Summer Reading (and Listening) List

If you can’t tell by the heat, we are in full summer mode. Many are taking time away over Summer Readingthe next couple of weeks for rest, play, and rejuvenation. Summer is also a great time to catch up on reading. Here are some books that would be a great read this summer. I’ve also listed a few podcasts that I have gotten into that would be great for listening to on the beach, lake, or climbing a mountain.

How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin. I have a lot of clergy friends reading this one right now. I love the subtitle: Help is on the way and love is already here. As one reviewer says, “Who would ever guess that a few reflections on wind and waves, shipwrecks and sea monsters, could comfort and challenge so profoundly?” I am only a few chapters in and already  this book is working on my spirit.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. A wonderful story about a small start-up company in the 1970s that would later become Nike. This is a great memoir by the Nike founder that carries many great nuggets of wisdom about life and perseverance. It’s also a great look at one of the world’s iconic brands before Jordan, Tiger, etc.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I’ve loved Brown’s previous works and found Rising Strong to be a great continuation of that work. Her work centers around the conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. She shares the stories from leaders in Fortune 500 companies and the military to artists, couples in long-term relationships, teachers, and parents about  being brave, falling, and getting back up. I’m currently doing a short-term online study of this book with some friends and colleagues that I know will be life-giving.

Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious by David Dark. I just picked this up off a recommendation from a friend. Dark writes, “If what we believe is what we see is what we do is who we are, there’s no getting away from religion.” This book is described as incisive and entertaining, which is my favorite combination,

What Are You Listening To?

I love the podcast medium, especially listening on Overcast, which allows you to speed up the conversation so that you can listen to more faster! Below are a few of my favorite podcasts.

The RobCast. This is Rob Bell’s weekly podcast. I’ve long been a fan of Bell and love listening to his guests, sermons, and thoughts on faith

StartUp. StartUp is an episodic narrative about what it’s really like to start a business. A great listen for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Preachers on Preaching. This may be a little too “inside baseball” but I love listening to the weekly interviews of various preachers to hear about their approach to the pulpit and the ministry. If you want insight on what it’s like to step into that holy space of preaching each week, this is a good listen.

Hidden Brain. Brought to us by NPR, Hidden Brain helps people understand the world and themselves. It uses a mix of science, experience, and storytelling to determine the unconsciousness patterns that drive the world. You want to know the sweet spot for Uber in terms of rate and usage? Take a listen to Hidden Brain.

The Bill Simmons Podcast.  Either you like Simmons or you don’t. I like him.

That’s my list. I’d love to know yours. Let’s get a cup of coffee and chat about any of these.

Grace and Peace 





When Will We Say Enough?- A Reflection on Orlando

A dear friend approached me at the door of the sanctuary on Sunday morning, tears slowlyVigil streaming down her face:

50 dead

When worship started, that number was 23. In the course of an hour, as the church had gathered to worship and sing praises to God, the death toll in the Orlando nightclub shooting had more than doubled, becoming the largest mass shooting in US history.  It is heartbreaking. The predictable reaction is sad. We take so little time to grieve before we start pointing fingers at who’s at fault for such evil being perpetuated in the world.

When will we say enough?  We lift prayers to God on behalf on the victims, their families and for our own grief. Some might even lift prayers for our enemies like Jesus asks us to do. On the surface, we know that hatred and bigotry has no place in our faith and in this world. Our prayers need to be a starting point, not the last stop. We need to do something

To be clear, a spirit of hatred and bigotry is not limited to a particular religion. Any worldview that stakes its legitimacy on the belief that their way is the only way is dangerous.  The marginalization of those not like us is an ethic that is hard to turnaround. The deeper in you get, the harder it is to get back out.  The marginalization of gay and lesbian folks as well as people of various faiths needs to stop. Marginalization of anyone has no place in Christian doctrine or practice.  Our addiction to violence needs to end. The solution to violence is not more violence.

Friends, if we believe that the realm of God is coming, if God believes in us enough to think that we can create the world God intends, we need to start living like it.  The sin of numbness and resignation cannot have the final word.

We will want to move on in a few days, as something else dominates the news cycle, but we shouldn’t. God is counting on us. We are God’s plan. Every interaction we have with another either moves us forward or sets us back. We have more power than we think.

That’s where we need to start. Together, let’s say enough

Grace and peace

Muhammad Ali- A Role Model Who Happened to Be an Athlete

There have been few moments like Muhammad Ali stepping out of the shadows to take the AliOlympic torch from Janet Evans at the 96 Summer Games. It is fitting he lit the eternal flame that is the Olympic torch because his light is an eternal flame that will continue to shine long after his death.

Ali was not only a famous athlete, he was one of the most famous people on the planet. He will go down as one of the most well-known people to ever live. We are mourning his loss while celebrating his life. Of course, Ali made some difficult choices in his life that led him to not only be vilified, but lose his livelihood as well. During the height of athletic popularity, he was disliked by many for his views and social action.

Ali’s opposition to the Vietnam War  influenced Dr. King’s own opposition to the war. His vocal support  of women’s rights gave Billie Jean King the courage she needed to be a pioneer for equal rights for women. Ali gave courage to oppressed people to come together and not stand for oppression any longer. The former Cassius Clay converted to Islam and became Muhammad Ali, not a popular decision at the time. Ali did not test the political winds to see what might be prudent from a person in his position, rather he let his conscience and his calling from God lead him.

Hear these words from Ali himself:

 “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality….”

In a culture that adored black athletes while criminalizing them for their skin color, Ali stood up and said “No.” Some athletes happen to be role models.  Ali was a role model who happened to be an athlete.

Would we listen to Muhammad Ali today? Not the beloved Ali figure of his later years, but the Ali of the late 60s and the 70s who challenged assumptions, societal norms and social structures. Would we adore the Ali who made unpopular calls for justice and righteousness? Would we appreciate someone who challenged us, even if we didn’t agree with them?

Inside a boxing ring, Muhammad Ali is the greatest of all time. However, it is outside the ring where he may have very well left his mark. Rest in peace, Champ, rest in peace.