Clergy Recommendations

Lara Schopp Adult-ministry, Bible Study, Children & Families, Congregational Care, Connect, Home Page, Uncategorized, Youth Ministry

During this time of sheltering in place, people are hungry not just for things to do but ways to grow spiritually when most every aspect of life has been upended. The clergy put our heads together and compiled a list of resources for just such a moment as this. Some are books that can be ordered, others are online resources available right now. With each item listed, there is a link as well as a brief description of each. We hope this will be yet another sustaining practice in your life.

 

Rev. Carla Aday, Senior Minister, recommends the following selections.

The Universal Christ – by Richard Rohr Richard Rohr is a catholic priest with some cutting-edge ideas. In this book he reflects on the difference between a person named Jesus and a spiritual presence in the world that he calls Universal Christ. It’s challenging and comforting at the same time and might speak to those who don’t always feel at home inside the church.

On Beinga podcast with Krista Tippet. A journalist who later went to Yale Divinity School, she captures spiritual insights as she interviews various leaders, always beginning with the spiritual background of their childhood. Some of my favorite episodes are interviews with: David Steindl-Rast; David Whyte, Eugene Peterson, and YoYo Ma.

A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God. A lovely timeless devotional book by Upper Room books, edited by Shawchuck and Job. Scriptures, prayers, and readings for every week of the Christian year, I find these quotes thought provoking and spiritual powerful, more so than your typical devotional guide.

Dr. Mike Graves, Scholar in Residence and Minister of Spiritual Formation, recommends the following selections.

God: A Biographyby Jack Miles. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Miles looks intently into the Jewish Scriptures to see what we might learn about God as a character within the holy book. The different images of God are fascinating.

On the Road with Saint Augustine – by James K. A. Smith. Saint Augustine is without question one of the most influential voices in Christian history. In this contemporary look at the saint’s life and writings, Smith invites us to find a spirituality for restless souls. Smith, by the way, will preach and lecture during our upcoming centennial celebration.

12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing – a TED Talk by Anne Lamott. Lamott is a celebrated Christian writer who recognizes the good and bad in the world, whose wit is matched only by her wisdom. I love her books, but this Ted Talk is definitely time well-spent.

When the Roll Is Called Down Here – a sermon by Fred Craddock. Fred’s name is mentioned from pulpits every week, ours included, but since he is no longer living, a lot of people never heard him preach. Although there is no video per se with this sermon and even though the audio isn’t the best, this is one of Fred’s finest sermons ever.

Keys to Bonhoeffer’s Haus – by Laura Fabrycky

The Myth of the American Dream – by D.L. Mayfield

Rev. Tyler Heston, Minister to Youth, recommends the following selections.

The Stars Beneath Us: Finding God in the Evolving Cosmos – by Paul Wallace’s. In this book, Paul Wallace talks about his journey with science, specifically astrophysics, and how it helped him lose his faith and then find it again anew. Full of scientific knowledge, theology, and biblical study (primarily on the book of Job), Wallace demonstrates that science and religion are not enemies and that scientific questions can be a catalyst for faith and mastery

Making a Way Out of No Way: A Womanist Theology – by Monica Coleman. In this text, author and scholar Monica Coleman describes a systematic way of thinking about God and Jesus from the perspective of womanism (theory based on the experience of women of color) and the postmodern philosophy called “process thought.” She describes how God’s fundamental work can be understood as “creative transformation” of individuals, communities, and society. While an academic text, Coleman’s work is loaded with narrative and is accessible for all readers.

Rediscovering Wonder – by Rob Bell. This brief devotional video from one of my favorite authors talks about the importance of sacred wonder and curiosity in our spiritual lives. 

How Sufjan Stevens Subverts the Stigma of Christian Music – by David Roark. This article isn’t a devotional article but is the musings of a music critic regarding my favorite singer-songwriter and the way his faith informs his music. There are some great nuggets about how we can think about our faith and its effects across our lives. Faith “doesn’t just play some small, personal role in life and culture; it infiltrates and restores all of life and culture.”

Rev. Corey Meyer, Director of Mission Partnerships, recommends the following selections.

The Stars Beneath Us: Finding God in the Evolving Cosmos – by Paul Wallace’s. In this book, Paul Wallace talks about his journey with science, specifically astrophysics, and how it helped him lose his faith and then find it again anew. Full of scientific knowledge, theology, and biblical study (primarily on the book of Job), Wallace demonstrates that science and religion are not enemies and that scientific questions can be a catalyst for faith and mastery

In God’s Presence: Theological Reflections on Prayer – by Marjorie Suchocki. Prayer is one of Christianity’s most intriguing and intimate spiritual practices that is surrounded with questions and, dare I say, uncertainty. Whether you have an active prayer life, desire to have one, or find it hard and difficult, Suchocki’s invitation to think deeply about what happens when we pray will enlighten the spirit. This is a book that stays close by, for those days or seasons when I find myself needing a reminder about just exactly what is going on when we pray.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – by Anne Lamott. Whatever you are up to during your days, there’s always a time and reason to pay attention to the little things in plain sight. In Lamott’s writing of her own personal journey of becoming a writer and teacher she gives us that gentle and urgent nudge to let our souls, hearts, and eyes to be present in the moment. No matter what I find myself doing, from writing to mowing the lawn, Lamott’s insights are always right there in the backspace of the mind.

Rev. Catherine Stark-Corn, Minister to Children and Families, recommends the following selections. “I recommend the first two as a Family Book Read with Your Teens, an opportunity to connect and share our family has completed a couple family book reads. We purchased a couple copies of the book and shared them – working towards an agreed upon deadline for the completion. We shared conversation and reflections on the book at dinner numerous times and then at a final dinner after we all had completed the book.”

The Hate You Give – by Angie Thomas. This debut novel is about a teen girl who grapples with racism, police brutality, and activism after she witnessed the murder of her black friend by the police.  The main character wrestles throughout the story with race and identity. It beckons the reader to look deeply at the reality of the world in a way many of us do not experience but must acknowledge.   The novel requires the reader to be uncomfortable as we grapple with racism and violence.

Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Story – by Jack Mayer. This is an older book that had me wondering how I had never heard of this story before now.  Based on a true story of a Kansas history project conducted by high schoolers as they researched and discovered the heroic and painful acts of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker living in Warsaw during WW II.  The teens research brought to light the amazing rescue network this social worker created to help Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto.  You cannot help but be amazed at Irena’s courage and perseverance and the serendipitous events that led to her story being shared.

Flight Behavior – by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors as she weaves her passion for real world issues with incredible characters creating a tapestry of fiction that I find hard to put down when reading. This novel I came to a bit late but the message and learnings are relevant today.  As an NPR review sums it up saying… With a scientist’s attention to detail and a writer’s compassion for a diverse array of people, Flight Behavior tracks a young woman whose life morphs and takes flight just as she learns about the very real problems of the world in which she’s spread her new wings.”

In Uncertain Times Think Like A Mother – TED Talk by Yifat Susskind. These words from Yifat Susskind are far from limited to those who have children – she helps us understand how we all can play a role in making the world better….if we Think Like A Mother