From the Pastor’s Desk, November 2016

While I continue to read, my reading time has been significantly reduced this year. Maybe that has something to do with moving and spending more time wielding a paint brush. Now that painting is finished, or nearly finished, books will regain their seat of importance. My non-substantive rambling aside, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about books that I have read this year that I found entertaining, educational, and enriching in the manner of expanding my mind.

We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren
McLaren provides a guided tour through the church year in this book. He offers a chapter a week that coincides nicely with the celebrations and rituals of the church calendar. However, the content McLaren offers is more than an overview of the church year observance. He challenges the reader to take an active role in sharing faith as a result of participating in the celebrations and rituals. The book is intended to be used in a group setting. I used it as a personal devotional but I would be excited to participate with others in exploring and sharing in its content and invitation to action. Any interest? Let me know.

Benediction by Kent Haruf
This novel by Haruf is an end-of-life journey. In it, the main character is dying of cancer. Haruf helps the reader to understand the dying process from the dying person’s perspective, but just as importantly he captures the perspective of family and friends who are part of the journey as well. The interplay of character, emotions, and dysfunction paints a picture of reality that we can easily find ourselves in but maybe fail to grasp as we make our way through it. This is a novel written simply but with a poignancy that quickly draws in the reader.
Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy by John Shelby Spong
If you are looking for a read that will take you to the boundaries and beyond of your present theological understanding, Spong helps to meet the need. While I found myself asking questions throughout the book about the validity of Spong’s theology, I was simultaneously enthralled with the ideas that I had never previously encountered. My mind and thinking were stretched arousing my curiosity to explore more deeply the thoughts within this text. Because this book raises questions about orthodoxy, it may not be desired reading for everyone. But if you want to explore the boundaries, by all means, take a look.
“Now that painting is finished, or nearly finished, books will regain their seat of importance.”
The End of White Christian America by Robert P. Jones
The landscape of America’s demographics has changed significantly. And not only are demographics different, but American views toward diversity within our population is changing as well. Jones develops a case, based on shifting demographics and views, that politics, the church, and other institutions will look much different in the future. No longer will white influence and privilege continue to predict the outcomes of the political process and ecclesiastical works. Paying attention to Jones’ thinking may be helpful, if not vital, to the approach we take toward the future of America and its institutions.

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