Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Last year this time, I shared my current reading list in honor of back to school season. I heard from a lot of people who enjoyed that article, so I thought I’d make it a September tradition. I try to read both for professional reasons (theology, church management, biblical commentary) as well as for fun. But for someone for whom a large part of my work is creative, even “fun” reading can find its way into sermons and blogs. Books can comfort and confront, soothe and challenge us, and I think it’s always a good idea to mix it up sometimes with something completely different.
So here is the somewhat eclectic mix of what I’ve been up to lately:
Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger. This is definitely a work, not fun, book. The name comes from the Lewis and Clark expedition. Did you know that they were both skilled at navigating waterways? The plan for the expedition was to find
the northwest passage—a waterway to the Pacific Ocean. But when the Rocky Mountains stood in front of them, they had to decide: leave the canoes behind and move forward or turn back and consider the mission over. We know how the story ends. Lewis and Clark had to find new ways
to move forward, because their training in water navigation wasn’t going to help them cross the Rockies. Bolsinger applies the same principles to parish ministry, asking what old ways we need to leave behind to navigate the landscape of ministry in the 21st century. A very technical read,
but informative and challenging.
Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler. This was our book club book for August. Bowler is a professor of the history of Christianity at Duke Divinity School, focusing on the prosperity gospel. In 2015, at age 35, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. This book explores what that diagnosis taught her about herself and her theology. Even as
someone who studied theology for a living, Bowler realized she hadn’t explored the things she took for granted very critically. A quick read at just 160 pages.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I definitely missed the boat on this one, which was super popular several years ago. But, I’m getting to it just in time for the announcement that an English language film starring Tom Hanks is in the works! This Swedish novel centers around Ove, a
cantankerous old man whose wife has recently died in an accident. Ove isn’t sure what the point of life is anymore, and he is mean to and distrustful of everyone. But a new family moves in next door, Ove finds himself forced to reconsider a few things. I needed tissues for this one, but it’s a great story with lots of heart.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief trip into my current booklist! If it isn’t clear already, I love books. Studies have shown that reading novels in particular can help us deepen our empathy and compassion. What a great way to honor the gifts God has given us: our minds, our ability to understand one another, and our need to engage with many different voices. What are you reading right now?