Diana Butler Bass’s new book Grounded (HarperCollins) is at the top of my 2015 gift list. Beautifully written and spiritually enriching, it makes a proposal that resonates from the Paul Tillich shelf in the seminary library to the Discovery Channel on cable TV. For anyone who’s read or will read Grounded, two other gifts would be ideal. Both are apps.
Pastors know things that are painful to know. Pastors keep confidences even though doing so leaves others to assume the worst. Pastors are routinely insulted, cussed out, lied about, or lied to. Pastors face expectations that range from challenging to oppressive to depressing to maddening to ridiculous.
Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity, by Eugene H. Peterson (Eerdmans). This book, along with Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor, reminded me again and again of my responsibility to guard my heart well, “for from it flow the springs of life,” as the proverb says.
Is it ever justifiable to intentionally target innocent civilians in order to achieve political or military ends? Eighty, 81 and 86 percent of British, Canadian and American citizens say never. But only 46 percent of Iranians say never.
A wise friend of mine says, “The plural of anecdote is not data.” Robert Wuthnow would agree. He brings the eye of the sociologist to the life of the church and gives us insights that sometimes confirm but often confound our anecdotes.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the progressive Jewish magazine Tikkun, understands that a bipolar personality disorder has afflicted our nation. We see everyone and everything in terms of conservative versus liberal, or religious right versus secular left.
Seminary programs should be one part monastery, one part seminar and one part mission agency. As monastery, such a program would require emerging leaders to spend extended periods living in community and devoted to spiritual practices like contemplative prayer or lectio divina.
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