A Book of Uncommon Prayer by Brian Doyle makes me very happy. I teach at a Catholic school, and went in search of a book of prayers to improve my understanding of being Catholic (long story). I found this instead. A Book of Uncommon Prayer is more than prayers that celebrate the ordinary. It is a testament to the grace, strength, and humor of being human and the human beings that help us round out life. His “Prayer in Thanks for Decent Shoes” is more in admiration and appreciation of all it took to get them on our feet – from the cow, to the hands that made the shoes, to the salesclerk. Through the prayers, Brian Doyle explores the small blessings that grace us and appreciates all the bits and parts that made it happen. His perspective and sense of humor come through in prayers like “Prayer of Thanks for Good Bishops as Opposed to Meatheads Who Think They Are Important”, and “Prayer in Bemused Appreciation for Handheld Mobile Devices”. Brian uses seemingly insignificant objects (scrunchies and socks) or situations (the right song on the radio at the right time) to illustrate importance of the small things, and this has certainly made me more observant and appreciative. He has angry prayers, too. Questioning prayers, ranting prayers, and sad prayers about difficult topics like abortion, homosexual people, and Osama Bin Laden. These too, are treated with his critical eye and understanding. I found this book to be thoughtful, uplifting, funny, and inspirational (and not preachy).
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