Summer can be a great time to catch up on reading, and this summer I’m catching up with the following books and here’s why.
First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament by Terry M. Wildman, First Nations Version Translation Council (IVP Books, 2021).
I’ve already started reading this new translation and shared a brief post comparing Romans 12:1-2 in several other Bible translations. This excerpt from the beatitudes demonstrates the freshness of the language in the First Nations Version and why I’m so intrigued:
Creator’s blessing rests on the poor, the ones with broken spirits. The good road from above is theirs to walk.
Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who walk a trail of tears, for he will wipe the tears from their eyes and comfort them.
Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who walk softly and in a humble manner. The earth, land, and sky will welcome them and always be their home.
Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who hunger and thirst for wrongs to be made right again. They will eat and drink until they are full.
Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who are merciful and kind to others. Their kindness will find its way back to them—full circle. (Matthew 5:3-7)
No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate Bowler (Random House, 2021).
I loved Kate Bowler’s first book about her experience as a professor and young mother with Stage IV cancer, “offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live”: Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler (Random House, 2018). Her new book has been on my to-read list since it was published last year, and people keep recommending it to me, so when I saw it featured at our local library, I immediately checked it out and brought it home with me.
Learning from Henri Nouwen and Vincent Van Gogh: A Portrait of the Compassionate Life by Carol A. Berry (InterVarsity Press, 2019).
In my office I have a stack of books sent to me for review, and this book has been waiting for the longest time. That’s not at all due to a lack of interest, but just “so many books, so little time” à la Frank Zappa. I’ve long been fascinated by Vincent van Gogh—a print of The Starry Night hangs above our fireplace, and I’ve seen the original at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City—and I’ve learned a lot from my own reading of Henri Nouwen. So I’m eager to see how the two come together in this book.
Becoming All Things: How Small Changes Lead to Lasting Connections Across Cultures by Michelle Ami Reyes (Zondervan, 2021).
I read this book quickly as part of the author’s launch last year, and am reading it more slowly now. I love the way this book is in dialogue with Scripture, with the author’s own story, with the church, with people of diverse cultural/ethnic backgrounds, with code switching, cultural appropriation, moving beyond stereotyping, and other issues related to race. I especially resonate with the attention to particularity:
Cross-cultural relationships with other people go beyond cultural stereotypes and involve getting to know an individual and their unique story and experience. Don’t assume you know how they feel about their culture or ethnic background. Get to know them as a person and learn what their culture means to them. . . .
The way to move forward is by choosing to never see two people as exactly the same (27, 31).
When Despair Meets Delight: Stories for Those Living With Mental Illness by Tony Roberts (second edition, 2022).
I’ve previously introduced Tony Roberts as a minister living with mental illness and the author of Delight in Disorder: The Story of One Pastor’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder. His second book includes more stories of people living with mental illness and encouragement for churches to respond in caring and life-giving ways. He writes:
It never ceases to amaze me how people open up when I tell them I am a Faith & Mental Health Advocate. My eye doctor told me about a brother with a mental illness who refuses to take his medicine and has given up on God. A chaplain talked about his teenage daughter who died by suicide. A man living on the streets shared his frustration that he could not get consistent care for his brain illness. I can’t fix these problems, but when people reveal their voices of concern, grief, and anger, I can cry out with them to the One who alone hears and responds in love.
At our best, the church is a sanctuary where we can be who God created us to be. We can cultivate compassion as we follow the example of Jesus who reached out to those wounded—body, mind, and spirit. Jesus befriended those shunned by society and isolated from community.
The best way I know for a faith community to cultivate compassion and foster friendship with those who have mental illness is to come out of hiding and lead as wounded healers. (pages 134-135)
I have more books on my to-read list, but I’m always happy to add to it. So if you have a summer read to recommend, please add a comment below.
For more encouragement and resources on doing ministry better: