Friday, May 13, 2011


I love to read. Right now I have seven different books going, five of which are shown in the picture to the right. I'll be the first to admit, seven is too many at one time. My normal is more like two or three - one to two books going at home and one to two more at work. I read according to mood and time - the time of the day or night and the mood I'm in.

Here's a short description of what I am reading right now. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr. I can't remember where I first got wind of Rohr's latest book but the title immediately grabbed my attention. So far, twenty-four pages into it, I have not been disappointed. Rohr writes about how our failings as we grow older can be the foundation for our ongoing spiritual growth.

Contemplating the Trinity: The Path To The Abundant Christian Life by Raniero Cantalamessa. This book is my latest find at the Mt. Angel Abbey bookstore. Cantalamessa was appointed as preacher to the papal household by Pope John Paul II and still serves in this role under Pope Benedict XVI. The book contains a series of meditations given to the papal household in 2001 and 2002. Comparing the Trinity to the ocean Cantalamessa writes, "We cannot wrap our arms around the ocean, but we can enter into it." These meditations invite us to turn to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a means to overcome hateful divisions, unhappiness, false beauty, and hypocrisy, and as a means to enter more deeply into prayer, communion, and our quest for eternity.

Every Riven Thing: Poems by Christian Wiman. Wiman is the editor of the journal Poetry and the author of two previous collections of poems, The Long Home and Hard Night. I came upon Wiman in a recent issue of The Christian Century where I discovered that he was raised in the church, drifted away as an adult, and recently returned to the faith of his childhood due to a bout with cancer. These poems came out of his encounter with cancer and re-awaking of his faith. This morning I read aloud the first two poems in this collection, Dust Devil and After the Diagnosis.

House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Home by Mark Richard is the winner of the PEN/Hemingway award. From the books flyleaf, "In this otherworldly memoir of extraordinary power, Mark Richard, an award-winning author, tells his story of growing up in the American south with a heady Gothic mix of racial tension and religious fervor." The following quote led me to buy Richard's book, "...a place where only God knows how close you came to what could have been, and only His grace saved you from it. It's the lesson of Shedrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the oven of the insane King Nebuchadnezzar; sometimes God saves us through fire, sometimes He saves us from the fire, and sometimes He saves us not at all."

Stuck: Navigating The Transitions of Life and Leadership by Terry Walling. I started this book last summer, set it down, but recently picked it up again with a re-newed interest in its contents. I feel like I am in a transition time in my life, family, and ministry. So far I am finding Wallling's insights helpful for my journey.

The two books not pictured above are Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz and The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. The Starbucks book is fascinating reading from Schultz on why he returned to Starbucks as their CEO three years ago and what he did to help turn the company around when it was beginning to spiral downward from its glory years. Greene's book is one of his best novels about the whiskey priest, a story of God's grace and how it sometimes works through extremely flawed humanity.

One month from now I hope to have all seven books read. Each addresses an interest, need, like, or curiosity in my life at the moment. I am thankful for eyes to read with, a mind to think with, and good writers who stretch, challenge, and entertain me.

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