Reading as one way of nurturing both the head and heart is an ongoing process. There are, however, rhythms and cycles of or work and life that create the opportunity to concentrate some of our reading. For some that is Summer. Below is my current reading list. I hope you will pursue it and find one or more of these volumes useful if you have not already read them. Finally, I commend these words to you from John Wesley: “Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is your life.” Enjoy! +Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age by Alan Noble - 2018 WORLD Magazine Book of the Year and 2018 ECPA Top Shelf Book Cover Award - We live in a distracted, secular age. These two trends define life in Western society today. We are increasingly addicted to habits and devices that distract and buffer us from substantive reflection and deep engagement with the world. And we live in what Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor calls "a secular age," an age in which all beliefs are equally viable and real transcendence is less and less plausible. Drawing on Taylor's work, Alan Noble describes how these realities shape our thinking and affect our daily lives.
Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis by Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee - Bringing together the best in social science and medical research, this book quantifies the poor health of clergy with theological engagement. Although the study focused on United Methodist ministers, the authors interpret CHI's groundbreaking data for a broad ecumenical readership. In addition to physical health, the book examines mental health and spiritual well-being, and suggests that increasing positive mental health may prevent future physical and mental health problems for clergy. Concrete suggestions tailored to clergy are woven throughout the book.
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom Hardcover by David W. Blight - Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History - In this “cinematic and deeply engaging” (The New York Times Book Review) biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historians have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. “Absorbing and even moving…a brilliant book that speaks to our own time as well as Douglass’s” (The Wall Street Journal), Blight’s biography tells the story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. It is a powerful portrait of one of the most important American voices of the nineteenth century.
Quietly Courageous: Leading the Church in a Changing World by Gil Rendle - The changing dynamics of contemporary church life are well-known, but what’s less well-known is how leaders can work most effectively in this new context. In Quietly Courageous, esteemed minister and congregational consultant Gil Rendle offers practical guidance to leaders, both lay and ordained, on leading churches today. He encourages leaders to stop focusing on the past and instead focus relentlessly on their mission and purpose—what is ultimately motivating their work. He also urges a shift in perspectives on resources, discusses models of change, and offers suggestions for avoiding common pitfalls.
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner - Following up her highly acclaimed Girl Meets God, author Lauren F. Winner has written an engrossing reflection of literary grace and spiritual wisdom with Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. As she lives through a failed marriage and the loss of her mother, Winner finds her Christian faith slipping away. Through reading religious works and tomes and being counseled by leaders of the church, she learns she must find the courage to trust in God to find His presence. Elegantly written and profound, Still offers reflections on how murky and gray the spiritual life can be while, at the same time, shows us how to see the light we do encounter more clearly.
The Magnificent Journey: Living Deep in the Kingdom by James Bryan Smith - We are told, “Look out for yourself first” and “Nice guys finish last.” But following that path leaves us feeling isolated and anxious, and can even take us to a place of ruin. This is not a magnificent journey. There is a road to life in the unshakeable kingdom of God, but it's not an easy journey. "We cannot enter into the kingdom unless we take our cross and die to ourselves," writes author James Bryan Smith. "We often assume that this will be painful. And of course, it is. But what is the alternative? In The Magnificent Journey, the author shows us the better road, the road less traveled, but the road full of riches.
The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks - #1 New York Times Bestseller - David Brooks explores the four commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith, and to a community. Our personal fulfillment depends on how well we choose and execute these commitments. Brooks looks at a range of people who have lived joyous, committed lives, and who have embraced the necessity and beauty of dependence. He gathers their wisdom on how to choose a partner, how to pick a vocation, how to live out a philosophy, and how we can integrate our commitments into one overriding purpose.
Uproar: Calm Leadership in Anxious Times by Peter L. Steinke – This book helps leaders understand the powerful impact that emotional processes have on the people they lead. Peter Steinke draws on decades of work on system conflict and personal experiences to share real stories of challenges leaders have faced and how understanding the power of emotions has dramatically influenced their success. Readers will observe important leadership characteristics such as making decisions based on principle and not instinct, taking responsibility for one’s own emotional being, staying connected to others including those who disagree with you, and being a non-anxious presence.
Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving - For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. In Waking Up White, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us.
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo - The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book,” anti racist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people.” In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.