On the second Wednesday of each month I will be offering lists, commentary, and noise about various texts that I’m reading or interested in. The category of “texts” will include all-things-words-minus-poetry.
To start with, I thought I’d give account of what I’ve been reading so far this year:
West With the Night by Beryl Markham: This is an interesting bio/memoir that I’m reading. Markham was one of the first female pilots in Eastern Africa. My sister loaned me this one when I was visiting in Tennessee (I promise I’ll send it back soon).
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver: Like Kingsolver’s other novels, it’s well written and clever. I always appreciate her ability to treat unlikable characters with generosity.
Wounded Prophet: A Portrait of Henri J.M. Nouwen by Michael Andrew Ford: I pulled this one off the shelf at the library because one of the reading groups in the Theology Class is reading through The Return of The Prodigal Son and I thought it would be interesting to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge about Nouwen. I appreciate being able to understand a bit more of the human complexity of Nouwen and recommend this to anyone who has found themselves impacted by Nouwen’s work.
The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen: This is the Nouwen book I have read the most. It’s as delightful and impacting now as it was in my Sophomore year in college, the first time that I read it. It’s Nouwen’s spiritual meditations on the parable and the Rembrandt painting pictured on the cover.
Incidentally, when I first read the book I went to an art store and bought a large poster print of the painting which I then stashed at my parents house. There’s this weird thing, where unframed art was always kept behind the clothes in my parents’ closet in order to keep it from getting damaged, so this is apparently where I put it years ago. This past summer, while visiting my parents (and the day before I came out to them !), my mother pulls the poster print of The Return of the Prodigal Son out of the closet (irony not lost on me) and asks, “do you know what this is?” –Do I ever, Mom. Do I ever.
The River Why by David James Duncan: Speaking of prodigality and parents, I just finished this gem, which was a Christmas gift from a dear friend. It’s a lovely book and I enjoy Duncan’s purposeful meandering, decidedly clever riffs on fishing and the Bible, and insight into human relationships and spirituality that lean heavily on a Meister Eckhart mysticism. A delicious quick read for my plane rides to and from Tennessee.
The Brothers K by David James Duncan: I’ve actually been reading this one since before Christmas and I’m told it’s even better than The River Why (told this by the same friend who gave me this one and The River Why, and I tend to think of as a bit of a Duncan proselytizer–you know who you are). So far I’m enjoying it. Again, the writing is great and Duncan has a way of creating beautifully engaging tight riffs on random subjects that seamlessly fit within his broader plot structure and which illuminate his characters so well. I’m looking forward to finishing this one.
Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment: A Developmental Strategy to Liberate Everyone by Leticia Nieto (with 4 co-authors): I’ve truly been reading this for more than 4 months. It is a textbook and an excellent resource for developing anti-oppression frameworks and skill sets. I appreciate the authors’ use of a psychological developmental approach to understanding how all persons engage with systems of oppression, whichever side of privilege they may be on. This book has advanced my own thinking and work around understanding how oppression works withing U.S.American culture and where I find myself developmentally across various categories of privilege and oppression. The book is not comprehensive, but it offers a helpful framework that can be applied to work beyond what is covered within the book. I highly recommend it.
God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage by Bishop Gene Robinson: I’m still in the process of reading this one. So far it’s great. I got to hear Robinson speak in Seattle last month and he’s delightfully generous and thoroughly Episcopal in his approach (he described being invited to come and speak at a mega-church that was one of the main proponents of prop 8 in California. His response was to say, “of course” and then before going to speak at the church in the evening, he attended their morning service in order to worship with them first. Oh, Episco-pals).
The book is largely a compilation of Robinson’s responses to questions he gets asked all the time and he stated that he wrote the book to provide a resource to folks who field these kinds of questions about the Bible and marriage frequently. I recommend this one too, and I’ll loan you my copy if you want to read it, but you have to promise to give it back, cause I got it signed.
Blogs & sites:
Beautiful photos and beautiful words from a beautiful person. I don’t have much else to say about it than that.
Can’t get enough of these gorgeous munchkins and I’m constantly awash in the goodness that is this woman’s gracious parenting. So grateful she’s my sister.
I am seriously addicted to this tumblr. And I’m not at all embarrassed about that. I also sometimes wonder if I know who this person is and I secretly hope that it’s one of my seminary friends. Laugh out loud delicious.
“Geez: holy mischief in an age of fast faith”
You can check this out at geezmagazine.org. I enjoy this little Canadian zine with it’s no ads and counter cultural Christian thoughtfulness. Not perfect, but not trying to be, which has its own appeal as well.
Because it’s that time of year. And yes, I seriously read seed catalogs. Laugh now, but you’ll be glad I did when you need to know a drought resistant variety of cucumber that grows well in the Pacific Northwest.