Mueller, Joan 1956-

views updated

Mueller, Joan 1956-

PERSONAL:

Born August 11, 1956; sister of the Order of St. Francis. Education: Received Ph.D. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Theology Department, Creighton University, Omaha, NE 68178; Franciscan Sisters of Joy, 4801 California St., Ste. 2, Omaha, NE 68132. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Creighton University, Omaha, NE, associate professor. Franciscan Sisters of Joy, founder, 1995.

WRITINGS:

Faithful Listening: Discernment in Everyday Life, Sheed & Ward (Kansas City, MO), 1996.

Why Can't I Forgive You? A Christian Reflection, Thomas More (Allen, TX), 1996.

Is Forgiveness Possible?, Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN), 1998.

Francis: The Saint of Assisi, Thomas More (Allen, TX), 2000.

Clare's Letters to Agnes: Texts and Sources, Franciscan Institute (St. Bonaventure, NY), 2001.

Clare of Assisi: The Letters to Agnes, Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN), 2003.

The Privilege of Poverty: Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Prague, and the Struggle for a Franciscan Rule for Women, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Joan Mueller was born on August 11, 1956. She is an associate professor of theology and Christian spirituality at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1995 she founded the Poor Clare community of the Franciscan Sisters of Joy, of which she is an active member. Her books fall into two main categories: spiritual guides and Franciscan history.

In Why Can't I Forgive You? A Christian Reflection Mueller examines forgiveness from all angles, focusing on some of the more difficult elements associated with it and taking advantage of positive psychology. Reviewing the book for the National Catholic Register, Antoinette Bosco wrote, "Mueller has made a powerful, academic case for why people shattered by crime or tragedy must forgive if they are to find peace…. [This is] a book I would highly recommend for its effectiveness in presenting a clear and compelling picture of Christian forgiveness."

Francis: The Saint of Assisi retells the story of the saint, exploring what it was like to live in thirteenth-century Assisi. Because contemporary biographies of Francis were destroyed by mandate, Mueller had to use her expertise in combining and choosing source material. In his review for Theological Studies, Regis A. Duffy praised Mueller's scholarship as well as her writing: "Her prose is evocative and her narrative skill is seen in her use of convincing dialogue to lay out some of the historical and religious complexities of the time in an accessible way…. M[ueller] has accomplished a difficult task with some distinction."

Clare of Assisi: The Letters to Agnes is based on four letters of encouragement Clare wrote to Agnes of Bohemia, who helped establish the Franciscan order in the countries north of the Alps. Graham Christian commented in his review for Library Journal that Claire of Assisi was a "fine and well-developed book" and that the "translations are simple and flowing."

The Privilege of Poverty: Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Prague, and the Struggle for a Franciscan Rule for Women is essentially a history of the founding of Franciscan women's communities. Mueller takes special note of the issue of poverty as it affected the monastic life of men and women and the evolving relationship between male and female religious houses. The book received a great deal of attention. In his critique for Catholic Book Review, Andrew T. McCarthy called The Privilege of Poverty a "noteworthy resource for studying the variety and complexity of women's religious life in medieval Italy…. Mueller accurately illustrates the power of an ideal, ‘the privilege of poverty,’ to move and, more-so, to transform those who embrace the ideal fully." Michael W. Blastic, reviewing the book for Theological Studies, declared: "M[ueller]'s study does advance scholarship on a complicated historical and religious issue."

Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt declared in Canadian Journal of History that "Mueller's narrative is beautifully written." She called The Privilege of Poverty "an engaging and insightful examination of how Clare of Assisi and some of her followers strove to adhere unflinchingly to the discipline of strict poverty…. Mueller provides an accomplished description of ecclesiastical and imperial politics, while at the same time honoring the spiritual ideals that motivated Clare and Agnes. The reader is treated to an engaging narrative that ably balances the world of secular politics with the spirituality of the cloister."

Frances Andrews, reviewing the book for the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, declared that Mueller "brings to life a world at once fascinating and problematic," and Lezlie Knox, writing for the Catholic Historic Review, commented: "Mueller writes sensitively about what it meant for these women to choose radical poverty following the model of the Poor Christ." In her review for Church History, Sara Ritchy praised Mueller's perception: "Mueller's literary strengths truly shine—her very sensitive reading of the sources yields insight into Clare's deliberate cultivation of an emphatically Franciscan identity … (successfully) demonstrating with clarity and precision Clare's vision of community and her passion for Franciscan identity."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Canadian Journal of History, December 22, 2007, Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt, review of The Privilege of Poverty: Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Prague, and the Struggle for a Franciscan Rule for Women, p. 490.

Catholic Historical Review, April 1, 2002, Ingrid Peterson, review of Clare's Letters to Agnes: Texts and Sources, p. 341; October 1, 2007, Lezlie Knox, review of The Privilege of Poverty, p. 912.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, June 1, 2007, J.M.B. Porter, review of The Privilege of Poverty, p. 1772.

Church History, December 1, 2007, Sara Ritchey, review of The Privilege of Poverty, p. 833.

International History Review, September 1, 2007, Constance Hoffman Berman, review of The Privilege of Poverty, p. 593.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, October 1, 2007, Frances Andrews, review of The Privilege of Poverty, p. 752.

Journal of Gender Studies, November 1, 2007, Jacqueline Jenkins, review of The Privilege of Poverty, p. 294.

Library Journal, January 1, 2004, Graham Christian, review of Clare of Assisi: The Letters to Agnes, p. 122.

Medievalia et Humanistica, January 1, 2007, Kenneth Baxter Wolf, review of The Privilege of Poverty, p. 136.

National Catholic Reporter, May 11, 2001, Antoinette Bosco, review of Why Can't I Forgive You? A Christian Reflection, p. 32.

Theological Studies, June 1, 2001, Regis A. Duffy, review of Francis: The Saint of Assisi, p. 379; September 1, 2007, Michael W. Blastic, review of The Privilege of Poverty, p. 720.

ONLINE

Catholic Books Review,http://catholicbooksreview.org/ (August 5, 2008), Andrew T. McCarthy, review of The Privilege of Poverty.

Creighton University,http://moses.creighton.edu/ (August 5, 2008), author profile.

Joan Mueller Books Web site,http://joanmuellerbooks.com (August 5, 2008).