Archive

Books

Freakonomics For my birthday one of my friends gave me the book Freakonomics with a subtitle that reads “A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.”  If you think the subtitle promises more than it can actually achieve you would be fooled.  I am halfway through book and this book it quite literally, about ‘everything’.  At the very least, everything you never thought of which happens to be the hidden side of everything.  I have discovered what the hidden side of everything is and it is not whaty you might think.  And I am not inclined to tell you.  It is a journey you must take on your own.

For the last several months every time I have been in a book store I have seen this book on the shelf but I was never compelled to buy it, thinking I had other more important books to read before I read one for “mere pleasure”.  However, since it was a gift I  felt obliged to read it, that, combined with the need for light reading on a plane (I found that I can’t concentrate on a plane so light reading is best, especially with the take off – it does something to my head).  I have had a difficult time putting this book down.  Levitt and Dubner(the writers of this book one is an economist the other a writer) make compelling cases for what school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common.  Yeah, exactly what I thought, “How could two men talk about everything?”  You will just have to read the book see for yourself.

The following line is what sold me.  “If morality represents the way  we would like the world to work and economics represents how it actually does work, then the sotry of Feldman’s bagel business lies at the very intersection of morality and economics.” (pg 46) As a pastor it is my responsibility to bridge our understanding of the way things should be and how things really are.  I strongly recommend this book.  It is insightful, thought provoking and extremely well written and reasoned.  Everyone needs to read this book if for nothing else because it will force you think beyond what you are used to.

576.152.https%3A%2F%2Felc.netadventist.org%2Flocal%2Feditor%2FIMG_0828-1 I like reading blogs.  I like reading my friends’ status’ on Facebook.  It gives me a sense of connectedness even if just through the computer screen. In our world, friendship has taken on different forms.  The internet makes is so easy to become friends with people we might never be in the same room with.  I am, specifically thinking about the friends I have made through reading their blogs, and Facebook.
I have found that vital to my success and productivity as a
Pastor (grassroot theologian – as contrasted to a theologian in the halls of ivy?)
Tribe leader (my churches are my tribe(s), see also Seth Godin’s Tribes (thanks Jeff G.),
hopeful Innovater (Pastor’s must learn to re-invent, re-capture, re-present what has been true for thousands of years and yet is brand new to a new generation of Christians and non-Christians)
Futurist (Pastors must be futurist,  attempt to observe current trends and what is just beyond the horizon).  Someone should write about these and the many other facets of a Pastor’s life.

I have been Pastoring now for just over two years and I have learned that:  90% of what I have encountered as a Pastor, I have had to learn on the Job.  Which means that I was only really equipped to handle 10%, that 10% was that I had to preach every Saturday, hold board meeting once a month and things of that nature.  For the remaining 90% I have turned to mentors, friends, blogs and Facebook to learn from those who trekked this course before me.  If you are reading this and tempted to think, “Man, anyone can become a pastor” that’s not necessarily the case.  I have the ‘qualifications’ if any exist to be a pastor.  I have an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies/ Pre-Seminary and a Master’s of Divinty (which is a two and half year degree) and I worked as a Youth Pastor for two years under the direction of a Senior Pastor who served and continues to serve as an excellent mentor.  The reality is that in our always changing world the skill-set I learned in seven years in institutions of higher education have become useless which is why I say I was only really prepared to effectively handle 10% of my job responsibilities (for a more in depth understanding of this constantly changing world and the skills needed to lead well in this context look at Leonard Sweet’s Soul Tsunami, Alan Roxburgh’s The Sky is Falling and The Missional Leader and Erwin McManus’ An Unstoppable Force– if you have other titles send them my way).

All of this to say, that blogs and Facebook and other websites have provided a wealth of information.  Specifically, BOOKS.  I know everything can’t be learned from books but they sure help.  Books help us understand in specific ways the world we are experiencing on a daily basis.  The reality is that some people are good with putting words to a concept and that helps.  So here is a list of books that I just purchased thanks in large part to my online community of friends and the books they were reading.

1. What Would Jesus Deconstruct?  The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church by John D. Caputo
2. GloboChrist:  The Great Comission Takes a Postmodern Turn by Carl Raschke
3.  Finding Our Way Again:  The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren
4.  In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson
5.  Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright
6. The Great Emergence:  How Christianity Is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle

The only problem is finding the time to finish reading all of these books.  I think I still have a few books that I haven’t finished.  Am I the only with this problem?

Finally and perhaps more importantly, as great as reading is there is one things that books cannot do.  They cannot act, they cannot move foward in faith, they cannot risk.. that is our job.  For me the best advice I have been given is “stop reading” with the connotation to start doing something (Thanks Samir).  Ironic I know, but true.

Understanding the postmodern context.  Is it even possible?  Somewhat, perhaps.  In any case, whether it is possible or impossible, our attempt at understanding must begin with the first step of immersion in the culture of postmodernism.  By this I suggest that you read.  And not read books about postmodernism,  rather books written from a postmodern mindset.
Infinite_jest_cover
Yesterday as I was reading through the New York Times I came across an essay/article entitled “The Best Mind of His Generation”.  Naturally the title alone peaked my interest and I clicked on the title.  David Foster Wallace was described as, “the kind of literary figure whose career was emblematic of his age.”  The article continues, “He may not have been the most famous novelist of his time, but more than anyone else, he exemplified and articulated the defining anxieties and attitudes of his generation.”(emphasis mine) Intrigued by the article I drove to the nearest bookseller and purchased his Infinite Jest a novel of 1079 pages described as having “set his generation’s benchmark for literary ambition…for all its humor, an encyclopedia of phobia, anxiety, compulsion and mania.”  In the foreward to Infinite Jest, writer Dave Eggers writes about Wallace as a writer who wanted “(and argably succeeds at) nailing the consciousness of an age.”  Our current age ie Postmodern Age.  I would be remissed if I didn’t include the following description.  “…Infinte Jest is something other.  That is, it bears little resemblance to anything before it, and comparisons to anything since are desperate and hollow.”(Dave Eggers)

As I began to read Infinite Jest yesterday I was vaguely reminded of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea. Something about the increased feeling of anxiousness as I continued to read.  Be forewarned, Infinite Jest is not for the weak at heart.  It requires patient reading.  At times re-readings.  It is a book where you might find yourself being described.  Scary I know.  I have only just begun reading the book, but the content in the first few chapters has caused me to write pages of reactions and responses in my moleskine journal.  I plan on posting later today or tomorrow about the second chapter “Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment”.  But for now pastoral duty calls.

SEX GOD.

I don’t know about you but growing up in what was a fairly conservative home, those two words(SEX, GOD) were not used in the same sentence, EVER! Unless of course the sentence read,

“God says, DON’T HAVE SEX!”

Some of you might know exactly what I mean. A few weeks ago I was invited to share a few words of encouragement for a high School Baccalaureate, in which the speakers preceding me, made it a point to tell the graduates, among other things to NOT HAVE SEX (until they were married of course). I won’t say whether I agree or disagree with the speakers, even though I do agree.

But I will say that I don’t know that I would have used

the method

they did

to get

the point across.

I don’t think that you can tell someone not to do something, without giving them something to do(Look at Ephesians 4:48). For too long the Christianity which i have been associated with(and gathering from the Baccalaureate) and the other mainline Christians life has become a stark ‘black and white’ contrast when it comes to sexuality. If you do it you are bad, if you don’t do it you are good. I know that statement is overly simplistic but that is how the message came across, and at times still does.

31ylpwhvael_aa240_.jpg

Rob Bell’s newest book SEX GOD: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality talks about just those things. He gets into the gray between the black and white, which then becomes even clearer than the Black and White guidelines. I will post some more about the book later.