“In a world with an avalanche of information and the potential for experiences coming at us at any given moment, it is important to learn to create filters and discernment processes for the kinds of things we are going in ingest into our souls. Throughout history, the printed word has served as a ferry for all kinds of conversion – intellectual, emotional, spiritual. All of the arts can have this effect as well, and this is an important dimension of all of our spiritualities.
I had a very good and young friend who was diagnosed with stage four asbestos cancer many years ago. Rich Pankowski knew this truth in a different way. “I’m on borrowed time,” he once said, “I’ve pared down my library to only those books, movies and music that I feel confident will help me on my final journey.” Rich had led a rough life as a teenager and young adult, had a profound religious conversion while working as a parole officer, and was now at a point in which he considered the time he had left too precious to spend on literary, visual and auditory cul-de-sacs. I often reflect on his insight from time-to-time, since all of us are on borrowed time.
When Johannes Gutenburg created the printing press in the 15th century, the decision-making process for what we spend our time reading reached a new level of complexity. Suddenly the printed word became available to anyone who could read. Humans found a new freedom and responsibility in this gift; they also highjacked the technology to spread destructive ideologies with an unprecedented speed and thoroughness. We now live in a time of technologies that carry superior levels of both the promise and potential destruction of the printing press. The effect of the information immediacy brought to us by Nooks, Kindles, Galaxies, Tablets, iPads and other eReaders is really yet to be discovered.
When it comes to discerning what to read, watch or listen to in the precious time we have, it is always helpful to have the suggestions of people who read and experience new information as part of their living. Consequently, this e-newsletter will offer you the beginning of a new tradition at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry. Some of our faculty will inform you of the books they are reading, as well as the electronic media they are listening to or viewing. Most of us have a stack of books at our bedside, while some of us have stacks near our reading chair, our cocktail table and any other horizontal surface capable of supporting weight. Most of us also have long lists of films we want to see or music groups we hope to experience. When it is possible, some of the faculty will give you a few words of evaluation of what is occupying their leisure time.
In a world with too many options for reading and watching, we hope faculty suggestions will help you in your discernment process about what to read on your journey, especially as we move closer to the months of summer.”
~ Dean Mark S. Markuly, PhD
Dr. Sharon Henderson Callahan
“I’m reading ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, a new attempt to talk about women and leadership, and ‘Entering The Shift Age’ by David Houle, a futurist who is looking ahead at how the world is shifting and undergoing an “earthquake” in creating new realities. I’ve just finished two novels about Scotland by Susan Fraser King: ‘Lady Macbeth: a Novel’ and ‘Queen Hereafter: A Novel’ (about Queen Margaret, the first queen of the Scots). The novels are set in the 1000s and create an understanding of the immigration and migration between European countries–including Norwegian Vikings, Saxons and Normans. They also consider the religious formation of the Celtic lands as they merge Celtic spiritualities with Roman demands and indigenous practices.”
Rev. Dr. Dick Cunningham
Schofield, Brian. Selling Your Father’s Bones: America’s 140-Year War Against the Nez Perce Tribe. Simon & Schuster. New York, 2009.
Part historical narrative, part travelogue and part environmental plea, this book recounts one of the most astonishing journeys in the history of the American West and the leadership of Joseph, the chief or the peaceable Nez Perce.
Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. Signet Classics, New York. 1987
Melton, Glennon. Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts On Life Unarmed, Scribner, New York. 2013
Flohr, Caroline, Heaven’s Child: a Mother’s Story of Tragedy and The Enduring Strength of Family, Book Publishers Network. 2012
Assisted Living by Katie Forgette, Directed by R. Hamilton Wright. At the ACT Theater. A must see for anyone engaged in Pastoral Ministry. With 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching the age of 65 every single day this play takes on health care and aging. It is poignant, fast moving and very funny.
Dr. Andrew Davis
“Far from the Tree”, by Andrew Solomon
“The Ecstasy of Influence” – by Jonathan Lethem
“The Best American Short Stories 2012” – edited by Tom Perrotta
Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon
“As part of my course at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry on “Literature from Around the World”, I have developed lists of recommended novels from various continents and am happy to send those upon request. Since teaching that course in the winter quarter, I have read a very unusual novel entitled ‘Urmia in the Shadow of the Owl’, by Ora Jacobi, which deals with the Armenian, Assyrian, and Jewish communities in eastern Anatolia at the time of the First World War (i.e., the Armenian Genocide). In the field of ecumenical studies, I have just finished a newly-translated book, ‘Wounded Visions: Unity, Justice and Peace in the World Church after 1968’, by a bishop in the Swedish Lutheran church, Jonas Jonson. It offers a comprehensive look at the work of the World Council of Churches over the past half century, and I recommend it for people interested in things ecumenical. The two best books I have read in the past couple of months are not specific to my areas of teaching: ‘From the Ruins of Empire’, by Pankaj Mishra, and ‘Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights’, by Marina Warner. The former examines the work of Asian intellectuals, such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Rabindranath Tagore, who attempted to provide an intellectual basis for resistance to Western colonialism. (We read work by Tagore in the school’s literature course.) The latter is an astonishingly erudite discussion of Western encounter with the ‘Arabian Nights’ (the literary antecedent for contemporary writing in the Middle East, which we also read in the literature course). I highly recommend both, but they are not easy reading.”
Dr. Mark Lloyd Talor
Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s book “Van Gogh: The Life, a biography of 19th century painter Vincent van Gogh” (New York: Random House, 2011).