I love to read, and do so daily. I generally begin and end each day with my nose in a book, and do so as often as possible in between. Reading is enjoyable, and a gateway to new ideas, thoughts, perspectives, and unlimited personal and spiritual growth. Books are fantastic sources of information and inspiration – and I’m constantly in need of both!
One of the few up-sides of this “stay in place” season of coronavirus is the opportunity to read MORE. So, I thought I’d share the books I’m currently reading, in case you’re also a reader, and might be interested. I’d also love to know what you’re reading, too!
John Main’s The Heart of Creation: The Meditative Way – Several months ago, my friend, Fabian Lazarte, recommended Laurence Freeman’s book, Jesus: The Teacher Within – an exceptional work on Christian contemplation. I highly recommend it! Freeman frequently references John Main, who was one of his primary spiritual influences. If you’re interested in Christian meditation/contemplation, I commend both authors to you.
Scot McKnight’s A Community Called Atonement – I serve on the Board of Ordained Ministry for the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Our job is to evaluate, assess, mentor, coach, and approve women and men for ordination in the United Methodist Church. We often find many candidates struggle to understand the complex meaning of the Cross and atonement. My friend, Justin LaRosa, pastor of The Portico, in downtown Tampa, with whom I serve on the Board, often recommends McKnights’s book. As I was also planning to preach a series of Lenten sermons called, “Cross Shaped Community,” McKnight’s book seemed apropros – and it is. I’m finding it especially meaningful as personal devotional reading for Lent.
John McKnight and Peter Block’s The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods – As I just said, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, I’d planned a series of sermons on Christian community. Though McKnight and Block’s book is secular – more about the potential of neighborhoods as places of authentic community – it has much to say to the Church. Though my sermon series has been interrupted, I’m still finding it a worthy, informative read.
Tom and David Kelley’s Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within All of Us – Over the last several years, I’ve become acquainted with the great work of Jason and Hillary DeMeo, through their work at WE ARE CURIO: “A design thinking studio that helps individuals and organizations innovate, solve problems and expand what’s possible.” Jason recommended the Kelleys’ book to me, to better understand “design thinking.” As this particular season of ministry is requiring new levels of creativity and innovation, I turned to Creative Confidence for fresh inspiration.
Ruth Haley Barton’s Pursuing God’s Will Together: a Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups – Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, my outstanding colleague and partner-in-crime at the First United Methodist Church of Orlando, Pastor Emily Sterling, suggested we ask the staff and church leadership to read and discuss Barton’s book on leadership and discernment. Though our current situation has delayed that process, I’m personally convinced ALL churches will need to discern a new and different future in the aftermath of coronavirus, and will need skills to do so. I’m learning those skills now, so I’ll be ready!
Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey – I read a little fiction every night, before going to bed. I try to vary my fictional reading from older to newer, to various genres. This is my first Austen work. Honestly, I don’t love it. But, I’ll finish it, and attempt another Austen novel in the future.
Admission and Confession: As I’ve shared before, I try to intentionally choose books from diverse authors. But, from time to time, to my shame and embarrassment, I realize I’ve slipped, again, into reading all white, mostly male, writers. There’s nothing wrong with white, male authors of course. I just know there’s broader knowledge, insight and wisdom to be gained from reading more broadly, from more diverse writers. Looking over the books I’m currently reading, as I just have, I see all of the authors on my list are white, and only two are female. Dang it – I did it again! Thankfully, awareness is the first step toward change. So, the next book I pick up will be written by non-anglo. I promise!
So, what are you reading? I’d love to know! Please leave a comment!