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Midrash on the Beach

One of the things I love most about preaching is the opportunity to imagine between the lines of a story. I can’t resist a chance to illuminate the scene and characters from my own imagination. The Bible is often sparse in its literary detail, to put it lightly – I mean, come on, parchment is expensive! We can’t be wasting space with frivolous details, like the names of women and whatnot! But more often than not, my own imagination falls far short of the real beauty and complexity of the lives that must have been lived between the lines of those ancient pages.

That’s where a good book, movie, podcast, painting, or other creative effort comes to the rescue. 

As you head out into your summer, why not bring along a great book or download a new show to help expand your preaching imagination? Here are are few Biblical-story-retold favorites from some of our members and friends:

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You Are Found: A Review of One Coin Found, a Memoir by Emmy Kegler

Cover of One Coin Found

Cover of One Coin Found

When the Reverend Emmy Kegler gave a toast at my wedding, she said something that my relatives still remember with a chuckle. She said to my new wife and me, “I love you two so much. And if you ever break up, I’ll kill you both.” If you don’t know Emmy, this quote might seem jarring, but to me it shows exactly who she is: both incredibly loving in all she does and one of the fiercest people I’ve ever met.

In her new book, One Coin Found, this deep love and fierceness of hers is turned onto a new friend and foe: the Bible. In this beautifully written memoir, a personal journey of faith unfolds; one where love of God and church is present from an early age. Philosophical as a three year old, we hear her mother insist, “we need to get this kid in a church!” As the memoir progresses, we see the move from an enamored tween fascinated with the drama of Holy Week to a teen eager to join in her friend’s youth worship. We are with her at the difficult point when she is told by a young male preacher-in-training that it is a sin to be who she is: gay.

When told in church that being gay is wrong, Kegler must utilize her fierceness as she engages in a long fight between herself and what she is told is “sinful.” This memoir gives you a peek into her life, following not only her developing identity as a queer woman, but also her struggles with depression, codependency, and living with her father’s illness and decline. Woven around her own life story is her journey to befriend the Bible, but it isn’t one without pitfalls.

She battles with the church’s description of sinfulness and feeling like there was “no chance of redemption…’sin’ weighed down like an unbearable yoke.” Yet, as this idea is internally fought, there is also a deep calling that continues to lead her back to church, God, and the Bible: “Every Sunday in church I felt something catching at my heart, as light as fishing line and as thick as a construction-crane lifting hook, pulling me compassionately but resolutely toward the pulpit and altar.” As a fellow clergy woman, this story of her path to rostered ministry made me smile and remember my own journey, my own struggle, my own fishing line. Read more

mug reading "read fewer white dudes" on it on a shelf next to a pile of books by non-white authors

#ReadFewerWhiteDudes

mug reading "read fewer white dudes" on it on a shelf next to a pile of books by non-white authors

The author’s reading corner. Mug from Where Are You? Press, books from Powell’s books.

Two years ago, my good friend from seminary, Casey Kloehn, wrote this blog post inviting others to join in her reading challenge to #readfewerwhitedudes. It was one of those Holy Spirit moments, where her post and invitation came just as I was coming to grips with being told how white my reading list was. When the whiteness of my reading  list was first pointed out to me, I jumped to defending my choices in my head. “These are good books! I’m a smart person! I’m trying to buy books that will help me be a better pastor and this is what’s available!” But then I remembered: I live in one of the whitest cities in the United States. And I’m a pastor in one of the whitest denominations in the United States.  As much as I wanted to stay in my comfort of being able to order the professional and personal books that seemed to “fit what I needed” at the time…. It seemed like Spirit was urging, drawing, pulling me into this invitation to include diverse voices in the books that I was reading. (And, the excuse to order another motivational coffee mug for my office certainly didn’t hurt.)

 

After the first few months or so, I noticed some changes. First, I would get asked more often about what I was reading and was able to share recommendations more readily than before because of the intention I was holding in my reading habits. Some of this was admittedly because I unashamedly drink coffee from a mug (pictured) ordered from the independent publishing company that inspired Casey’s original hashtag. But some of it is also because people ask their pastor what they are reading.

 

This season of reading fewer white dudes has brought with it a season of talking about books from voices that were stirring something new in me. Which brings me to the second change—I noticed just how much my reading habits get into my head, heart, and bones. Before this challenge, I hadn’t realized how much my inner voice lacked diversity and imagination until I got called out on it and nudged into making this shift. If we believe in the power of written words to move us, then believing that what we read matters follows naturally. And as leaders, what we read matters.

 

There is a quiet and powerful prophetic task in not only reading with intention, but sharing our reading with others. Sharing openly about the #readfewerwhitedudes challenge started to feel like a very pastoral task, even if most of this reading was what I would consider “not for work.” For better or for worse, there are pieces of our lives as pastors that get exposed to the people we lead. While plenty of times there is space for us to discern how much or how little we share about our personal habits, I’ve decided my reading list is best kept open to the public. It keeps me accountable to those voices on the margin, and in sharing my story about why I #readfewerwhitedudes, I’m able to be open with others about naming and owning my privilege and power as a middle class, heterosexual, cisgender white woman. Some of that privilege and power needs to be checked with these marginal voices. And some of it has been able to do the work of standing up to the white hetero patriarchy by continuing to drink from my motivational mug, even when it has caused offense.

Two years after that first challenge, and I’m starting another annual booklist. Since that first list, I have resigned my first call, spent some time in Sabbath wilderness, birthed a baby and begun dabbling with a grassroots spiritual community forming in my neighborhood. Last week I got asked the question again “What are you reading?” And I stopped to share about #readfewerwhitedudes. All the while, aware that I still live in one of the whitest cities in the United States. And I’m still a pastor in one of the whitest denominations in the United States. I’m continuing this year to #readfewerwhitedudes. I’m reading fewer white dudes and more women, Asians, Native Americans, Black, Queer, Trans, Latinx writers  because as a leader I need voices in my head and my heart that will move me forward when Spirit pushes me towards justice. I’m reading fewer white dudes because I want to be able to share openly with others a habit of mine that feels honest and authentic and intentional. I’m doing it to claim small moments of being something other than status quo in a world that seeks ease and comfort. So, dear YCW and friends, want to #readfewerwhitedudes with me?

 

Harnessing Courage: A Review

harnessing-courage nov 2016Over the years, I have often wished that “regular” people better understood life with a significant disability. As an Episcopal priest who is completely deaf, I’ve struggled with the writing of authors who were able-bodied and exploring disability as a theological construct or something which needed to be overcome. As a hospital chaplain and a parish priest focused on pastoral care, I need something written from the inside, which described both the highlights and the lowlights of life with a significant disability, and which asked the reader to engage the author as an intellectual equal.

Laura Bratton’s book, Harnessing Courage: Overcoming Adversity with Grit and Gratitude, is an excellent entry into this category. The story of one young pastor’s journey into blindness and the world of disability resonated strongly with me, and it has the potential to fill that niche of dialogue with those who have no disability and who seek to understand. It will also be a useful tool to those who are beginning to work through a new diagnosis which may result in disability. Read more

Book Review: Blessed Are The Crazy

“Blessed are the crazy for we shall receive mercy.” – Sarah Griffith Lund

Blessed Are The CrazyIf you have ever struggled with mental illness or loved someone who has, then you know that we have a cultural problem. There are many misperceptions; high-profile, violent events have become the face of mental illness. Yet most people with mental illness are not dangerous. People don’t want to be labeled; we want to be seen as “normal.” In our world, so many people are affected by mental illness but don’t have the tools and language to talk about it. Sarah Griffith Lund has written Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family & Church, a book that will transform our perceptions and give us tools to deal with the reality of mental illness in our lives. She even proposes that mental illness is a gift.

This book is poignant, relevant, and profound. It responds to the stigma of what Sarah rightly calls “brain disease.” Sarah is a young clergy woman who is also trained in social work, and she has a very personal, beautiful testimony about mental illness. She provides genuine theological reflection about how individuals and communities can respond to mental illness in healthy ways. This spiritual journey teaches the reader true redemption and reconciliation from one who is deeply affected by mental illness.

Sarah offers several stories about mental illness that draw the reader into her personal experience. She shares about her childhood with her father who lived with bipolar disorder and how his brain disease significantly impacted the dynamic of her family. She continues her testimony with her oldest brother’s bipolar disorder and what she discovered through loving him and caring for him. Sarah then describes what it was like for her to offer spiritual guidance to her cousin who was convicted of murder, lived on death row, and was eventually executed. She reflects upon her own spiritual journey – from faith formation in her family, to atheist, to evangelical, to progressive Christian. She examines the life of Jesus as God entering a painful world and offering healing and forgiveness for all ailments. Sarah challenges the reader to think about how God is working through those who suffer from mental illness; she infers that we can learn and grow from greater understanding. The conclusion of Sarah’s testimony integrates her personal experience with practical ways that the church can bring hope to individuals, families, and communities overwhelmed with mental illness.

As I read Sarah’s book, I couldn’t put it down. Her words are comfort to me in my personal and public life. As a pastor to some who live with brain diseases, and as a woman who has struggled with her own depression and anxiety, Sarah provides a courageous testimony that frees me and others to be honest about our own “crazy in the blood.” What I love about Sarah’s book most is how bravely she writes about the complexity of her journey, and her experience of God in the midst of human brokenness. She truly has an insightful spiritual walk that can teach us all.

Blessed Are the Crazy is a valuable tool for pastors, lay people in the church, and unchurched people. I would be eager to use this book, with the study questions provided on Sarah’s website, with an adult book study group. I also plan to have extra copies of this book on my shelves for those times when people who live with mental illness walk into my office looking for comfort or hope. Sarah’s eager authenticity gives us hope that we are not alone nor do we have to feel alone. This book, Blessed Are the Crazy, can and will change the ways that we talk about mental illness.

Board Books: What We’re Reading

BeachReadPastors, by nature of their calling, are word-lovers. We are story-tellers, readers, and writers. We spend time with our noses buried books, but it’s a great mistake to think that we only read the Bible or books about church and religion.

Fidelia’s Sisters asked the current members of the Young Clergy Woman Project’s board what they’ve been reading this summer. There’s got to be something in this list that will fit your needs for the last few weeks of August, whether you need to study up on church leadership before the fall program year kicks in, or are blessed with the need for one more beach read.

Caroline East Berardi: I’ve been re-reading the Ender Wiggin series, which holds a special place in my heart. I’ve also  just finished the book Crazy, by Pete Earley, his family’s experience of the criminalizing of the mentally ill.

Diana Carroll: I’m reading the first book from our Chalice Press imprint: Bless Her Heart, by Ashley-Anne Masters and Stacy Smith. It’s been out since 2011, but I hadn’t picked up a copy until this year’s conference. I highly recommend it for any young clergy woman (and anyone trying to understand us and our lives better). The stories and reflections are a powerful reminder that we are not alone. It would make a great ordination gift, too!

Christine Davies:  I’m reading The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison. The author served as a medical actor and wrote about those experiences and how they crossed with her own medical issues. It’s a take on how we demonstrate and experience empathy, which, as a CPE nut, I’m always interested in learning about.

Kelsey Grissom: I’m reading Night Train to Lisbon, by Pascal Mercier, about an ancient languages professor uprooting his settled life to track down a long-dead author. The jury’s still out on this one.

Jessica Harren: I’m in the middle of When Not to Build: An Architect’s Unconventional Wisdom for the Growing Church, by Ray Bowman, Eddy Hall, and Charles Arn.  This book has been very helpful in preventing my church from taking out too much debt, but using our space well.

Molly Field James:  I just finished Crazy Christians, a collection of sermons by Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry. He is a dynamic preacher (more Baptist than Episcopalian in style) whose style comes through even in the written text. It is inspiring to read the sermons of someone whose style is so different than mine and who is excited about the future of the church.

Meg Jenista: I just finished Slow Church, by Christopher Smith and John Pattison, which riffs off the Slow Food movement to present an alternative to the Church Industrial Complex. Slow Churches are aware of their location, organically cultivated, hospitable, patient and spend *a lot* of time gathered at table, sharing life and food together.

Julie Jensen: I loved my college literature class called Americans in Paris in the 1920s. It was all about Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, and the artists who were in France with them. I am currently reading The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, a fictionalized account of the experiences of Hadley Hemingway, and I’m really enjoying it.

Brenda Lovick: I’m (still) reading One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, which is really good. I’m pretty sure it’s a Zondervan book, and is a similar genre to Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey.

Amy Loving: I just finished reading Iscariot, by Tosca Lee. It is a fascinating novel that presents Judas as a complex, passionate character, forcing the reader to re-evaluate the assumptions that so many of us make about this disciple. It would make a great book for any book club or study group.

Sarah Moore: I’m reading Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and The Search For Identity, by Andrew Solomon. He explores how children and parents process the experience of a child being very different from their parents in such a way that it impacts on children and parents having a different horizontal identity to their parents, e.g. children who are Deaf, have Downs Syndrome or Autism. The author is a gay man who puts homosexual identity into this mix, too. The book examines how wider society has a tendency to medicalize these experiences and see them as something to be cured rather than being integral who someone is.

Lesley Ratcliff: I’m reading God’s Long Summer, by Charles Marsh. This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the summer of 1964, which was the peak of turmoil in the civil rights movement in Mississippi. We have a book group reading it at church.

Erica Schemper: I had so much fun watching the World Cup and cheering for the Netherlands that I’m reading a book called Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer, by David Winner. I’m not a huge sports fan, and I know next to nothing about soccer, but this book is fascinating. Winner picks apart the Dutch style of play called “Total Football” and explains it in the context of Dutch post-war history, culture, and art. I love peeking into a culture and topic that I know almost nothing about…it’s a like a vacation for my mind!

Kelly Shriver: For fun, I’ve really enjoyed J.K. Rowling’s mystery novels, Cuckoo’s Calling and  The Silkworm, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.  They’ve reminded me how much I enjoy a thoughtful, flawed detective, and a twisty story. With that reminder, I’ve  just reread my all-time favorite, The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin, another excellent mystery. It’s a bit campy, totally doesn’t hold up in a world of modern technology, and wonderful.

Sabbath in the Suburbs

“When you get to the heart of it, we were looking for a way to cheat time.”  My attention was grabbed with the opening words of MaryAnn McKibben Dana’s debut book, Sabbath In the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time.  This book chronicles a year in the life of a suburban family as they struggle to find more time for what is important.  The Dana family committed to a year of practicing Sabbath one day a week, one week at a time.  What potentially could have been a book about how this family became the Joneses we need to keep up with was, in fact, the opposite.  The Dana household created a flexible Sabbath that was “imperfect and cobbled together” as they tried to reclaim some of their lives from a world with increasing pressure and demands on their family time.

Divided into a chapter for each month, this book is a refreshing look at how one family put the pieces together.  There are ideas for practices, acknowledgements that some of the rules are made up as they went along, and a sense of experimentation that ran throughout.  As each month progresses, the family moves deeper into this practice, and the reader gets a sense of how Sabbath can happen in a world of busy-ness.  Unlike other books about Sabbath, this one provides concrete ways to make Sabbath possible in the context  many of us live in today.

Sabbath in the Suburbs may be written from the perspective of a dual career family in the Suburbs trying to cheat time, but it is for a much broader audience.  The discussion of Sabbath is theologically grounded and explained without feeling like a re-read of a textbook.   Dana’s style is peppered with good humor, song lyrics, quotations, humility, and grace.  From a pastoral perspective, I wish the book had come out last spring when the Sunday School class I was teaching studied Sabbath.  We said over and over again that we needed something more practical and down to earth than the book we were reading.  Dana’s book solves that problem.  Written with beautiful storytelling  and a good dose of reality, Sabbath in the Suburbs is approachable enough for a Sunday School class discussion, a parent’s group, or a book club in general.  Each chapter had a gift inside that offered a way to slow down, appreciate where we are in our lives, and claim (or reclaim) the practice Sabbath in a busy, modern world.

Note:  Chalice Press provided me with copy of the book to review.  There were no directions, or expectations made on their part as to what the review contained once the book was received.

Rev. Julie A. Jensen is the Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Cartersville, GA.  She serves on the Community Board for TYCWP, as well as the conference committee.  When she is not pastoring, you will find her cooking, knitting, or planning a play date with friends.

Photo credit: Chalice Press

Sabbath is My Kryptonite

This month’s Moms in Ministry article is an excerpt from the third book in the Young Clergy Women Project’s imprint with Chalice Press.  More information about this partnership can be found here. MaryAnn brought so much joy to the project as our conference leader at our 2012 conference in Chicago.  Please visit our website regularly to learn more about YCW books and the plans for the 2013 YCW conference.

Sometimes, the so-called mommy wars are waged over breast- feeding versus bottle, or crib versus family bed. Sometimes, they begin over baked goods.

It all starts in a very silly way. I post an offhand comment on Facebook gushing about the glory that is Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix. It has provided spicy goodness, fresh from the oven, on many a sabbath day this winter (not to mention random Tuesdays and Fridays). You only need an egg and some oil, as opposed to canned pumpkin and a bevy of spices I don’t always have on hand.

A friend responds dismissively, asking why someone would need a mix in order to make pumpkin bread, which after all is so easy. I feel an angry flash of Who asked you? followed by the briefest tremor of shame—if I really loved my family, I’d make them something homemade. Then I decide not to take the bait. To each her own, right? I celebrate pumpkin bread in all its forms. Later though, I feel unsettled. Our kitchen feeds five people several times a day. What’s wrong with using a mix when the result is just as good?

“I don’t know,” I tell Robert later. “It’s so stupid, but it hit a nerve. I mean, I agree with her. I do value the handmade and home- made. We live in such a cut-corners society. But the thing is . . . it’s kinda fun to find a good shortcut.”

“Maximum impact, minimum effort,” he nods, sharing his father’s famous approach to cooking. Both Robert and my father-in- law are whizzes in the kitchen.

“Exactly! Do I have to be judged for my approach to breakfast food? Come on.”

“Hey, it’s pumpkin bread. Don’t overthink it.”

While I’m glad he doesn’t share my angst, I know that the issue of domestic chores runs down gender lines. There are entire indus- tries devoted to helping people save time and offload household tasks. At the same time, there’s still a view of motherhood that values the loving hands at home. Working mothers in particular can feel caught between the necessity of delegating certain domestic chores and a feeling of guilt because they “should” do those things.

Sabbath is not making this conflict easier; it’s complicating it. On the one hand, it’s robbing me of an entire day of labor each week, which makes the time-savers feel necessary. On the other hand, the unhurried nature of Sabbath makes me want to slow down for the rest of the week and not cut corners. It’s a curious irony: Sabbath reminds me that I don’t have to be Supermom, but it heightens my desire to try.

I feel this tension as I consider what it means to be a “host,” to provide gracious space not only for guests who might enter our home but also our own family. The biblical practice is hospitality, a word that’s almost as old-fashioned and foreign to our ears as Sabbath. Yet hospitality is a deep and vital spiritual practice in the Jewish and Christian faiths and in other traditions. Scripture is rife with examples of people welcoming friends and travelers alike into their homes and lives. We are called to greet strangers as friends and to share abundantly with them, and Jesus offers harsh words for people who fail to show adequate hospitality.

In recent decades, the picture has been complicated by Martha Stewart’s magazine and other resources that equate hospitality with handmade place cards and expensive flatware. These magazines miss the point of hospitality. I’ve sat at immaculate dinner tables and felt like an unwelcome afterthought, and I’ve been served wine in a plastic cup and felt like a treasured guest. A spirit of hospitality cannot be faked.

Still, there’s no denying that, all things being equal, a spirit of hospitality comes through when someone has taken the time to prepare for the presence of another—and not in a slapdash way.

Much of my life feels slapdash. I love finding ways to save time—a new route to the church, a quicker way to put away the groceries. (If I were a superhero, efficiency would be my power. Sad but true.) Sabbath has forced me to face the shadow side. Why am I trying to save all this time? For what purpose do I hurry? So that I can do more and more stuff? To feel useful and efficient?

Sabbath-keeping makes the idea of saving time feel ridiculous . . . like we’re trying to cheat at a game, but the joke’s on us: this game’s rules are unbendable.

Maybe Sabbath is my kryptonite.

TYCWP Imprint with Chalice Press

The Pastor’s Bookcase

TYCWP Imprint with Chalice PressWhen visiting a friend’s office, I enjoy snooping through perusing the shelves. Sometimes I find something that is exactly what I need for a particular situation. Sometimes I’m reminded of old favorites that I had nearly forgotten.

This week we asked several young clergy women serving ministries outside of the parish to recommend resources that have been useful to them in the last year or so. Go ahead, snoop around, you know you want to! (Feel free to add your own recommendations to the comments.)

  • Scar Tissue, a novel by Michael Ignatieff, is recommended by Erica Brown, Assistant Chaplain at Northwestern University. The Rev. Brown lends it to students whose parents/grandparents have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Rob Bell’s Nooma Videos are recommended by two women ministering in higher education. Narcie Jeter, United Methodist campus minister at Winthrop University, notes that students love them (though they wish he used a tripod!) Jennifer Janney, Associate Minister to the University at Chowan University adds that they are “AMAZING for campus ministry.”
  • Narcie Jeter couldn’t stop at just one, and also gives shout outs to Jan Richardson’s In Wisdom’s Path and to  Alive Now for its poems, prayers and quotes. Finally, she points to Relevant Magazine’s weekly e-newsletter, confessing that she still hasn’t gotten around to reading the print ‘zine, but loves the e-letter.
  • Stacey Jutila works the night shift as chaplain to Children’s Memorial in Chicago. She recommends If I Get to Five, by Fred Epstein and Josh Horwitz. She notes, “This book is written by one of the first pediatric neuro-oncologists. He talks about the reality of brain tumors and
    their impact on children and families. He does a wonderful job of examining the social, medical, and spiritual aspects of pediatric cancer.” The Rev. Jutila also recommends Ode Magazine, which she says is “a wonderful international magazine that looks at issues of justice, peace, environment, spirituality and health.”
  • Former college chaplain Mary Allison Cates recommends Iona’s A Wee Worship Book. She notes that “the invitation to the table on page 84 is revolutionary and beautiful.”
  • Worship is also on the mind of  Callista Isabelle, Associate University Chaplain at Yale University. She lifts up Prayers & Litanies for the Christian Seasons by Sharlande Sledge. Chaplain Isabelle notes, “She uses imagery brilliantly, and I’ve used this book as inspiration for Sunday morning liturgies and evening services. The book is arranged both by liturgical season and thematically.”
    She also suggests Sustaining Simplicity by Anne Basye, “down-to-earth journal of one woman’s quest to live simply. Basye gives accessible examples and frames her struggle for simplicity theologically. There’s also an online guide for group conversations. My favorite part is the book is formatted as little scribbles and Post-It notes, so it looks just as scattered as my life but flows more
    smoothly!”
  • Kate Smanik-Moyes, the Helen Carnell Eden Chaplain at Wilson College, refers us to When Violence Is No Stranger by Kristen Leslie. She notes, “Working on the campus of a women’s college means I frequently work with students who have experienced acquaintance rape. I read this book almost every year just to remind myself of the theological and pastoral frameworks that can support my work with these students. In my humble opinion every pastor should read this
    book.”
  • Anne Turner is between jobs right now, having moved to a new region with her spouse. Her picks  during this liminal time are, “A tie between The Christian Century (because it makes me still feel like I can carry on an adult conversation,even if I do have to sing “I’ve been working on the railroad” to daughter Lucy between every page) and Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church (because I could compare her experience to mine and decide that, no, I’m not burned out like she was, despite my worst fears.)” Narcie Jeter also suggests Leaving Church.
  • Mira Hewlett’s work straddles two fields. She is part-time in religious life at Dickinson College and part time at a local parish. She recommends Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren, and Leading From the Second Chair by Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson. She writes, “Amazing insights on how to work in a parish under someone else where one must work to implement the vision of others. But the lessons translate so easily and profoundly to any other ministry that involves a boss that it makes it a must read for those who desire to have the most impact within their role.”
  • How To Be A Perfect Stranger gets a nod from Kelly Burk, a young clergy woman from the Church of the Brethren, currently serving as Interim Director for Campus Ministries at Earlham College. The Rev. Burk also suggests the previously mentioned Leaving Church, noting that the memoir “touched me profoundly and gave me encouragement to follow where God was calling even when it wasn’t where the institutional church wanted me.”
  • Suzanne Vinson is a chaplain for a skilled nursing facility. She recommends Gifts of Many Cultures  by Maren Tirabassi and Kathy Wonson Eddy. Chaplain Vinson notes, “Great compilation of liturgy, prayers, writings and art from the global community. LOVE the resource. Use it weekly in creating worship services, for personal reflection, AND in leading spirituality groups.”
  • In addition to the previously mentioned Nooma videos, Jennifer Janney also suggests the Bonhoeffer classic Life Together as having “been the best words on community for me in a rural ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ place in ministry!”

We also asked this same group of women for personal or “just for fun” resources. Some women’s personal resources were other women’s professional resources, so they were mentioned above. Other sources mentioned (space prohibits comments on these) were:

  • Eat, Pray, Love a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert (Mary Allison Cates and Suzanne Vinson)
  • Pride and Prejudice BBC miniseries on DVD (Kate Smanik Moyes, who comments that if you don’t like Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, she doesn’t want to hear about it)
  • Battlestar Galactica DVD (Anne Turner, who claims that she watches it for the religious themes)
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen  and David Oliver Relin (Mira Hewlett, who calls it a story of faith, cultures, education, and vision)
  • The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine (Suzanne Vinson, who likes it “so far”)
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (Erica Brown, who says there is “tons of good stuff” in this novel – about the plague!)