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December 2019

The Rings of Saturn

The Rings of SaturnThe Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A mesmerizing book. Not really a novel at all. There is no plot and there really are no serious characters. A narrator is on a walking tour of Suffolk, but that is the merest of structures, as the narrator's voice goes off on chapter-long tangents about all sorts of subjects from Joseph Conrad to the Dowager Empress of China to silk production in Germany.

Themes of change, loss, decline, and decay dominate this book, along with the moods these generate.

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The Art of the Saint John's Bible

The Art of The Saint John's Bible: The Complete Reader's GuideThe Art of The Saint John's Bible: The Complete Reader's Guide by Susan Sink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What's really amazing is the St. John's Bible itself, but this guide to the art is a marvelous book in its own right. One could use it as an introductory study guide to the Bible or as a devotional book. Built around the new practice of visio divina, the artistic images are used to draw you into contemplation of the Bible by the way they interpret and comment upon the text, rather than simply illustrate it.

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Short Stories by Jesus

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial RabbiShort Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This fall our Wednesday Night Bible Study at church covered the parables of Jesus, particularly in the Gospel of Luke. I ordered this book, which wasn't yet available the last time I had preached on the parables. And it was a helpful contribution to our study.

Levine is best at deconstructing bad interpretations, particularly the anti-Semitism and supersessionism that can seep into Christian interpretations of these stories.

But I wasn't always persuaded by her own interpretations of the parables.

The book was a good one to read alongside Brandon Scott's work that has been the standard in liberal interpretations of the parables in recent decades.

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Joy: 100 Poems

Joy: 100 PoemsJoy: 100 Poems by Christian Wiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading the introductory essay inspired our church's Advent theme for this year--Radical Joy. We agreed with Wiman, that in times such as this people need joy. Ideas, images, and words in the poems have provided material for our worship season. I also discovered a poem that is now among my most favorites--"From Blossoms" by Li-Young Lee.

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Transforming Manhood

Transforming Manhood: A trans man's quest to build bridges and knock down wallsTransforming Manhood: A trans man's quest to build bridges and knock down walls by Ryan K. Sallans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In his first memoir, Ryan wrote about his transition. In this second memoir, he writes about the last decade being a public figure and educator in the trans community and some about his marriage and personal life. The story here is still about understanding your identity, but now within the public glare. I appreciated much of what Ryan wrote, particularly about dealing with criticism from younger folk in our movement, as I too have experienced this shift. Ryan is an educator and bridge-builder in a time when bridge-building has become more difficult, taking heat even from ones allies. I appreciated his candor in this volume.

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