The Best Bookend

Teddy,

You entered a different world than we had planned
A year of gut punches and divine lessons we weren’t ready for
But the first bookend in this section of life’s volumed chronology
Will always be your joyous arrival

As tiny and soft as a stuffed bear that bears your name
And as beautiful as an angelic chorus that we can’t stop singing
You are the marker and sign post of this year
An ever so needy declaration of love’s entanglement in flesh

As our hearts sang your hum with a backdrop of uncertainty and anxiety
The contrast revealed the transcendent 
Like a cosmic explanation point
You have reminded us of love’s victory, eternal and final

Your hawked and flowing hair
Your sky blue eyes, locked on your big brother
Your sweet-roll aroma, a trigger for paternal and maternal giggles
It’s all pure joy, a gift we cold never earn

May the God of endless parental love grant us the ability to hold it all
That we wouldn’t miss a minute of your light
A brightest star in this darkest night
The sweetest tastes in this bitterest of years

The other bookend is yet to be seen
But it doesn’t matter
We get to be yours
And you get to be ours

A toast of celebration with my beloved church family

This toast was shared during a sermon for Oak Life Church on Sunday, November 8th, 2020. Please forgive grammar/typos. For a link to the full service sermon- click here.
——

Friends,

This week, after 4 years of political anxiety, stress, chaos, vitriol… after racism and racist rhetoric became normalized in the highest office… after the Jesus I love was used and exploited, silenced and contorted for political gain… after ego, narcism, and prideful, and shameful masculinity… after all this – and all the other crap – was unleashed in a torrent of divisiveness and ugliness into our nation- and in the midst of a once in a century global crisis- including compounding traumas, American democracy seems to have voted for change.  Most of us chose a different path.

To my kids (and all our kids) who will grow up in a world knowing that character matters and that our bullies will not get the last word.  I’m more hopeful today for the world that you will inherit. 

To all the women in my life who have had to live with the heightened anxiety because of our President’s language and demeanor, who have felt fear and been silenced and minimized, and now get to celebrate the history shaking election of our first female Vice Present.  

We see you, we love you, we honor you.

To all my friends of color who have had to carry the weight of a nation unwilling to acknowledge it’s racist history and a President who has normalized and empowered the evil of white supremacy May you now get a small chance to breath knowing that there lives matter. 

We thank you for largely being the reason this election went the way it did (cheers especially to you Ms Abrams), we’re sorry we’re sorry, we’re sorry, we love you, we’re learning to be with you.

To all my co-laborers  who have been working tirelessly (often without any recognition) to bring justice for immigrants, for the houseless, for those on the margins and who’ve felt like the last four years were filled with giant steps back and now see some of the fruit of their work –

We thank you, we need you, we wouldn’t be here without you

To my LGBT+ siblings who’ve been on a rollercoaster, especially within the church and maybe now feel a little more sure that their rights are secure –

We love you, we affirm you, and we’ve got your back

To all those who’ve been caged, silenced, torn from family, bullied, belittled, gaslighted, who’ve lost sleep, who’ve lost friends, to all those we’ll never know and all those we’ve chosen to ignore either in omission or commission-

We’re sorry, we’re sorry, we’re sorry- may this moment be a slight breath of fresh air and may God convict our all our hearts and may you find Gods nearness and protection in supernatural expressions.

To Oak Life Church who has consistently been a miraculous, diverse, messy but beautiful, justice seeking church- who would have continued to work for good no matter what happened.

I love you, our world needs you, thank you for letting me be a pastor to you.

Cheers to the repudiation of vitriolic politics which have harmed and divided!

Cheers to the rejection of the white, American Jesus who is a tool of empire, to the death of toxic Christianity!

And ultimately cheers to a new world where we can come together! regardless of our differences to seek the common good and the good of our planet!

Cheers to have Oakland in the White House!

Cheers to you God for continuing to move us forward, for never leaving us, for forgiving us, for renewing us, for being our ultimate hope and salvation, and for giving us the strength to get through these last 9 months and these last four years!

Cheers, Sliante, Amen!

Wilderness Manifesto


2020 is a year of disruption and uncertainty. In many spiritual traditions seasons of wilderness, both literal and metaphorical, are sacred terrains of transformation where the comforts of the city are stripped away and where we’re forced to confront life’s chaos, dangers, and worse. No doubt the current pandemic, civil unrest, and fire season have thrust many of us into the feel like our lives are in a season of wilderness.

My church has been reflecting on these themes in a conversation called “Finding God in the Wilderness” and we recently reflected on the Shema, which has acted as sort of a manifesto for the people of Israel in the their wilderness wanderings becoming a statement of purpose and grounding. With this in mind, we were invited to write our own “wilderness manifestos” and here is mine:


Wilderness Manifesto

In the midst of the Wilderness that we’ve come to call 2020, a season I wasn’t ready for:

Hallelujahs are still sung
Hope still shines
And the tomb is still empty

Kissing and hugging your kids is still ecstasy
Holding your wife’s hand is still a gift
And your family, church, and community are still image bearers of the divine Love

Doom scrolling is still not wise
What you put in your body still matters
And though Gods favorite baseball team is a nice distraction, the love of other humans is what you really live for

No person is less than
Elections are not the end of the world
And 2020 will soon be a footnote in Gods story of redemption

Every day is grace
The world is still turning
and our purpose on it has not changed

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

This year I will continue to choose love
Because love wins
Come what may

Dear Teddy

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Dear Teddy (“Bayba Tedah” as your brother calls you),

My precious son, you were born in peculiar times.  Given all that’s happened these past few months I thought I’d share some thoughts with you.

You were discharged from the NICU and home to us the day before shelter in place orders were declared.  Your birth was six weeks ahead of schedule, and about four weeks before a global pandemic was announced,  ushering in a season of urgent caution which has permeated all aspects of our lives with a murky fog of uncertainty.

Uncertainty is one of the few things we are actually guaranteed in this life.  At the end of the day, we just don’t know what the next one will bring.  If we’re lucky, we’ll live in times of relative stability and be gifted the privilege of worrying about tertiary burdens.   I will say however, that it’s times of uncertainty that seem to chip away the vernier of existence and peel back from our layers of comfortable insulation.  It’s times like this where we bump up against the real, the true, and the things that actually matter.   So in many ways, you are born into an historical moment with a lot less fluff and noise.

I wish with all of my  marrow and might that I could guarantee you a life of safety, but I cannot.  It’s beyond my control.  And so I’m writing to you a message that I believe transcends our current predicament and any that may still be subsequent.  Basically, here are some words I can’t not say.

I love you son.

You are squirmy, soft, and sacred.

When you breathed your first breath I had none.

Your presence in our lives is like a daily unfolding melody of grace that I can barely keep up with.

Because you came miraculously early (fortuitously wasn’t quite the right world), your mother was only able to hold you for a moment before the medical professionals took control.  Then it was you and I for a while until she was cleared to join us.

You spent about 4 weeks in the hospital gaining strength and kicking butt.  Much of the butt kicking was because your mother tirelessly stayed by your side and gave your body all it needed from hers.  That woman is tough as nails.  Your big brother was getting the house ready and hanging with your grandparents.

We’ve been home for a while now and these days have been the most contrasting combination of mundane, heavenly, hard, ecstatic, tiring, energizing, and holy.  I find myself going between feelings of “not wanting to miss a moment” and feelings of “what’s happening in the world and with my work?”.

So when I think about what I want to write to you, mostly I want to say, welcome and I love you.

Life is worth it in the end.  There is so much to see and experience, even if these times are uncertain.

At some point you’ll learn that a big part of my life is this thing we call ‘faith’.  Faith is a word that approximates a deeper reality that I can’t shake from the deepest parts of me.  It’s synonymous with hope.  Love is in there too.  When those three words dance it’s pretty awesome.

Those words all point to something.  To me, they don’t point to things being “happy” or “safe” or even “good”.  What they point to is that ultimately reality is a choice.  A choice between choosing what defines you.  In the end we do not have much power over whether the future brings prosperity or calamity.  What we do have choice over is whether we will be defined by temporal things or transcendent things.  To me, faith, hope, and love are transcendent- they go beyond and are more real, powerful, and all encompassing than temporary trails.

Son, my prayer is that above all things you would choose to enter into those things in your life.  That you would walk the path of love, breathe the air of faith, and sing the harmony of hope. And that when your feet fail you, the air gets polluted, or the song is drowned out, that you would lean on the faith, hope, and love of others.

Faith is the daily decision to orient your being around a hope beyond yourself.  That there is good behind it all.

Hope is the act of trusting that no matter what comes your way, love is still is worth giving and receiving.  That even in dark times, there is light.

Love is the choice to see all of life as sacred in a way that holds all and bears all.   That when all is said and done, love will remain.   That love wins.

I know that might all sound lofty or imprecise , but those are the truest words I could type at the moment.  Luckily there are lots of stories, songs, and prayers that we’ll share at some point that might help color in the blank spots.

So son, I love you.  I can’t tell you how excited I am for you to play with your brother, throw a baseball, taste ice cream, have tickle-fights, dance silly, sing sincerely, hold loved ones, and experience all that consciousness embodied has to offer.   Your mother, brother, and doggy are so happy to have you join our family.  The days ahead will not be boring, and in the space of one another, there will be (and already is), an eternal joy that I’ll never be able to put words to.

Teddy, you are a gift to us and to this world and any voice that tells you otherwise is a lie.

Love,

Dada

An honest song for the pandemic (inspired by imprecatory pslams, the book of lamentations, and punk)

My dear friends Say and Charlotte have organized an amazing online/remote open mic community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic .  Like seriously, they’ve done an incredible job.  When it comes to my own music, I usually just sing/write/play for myself as a personal therapeutic/spiritual practice and usually don’t share publicly.  For Open mic 5.0 I was encouraged to share a song so I wrote this.  It’s inspired by the Imprecatory Paslams which are Psalms of “cursing”- essentially songs of unfiltered emotion from their author towards their enemy.  It might surprise some that the Bible includes such raw and emotional prose, but it’s actually one of the reasons I never stop reading the Psalms.  Anyways, here is my addition to the open mic- inspired by imprecatory psalsms, the book of lamentations, and punk rock.  Oh, and I don’t normally wear A’s jersey’s and curve my mustache, but it felt appropriate for the open-mic.
(link here to entire open mic show)
lyrircs below video

It’s been some time
Since I’ve seen my friends
We’re quarantined
Feels like the end
I’m drinking more
And it was already a lot
Just trying to do my part
To support the local wine shop
I miss my folks
I miss my church
I miss Lake Merritt and going out to eat
I miss seeing my kid
Hug other kids (I miss hugs too handshakes are whatever)
I miss my friends
But most of all I miss baseball
———

Fuck you, Fuck you
Coronavirus fuck you
You’re the worst
And I fuckin hate you
——
I’m saving water
Showering less
I only clean up
Before the next zoom call
My kids are exhausting
And can’t stop watching the news
Thinking bout death and if I’ll have a job
Racisms back, I guess it never left
Thank God for memes
Can I get an amen
Thank God for memes
And shows like tiger king
I miss my friends
But most of all I miss baseball
———

Fuck you, Fuck you
Coronavirus fuck you
You’re the worst
And I fuckin hate you
—–
And then the orange man
Gets on TV
Says it’s a hoax
But then says it not
I really hope
He looses in november
But knowing us,
He’ll probably win Huge

God dammit, 4 more years?

At least theres Fauci
Peace be upon him
I miss my friends
But most all I miss baseball
————

Now you might say
Baseballs just a game
But to me it’s not
Just a metaphor for this song
It’s resurrection
It’s family memories
It’s how I learned
God roots for the underdog
So what’s your baseball
What have you lost
We’re in this together
We’ll get through this together
I miss my friends
But most of all I miss baseball
——

Fuck you, Fuck you
Coronavirus fuck you
You’re the worst
And I fuckin hate you

A Prayer from the NICU

Day ___ in the Neonatal ICU
Immersed among clinical miracles and embodied angels
Lights and alarms holding us like loving arms
These rooms tell tales of new life too soon arrived

Heaviness in the faces of those walking by
Mothers and fathers caught in this purgatory place
A liminal lounge of hope and loss
Between a lifetime and a life without time

Plastic tubes and sacred portals
Bringing resurrection rays to the most fragile limbs
Oxygen flowing through days old veins
Nourishing souls with miraculous compounds

Screens and numbers signifying safety zones
Every life we’ve ever known
Exists between these invisible membranes of
Too high or too low, Too much or too little

Lord, give us patience, diligence, and faith
As we’re leashed to the clock’s call for the next nursing
And anxiously awaiting discharge orders
But only as soon as breath will sustain

This sacred waiting space
To gather strength and collect care
Prepares us for all that’s next
A world of unknowable highs and lows

The journey is love, the fabric of our existence
Before consciousness and preterm births
And beyond legacies and lineages
Love lead us on forevermore

Amen

Dear Son

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Dear Son,

We can’t wait to meet you!

They say you could come at any moment.  I’m not sure we’re totally ready, but at the same time, you sort-of feel overdue.  Life is full of paradoxes like that.

Seriously, we can’t wait to meet you.  You have an older brother who’s been pointing to your mom’s belly whenever we say “baby brother”.  He also kisses you sometimes.

Your mother is amazing.  Like, you should be sure to thank her at some point.  She’s beautiful, caring, hard working, faithful, hilarious, loving, and true.  She had to take off work early because you seemed to want to come out way before your due date.  I’m glad we have medicine to keep you growing in there.  You’re really blessed to have her as a mom, trust me, I’ve watched her over the past couple years.

And then there is our dog Sonny.  He’s been a good doggy brother to Elliott.  Elliott is your older brothers name.  We haven’t picked your name quite yet.

We’ve got a room for you and a home that I really love.  Though we’re hoping you’ll share with your brother… We moved here last year knowing you might be joining our family some time in the future.  I guess that’s now! There is a small backyard, a great view, and tons of trails nearby.  I’m really looking forward to taking you on lots of jogs and for our daily “bye bye sun” moment.  Elliott’s got a ton of toys to show you too.

There is so much to see in life!   Over the years I’ve come to see that it’s all a gift.  Highs, lows, and everything in between.  Your existence is a gift and you’ve got a family full of love awaiting you.

I can’t wait to see how you and Elliott get along.  I can already picture the two of you running around giggling.

I can’t wait for you to taste ice cream.

I can’t wait to hear your voice- especially you say “Mama”, “Dada”, or “Elliott”.  Oh and “Sonny” too.

I can’t wait to take you to the zoo and to ride with you on the sky-choo-choo.

I can’t wait to take you to an A’s game.  As I said with your older brother, we’ll support you in life no matter what- as long as you’re an A’s fan.  The same is true for you.  Family rule.

Seriously though, life is great.  It’s not boring.  And even the hard stuff has beauty in it.

As we’ve been waiting for you, we’ve been praying for you.  Prayer is a concept we’ll talk about at some point. It’s sort of a hopeful trust in, surrender to, and communication with the ultimate benevolence of reality.  It comes from a part of our world that is a big part of my life, faith.  Faith and the things we’ve created around faith reflect the best and sometimes the worst of us. I actually think we’re all people of faith and for me, my faith is in Love. Which is another big topic. We’ll get there. There are some pretty amazing stories that will help.

Anyways, we’ve got lots of time to talk about this stuff.  Until then, keep growing healthy and strong.  We can’t wait to meet you.

Here we go!

I love you already,

Your Dad

On the future

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Recently, I’ve thought more about the future than I ever ever have before.  As I do my best to bumble through life as tactfully as I can, I’ve noticed, with an increased frequency, the subtle bubbling up existential speculation within my thoughts and conversations.  An increase in these thoughts might come across as somewhat surprising considering that you could say that the focus of my chosen career is itself “existential speculation”.  Nonetheless, I’ve found myself reading more and more articles about climate change or economic forecasts with a sense of urgency in the same way I used to read analysis of the A’s prospects for the upcoming season.   Admittedly, and maybe somewhat obviously, the catalyst for most of these internal colloquies is likely the a consequence of becoming a father and the imminent arrival of our second child – it’s not just me anymore.  There are now in my life little humans, whom I care immeasurably about, and who’s own lives will extend far beyond mine.

So the future, what do we do with it?

In some ways we have absolutely no control of the future.
In other ways, how we live now and the decisions we make directly affect the future.

In many ways the future has tremendous potential to offer a better life for those who inherit it.
In many other ways the future looks more complicated, challenging, and potentially disastrous for those who come after us.

See, there is this perception that the future should always be brighter than the past.  And while I generally consider myself an optimist, there are many historical instances that prove this perception wrong.  Entire societies have achieved high levels of living standards only to be brought back to the stone ages by war, disaster, or mismanagement a generation later.

So what world will my children inherit?
What world will their children inherit?
Will we keep wrestling with systemic issues like poverty and environmental destruction?
Or will the arc of history continue to bend towards justice?

As I’ve considered these conversations I’ve started to observe how we tend to practically engage with their ramifications.  It appears that we mostly head in one of two directions: panic or avoidance.  If you survey the digital universe (blogs, web-zines, social media), you’ll most assuredly find this to be true.   We as a species tend to respond to the things that are beyond our control by either running from them, or obsessing over them.  For evidence of the obsessive response, just google Harold Camping, or one of the countless religious groups who’s birth is a direct result of apocalyptic predictions.  For evidence of the avoidance response, ask pretty much any dentist the percentage of people who floss regularly even after being told that flossing could spare them future discomfort.  And of these two tendencies, it’s my opinion that most of us choose the later, we mostly ignore the future.  Brunch, Netflix, and mouth-wash are just easier.

For me, at this moment, I can’t really ignore the future.  I also can’t get too worked up about it.   The reality is that our species will likely find a way to keep on going, and that many of the cosmic problems we worry about are beyond my personal control.  While doomsday predictions capture the headlines, their claims don’t help me love my family or set workout goals.  And while most major existential threats are beyond my control, I do have some agency over my life and its effects on those around me.

Like many of humanity’s philosophical binaries, I think the most honest and helpful approach to the problem of the future is not in an either or framework, but in a both and.  As much as it might go against our natural tendency, which prefers to choose one response over another, I wonder if we should approach the future with a healthy dose of reasonable panic tied together with a sense of wonder and adventure.   Let me unpack what I mean for a moment.

Reasonable Panic, Wonder, & Adventure
The problem of the future is a real one.  We have limited control over what tomorrow may or may not bring.  To deny this would be a denial of what life is actually like.  While I understand that most of us are just trying to get through the day, I don’t think we need to do so by pretending that our world is not chaotic and filled with challenges.  We should instead be real about life’s unpredictability in a way that acknowledges our individual finite-ness and specific responsibilities.  Yes life is crazy, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we’re each able to have a positive impact on a limited number of things like ourselves, our work, and our communities.  And when we’re reasonable about what we might take responsibility for, it may help us to focus our panic towards the areas where we have capacity to impact, and do so positively.

But it’s not just about refining our focus to the things within our control to affect.  I’ve noticed that if we approach life with a sober sense of reasonable panic it may allow us to enjoy the gifts of each moment. When we acknowledge the messiness of our world, but focus on the things that we can actually have an impact on, I actually think potential is created not only to bring about positive change, but also, and maybe more importantly, to make us more appreciative and present to the good things in life.  It’s true, there are wars being raged around the world and our health might take a turn for the worse at any moment, but these truths, if we allow them, can teach us to receive the good in life as precious.

This is where the sense of wonder and adventure come in.  When we allow life’s craziness to point to life’s miraculousness, we have an increased capacity to delight in the taste of our favorite meal, notice the twinkle in the eyes of our loved ones, or enjoy the gift of a sunset with deeper urgency and gratitude.  Behind each smell, color, sound, or encounter is a story, a soul, or an adventure.  These experiences, framed by the uncertainty of tomorrow, become eternal moments of of possibility and potential, ultimately towards some sort of glimpse of what the the poets, mystics, storytellers and philosophers have called love.

My hunch is that this is the Thing under the things of life.  The potential to experience, notice, give, or encounter love is the grandest journey.  Here is the rub though- our ability to receive life as a gift worth beholding seems to be based on choice.  It’s up to each of us whether we’ll choose to coast through life avoiding its complexity, to become overwhelmed with things we cannot control, OR allow reality’s turmoil to awaken us to its utter improbability.

I do not know what my children’s life will look like.  I have no idea what catastrophes will come, which social norms will be disrupted, or how many World Series titles the A’s will win.  What I do know is that the miracle of consciousness can be an invitation to experience and behold love.  That’s enough.

It’s been so long


It’s been so long
Since I was right
In my heart

These habits formed
Like glaciers
On granite

A thousand years
A deeper wound
A hidden scar

No warmth inside
The river’s dry
The valley’s dark
——
When will we see
When will you hear
Fiercest fatigue
Roaring in me

I don’t know how
I don’t know if
I’ll make it out
Or if I’ll be ok
————

Where were you
The day I fell on
The threshing floor?

Before their gaze
Between their words
My breath was held

The fire burned
The tide swept
The hymn has wrung

And all that’s left
Is ashes
Of what was

———

When will we see
When will you hear
Fiercest fatigue
Roaring in me

I don’t know how
I don’t know if
I’ll make it out
Or if I’ll be ok

—–
It’s been so long
Since the dream
Of what could be

And I have have
And all that’s left
I can’t hold

Collections of
Their stories
So holy

It’s been so long
Where’d you go?

2019 Book List

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A few years back I set the goal of reading at least the same amount of books as I had read the year beforeAfter having a child in 2018, I wasn’t able to keep up the pace last year (for really good reason).  This year I’ve found a rhythm with my literary exploits again.  We’ll see how long it lasts…

I’ve noted my favorite books of the year with these ***.  Also, I’ve included an amazon link and a brief sentence or two recap for some context.  This list is only includes books I’ve finished and does not include the many, many books I’ve referenced or utilized in part for personal or professional purposes.  For an explanation of my process here is my introduction from 2016.

—–
2019 Book List

Activist Theology, Robyn Henderson-Espinoza
I had the chance to meet and hear from Dr. Henderson-Espinoza at a recent conference and found their journey and perspective super engaging, challenging, and inspiring.

Talking to Strangers, Malcom Gladwell
Classic Gladwell.  This book is basically about why we don’t understand one another.  Lots of sad stories, but overall an important contribution to pop-discourse.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottieb
Super fun read that exposes the audience to what it’s like to be a therapist.  Lots of helpful nuggets, and as a pastor, I can relate to a lot of her experience.

The Moment of Lift: How empowering women changes the world, Melinda Gates
I’m a fan of her work and her perspective, but this felt like a knock off of Half the Sky. Again, I’m 100% in support of the work, just skeptical of billionaries doing good and becoming cultural heroes for what should be the expected lifestyle if you have that much $$$

The Religion of Tomorrow, Ken Wilbur
Long and academic overview of where Religion has come from and where it’s going.  I agree with like 45% of his predictions/prescriptions.

There There, Tommy Orange ***
Awesome storytelling which portrays the experience of Native Americans in contemporary times.  Also a plus: it takes place here in the Bay.

Monk of Mohka, Dave Eggars
True story of a Yemeni-American who discovers his cultures rich history with the coffee.  This one also takes place in the Bay Area, at least in part.

Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody, James Cone***
A memior from the man often known as “the father of Black Theology”.  This is a must read for folks doing ministry today.

Learning to Speak God from Scratch, Jonathan Merritt
Easy to read and engaging theological reconstruction.  This paired with a series we did at Oak Life called Big Words where we chose different faith-words and unpacked them.

Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, Mirabai Starr
An engaging and thought-provoking read that explores the divine feminine and mystical voices from various religious traditions including Christianity.  I like both of those.

Holy Envy:Finding God in the Faith of Others, Barbary Brown Taylor***
I always enjoy Taylor.  This was a really strong contribution to the conversation around ecumenism.  Maybe one of the better books on this subject.

Utopia for Realists, Rutger Bregman
Bregman caused a stir at Davos recently and that’s what perked my fancy.  This book is a great exploration of Univeresal Basic Income and other society-shifting ideas that are worth considering.  Andrew Yang and Bregman must be buds.

The Universal Christ, Richard Rohr***
So good.  This is Rohr’s attempt to create a more expansive, all inclusive Christianity.  He put words to what many of us have been sensing for a long time.  Def worth picking up.

How the Bible Actually Works, Peter Enns
An extremely well done work on the nature of the Bible including discussions on historical context, proper ways to interpret, etc.  Everyone who teaches the Bible should read this.

Shameless, Nadia Bolz Webber
Nadia’s attempt to create a broader sexual ethic within Christianity.  While I really enjoyed this book I felt it lacking in convincing arguments even though it had great stories.

Journey of The Universe, Brian Thomas Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker
Super fun and simple read which tells the story of how everything came to be, at least to the best of our current scientific understanding.  I found a  lot of the language really beautiful.

Dare to Lead, Brene Brown
Classic Brene Brown.  This is essentially a pop-leadership book with lots of useful interpersonal wisdom.

Twain’s Feast, Nick Offerman
Super fun book on Mark Twain’s culinary escapades.  Super fun.  Like really fun.  And you should eat white listening…

The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, Thomas Merton
As a journaler, a frequent traveler to Asia, a Christian, and a fan of Merton, I found this one super interesting.  Essentially it’s Mertons personal journals from his final few months in Asia before he suddenly passed.  Reading his dreams, and the subsequent internet rabbit trail I found myself on, actually convinced me that his death wasn’t accidental.

The Art of Travel, Alain De Botton
Very enjoyable and creative philosophical musings about travel- how to do it well, and what it does to us.

A Brief History of Thought, Luc Ferry
Easy to read overview of all Western thought/philosophy including religious.  While I enjoyed it, I found his take on Christianity a bit reductive.

Failure of Nerve, Edwin Friedman
A mentor/friend gave this to me.  It’s basically a therapists take on relationship systems.  While I was skeptical at first, I actually got a lot out of it.

Science and the Spiritual Practices, Rupert Sheldrake****
So fun!!! Dr. Sheldrake is a bit out there to some, but I found his integration of science and spirituality to be really imaginative, practical, and helpful.

Invitation to Love, Thomas Keating
Classic Keating.  Lots of contemplative musings about love and it’s beauty.

Imitation of Christ, Thomas a’ Kempis
I had never read this classic Christian devotional.  I started my mornings off with it and found it really enriching.

The Beatitudes, George Hunsinger
This was a fun and fresh take on the Beatitudes which was really helpful when our church did a series on them called “Blessings on Blesssings”

Healing Spiritual Wounds, Carol Howard Merritt
An important resources for anyone who’s been hurt by the church or religious institutions.  Our church has a “spiritual trauma support group” and I know first hand how deep these wounds can run.

Love, Henri, Henri Nowen
A collection of letters between Henri and his readers.  Really fun, inspiring, sincere, and encouraging.

Almost Everything, Anne Lamott
Classic Anne Lamott but this time she writes about hope.  One of my most favorite descriptions of Anne is “a feminist C.S. Lewis”.  Rock on Anne.

Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross
I know I’ve used the word “classic” a lot, but this is the profound and timeless classic by the Spanish Mystic.  Should be core curriculum for any theology sojourner.