What I Read | APRIL 2017

28092902Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson

Bryson, known mainly for his European travelogues, here documents his return to the USA through a series of newspaper essays.  Having tasted life in Europe, his musings about his home country are mostly exasperated.  Occasionally, usually at the prodding of his British wife, he remembers something lovely about the United States, which just goes to show that it’s easiest to love greener grass elsewhere than to love what we were given.

NorseMythology_Hardback_1473940163Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

The first creation stories were not especially amazing, and I almost lost hope for this book!  But once we dive into character-driven narratives, there is a distinct Gaiman-sparkle that elevated the book and helped the story feel more cohesive.  I’m becoming more and more interested in Norse mythology, especially because the gods seem especially unfair, and unrepentantly so.

51nBwU944QL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

A true memoir of one guy’s journey of Not Dating, and how this could have happened.  It’s funny, and there is meaningful growth, which is good because I spent most of the book yelling “you’re self-sabotaging!” at him until he heard me and said so himself towards the end.  The premise is even more fun because he frames each story through the lens of a scientific hypothesis to be proved or disproved.  It was fun to see that he was mostly wrong, and had to learn that we see what we want and/or fear, not what is really there.

28588459Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King

King is one of my all time favorite authors because she walks a fascinating “is this mental illness OR magic OR reality” line that she refuses to clarify.  This book in particular dealt with a subject I haven’t really seen represented before.  King confidently asserts that abuse, big or small, endured or witnessed, is traumatizing and deserves to be acknowledged, addressed, and healed.  Through the lens of a teenager girl meeting other-aged versions of herself.  Fun!

25528801Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

This book is a little more PSA-y, telling the “ideal” rape scenario in which the victim knows it’s not her fault and is believed and supported by everyone.  It’s not very realistic, but it’s very encouraging to see a future to work toward.  Secondarily, I was very impressed that Johnston made me question my cheerleader-stereotypes, and by the end I really admired the sport.

51vR3C-ZWpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

I don’t usually like books written in the form of diary entries, but Schlitz pulled the form off wonderfully.  The break between entries, and how the time in between is explained either in a rush or with embarrassment, really added to the narrative.  It’s set in the early 1900s, and the journey from country (which felt vaguely Little House on the Prairie) to city (which felt modern…ish) highlighted just how drastically technology changed people’s lives during that time period.  It was a fun read!

27230789Honestly Ben by Bill Konigberg

This is a sequel to Openly Straight, now told from Ben’s perspective.  And thank goodness, because Ben is so good!  He’s so lovely!  He’s thoughtful and deliberate, and we all need a Ben in our lives.  There was also so much good gender and sexuality talk going on in this book, with a gender fluid character who is almost immediately embraced by their all-male high school (if only!) and a main character who is something like demisexual…but not really?  I hope there’s a third book from Hannah’s perspective.

41d41DLmZwL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

I LOVE St. Francis, so reading a fictional book about a Protestant pastor who goes to Assisi and also falls in love with the saint was right up my alley.  I mean, it’s history/travel/theology all in one!  It was actually a little heavy-handed for a novel in the way that it presented a model for how the Church could be remade, but I found it quite inspirational.  Definitely a book for the postmodern mystic/skeptic.

25665016The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

A seriously uplifting book about four teenagers struggling with mental disorders (rage, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia) inside a mental health hospital.  I loved how they helped each other in their brokenness WITH their brokenness.  Stork’s amazing ability to write about depression and suicide attempts is apparently based on his personal experience, but his ability to write female teenagers believably is all skill.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesday

top5wednesday

Welcome to my first, and possibly only, Top 5 Wednesday!  I saw this over at My Tiny Obsessions, and since I couldn’t think of anything else to write about today, I ran with it.  This week’s theme is Favorite Videos/Posts, so let’s get real meta and have ME talking about ME and MY work.  I love narcissistic blogging!

img_81781|  I Can Die In Peace, Because I Saw Hamilton on Broadway

I will always enjoy remembering the INTENSE joy of seeing Hamilton on Broadway last December, and of getting autographs from the main casts, including Lin-Manuel Miranda himself.  This post captures my raging emotions very well, I think, which is necessary because I must always remember that I was in the room where it happens.   Continue reading “Top 5 Wednesday”

Let’s Talk About … Aliens (Part 1)

with Elizabeth

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 7.43.56 PM

Last time they talked about Tom Hiddleston.  This time they talk about a theology of aliens.  Elizabeth and Tricia’s friendship truly covers the heights and depths of the human experience.


Elizabeth:  I was just thinking this morning about how having the image of God allows us to be individuals.  God made all of us humans in his image, and to our finite minds, that would seem to make us all the same.  But to God – the infinite God who rejoices in every sunrise (see G.K. Chesterton) – the multitude of ways in which we bear his image as individuals is a continuous source of delight.  We don’t have the capacity to appreciate each and every individual, but he does.  And if we realize that, it can help us see people as valuable individuals when we meet them out in the world.  They are enough.  We are enough!  I have some basic level of value, not just as one of many image bearers, but because I bear God’s image in a way that nobody else can, and God sees that and is delighted by it.
Tricia:  I think this is a good argument for the existence of aliens.
Elizabeth:  You really want to finish the alien co-blog, don’t you? Continue reading “Let’s Talk About … Aliens (Part 1)”

Theology of the Body: Moderation

During one class, I led a group that had to create a Theology of the Body.  It turned into one of my favorite projects, resulted in two new friends, and helped me conceptualize and defend something I already believed with my heart.  This post isn’t a paper so much as a bunch of verses from the Bible sorted into categories which, if you’re a theology nerd, is VERY interesting.  Trust me.


 

Application: The body is good, but it can be misused, either by excess or deprivation.

 

Gender Roles as Taught by a Greek Evangelical Church

It was my worst nightmare.  On February 14th I entered the church and saw that the bulletin announced that the day’s sermon would be on “Εφεσἱοθς 5:21-33.”  Great.  Valentine’s Day AND the Ephesians passage on marriage.  Always theologically paranoid where gender roles are concerned, I prepared myself to be righteously (and selfishly) annoyed.

Although the pastor taught a differentiation between the roles of husbands and wives, he preached a vision closer to egalitarianism than complementarianism.  In the end, the practical application was “both of you put the other first,” although he never quite said that in such explicit terms.  We had two weeks of sermons on this topic (one addressed to husbands, another to wives), and I wrote down some of the ideas that stuck out to me most.  This is a subject near and dear to my heart, and I was fascinated and excited (eventually) to see another culture’s perspective on the issue.

For Husbands   Continue reading “Gender Roles as Taught by a Greek Evangelical Church”

Made for More by Hannah Anderson

Divided into three sections, I was initially unimpressed by Anderson’s book.  The first four chapters cover the biblical story of the gospel, and while it’s kind of awful to say it was boring, it also wasn’t anything new.  However, it was a necessary set up that led into part two…which was amazing.

Anderson’s main point is that understanding our identity as image bearers of God changes everything about how we relate to ourselves, to others, and to God.  She discusses what it means to love like God, be generous like God, think like God, reign like God, and live complexly yet holistically like God.  She is a very wise woman, obviously changed by her study, and her book is full of eye-openers like:

Because of this, imago dei knowledge is by necessity more than a dry, crusty intellectualism; it is more than a “worldview.”  As its root, imago dei knowledge is the capacity to wonder–to look for God’s fingerprints everywhere and then to stand in awe when you finally see Him.  Imago dei knowledge means searching for Him with childlike curiosity, wide-eyed and eager to discover who He is and the world He has made.

And while she never explicitly claims to be a feminist, I high-fived the air when I read,

Too often as women, we have restricted ourselves to the “pink” parts of the Bible.  When we identify first and foremost as women, we can begin to believe that knowledge of ourselves will come primarily through passages that speak to women’s issues or include heroines like Ruth or Esther.  But when we do this, when we craft our learning and discipleship programs around being “women,” we make womanhood the central focus of our pursuit of knowledge instead of Christ.

Made for More was a book-sized encouragement.  By reminding readers who we are, created to image God in creation, she elevates our calling and makes the world feel expansive, welcoming, and exciting.   Continue reading “Made for More by Hannah Anderson”

A Theology of Homosexuality*: Sitting on the Fence

[I wrote this article two years ago on a different blog.  In light of SCOTUS’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the United States, I thought it was worth sharing again.]

In today’s cultural climate, it’s nearly impossible to create a theology of sex without mentioning homosexuality (or bisexuality or transexuality).  The church has a long history of staying silent on topics it does not understand or topics which it finds unseemly, and that silence is detrimental to our witness.  However, I desperately don’t want to talk about this.  I am deeply non-confrontational, and this topic is one that will almost certainly make someone angry with me.

A Safe Conversation

With my insecurities in mind, I’ve decided to lay myself bare.  I’m going to share my heart and my mind.  I’ll explain my motivations and my doubts.  I’ll ask you to accept my ignorance and my indecisions.  I hope that by being so honest, you will understand me even if you do not agree with me.  My hope is that honest and compassionate conversations can occur in which people on all sides of the gay/Christian dialogue can speak and be heard.  This is my contribution.  Continue reading “A Theology of Homosexuality*: Sitting on the Fence”