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A little pushback on reading plans

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Book lists from 2018 abound, and plans for 2019 are being made. When it comes to reading, outside of what I have to read for school, I'm not a planner. I tried that once. I read what I want to read in the moment. And I'm the kind of reader who wants to read a lot on one subject for a while before moving on. That is why I have an entire shelf downstairs in my living room bookcase devoted to Lucy Maud Montgomery: her novels, books about her, her journals, and critical works about her writing. 

I do write down what I've read, but I don't plan, and I don't really keep count. I have no idea how many books I read last year, and I'm not concerned. My focus is to enjoy what I'm reading. When it comes to reading, I have the time; well, after homework is done, of course.

My husband and fellow lover of reading, however, does not have time. Yesterday, I was reminded why this is. We are both suffering from a nasty cold (well, to be accurate, he brought it into the house and shared it with me) which involves a lot of congestion, snuffling, and drippy noses. He decided to work at home rather than spread his cooties. I was up in my study working on my term paper and studying for my Greek exam.

Aside from a nap he took in the afternoon, he worked all day. He sat in his chair and looked at his trio of computer screens, at spreadhseets, numbers, and other ugly stuff. I worked all day, too, but this is crunch time, so I have to. On other days, I work in the mornings, and do errands and housework in the afternoon. In addition to his work, he answered e-mails. If he's away for any length of time and unable to answer them, he'll have to go through hundreds of them. The benefit of being home means he wasn't interrupted by people coming into his office. When he works at home, I don't bother him. After dinner, when I went upstairs to resume my work, he resumed his, and we both quit at about 10:00. His job generally demands he work a couple hours at home every day, sometimes more.

This is my husband's work life. If he is able to read a few books a year, he is lucky. This is not to say he's not an avid reader. He loves reading. One of my memories of him is early in our marriage when we visited my aunt and uncle's farm and he read through two volumes of Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples while we were there. A couple of years ago, he plowed through (for a third time) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in a couple of weeks. And when he does read, he's more likely to pick up a scientific book or a fantasy book than a theology book (oh no!), although he seemed very interested in the text for my Penteteuch class next semester.

All that to say this: don't feel guilty if you can't read a huge amount of books. And don't feel bad if you can't read fast. I am not a fast reader, so the likelihood of me ever reading 100 books in a year is unlikely (unless I pursue a PhD and I'm forced to). I would rather read fifteen books in a year and be intimately connected with them than read 50 that I'm only acquaintances with.

Having a busy job that makes your mind exhausted may make it hard to read in large volumes. And it's not unvirtutous or ungodly if you can't manage it. If you want to read more, just do it. But don't feel bad if you can't.


Learn; learn all you can

This morning, as I had my coffee (and blew my nose repeatedly) I read an article about the abuse in IFB churches. It's sobering and heart-wrenching. 

The mentality which runs rampant in IFB churches is not just restricted to IFB churches. The idea of separation from the world, avoiding anything secular, women only wearing pants, and treating the pastor as if he's like a pope can be found in other evangelical churches. 

As I listened to some of the testimonials of the victims, I picked up on the fact that many of the things they had heard from their leaders, I have heard in my own local church. Although we are not part of the IFB, we are independent. In my church's history, we broke away from an IFB over 50 years ago, but some of the attitudes remain; things like mistrusting Christians outside our circle, not questioning church leaders, making sure things look good on the outside, while ignoring things on the inside. I feel such regret, because I know I taught my children similar attitudes because I really did not question.

Why did I follow so blindly? I really did believe that the leadership knew everything. I had such a poor understanding of the Bible (and I'm still learning) and I took everything at face value. It has only been in the past fifteen years that I have begun really growing.

I don't know what to say to people who have been abused by church leaders, whether it is emotional abuse or sexual abuse, but what I would encourage everyone to do -- men and women alike -- is to learn. Learn about the Bible. Read it, study it. Learn how to study it. Don't think that the Holy Spirit's presence means you check your brain at the door. If someone discourages you from learning because you don't "need" to, do not listen to them. Keep learning. Know why your leaders are telling you what they are telling you. Learn how to think, how to reason, how to understand and develop an argument.

So many of the victims' stories I hear involve being controlled because they did not know any better. Until our children can understand better, we as the adults need to understand first. Relying on someone else to tell us what the Bible says leaves us open to being in a position like that. And yes, that means women do not have to wait for their husbands to tell them what the Bible says and how they are supposed to reflect true faith. They need to figure it out for themselves.

Rant over.


Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art.
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born they people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to thy glorious throne.



You know you have a cold when . . . 

. . . you don't look forward to your morning coffee.

I am going to drink mine nonetheless. I'll have some Ginger Tea later. I'm having the coffee because I didn't sleep well last night, and I have a date with Mark 5:21-43: translation and exegetical outline today, and hopefully homiletical outline tomorrow. What is a middle aged seminarian to do when Christmas preparations fall in the middle of the end of the semester? I am so looking forward to the kids coming tomorrow for tree decorating, but that means cleaning the house, and I honestly don't feel like it.

At Out of the Ordinary, we have been striving to post twice weekly; on Monday with things we've read and found interesting and on Friday, links we have found interesting. I have been negligent lately. I figure I have a good excuse.

But honestly, some weeks I find it difficult to get good blog links. I want to share something that is encouraging and insightful, and some weeks, I struggle to something. Lately, my usual haunts have not given me much. I need new frontiers. But that takes time I don't have right now. I miss the old days of blog aggregators. There are very few bloggers out there who compile links these days, and I don't have time right now to look myself. I suppose I could over Christmas, but I have a couple of books I want to read before next semester. The bloggers I most enjoy reading are like me, and finding it hard to make time for writing. The bloggers I am not as interested in but produce regular content aren't really showing me anything I'm interested in. 

Ah well, if this is my biggest problem in the world, I really don't have anythign to complain about.

On the upside, I got two papers back this week. Both were group efforts, and I was so thankful to work with good students. On the downside, I will miss the students in my Greek Ex class. Some of them are graduating this year, and I will miss seeing them around campus.

And now I need to blow my nose and finish my coffee.


Favourite reads of 2018

I'm procrastinating. My brain needs a break. In the past two days I have done a lot of work. I have finished three papers which I will hand in tonight at Synoptic Gospels. I have yet to finish my major paper. 

I have finished my last exegetical paper, and this morning I have done expositional outlines on Matthew 28:1-20, Philippians 1:1-11, and Philippians 2:1-11. My outlines consist of both exegetical and homiletical outlines. I have do my outlines for Matthew 1:18-25 later today. And then it's time to get my major paper done so I can spend all of next week studying for my Greek final. 

So before lunch, I'm noodling around online. And yes, it's time for those "best reads" posts we love to do.

For what it's worth, here are some of mine, in no particular order.

  • Road to Renewal, Wayne Baxter: Dr. Baxter is my Greek prof and the prof for my Synoptics class. This is a study of prayer. It is subtitled: "Seven Prayers That Will Change You." I think this book could be used in a small group. I want to read it again.
  • The Good Portion - God, Rebecca Stark: This book was the one I most eagerly waited for, and it was as good as I anticipated. She has a way of distilling theology into understandable language without being cheesy or silly. It's a book which could be appreciated by men and women.
  • Linguistics and Biblical Exegesis, Douglas Magnum and Josh Westbury: Learning about language is never wasted time. Part of communicating well is understanding the nuances of language. Communicating well is about more than finding the right words. I found this an excellent introduction.
  • Concise Theology, J.I. Packer: Bite sized pieces of good theology. Packer knows how to communicate. I read this with my daily Bible readings; much better than most daily devotional books.
  • Victoria, The Queen, Julia Baird: I was reading this while watching Victoria on PBS. It was interesting to see the differences. Television definitely likes to gloss over personal flaws.
  • Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese: This book is not everyone's cup of tea. It has some unpleasant aspects to it, but the subject matter is a huge part of Canadian culture: residential schools for Aboriginal children. I was drawn into the story by Wagamese's poignant prose. I read it twice.

I won't finish it by the end of the year, but at the moment, when I have time first thing in the morning, I've been reading Advent by Fleming Rutledge. This woman is an Episcpolian priest and she sounds more orthodox than some evangelicals I know. She's a brilliant writer, and really knows how to get to the heart of the matter