Benson, Robert 1952-
Benson, Robert 1952-
Born 1952, in Nashville, TN; married Sara Fortenberry (a literary agent). Education: Academy for Spiritual Formation, graduated.
Writer. Worked in advertising and marketing for a family-owned publishing firm; public speaker, retreat leader.
Friends of Silence and of the Poor.
Between the Dreaming and the Coming True: The Road Home to God, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Living Prayer, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.
Venite: A Book of Daily Prayer, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
(Author of text) Dean Dixon, The Night of the Child: Photographs from the Upper Museum Nativity Collection, Upper Room Books (Nashville, TN), 2001.
The Game: One Man, Nine Innings, a Love Affair with Baseball, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
That We May Perfectly Love Thee: Preparing Our Hearts for the Eucharist, Paraclete Press (Brewster, MA), 2002.
The Body Broken: Answering God's Call to Love One Another, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2003.
A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy, Paraclete Press (Brewster, MA), 2004.
Home by Another Way: Notes from the Caribbean, WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 2006.
Digging In: Tending to Life in Your Own Background, WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 2007.
Also author of text for photographic book, Private Visions in Public Places.
Robert Benson is the author of numerous books about, as he noted on his Web site, "paying attention for the things that can point us to the Sacred in our lives." Benson divides his work into two sorts of nonfiction: books that are "overtly religious" and ones that are "less overtly religious." In the first category come titles such as Between the Dreaming and the Coming True: The Road Home to God, Living Prayer, Venite: A Book of Daily Prayer, and The Body Broken: Answering God's Call to Love One Another. Less overtly religious books include works such as The Game: One Man, Nine Innings, a Love Affair with Baseball and Home by Another Way: Notes from the Caribbean, books that find spiritual renewal in less obvious places. Benson further noted on his Web site the origins of his love of writing: "I grew up in a family of writers and poets and letter writers and artists and musicians of one kind or another. And our family owned a publishing business that I worked in for some ten years or so, spending most of my time around creative people. At our house, a kid who wanted to be a writer was encouraged to try it."
Benson has earned a solid reputation as a writer of both religious works and more general nonfiction. He often uses personal experience as an inspiration for such works. His first title, Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, was a response to a period of clinical depression he suffered and the spiritual quest it engendered. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly applauded this "thought-provoking record of his own spiritual quest for God" which was "charming and elegantly written." Booklist contributor Ray Olson also had praise for the title, noting that though "Benson sometimes bungles his metaphors … his voice is warm, disarming, winning." Living Prayer was, as Timothy Jones explained on BookPage, similarly a personal quest to find a focus on prayer in one's daily life: "Through images and personal stories [Benson] recounts his delighted discovery of the ancient Christian monastic tradition of using liturgical prayers throughout the day." For a Publishers Weekly critic, "Benson's beautifully measured prose lures readers into the prayer as a dynamic dance of life." Library Journal contributor Bernadette McGrath similarly called Living Prayer an "uplifting book." In Venite Benson gathers the prayers that he uses daily to celebrate the four daily offices of prayer: morning, noon, evening, and night. Christian Century writer Arthur Paul Boers thought it was "a lovely contribution" to prayerbooks in general. Similarly, Graham Christian, writing in the Library Journal, felt Venite was a "personal and idiosyncratic counterpart to the traditional breviary." With The Body Broken, Benson examines, once again through the lens of personal experience, the divisions between religions in a search for common ground. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "Benson's passion will appeal to many readers seeking a well-crafted meditation."
Among his more general nonfiction works, One Game recounts a typical game between his hometown minor league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds, and the visiting Iowa Cubs. For a Publishers Weekly reviewer One Game was a "whimsical, flowing account." Further praise came from Library Journal writers Paul Kaplan and Morey Berger, who felt Benson's book offers "an intriguing meditative piece on the magnetic pull of baseball." Further personal adventures are featured in Home by Another Way, which provides musings on island vacationing as represented by the Caribbean island to which Benson and his wife return every year for their anniversary. "Benson captures a world in which time slows down and material things become of less importance," wrote a Publishers Weekly critic.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Benson, Robert, Between the Dreaming and the Coming True: The Road Home to God, HarperSan-Francisco (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Benson, Robert, Living Prayer, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.
Benson, Robert, The Body Broken: Answering God's Call to Love One Another, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2003.
Benson, Robert, Home by Another Way: Notes from the Caribbean, WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 2006.
Booklist, October 1, 1996, Ray Olson, review of Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, p. 297.
Christian Century, March 21, 2001, Arthur Paul Boers, review of Venite: A Book of Daily Prayer, p. 14.
Library Journal, July, 1998, Bernadette McGrath, review of Living Prayer, p. 97; March 1, 2000, Graham Christian, review of Venite, p. 97; February 1, 2001, Paul Kaplan and Morey Berger, review of The Game: One Man, Nine Innings, a Love Affair with Baseball, p. 90.
Publishers Weekly, July 29, 1996, review of Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, p. 84; July 13, 1998, review of Living Prayer, p. 73; February 14, 2000, Jana Reiss, "PW Talks with Phyllis Tickle and Robert Benson," p. 193; April 16, 2001, review of The Game, p. 55; May 28, 2001, review of The Night of the Child: Photographs from the Upper Museum Nativity Collection, p. 85; February 18, 2002, review of That We May Perfectly Love Thee: Preparing Our Hearts for the Eucharist, p. 64; June 30, 2003, The Body Broken, p. 73; March 13, 2006, review of Home by Another Way, p. 63.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (November 14, 2006), Timothy Jones, "Being Present to the Gift of Each Day: A Talk with Robert Benson."
Robert Benson Home Page,http://www.robertbensonwriter.com (November 15, 2006).
Spirituality and Practice,http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/ (November 15, 2006), "Robert Benson."*