Rising Strong

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadRising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Continuing my Season of Grieving, Healing, and Growth I decided to finally read this book. I had planned to for a long time mostly as an academic exercise in order to understand why it was so popular and what people were finding in it. Now in my own period of relationship breakdown, I read it as part of my grappling with what has happened and what I need to do going forward. In that it was quite helpful in compelling reflection and giving some tools I need.

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The International LGBT Rights Movement

The International LGBT Rights Movement: A HistoryThe International LGBT Rights Movement: A History by Laura A. Belmonte
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I met Laura Belmonte when we were both LGBT rights activists on the front lines in Oklahoma in the Aughts. She was a professor at Oklahoma State University who helped organize advocacy organizations in Tulsa and statewide, while I was a pastor and activist in Oklahoma City. She's now the Dean of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech.

This book is the first international history of the LGBT rights movement. And Laura does a marvelous job of covering all the major movements, turning points, and trends. I can imagine she had material for a much larger book than the editors and publishers provided, and that would have been engaging as well.

I've always been very focused on local activism wherever I've lived, rarely engaging much in larger national efforts. So it was insightful to see how the work I've done has participated in and been influenced by these global efforts.

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Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw EmotionsUnglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Recommended to me a couple of weeks ago when I was in the midst of a depression over my divorce. There are aspect of the book I had to filter. For example, it's written more for a suburban wife audience. And the piety isn't mine. But I found some really helpful discussions in it of expectations and creating a reaction plan for the types of things that normally upset one.

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Dangerous Religious Ideas

Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and IslamDangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Rachel S. Mikva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Associate Pastor Katie Miller had Rachel Mikva for a seminary class, which was my connection to finding out about this excellent volume. And excellent it is. Mikva argues that any religious idea can be dangerous. Religious ideas have great power to help and bring meaning, but they can also be used to exploit, divide, and cause violence. And it isn't just the ideas of religious extremists, even the ideas of moderates and liberals. So what to do?

We must cultivate self-critical religion. And fortunately Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have all always had self-critical aspects to the tradition. And Mikva highlights those in this book.

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The Satanic Verses

The Satanic VersesThe Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I started reading Rushdie in my young adulthood in the nineties and have enjoyed many of his novels. He used to be one of the few writers whose new books I would buy in hardback when they were released (in a period where I didn't spend money on books like I do now). But I had never read this notorious novel. Last year I saw a copy in the church book sale and finally picked it up.

But I must say it is a disappointment. It's too long. Too rambling. Too disjointed. It's highly ambitious and succeeds in parts but not in the whole.

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Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition

Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian TraditionSeeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition by Hans Boersma
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"Indeed, whenever and wherever we see truth, goodness, and beauty, it is as though the eschaton comes cascading into our lives and we receive a glimpse of God's beauty in Christ."

That's a fine sentence. I can imagine it will appear in a sermon sometime.

This book is a thorough (sometimes too thorough I think) review of the theology of the beatific vision, focused on a handful of key figures in Christian history. The most interesting, to me, chapters were on Protestant versions, as one doesn't usually think of this as a prominent Protestant doctrine. Chapters on Calvin, the Puritans, and Edwards showed that Protestant theology has neglected an important idea.

By the end Boersma seems to be supporting an idealistic metaphysics that I find odd. But the book was substantive and informative.

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Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding / Concerning the Principles of MoralsEnquiries Concerning the Human Understanding / Concerning the Principles of Morals by David Hume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's been 25 years since I last read Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. I don't remember being all that engaged or impressed by it before. Nor is my old copy all that marked up. At the time I directed more attention and interest to the first enquiry.

But this time reading Hume I found it delightful. It is an enjoyable reading experience. Both enjoyable because engagingly well written and enjoyable intellectually, to reflect on the ideas presented.

I particularly liked Hume's emphasis on the pleasing social virtues that make life easier and more enjoyable. For instance, he describes entering a well-0rdered home as a guest and how the very site of the way the room is arranged and decorated "presents us with the pleasing ideas of ease, satisfaction, and enjoyment." Then the family enters and their "freedom, ease, confidence, and calm enjoyment" express their happiness and excite the sympathies of the guest, bringing the prospect of a joyful visit.

If you need a pick-me-up about positive emotions leading to a good social life, then take the time to read some Hume.

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