Sharp About Your Prayers

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Summer Reading

June 18th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Faith and the City

June 18, 2010

One of my favorite things about the summer is reading.  Over the course of the year, a stack of books grows in my office.  I add to the pile when I get recommendations from you, or when I come across a good review in The Christian Century, or when an email from a former student hits my inbox saying, “Have you read this…?”

Every summer, even before Amy and I were married, we spend some time in Duluth, Minnesota.  Duluth lies at the western-most tip of Lake Superior.  It is an active port—a place where wheat and iron ore still gets loaded on massive ships bound for all parts of the globe.  Duluth was home to Amy’s grandparents, and their small, immaculate house is still owned by her family.

If you haven’t had the pleasure, I must tell you that Lake Superior is cold—even in July.  A little breeze off the water and Duluth quickly earns its title: “The Air Conditioned City.”


  • Duluth air
  • a large glass of iced tea (with lemon, no sugar)
  • a stack of books (mostly novels)

That is summer!

This summer, among other things in the stack, I will be rereading Marilynne Robinson’s book, Gilead.  Ms. Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel, and I am very excited to announce that she will be at the church on Sunday, October 31, 2010 (Halloween to many, but to geeks like me “Reformation Sunday”), to address the topic: “Calvin, Literature and the American Church.”

Throughout the fall, book groups in the congregation will be reading Gilead to prepare for Ms. Robinson’s visit.  I am envisioning our whole community reading the book together.  Sort of like what happened when all of Chicago read “To Kill A Mockingbird” at the same time, only on a mini-donut scale.

Here’s a little teaser, the first sentence of the book:

I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old.

What else is in my stack?  Well, here are a few:

  • The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux
  • Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
  • Crossing Mandelbaum Gate by Kai Bird

What will you be reading this summer?  Tell me if you like it; I’ll add it to my stack!

My posting is going to slow a bit for the summer.  I wish you all Traveler’s Mercies.  Here’s hoping that a cold lemonade and a hammock in the shade are somewhere in your very near future…

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • MattNo Gravatar

    I picked up Gilead to re-read also. Wanted to re-visit John Ames before taking up Robinson’s follow-up, Home. Happy reading.

  • Laura FissingerNo Gravatar

    I’m very glad you’re going to post at all this summer! I would miss your blog entries. As for reading, I’m primarily a non-fiction, humor, essays and poetry fan. If you have anything to recommend in those categories, I’d be delighted.
    Prayers are travelling with you!

  • Phil JonesNo Gravatar

    Reading list looks great. I just finished Hauerwas’ memoir, Hannah’s Child and getting in my Lily grant proposal for next year’s sabbatical. Cathy and I will celebrate our 25th in Minneapolis next May for the Festival of Homiletics (and the Twins in their new Dome!!), then it’s off to my family farm for few weeks in eastern NC reading more Wendell Berry. Finally in June-July we’ll trek with Hannah (14) and Zach (12) to Austria and Italy for our first “all family” tour of Europe. Hope you are well and enjoying “The City.” Hope you miss seminary teaching more than I do. Peace.

  • Mark BillstromNo Gravatar

    Hi Scott,
    I believe I graduated high school with you in 19__…a long time ago. It appears you are making a positive impact on your world. Nicely done! Keep it up.
    Mark Billstrom

    • SBJNo Gravatar


      Mora Mustangs 1982?! Yes, I do remember you and hope you are well.

      Thanks for reaching out,


  • June BishopNo Gravatar

    Scott, Just found your blog. I have spent lots of time in Port William this summer. I think Amy especially would like Hannah Coulter .It is one of my favorites.If only Congress would read Berry !My new friend Diego sends your sermons for which I am grateful . There is no one like you . Love to you ,Amy and the kids.June