BEACH READING

Okay, it isn’t really beach reading because I was not at the beach. But during vacation I did read; and thought I would share some of my reading with you.

Let’s start with the magazines.  I read my July edition of “National Geographic.”  The feature article was about Cleopatra.  It wasn’t nearly as exciting as I thought it would be; but Natgeo is always one of my favorite magazines and I look forward to it each month.  I also read the July/August “Biblical Archaeology Review”.  It too is one of my favorites and it did not disappoint.  I especially enjoyed the articles about the martyrium of Philip and the ivories of Nimrud.

I also read several books.  In Mesa Verde, Colorado I picked up a book titled The Mesa Verde WorldExplorations in Ancestral Pueblo Archaeology.  It is an anthology from various authors bringing several different perspectives on the Mesa Verde ruins and it has great photographs!

Professionally I read a book titled The 21st Century Pastor by David Fisher.  I’ve had this book in my library for almost a year and finally decided to read it.  The book is really great; but poorly named.  It is not really about the 21st century pastor at all, it is about the struggles of being a pastor in the late 20th century.  Personally I identify with much of the writer’s views and agree with his conclusions.  The ideal reader of this book would be a young minister fresh out of seminary.  The book is dated; being 15 years old and I wish I’d read it 15 years ago.

A friend of mine from church gave me the book Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton.  Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down; that is how good it is.  I will not give any spoilers, but it is a novel that will make you think and break your heart.  I highly recommend it, (thanks Mike!).  This was the most enjoyable and meaningful literature I’ve read in a long time.

About a month ago I picked up Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five at a garage sale for fifty cents.  I’d never read Vonnegut but had heard about him.  Slaughter-House Five is a very hard book to read because it is violent, disturbing, and profane but it is also an important book to read.  There is a profound message in the pages.   Slaughter-House Five is odd, quirky, and funny; but not in a “funny ha-ha” kind of funny.  Mature adults should read this; but do not read it if you are easily offended.  Vonnegut could never have gotten published today—the world is just too sensitive.

I continued reading Pascal’s Pensees.  I have not finished it, and am beginning to wonder if I ever will.  I enjoy reading it, but the material is so dense that I never feel like I am making progress toward completing the book.

I took with me a book a friend gave me titled The Rickover Effect which is about Admiral Rickover and how he influenced the U.S. Navy.  I did not get to it, but will start soon because when my friend gave it to me he said, “Read this and you’ll understand sailors better.”  Since many of the people I minister to are connected to the Navy; reading this book and fixing apparent defects in my ministry is an important learning endeavor.

REFLECTING ON THE ANCIENTS

Yesterday the Greenbeans woke up in Moab, Utah where we had seen the amazing Arches National Park the evening before.  We then drove to Cortez, Arizona where we found the worst Denny’s restaurant in the world.  After that we drove up Mesa Verde National Park and saw the ruins of the cliff dwellers.  These ruins are very fascinating and I’ve wanted to see them for a long time.  Last year we saw the pictoglyphs of the same people group, the Anasazi, in the Painted Desert.  Now we were able to get up close with where they lived.

 

One of the highlights was when we scaled down a ladder into a kiva.  A kiva was a circular ceremonial room dug into the ground with a sturdy roof over the top.  The roof served as the floor for the courtyard area.  I asked one of the park rangers how often an ancient Anasazi would have gone into the kiva.  She told me, “Everyday, as a part of their ritual.”  We don’t really know, according to the ranger, exactly what they did in the kiva.  It had a place for a fire, a ventilation shaft, and some notches in the wall.  I was very interested in the purpose for the notches, but the best answer I received was “for storing things.”

The practice of daily going into a kiva to do ‘ceremonial’ things, in a what amounts to a hole in the ground, informed my own personal ceremony.  As a Christ-follower, every day I ceremonially align myself with the One True God by burying myself into Scripture and then lighting the fires of the Holy Spirit hoping to emerge from this hole closer to the way Jesus wants me to live.  Hum.  Maybe I need to build a kiva.