It was my 50th birthday last week and I received many books as gifts:
- An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- The Thorny Grace of It by Brian Doyle (I reviewed that one in my March "Twitterature" post)
- Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Peanuts
- Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey
I'm looking forward to getting through this awesome stash! I've started with the Downton Abbey book and am enjoying it for all the interesting background details and sumptuous photographs.
For our book study group last month I read Parker Palmer's To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey. This is one of Palmer's earlier books; in it he hasn't quite developed the comfortable personal voice that characterizes his later books like Let Your Life Speak. Some parts of the book are too abstract for my taste (for example, the epistemology section, which for some of my book group's members was the best part); but it contains some very profound reflections on how our education system has become objectified and how the classroom should be a free, safe space to seek truth within relationship. I would certainly recommend this book for any person or group interested in education and the quest for truth.
I also read Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans. Held Evans grew up in Dayton, Tennessee (home to the Scopes "monkey trial," hence the title), a conservative town where being a Christian meant being an expert in apologetics with a doubt-proof world view. But when her own doubts started creeping in, she realized her faith needed to change: she had to face those doubts and start asking the questions she'd always been afraid to ask. I loved this book. Held Evans is so frank and open about her journey from confident certainty to a more humble acknowledgement that being a Christian didn't mean she had to have things all tied up in a neat package. "God's ways are higher than our ways not because he is less compassionate than we are but because he is more compassionate than we can ever imagine."
(Note: this book has been re-released under a new title, Faith Unraveled. Good call.)