Summer Reading: List I

Top 10 Ways To Defuse Your Congregational Time Bomb, Julianna Kristina Tenny-Brittian
Congregational transformation for pastors and lay people. It looked good.

Spirituality of the Psalms, Walter Bruggeggemann
Because it feels important to return to the Psalms this summer, with their modeling of how to be in active, challenging, honest conversation with God. I have always felt deeply connected to the Psalms because of their constant shift between anger and gratitude. A Church that promotes only a quiet, peaceful spirituality is not a relevant church, IMHO. We have a purpose in the world not only to cultivate reverence and peace in the heart, but to transform society, starting with our risk-taking, real care of each other. I can’t be in authentic relationship in community if I’m not in authentic relationship with God. The Psalms remind me that God is not interested in faux piety. HOLLA at God! Yes!

Riding the Dragon: 10 Lessons for inner strength in challenging times, Robert J. Wicks.
A lot of people have mentioned this over the years and I thought I’d get it. Good sermon fodder.

Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work As a Pilgrimage of Identity, David Whyte.
Looks to be beautifully written, autobiographical, about leadership and vocation. Work is perhaps the most beautiful and defining word in my personal vocabulary. I will be moving in about a month to a city that has very high unemployment rates. I want to be thinking pastorally about the spiritual crisis that comes with unemployment.

Start This, Stop That: Do the Things That Grow Your Church, Jim Cowart, Jennifer Cowart
This isn’t a book that I bought because it was telling me anything new; it’s a book I bought because it organizes and presents the current wisdom on growth in a way that I really liked and appreciated.

Ubuntu: I In You And You In Me, Michael Battle
I had heard about “ubuntu” years ago and felt immediately drawn to it.

From the back cover:

Ubuntu is an African way of seeing the world — and the people in it — as an intricate web of relationships. Those who have embraced the spirit of Ubuntu understand that they only come to know themselves as they weave their own lives into the lives of others.

I started reading this in the bookstore at the Iowa UCC Conference and was hooked. I think it will be a wonderful concept to introduce to my theologically pluralistic congregation.

Labyrinth From the Outside In: Walking To Spiritual Insight, Donna Schaper, Carole Ann Camp

I used to do labyrinth programs when I lived in Maryland near the beautiful Bon Secours retreat center and its gorgeous labyrinth. My new congregation has a labyrinth and it will be nice to reconnect with that old practice. Preaching, programming opportunities.

Sleeping With Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabrican Linn, Matthew Linn
Yay! A book I have been hearing about for years, finally found at Soul Desires & Urban Abbey Bookstore’s traveling exhibit at the UCC Iowa Conference!
I have been interested in the Ignatian exercises for a long time but never did anything about it. I was trained in Quaker practices of discernment by the marvelous Margaret Benefiel at Andover-Newton Theological Seminary during my D.Min program, and it seems time to pick up another discernment tool to freshen my practice. This book is a very accessible approach to the daily “examen” of Ignatius. Just flipping through it at the bookstore gave me the inspiration for a community examen, which I posted on my PeaceBang blog here.

Clearly the Holy Spirit is talking to me through this!

What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty, Bill Ehlig and Ruby K. Payne
A companion piece (for me) to sociologist Susan Crawford Sullivan’s recent piece in the Christian Century, “Poor and Unwanted,” an exploration of how women of deep religious faith who are living in poverty avoid — and are rejected by –churches.

I am convinced that economic class remains the great segregating force in our congregations. We worship together as black, white, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, gay, straight, abled and disabled, charming, cranky, of all ages and all over the map theologically in our Unitarian Universalist congregations as long as we are basically smart, articulate and self-sufficient. Or appear to be. We still act as though money is a delicate subject, we still treat money with Victorian prudishness and paternalism. We have life-span sexuality education in our UCC and UUA congregations, but we find it distasteful to speak about rent money, or about how big a hospital bill your uninsured kid who broke his leg is going to get saddled with. We ask interns to serve our congregations for an entire year on below poverty wages and then march for justice for “other people” next to that intern, who is living on ramen noodles and commuting three hours by bus, subway and foot to have the privilege of preparing for ministry with us. Ooooooh, do NOT get me started.

I want to have information, language and guidance in how to think about the issue of poverty among us, and how we have come to “welcome everybody” into our churches as long as they don’t become an uncomfortable reminder of our economic vulnerability. Welcome to the new America. We are being called into something new in regards to advocating for “the poor,” now understanding that the real erosion of financial security and potential for even the middle class leaves every single one of us at risk to enter that category.

And you, pigeons?

8 Replies to “Summer Reading: List I”

  1. I got “Sleeping with Bread” years ago and have told the story many times to the children in church. They don’t need the whole follow-up about the examen; just the story of sleeping with bread gets across the message of God’s love for us. Wonderful book.

  2. I tend to read a mix of stuff for professional enrichment, non-religious intellectual curiosity (often reaching back into my days as a scientist), and fun (I have an appetite for sci-fi and fantasy that has little redeeming literary value – call it literary popcorn).

    On my list.

    (1) World in the Balance by Robert Crease: A history of the development of measurement systems.

    (2) Business of the Church by John Wimberly: An introduction into the business aspects of church leadership (budgets, financial procedures, staff supervision, etc.).

    (3) Passage to Dawn by R.A. Salvatore: Fantasy novel featuring my favorite, heroic, scimitar wielding warrior – Drizzt Do’Urden. Readers who were a Dungeons and Dragons geek from a certain time period (like when I was in high school), know who this guy is.

    (4) Last Jews of Kerala by Edna Fernandez: History of India’s now greatly diminished, long standing, Jewish community.

    (5) Little Flowers of Saint Clare: Short religious reflections from the writings of Clare of Assisi

  3. I read fiction in the summers. My new fave is Tananrive Due’s African Immortal: Living Blood series. I’m also reading Orson Scott Card’s Mither Mages series and Kate Elliot’s Spiritwalker trilogy. All of them have relidious plots or subplots that intersect with the ancient mesopotamian world.

  4. I’d love to get you started on the money issue sometime! I totally agree with you, and it’s lovely to hear someone who hasn’t recently been an intern articulating that. I’ll have to check out that book.

  5. What Kate said – I am also eagerly awaiting the PB rant on money and class issues. Writing a long term budget plan that includes “Pray for generosity” and “Some miracle needs to happen here” will do that.

  6. Yesterday on NPR I heard a story about an award-winning science teacher who was quitting because he had to raise his own salary. My first thought was: How sad! My second was: Hey! As a pastor, I have to do that, too. He made it sound so outrageous and sad. (And he was making more than I am.)

  7. Thank you so much for pointing out Susan Crawford Sullivan’s Christian Century piece. I may have missed it otherwise, and it is not to be missed. [Happy to! Glad you got it. – PB]

  8. Taking Margaret Benefiel’s Discernment course right now — she IS marvelous! It’s also a summer’s worth of reading in one week!

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