Monday, May 02, 2011


I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately...but because I can't seem to keep track of calendar dates, only how things work within the program year of the church....this winter (the middle of the program year) I've read:

I disliked this book, because it felt like it was premature. Published as the first Millennials were graduating from high school (2000), I felt it characterized the bridge people (born between, say, 1979 and 1985) more than most Millennials. It's pre-9/11 and pre-recession, two serious markers of the growing up/coming-of-age years of most Millennials, so its understanding of the generation is, in my opinion, inaccurate. The way the world has shaped them, and the ways they have shaped the world, is lightyears different from how this book reads.

I loved this book. We are working on getting a team together to try to make our youth ministry more sustainable (ie not so much dependent on me and 7 other amazing youth leaders who are basically irreplaceable), more integrated (we're better than many churches, but we have a long way to go), and more about vertical relationships that nurture and sustain inquiry about faith and life rather than about just playing human battleship (which is important too--don't worry, we're not jettisoning game nights!).

Yes, yes yes. Everyone needs to be reading this book...and then trying to figure out how we do something about the issue of our churches being full of people who not only teach our children but also believe themselves that God is just "there when you need him." First of all: not a him. Second: not a servant. Third: shallow. We need to find ways to engage a serious biblical and reflective faith. This book is a good start.

I really liked this novel, though my colleague did not. I confess that I mainly liked it as food p0*n but it had some engaging story to it as well. The family dynamics and intersections of cultures via food were interesting. My colleague thought it betrayed a colonial mindset of assimilation, I thought it was about two cultures there you go. It was not the best written novel ever--it was clearly written to be a movie, not a book, but then the author died or something and the movie was never made, so it reads a little sparsely--there are things that would have been better portrayed on screen that are not well written into the script. But overall, I kinda liked it.

Reframing Hope (a re-read in preparation for the BE4)
I heart Carol Howard Merritt. This book didn't bring up new things for me, exactly, but then again I'm hardly the target audience. I'm a young adult who IS in the church, and I work in a congregation that is intentionally seeking to be more intergenerational, that has a long history of mission and social justice, and that is invested in trying to BE the church, not just go to church. I love this book because it makes accessible the things that many church leaders (lay and ordained) need to be thinking about. The book is not long, nor is it hard to read (no dictionaries necessary here!), and it brings up things I wish more people were talking about. I feel like a large portion of the church is busy hand-wringing about my generation and the one(s) after me, but simultaneously ignoring what it means to be church in a world that is constantly changing. It's about time someone wrote a book that explains in plain english that each generation is different enough that while the faith remains the same, the ways we go about living it do not. Thanks Carol.

I love me some princess books! Philippa Gregory is always a good go-to-princess-book writer. I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading The Red Queen as well. This was a pre-Tudors story, and just as engaging as most of her work is. I love that she finds women in history and plays up their roles, instead of the usual downplaying of women in "important" stories. I like that the women are both feminine/traditional and strong/independent/interesting/stereotype-defying. I like that the story has plot twists I wouldn't necessarily expect. I like that I get to escape into a story that is both so different from my own and yet so related. loved.

I could not put these down. The story was so interesting, the characters so intriguing, the plot so not-predictable (at least at first) that I couldn't help myself. I read all three books in less than a week, because seriously...could.not.stop. The violence was a little out of control, and the sexism and heterosexism...oh my god. I nearly threw my kindle across the room more than once. But the story felt so real, and so important...and I wanted to know what was going to happen to these characters. They were just so...human. I haven't watched the movies yet, because I don't know if I can handle all that violence again (it's seriously graphic) but I probably will eventually. They're streaming on Netflix, after all. And I want to see how other people see these characters and places and imagination ran a little wild as I contemplated all the possibilities while simultaneously devouring every page.

Sometimes you just need a little classic poetry in your life.

And sometimes you just need to read something you read as a young person...and then discover that it was completely drug induced in a way you had no idea about. I mean, seriously? SERIOUSLY? I had no clue when I was was a fanciful story. Now I read this and go "Oh My God, what were you taking???" It's completely bizarre in every possible way. Still a great story, but wow. I did not remember it like that...

Kind of a princess book, sort was fluff. But I liked it a lot. Again, plot twists, good character development, interesting people you get sort of invested in. I found this book a good escape, amusing, thought-provoking, and full of gentle commentary on the place of women in society. Then again, every historical novel is probably a commentary on the place of women in society.

This may be my favorite new theology book. It should clearly be required reading for, oh, everyone. I tried to finish the book before the lecture and workshop I attended, but didn't quite make it...I got halfway through though. Then I realized how long the book was (I was reading it on my kindle and could not figure out why the percentage wasn't increasing as I kept turning I know that it's because the book is 560 pages, but over 100 of those are notes and's just over 420 of actual text and images...but that 100+ pages at the end skews the kindle percentage significantly!) and I didn't feel so bad about not finishing before I went to the workshop. Anyway: Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Parker do amazing research, write great church history and theology, and delve into an art history mystery all in the same book. It's eye-opening and thought-provoking, and relieves a great burden for those of us who have trouble with the "traditional" theories of atonement. Of course, I have been saying for years now (along with some other people like, oh, Jesus) that the kingdom of God is here and we just lack the eyes to see it...which is basically what they say. So since they confirm my beliefs, they are of course the best scholars *ever*... ;-) No, seriously, read this book. Because I want to be able to talk about it, and about the work we did in their lectures and workshops. They were awesome.

Abundance: a novel about Marie Antoinette.
We all think we know about Marie Antoinette, the supposedly callous queen who valued herself above her people and sparked the french revolution with her extravagant indifference to the rest of the population. This novel, drawing on significant historical evidence including MA's own letters and letters of her court, suggests otherwise. First of all, as is pointed out in the introduction, "let them eat cake" was not said by MA but by the queen of Louis XIV, two generations before MA. Second, this novel portrays her as a compassionate, loving, interested and interesting woman whose life did not turn out as she planned. In this novel she is a woman who knows anxiety, disappointment, uncertainty, love, hope, dreams, friendship, fun, other words, she's a human being. Again, it's often a commentary on the place of women, on class and status, and on the political realities of 18th century Europe. It's intriguing. I read it mostly on the looks long, but it doesn't feel long. Enjoy.

I'm moving on now to Open Leadership, a book I'm reading with my S3 group....I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. What great books! You've inspireed me to look for many of those you suggested/recommended. Thanks!

  2. Interesting that you found the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo so intriguing. Lynn and I read these on our trip around the west two months before she died. We barely talked when we got back to the room as we both were buried in our Kindle reading. We read all three books on that trip.

    When I watched them on Netflix I thought the actors playing the roles were, for the most part, exactly as I'd pictured them when reading.