Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Reading (Monday Morning in the Desert)

Summer is here, so many people are talking about their summer reading plans.  Many people like to do their summer reading on a beach or a resort somewhere.  Well, our family hasn't made any big summer plans, and here in Iowa, there really aren't any beaches (a few square feet of sand adjacent to a small lake doesn't count) and the resorts are few and far between.  So, my summer reading will have to be out on our three-season porch (unless there is too much heat and humidity, which we do have plenty of in Iowa during the summer).

What will I be reading?  Well, I haven't made my final list, but here are a few thoughts.  Since I will be taking a youth group to the Lutheran/Presbyterian Mission Center on the Pine Ridge Reservation, I am reading a little bit of history ("A Terrible Glory:  Custer and the Little Bighorn - the Last Great Battle of the American West" by James Donovan, a book which is about more than just that one battle, but about the unfortunate history surrounding the takeover of the West).  I'm also going to read a book about the current state of Native Americans ("Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder" by Kent Nerburn).  

Theologically, I have come to realize that I have a gaping hole in my knowledge of two 20th century theological giants: Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar.  So, time permitting, I plan on reading through a couple of introductory books about those two theologians, and finish by reading a new book from Fortress Press, "Saving Karl Barth: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Preoccupation" by D. Stephen Long.  Somewhere along the line, I hope to read a bit of fiction as well, but I haven't decided what to read yet, other than perhaps re-reading "The Hobbit" before the final movie in that series comes out later this year.   

So, today's quote is about reading books, from Thomas Merton:

"Reading gives God more glory when we get more out of it, when it is a more deeply vital act, not only of our intelligence but of our whole personality, absorbed and refreshed in thought, meditation, prayer, or even in the contemplation of God. Books can speak to us like God...They speak to us like God when they bring us light and peace and fill us with silence.  They speak to us like God when we desire never to leave them."

(From "Thoughts in Solitude" pp. 55-56).  And finally, he offers this little gem: "Christ, the Incarnate Word, is the Book of Life in Whom we read God" (p. 57).

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