Leibniz

Leibniz: Philosophical EssaysLeibniz: Philosophical Essays by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I first read most of this volume while in a graduate school class on the Rationalists a quarter century ago. This time I re-read the Discourse on Metaphysics, the Monadology, and a some other essays. I wasn't quite as intrigued by Leibniz this time around as last time. The Monadology is far more interesting than the Discourse.

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The Teens

Saw so many posts on Facebook this week with people reviewing their personal highlights of the decade, which got me to thinking about ours.

2010

Michael and Scott moved to Omaha, Nebraska, when Scott accepted the call to become Senior Minister of the First Central Congregational Church.  We bought a 1910 house and began remodeling projects.  

2011

In January we rolled one of our cars on the ice.  In April we went to Italy for two weeks for the honeymoon we had delayed since 2009.  Michael was elected to the Justice and Witness Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ.  And Scott's grandfather died.

2012

Michael started working at the Urban League of Nebraska.  The Equality Ordinance was passed by the Omaha City Council.  Our niece Zoe was born.  We kayaked at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior.  Scott went to Paris with friends.  And in November we were legally married on the Iowa side of the pedestrian bridge spanning the Missouri River.

2013

We were foster parents.  Enjoyed a trip to California that summer.  Michael had his tonsils removed.  Michael's grandmother died.  And he traveled to Costa Rica with friends.

2014

For Scott's fortieth birthday, we visited the Big Island of Hawaii.  Scott attended the Yale Writer's Conference and began to work diligently on completing his book.  That fall he began teaching in the philosophy department at Creighton University.

2015

Sebastian was born!  Marriage equality was achieved!  We traveled to Costa Rica for Sara Salas's wedding (and our babymoon).  Scott's stepfather, living with Alzheimer's, entered a nursing home.

2016

Scott took a sabbatical.  Michael's grandfather died.  Scott and his sister took their mom to Ireland.  Michael's mother was killed in a car accident.

2017

Nash, a West Highland Terrier, joined our family for Sebastian's birthday.  We took a family vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Michael was elected to the national Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ.  Scott's Mom moved in with us after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

2018

Scott's Mom's surgery revealed no cancer, and she moved home.  Michael began working at the Douglas County Election Commission.  Sebastian started preschool and was ring-bearer for his godfather.  Scott's memoir was published.  Scott's stepfather died.  Sebastian had an emergency appendectomy.  Michael celebrated his fortieth birthday.

2019

Scott delivered a TEDx Talk and was elected chair of the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Conference of the United Church of Christ.  Sebastian appeared in his first dance recital, attended theatre and nature camps, competed in a triathlon, and otherwise flourished.  We camped at a picturesque Iowa State Park overlooking the Mississippi River.  And we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.


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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