You are a reading congregation! I know this because I can hardly keep up with you. Luckily, I subscribe to various book review magazines and podcasts, and that gives me more of a chance to discover the next thing we might read together.
A year ago at this time, I encountered a review of a nonfiction book by Timothy Snyder. The reviewer, Stephanie Paulsell, who teaches at Harvard Divinity School, helpfully offered a list of the guidance she gleaned from the book. It’s a list of ways that could help shape a society that we would want to live in. Some of the suggestions are: be active in voluntary organizations; practice ethical conduct within your profession; make eye contact and small talk with people you encounter in the course of daily life; go to places you have never been before and make new friends; cultivate fresh ways of saying what you mean; surround yourselves with books! Why books? Because, “a lively inner life combined with life in community will help keep us connected to our convictions.”
As we know, the reading of books can be a connective community activity, not just a solitary one. My experience book-reading here at RHUMC is that it enhances relationships. This summer, the connective aspect of reading will be especially valuable to me. For part of July and part of August I will be in Brazil helping to welcome a new baby into the world. Bob and I have been recruited to be part of the support team for Liz and Luciano during the tender new born days. We are thrilled. And, of course, we will bring books.
Two books that will keep me joined to you are “Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith” by Fred Bahnson and “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See. The memoir discussion, facilitated by Kristin Reksc and me, will take place on Monday, August 26, at 7:00 p.m. We’ll talk about Lisa See’s book on Monday, September 16, in preparation for hosting Lisa See herself for a dialogue here at RHUMC on Monday, October 28.
Exciting times are ahead. Whether traveling or enjoying summer at home, we will be readers joined at the heart, serving God with mind, soul, and strength.