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Paraclete Press Light in the Dark Ages: The Friendship of Francis and Clare of Assisi

The Middle Ages were not so very dark, as the old textbooks say. As you will discover in this intriguing portrait of the first Franciscans, we live in dark ages whenever we become preoccupied with power. In this popular history, Jon Sweeney reveals the timeless temptations that come with being human---greed, competition, ego, and selfishness---as well as the many ways that Francis and Clare of Assisi inspired change and brought light into darkness.

Discover how Francis was first found by God and then joined by Clare despite the violent objections of her family. Explore a variety of issues that they faced, including the treatment of lepers in medieval society, corruption in the Church, and attitudes toward the created world. You will also learn how Clare's spirituality influenced that of other prominent women, how St. Francis lost control of his own movement, and why Francis's body was secretly buried upon his death.

The examples of early Franciscan spirituality challenge any of us who would follow Christ today. How would we view a young person today who rejected family for spiritual reasons? Is it possible for men and women to have deep friendship and remain true to a call to chastity? Is intentional poverty of any value? Have we sentimentalized family to the point of ignoring what Jesus taught his disciples on the subject?

Jon M. Sweeney is the author of several books including Strange Heaven: The Virgin Mary as Woman, Mother, Disciple, and Advocate; and Born Again and Again: Surprising Benefits of a Fundamentalist Childhood---which was awarded as one of the "Best Books of 2005" by Spirituality & Health magazine and with an Award of Merit in the Spirituality category by Christianity Today. He has also written The St. Francis Prayer Book; The Lure of Saints; Praying with Our Hands---which was featured on PBS's "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" and is the editor of Paul Sabatier's classic biography of St. Francis, The Road to Assisi, which was a selection of the History Book Club, Crossings Book Club, Literary Guild, and Book-of-the-Month Club. Jon was the co-founder and, for several years, editor-in-chief of SkyLight Paths Publishing, a multifaith trade book publisher in Vermont, until he recently joined Paraclete Press in Massachusetts as their new associate publisher. Jon lives in Vermont with his wife, Danelle Sims Sweeney, and their two children.

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