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IRL: Finding Our Real Selves in a Digital World

Irl: Finding Our Real Selves in a Digital WorldIrl: Finding Our Real Selves in a Digital World by Chris Stedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"At its best, our online play can give us the tools we need to become fuller, more complex versions of ourselves. To discover who we are and remember it."

This is simply one of the best books I've read on the internet and social media. The focus is whether our online selves are our "real selves," and Stedman thinks they are. Our use of social media allows us to explore and experiment with our identity. Yes, there are dangers, and we have to cultivate better online habits, but he reminds us that we are still in the early years of learning how to do all of this well.

I also appreciated the queer aspects of this reflection and analysis as well.

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The Angry Christian

The Angry Christian: A Theology for Care and CounselingThe Angry Christian: A Theology for Care and Counseling by Andrew D. Lester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I believe that our capacity for anger is one of God's good gifts, intentionally rooted in creation and serving important purposes in human life."

As a pastor, I've had quite a few congregants come to me over the years wanting help with their anger. And I too, especially in the couple of years after my divorce, have wrestled with the healthy expression of anger (my therapist and I were just discussing it yesterday even).

This book was excellent. Smart, well-researched, compassionate. You come away with both a better intellectual understanding of anger and tips for pastoral care and counseling. Now, I only wish there were a shorter, more popular-style version that I could recommend to laypeople.

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Virgil Wander

Virgil WanderVirgil Wander by Leif Enger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While in Minnesota to canoe and camp in the Boundary Waters, I picked up this local novel. And what a delightful, engaging story with rich characters. Set in a dying Lake Superior town, centered around the owner of the local cinema after he has survived a car accident and is now a changed man. Despite hard luck, life remains full of possibilities.

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Then They Came For Mine

Then They Came for Mine: Healing from the Trauma of Racial ViolenceThen They Came for Mine: Healing from the Trauma of Racial Violence by Lewis-Giggetts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Healing is always about liberation."

Lewis-Giggetts turns her own grief and pain from the death of a cousin to anti-Black violence into a reflection of what is needed if we as individuals and as a society are to heal from the trauma of racial violence.

I particularly liked the discussion in the final chapters of inherited trauma. She writes about how racial violence has damaged both Black and White people, and that we all have inherited the trauma of our ancestors. A deep uprooting is needed if we are to heal

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The Wisdom of Your Body

The Wisdom of Your Body: Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection Through Embodied LivingThe Wisdom of Your Body: Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection Through Embodied Living by Hillary L. McBride
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent discussion of embodiment. McBride explores pain, disability, trauma, oppression, emotions, sex, etc. in well-written chapters that are insightful, moving, informative, and helpful. I've been recommending it to lots of people.

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Doing Theology in Pandemics

Doing Theology in PandemicsDoing Theology in Pandemics by Zachary Moon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a profound essay that opens this volume, Rita Nakashima Brock contends that the pandemic "created the conditions for an apocalypse, an unveiling of moral truth in the midst of the collapse of powerful malevolent systems."

She goes on to write about how we have all experienced moral injury during the pandemic and confrontations against racial injustice and police brutality. Her essay is the best theological reflection I've read yet on the pandemic.

The other excellent essay in this collection is Cody Sanders's "Feeling Our Way through an Apocalypse." He grapples with the emotions elicited from the end of the world as we know it. We care for our anger, fear, and sadness by cultivating wonder, gratitude, and grief, in community.

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The Art of Gathering

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It MattersThe Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A ministry colleague recommended this one, and I'm glad I read it. The book helps us to understand how to better host various types of gathering from a dinner party to a large conference, first by clarifying what the purpose of gathering is. Though not focused on church ministry, I think it would be helpful to other colleagues as well.

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A Beautiful Ending

A Beautiful Ending: The Apocalyptic Imagination and the Making of the Modern WorldA Beautiful Ending: The Apocalyptic Imagination and the Making of the Modern World by John Jeffries Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Modernity is rooted in the Apocalypse."

Martin, an historian, recounts the vital role that the apocalyptic imagination played in early modernity, which still affects us today. A fascinating book I'd recommend to folks interested in history, the history of ideas, and religious thought.

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Aztec Philosophy

Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in MotionAztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion by James Maffie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Life on earth is slippery because order and being are always sliding into disorder and nonbeing. The existence and well-orderedness of the things upon which humans depend slip away from under their feet, causing them to lose their balance and suffer pain, hunger, thirst, sorrow, disease, and death."

An at time dense and other time exciting (for example, the philosophical importance of sweeping with a broom) survey of Aztec metaphysics. Since reading an article by Maffie some years ago, I've wanted to understand Aztec thought better, because of this core idea that the world is constantly changing and that to live well is to develop balance. That seems more useful than the centrality of certain foundations and unchanging ideas in much Western thought.

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