A few months ago, I admitted to a friend that when I read N.T. Wright’s academic work, I’m only absorbing a small portion of it. It stretches my mind. It’s work that I can reread in a few years and there will be so much untouched, it will be like new. I read this type of work because it’s how I grow. Toni Morrison’s work referenced below is also like this. I’m skimming the surface and not mining the depths, but it’s enough for now. I’m gaining the nourishment I need to put down deeper reading roots.
It’s the same for my second-grader. He regularly reads sentences and paragraphs that are slightly beyond his competency. They make him uncomfortable. He’s a little afraid he can’t do it. But, with help, he does and his reading ability grows. If either of us stays inside our comfort zone, we don’t increase our capacities.
In the beginning days of the month, I sped through Paul and Gender by Cynthia Westfall. Be warned though: I only sped through it because it’s one of my favorite subjects. This is an academic book that is necessary to our conversation on women even though it takes some commitment. Westfall’s commitment to Scripture is outstanding and the book is based on years of her work.
I devoured A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum in a weekend. It made me angry and is stunningly written. The ending also surprised me. Trigger warnings for abuse but it’s one of my favorite novels.
Winn Collier wrote the authorized biography of Eugene Peterson, A Burning in My Bones. Peterson is a father in the faith to me. I own a stack of his books and one day intend to have them all on my shelf. This biography did not idolize him but humanized him instead. Since we follow Jesus as humans, it leaves us with a guide that is neither neat nor notable.
I finished up Dream Work by Mary Oliver. I’ve been slowly reading it for several months and it’s one of my favorite volumes of poetry. You can read The Journey here.
Since January, I’ve been reading Toni Morrison’s The Source of Self-Regard before bed. It’s large and I can’t recommend enough that you put the time into reading it. Just the opening piece is worth the money.
I read The Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas for the second time. This time instead of reading it by myself I read it with the woman I’m discipling and I liked it even more. Every week we joked about how we wanted to read it aloud on the internet and make everyone listen to it.
Beth Allison Barr’s The Making of Biblical Womanhood released on the 22nd. I ate it up in less than a day. She told so many stories that I had never heard about medieval women and how history has shaped what we think women are supposed to be. Did you know a woman helped translate the Vulgate?
Bearing God’s Name by Carmen Imes was our book club read for this month. I loved our discussion and not just because I got to give a tiny sermon on the Old Testament during our conversation. I promise I rarely do that. Book clubs are wonderful because of the conversation. Bearing God’s Name is a convicting look at what it means to be the people of God and includes multiple things about the Bible that I didn’t learn until seminary. Completely recommend you pick it up.
I reread Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable Plant. It’s probably my favorite of his books discussing vocational holiness and what it means to be a pastor and also a writer. How do we pursue the work God has given us and not just become what other people expect of us?
I finished Keep Going, the last in a trilogy by Austin Kleon on a camping trip at the end of the month. It was the perfect wrap-up in this season on creative cycles and continuing the work.