the Scriptures but also makes sense of them for life here and now, up close and personal! Thanks to Addison Hodges Hart -- whose writing is warm, real, and lilting -- the Sermon on the Mount comes alive as a veritable template to guide us through the twists and turns of our lives. This is a beautiful book, one that promises to be read over and over again."
Brian D. McLaren
"As ironic as it may seem, it's more popular these days to call Jesus 'Lord' than it is to strive to do what he taught. For all who want to follow Jesus' teachings, Taking Jesus at His Word is a beautiful gift. I'm grateful to Hart -- and more amazed than ever by Jesus."
Rodney A. Whitacre
"Addison Hart comes to the Sermon on the Mount seeking bedrock guidance from Jesus for the fundamental question facing all of us, Christian and non-Christian alike: How should I live my life? Hart's reflections provide thoughtful insights into these bracing teachings of Jesus. This isn't the last word on the Sermon, but it will help readers find for themselves Jesus' path of life."
Review of Biblical Literature
"Whether one agrees with Hart in the particulars or not, this work is admirable in that it pushes back against some who have attempted to domesticate Jesus's words, raising application that needs to be heard."
The Ox-Herder and the Good Shepherd: Finding Christ on the Buddha’s Way (Eerdmans, 2013)
In the twelfth century, the Chinese Zen master Kakuan Shien produced the pictures, poems, and commentaries we know as the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures. They trace a universally recognizable path of contemplative spirituality, using the metaphor of a young ox-herder looking for his lost ox.
According to Addison Hodges Hart, the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures and the teachings of Christ, the Good Shepherd who guides us to God, share a common vision. Both show us that authentic spiritual life must begin with an inner transformation of one's self, leading to an outward life that is natural and loving. In The Ox-Herder and the Good Shepherd Hart shares the story that these pictures tell, exploring how this ancient Buddhist parable can enrich and illumine the Christian way.
Includes 10 color illustrations
“It has been a long time since a book has brought me as much pleasure as this one has.”
— Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions, etc.
“The twelfth-century Zen master Kakuan’s 10 ox-herding pictures and their accompanying poems and commentaries are his only extant works, and the pictures as Hart presents them are only the most faithful copies of the originals. They constitute a parable of Buddhist enlightenment—the path to its attainment and life thereafter. There are three figures in them: a boy who is seeking an ox; the ox, which, once found, tamed, and ridden home, disappears from the narrative; and a big-bellied, jolly man, who looks like what Westerners call the laughing Buddha but is actually the legendary enlightened monk, Hotei. For the purposes of the parable, the three are one—a truth-seeker (the boy) achieving his full being (boy plus ox) or enlightenment and reentering society to help others reach it. Hewing closely to the Buddhism in the parable, Hart educes its deep consonance with the voyage of the Christian in this world (though not to the next). An exceedingly graceful work of the comparative-religious spirit.”
—Ray Olson, Booklist (American Library Association)
"Various forms of Buddhism, not least Zen Buddhism, have played a part in the spiritual journey of many Christians, including Addison Hart. The ten ancient ox-herder drawings by the Chinese Zen master Kakuan Shien have helped Hart embrace core themes in the gospel and lightened his pilgrim’s backpack. . . . The Ox-Herder and the Good Shepherd is a refreshing introduction to what one might call Zen Christianity."
—Jim Forest, author of Praying with Icons
"Hart’s goal to find Christ on the Buddhist path is without pretension and is a respectful, honest endeavor to discover an underlying commonality in disparate religious systems. For the Christian who is not well acquainted with the Zen Buddhist tradition, Hart’s book serves as an introduction to this Eastern religion/spirituality; it can also be a primer for how to approach non-Christian faiths from a compassionate and sympathetic point of view."
"I probably write two blurbs a week for various books, but many times merely skim the book and try to say something good, honest, and real about it. This book I read in its entirety in one sitting -- because it is indeed very good, very honest, and very real. I vainly wished I had written it myself, but Addison is the authentic ox-herder that you need -- and will remember."
Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M.
— Center for Action and Contemplation
Library Journal (STARRED review)
"Most highly recommended for all seekers no matter their preferred path."
Spirit & Life
"Hart is able to use the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures to outline a practical and effective Christian ascetical and spiritual path. One could easily use this little book as a teaching tool or to direct a retreat."
Catholic Library World
"Searching for wisdom and truth in another religion can be an uneasy enterprise. Hart approaches it with an engaging humility, simplicity, and sensibility."
"This little book is an engaging, rewarding example of comparative spirituality. It seeks to clarify and deepen one form of spiritual practice through conversation with another. . . . For both prayerful reflection and classroom discussion, this book will serve well."
"While this small book can be read in one sitting, it welcomes, and merits, a more leisurely and contemplative approach. Gentle, wise, and respectful, Addison's book illuminates the way of the bodhisattva — or enlightened disciple — showing it to be a shared path that leads to mercy, healing, forgiveness, and abundant life."
Reviews in Religion and Theology
"This little book is a very interesting addition to the growing literature on Comparative and Interreligious Theology, especially in the area of Buddhists and Christian encounters, which will no doubt be used by many as a devotional book to help their own exploration, while also a welcome object of study for those with a more academic interest in the area."
"The series of pictures, poems, and commentaries, produced in the twelfth century and known as the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures, trace a universally recognizable path of contemplative spirituality. . . . With this book, Hart shares the story that these pictures tell, exploring how this ancient Buddhist parable can enrich and illumine the Christian way."
Strangers and Pilgrims Once More: Being Disciples of Jesus in a Post-Christendom World (Eerdmans, 2014)
In this book Addison Hodges Hart articulates some crucial questions for contemporary Christians: What sort of church must we become in today's post-Christendom world, where we can no longer count on society to support Christian ideals? What can we salvage from our Christendom past that is of real value, and what can we properly leave behind? How do we become "strangers and pilgrims" once more, after being "at home" in Christendom for so long?
Summoning readers to wise and faithful discipleship in our post-Christendom age, Hart suggests both how Christ's disciples can say "yes" to much that was preserved during the age of Christendom and why they should say "no" to some of the cherished accretions of that passing epoch.
--Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
"This excellent book is both clear and courageous! It describes the fundamental changes that must take place for re-forming the Christianity that most of our denominations have accepted as the only available model of church. Addison Hodges Hart honors history, Scripture, and theology -- and puts them together very wisely."
Brian D. McLaren
--author of We Make the Road by Walking
"Thoughtful Christians often lament that our leaders are characterized by ignorance on fire on the one hand and intelligence on ice on the other. In Addison Hodges Hart, however, we have intelligence on fire. In Strangers and Pilgrims Once More he makes bold and sensible proposals for a positive and robust Christian discipleship. I have great respect for this author and this book."
"Offers a path between the corruptions of both secular society and institutional Christendom."
"What makes this wise book worth reading is not the thesis. (After Hauerwas, everyone knows this is a post-Christendom context.) What makes it worth reading (and discussing) is the exercise of saying `yes' to what is valuable to the Christian tradition and `no' to what must be left behind in order to retain vitality. Such an exercise for Christians is crucial and this book is a wise guide in that effort."
Catholic Library World
"Offers a concise overview of past excesses to which Christians need to be sensitive. . . . Recommended for parish libraries and for readers concerned about the future direction of the church."
The Woman, the Hour, and the Garden: A Study of Imagery in the Gospel of John (Eerdmans, 2016)
Was Jesus ever married? Yes, indeed, says Addison Hodges Hart — but not in the way that recent sensationalist writers have claimed. In this book Hart opens an illuminating window into John's Gospel as he explores its rich, poetic imagery, particularly the metaphorical significance of "the Woman."
Inspired by the writings of early church fathers and medieval theologians, Hart presents the Gospel of John as an incarnational, sacramental text and shows that it is primarily a revelation of salvation, deeply mystical and intended to lead its readers into a living relationship with the one who is the Bridegroom of his people.
Robert Louis Wilken
— University of Virginia
"The best books are short and deep, and this is just such a book. . . . With the help of Christian art and poetry Addison Hodges Hart shows that 'woman' is an icon of the gathered community, which leads to the bold conclusion that Christ is indeed married and has taken a bride, the church. This is a book for meditation, to be read slowly with the text of the Gospel in hand."
Rodney A. Whitacre
— Trinity School for Ministry
"Hart gives us not only a wonderful study of several key themes in the Gospel of John but also a very accessible reading of Scripture in company with the ancient church. . . . Here we have a contemporary example of how to read the Scriptures on their own terms, not just for the sake of gaining thoughts and ideas but for a life-giving encounter with the one to whom they bear witness."
The Letter of James: A Pastoral Commentary (Wipf & Stock, Cascade Books, 2018)
The Letter of James is perhaps needed more than ever today. In this commentary, Hart argues that the epistle is indeed the work of James of Jerusalem, "the brother of the Lord," that it was an encyclical letter, and that its chief concern was to combat a distorted version of Paul's gospel. It is a work with a singular purpose: to bring the churches back to the most basic teachings of Jesus. In its defense of orthopraxy as the primary Christian standard, its denunciation of those with wealth who exploit or neglect the poor, its hard words for those who have taken on the mantel of "teacher" without first learning to restrain their tongues, and above all its exhortation to relearn the truth that "faith without works [of love] is dead," James could be talking to churches in our own time. This commentary presents James afresh, as a living guide with a perennial message for those who seek to follow Jesus. It is pastoral in intent, written for those who teach and preach, those who desire a more authentic discipleship, and those who practice lectio divina--the meditative reading of Scripture. (Includes the entire Greek text and the new English translation of the epistle by David Bentley Hart.)
“Addison Hart’s commentary on James accomplishes the difficult task of placing the epistle in its historical and cultural context, including its dialogue with strands of Pauline thought and Jesus’s teachings, while at the same time making the epistle come to life for the modern reader. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.”
—Roman A. Montero, Author of All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians
“The apostle James comes alive in Addison Hodges Hart's fascinating commentary on this New Testament epistle . . . In his own way, James was clearly as powerful a figure as Paul in the early church, advocating a subtly different take on Jesus’s teaching, and is someone whom Christians still need to hear and understand if they are to know God in their hearts and lives.”
—Mark Vernon, Author of The Idler Guide to Ancient Philosophy (2016)
“The greatest surprise of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation was the sheer number of prominent Protestant theologians announcing its end. If the Reformation project of a ‘faith vs. works’ Paulinism has run out of steam, then the ‘What is to be done?’ question arises. Addison Hodges Hart’s The Letter of James has a plausible answer in precisely a believing-through-doing approach to faith, orthopraxy, based upon James. This return of the repressed Jamesian ‘faith through works,’ simultaneously ancient and post-modern, is presented not merely as a rival to early-modern (and ancient) Paulinisms, but also unearths resources for a reading of the Pauline corpus against Paulinism through orthopraxy.”
—Artur Rosman, Managing Editor, Church Life Journal
Confessions of the Antichrist: A Novel (Angelico Press, 2020)
A former president of the United States is abducted by his barber and members of his own security forces, then spirited away to Rome to meet the mysterious Cardinal Fieropasto: this is just the bizarre beginning of a wild journey and a series of startling revelations about himself and his destiny. He discovers that over the course of his life he has, unbeknownst to himself, been carefully groomed to become the Antichrist, as foretold in ancient prophecy. All he need now do is assume the role prepared for him by taking hold of the reins of global power. But as he mulls over his predestined future, he is alerted to the disturbing fact that other, even more covert, powers are also at work behind the scenes—powers harboring quite different intentions toward him. In this genre-stretching story filled with strange characters and unsettling events, satire meets thriller meets Gothic horror; or better, Through the Looking-Glass meets The Divine Comedy.
Praise for Confessions of the Antichrist
“A theological and psychological thriller that keeps the reader hooked, not only on the question ‘what happens next?’—but also on the big questions: those of power, God, history, and ultimately ‘how must I live my life?’”
— REBECCA BRATTEN WEISS
co-author of Mud Woman
“An evocative cross between the mystic stories of William Butler Yeats and the theological fantasies of C. S. Lewis—but with a sly charm all its own, and even more thought-provoking.”
— JOHN FARRELL
author of The Clock and the Camshaft
“Confessions of the Antichrist is a mordant little fantasy about the perpetual war between spiritual truth and terrestrial power. A harrowing, febrile dream of a tale that—like all such dreams—might best be regarded as an omen, one that ought to be heeded.”
— DAVID BENTLEY HART
author of That All Shall Be Saved
“Addison Hodges Hart’s Confessions of the Antichrist is a Christian parable in the tradition of Dostoevsky’s prose poem The Grand Inquisitor and Vladimir Solovyov’s Short Story of the Antichrist. Its imaginal world speaks directly to the issues and travails of our own times, and in language at turns provocative, humorous, challenging, and spiritually nourishing.”
— MICHAEL MARTIN
author of Transfiguration: Notes Toward a Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything
Silent Rosary: A Contemplative, Exegetical, and Iconographic Tour Through the Mysteries (Wipf & Stock, Cascade Books, 2021)
The twenty mysteries of the rosary are a circular "gallery," a matrix of theology and spirituality. They can inspire us profoundly. For those seeking a deeper encounter in faith, these mysteries have the power to move us toward contemplation. A lengthy Introduction explains in detail the meaning of the term "mystery" in Christian thought, provides a brief history of the rosary, explains the significance of Mary in the mysteries, explores the importance of "beholding" in the Scriptures and in our spirituality, and explores Christian iconography. The centerpiece of the book is the "gallery" of the mysteries as illuminated by the iconography of Solrunn Nes, each image supplemented with explanatory commentaries by Addison Hodges Hart. The latter incorporate biblical exegesis, pertinent historical details, and insights from classical spiritual writers. The aim is to provide insight into the symbolism and typology of each mystery and to lead the reader into contemplative prayer and action. Throughout, the book unites an outward "beholding" of the mysteries of the rosary with the inner practice of the work of silence.
“A remarkable pilgrimage. Weaving together biblical interpretation, theological reflection, and inspired iconography, Silent Rosary deftly guides us past the often-overwhelming customs and pious accretions surrounding contemporary views of the Rosary and brings us to the very simple roots of Marian Wisdom: the ancient life-giving practice of silently beholding the Mysteries of God in our hearts. It is a necessary journey for our time.”
—Kevin M. Johnson, cohost of the Encountering Silence podcast
“One could not ask for a better guide to the mysteries of the Rosary, or what it means to behold an icon, than what is provided here by way of Hart’s lapidary commentary and Nes’s splendid iconography. Moreover, this little book accomplishes something beautiful in its own right: bringing together in mutually illuminating fashion the icon of the Christian East and the Rosary of the Christian West. One can only hope—for the sake of the one church for which Christ prayed—that it will help each tradition to appreciate more profoundly the glorious spiritual inheritance of the other.”
—John Betz, University of Notre Dame
“The rosary is increasingly finding its way into the hands of Protestants, as walls dividing Christians little by little collapse. The handy string of beads proves to be both a convenient aid to prayer and a helpful tool for meditation on the key events in the Christian calendar. Weaving together an insightful text by Addison Hart with outstanding icons painted by Solrunn Nes, Silent Rosary may well become a classic of Christian literature.”
—Jim Forest, author of Praying with Icons
The Voyage of Life: The Sacred Vision of Thomas Cole (Angelico Press, 2023)
In his famous series of four paintings, the great American “father” of the Hudson River School of art, Thomas Cole (1801–1848), depicted the life of a single representative human Soul as a voyage from birth to death—each painting illustrating a further bend in the river of life: Childhood, Youth, Manhood, and finally, Old Age. Cole supplemented his series with a long poem (reproduced at the end of this volume) along the lines of Dante’s Divine Comedy or Newman’s Dream of Gerontius, elucidating the meaning of his art. Drawing upon these resources together with the religious and philosophical influences of his time, Addison Hodges Hart succeeds in making The Voyage of Life poignantly applicable to us in the here and now. In Hart’s masterful hands, Cole’s masterpiece comes alive as timeless wisdom, insight, even contemplative counsel. Like all genuine art, Cole’s series communicates one human soul’s truth to another, regardless of the distance in space, time, or worldview that may separate them.
Praise for The Voyage of Life
“Addison Hodges Hart has given us a compelling meditation on the meaning of the nineteenth-century American painter Thomas Cole’s famous four-part allegory The Voyage of Life. With keen insight, graceful language, and breadth of learning, Hart offers a fresh reading of the series that goes well beyond the customary biographical, theological, or topical interpretations of these pictures. Drawing upon the ideas and sentiments expressed in Cole’s eponymous poem, Hart demonstrates why this allegorical series is as relevant for humankind today as they were for Cole himself, and for the generations who have treasured them. Readers will find much to think about in Hart’s persuasive assessment of how The Voyage of Life may serve as a useful guide to the meaning of life, and how to live it.”
—PAUL D. SCHWEIZER
Director Emeritus, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
“Ever since Sally Promey’s 2003 article ‘On the “Return” of Religion in the Scholarship of American Art,’ the field of art history has been primed for something like this: a reclamation of an American masterwork as accessible and illuminating as the original work itself. Addison Hodges Hart shows that Thomas Cole countered the seductions of an outward Manifest Destiny by counseling an inward journey instead. Cole emerges in this satisfying volume not only as an artist but as a mystic; not only as painter but as a psychopomp; not only as the founder of the Hudson River School, but as a cartographer of the soul’s journey to God.”
—MATTHEW J. MILLINER
Professor of Art History, Wheaton College, author of Mother of the Lamb: The Story of a Global Icon
“Addison Hart’s new book, The Voyage of Life, explores Thomas Cole’s spiritual vision and commitment to creating in his series of four large paintings of the same name the individual Soul’s journey through life from Childhood to Old Age. The author offers an engaging and thorough evaluation of each painting in connection also with Cole’s poetry—something most likely new to many readers. Cole’s passion to place his human voyager in the still-existing American wilderness of the 1830s may prompt reflection on the current challenge of becoming better stewards of our home on earth.”
author of The Hudson River School
“This book, an emotionally wise and theologically rich contemplation of Thomas Cole’s The Voyage of Life series of four large canvases, is a rare delight. Not unlike Virgil leading Dante, Addison Hart guides us on a river journey through the stages of life depicted in Cole’s untamed and sublime Romantic landscapes of the American West: from the innocence of Childhood, through the exuberance of Youth and the trials of Manhood, to our Old Age and final destination in eternity. It is an allegory of the quest for wisdom every bit as intelligible to our heart as that described in Dante’s Divine Comedy or Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.”
author of The Book of Angels: Seen and Unseen and The Green Man in Medieval England
“Addison Hodges Hart has done a great service with his The Voyage of Life: The Sacred Vision of Thomas Cole. Indeed, he creates art from art, prose from paint and poem. Prior to reading Hart’s laconic yet inspiring title, I had not heard of Thomas Cole. After reading it, I want to know more! From the moment I read the following, I was hooked: ‘Cole was not only alert to the details and wonders of nature but possessed and cultivated a profound empathy with it.’ The same could be said about all who, like the Hobbits of J.R.R. Tolkien, feel a sense of deep connection and relationality with the earth below their feet.”
—MATTHEW J. DISTEFANO
author of The Wisdom of Hobbits
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