Our very own Timothy McCormick, the founder of the Catholic Bibles Blog and a contributor to this blog, has recently published a short book: Confessions of an Ugly-Bible Reader. The book expands on the theme he originally developed here at Catholic Bible Talk in a post by the same name. Timothy recently sent me a copy, and I enjoyed reading it during a quiet morning last week.

In a nutshell, this is an excellent practical guide to praying with the Bible. I’ve taken multiple short classes on Lectio Divina over the years, but Timothy’s practical description of how he prays with Scripture is more relatable and practical than I’ve experienced in the past.

In the course of the book, he led me on a journey through his own experience with the Bible, beginning with his quest for the best translation and his encounter with a faithful woman years ago who brought a tattered old Jerusalem Bible to a study group. He describes his shift from seeking the perfect Bible in the perfect edition to realizing that there is far more value in “living in” a Bible and integrating it into a whole life of faith and prayer.

He also offers reflections on choosing a translation. His aim here is to help readers find a Bible that they can pray with. For some readers, a single translation might serve equally well for both study and prayer, while others might choose different translations for each purpose.

Ultimately, these reflections lead up to a nuts-and-bolts description of how Timothy prays with the Bible each morning. He describes his morning routine, occasionally upended by the necessities of life and work, but as often as possible anchored in conversation with God’s word. He writes notes in the margin with questions or insights from the day’s prayer, and as he reads those notes during future prayer times, he reflects on how God has worked in his life since he last prayed with the same section of Scripture.

He relates concrete examples of how this habit of prayer has enriched his life, and he paints a compelling picture of the value of “living in” a Bible — choosing a single Bible that can be a constant companion and a testament of God’s ongoing work in your life. This book is a call to fully integrate the Bible into your life, and not just the words — the physical book! As Catholics, we recognize God’s work through physical signs in the sacraments. Our faith is unmistakably incarnational. Timothy makes a great case here for allowing your Bible to become marked by your life of faith and relationships with God, family, and friends. It is a way of bringing the Bible into every aspect of life, rather than trying to preserve a perfect edition free from all coffee stains, crayon marks, and other signs of the ordinary life in which God speaks, molds, and fashions us.

I’m thankful to Timothy for sharing a copy of his book with me, and I can whole-heartedly recommend it.

11 thoughts on “New Book from Timothy McCormick”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this book , when the pandemic started i started to read and enjoy the scriptures like never before and found myself looking at different translations . I also have a good collection of different translations and i enjoy them all including Tims ugly bible “The Message “ . I have to say it does get exhausting with the “bible rotation “ and i’m going to try to trim it down . So here’s my line up The Didache RSVCE 2 and The Message Catholic/Ecumenical to smooth it out and smile and DRB NT Confraternity edition close by for authentic Catholic scripture verses. Thanks again Tim and God Bless everyone on this blog I really enjoy and learn a lot . Oh , i have a RNJB NT on order lol . God Bless.

  2. Marc, I had a question for you (and also for any others who want to chime in): So given everything in Timothy’s book, how much do you actually write in your Bible(s)?

    I have to admit, I have an aversion to writing in books in general, and especially in nice Bibles. I have selected a few Bibles to “place under the ban” — i.e., with a few of them, I will allow myself to destroy their pristine, unmarked pages and utterly subdue them with highlighters and pens. However, ironically, it is because these are precisely the Bibles I have less of an attachment to. But I would imagine Timothy’s point is that, ideally, attachment and familiarity should coincide.

    I’m not saying this writing-in-Bibles aversion is good or reasonable, but it is what it is. Maybe I just need to overcome it and sacrifice one of my “nicer” Bibles to become my “ugly” Bible, which is why I’m asking my question. Do you and others share this aversion, and have you overcome it with the help of Timothy’s book?

    1. I definitely share your aversion to writing in Bibles (or any books, for that matter)! I am still on the fence about it, despite the excellent case Timothy makes for it, and I haven’t taken the plunge to start writing in any of my Bibles yet. I’ve experimented with keeping a separate Bible journal in the past, and that was a useful practice. At the time, I was preparing to lead a small Bible discussion group. Once the group was finished, though, I stopped journaling.

      One option would be to use a Kindle edition. I have no hesitation at all about filling my Kindle books with notes, and practically it’s much easier to organize and make as many notes as you want without running out of space.

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