I returned from summer vacation on July 25th toting a stack of books that I had taken with me on our travels east to see the grandchildren (along with their parents). In packing a few weeks before, Jolynn had raised her eyes at me and querulously asked, “Do you really think you will read all of those?” After 40 years, 11 months, and 9 days of marriage, I have learned how to read some of her body language. Skepticism streamed out of her mouth and drenched her expression. I was defiant. In my defense, I did do a lot of reading while on vacation. I read Nessie the Loch Ness Monster, Ferry (as in the boat we traveled on to get to the Isle of Mull and Iona not winged creatures in the woods), Peg the Little Sheepdog, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby (Simon’s baby brother – grandchild number 4 – is due in late September or early October), The Wheels on the Truck Go ‘Round and ‘Round (about 15 times) and others of like ilk. Additionally, I did get to do some of the reading I planned on; just not as much as I had hoped for. I manage to read: The Five Marks of a Methodist: The Fruit of a Living Faith by Steve Harper Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas Ricks The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Drehr (actually this was an audio book listened to while driving East) About half of Methodism: Empire of the Spirit by David Hempton (I am continuing to read it and expect to be done soon.) Some of my other summer readings (along with some fun ScFi mind-candy) include: Unity In Mission: A Bond of Peace for the Sake of Love by Bishop C. Andrew Doyle Bishop Doyle is the Episcopal Bishop the Houston Diocese. He writes on how his diocese stayed in unity focused on the mission of the church despite divisions over the same issues that the United Methodist Church is currently dealing with. The Council of Bishops has asked that all Bishops read this book. I am currently about ¼ of the way through this significant book. The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by The Arbinger Institute “The Arbinger Institute is a global training and consulting firm that specializes in organizational transformation and conflict resolution.” In conjunction with the work of The Commission on the Way Forward, the Council of Bishops has asked that all bishops read this book as well. Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership for Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger Using the metaphor of the Voyage of Discovery in the Lewis and Clark expedition, this book pulls together in a delightfully readable many of the insights of modern leadership and systems theory joining them with Christian values and faithfulness. It is being read by a number of Cabinets in the South Central Jurisdiction (we will probably join them in reading it). I am about 40 pages into it and recommend it highly (so far). Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World by Bob Johansen Rev. Ray Bailey, an elder in the Central Texas Conference and retired Brigadier General (Deputy Chief of Staff of the Chaplains Corp in the Army), now serving as Associate General Secretary for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) gifted me with a copy of this book which he highly recommends. I trust his judgment and look forward to digging into it. I also noted in my reading that Todd Bolsinger in Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership for Uncharted Territory draws quotes from this book. Learning Theology with the Church Fathers by Christopher A. Hall This book is a companion to the outstanding Ancient Christian Commentary on Scriptures series (some 27 volumes) of which Hall served as Associate Editor. I am reading this book with a number of young clergy in the CTC out of a conviction that for us to move forward into the future faithfully we must recover out theological core. It is a deep long-term personal project. Against the Tide: The Story of Adomnan of Iona by Warren Bardsley I began this delightful book on the Isle of Iona. It chronicles the work of one of the great missionary saints and bishops of Celtic Christianity. Hopefully, I’ll finish it before summer is over! So, what are you reading this summer? If we are called to worship God with our heart and mind, how are you feeding your mind? Summer is a great time for catching up on reading! Oh, wait a minute, my list is incomplete! A friend, who is a member of a different Protestant denomination, sent me a copy of Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World by Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia. We are going to read it and compare notes about our learnings, the two of us from different Protestant Denominations, from one of the America’s leading Roman Catholic thinkers. It looks fascinating. There is more I want to read but like a kid surveying an overladen culinary banquet, I think my appetite is bigger that my allotted reading time! Meanwhile, where did I place Nessie the Loch Ness Monster? I am sure I have a picture of her (that is Nessie) somewhere….