When I started the original Tides and Turning blog years ago, it’s sole purpose was to document things I was reading and studying. Well, I’m still reading and studying. Actually, I’ve been on a reading tear lately that rivals anything I’ve ever done in my life. I think I’ve read something like fifteen books in the past two months.
But since changing the name of the site a year ago, I’ve hesitated to make as many random posts. Plus, so much of my attention has been on my work as a pastor and on our book project, I just haven’t made an effort to set aside a lot of time for the type of meticulous note-taking I used to do on a regular basis.
With that said, I’m going to start making some posts on some random books I’ve been reading over the past year. Each year, I try to dedicate myself to studying one particular subject with as much depth as I can. Last year, my focus was on learning about writing. I took a couple of courses on writing short stories and read a ton of books on craft. This year, I’ve been studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming and principles of influence related to communication and sales. I even took a certification course in NLP. So you’ll notice some posts popping up about all sorts of things. Hopefully you’ll find something helpful.
But regardless, the notes I’ve stored on the blog over the years have proved extremely valuable for me. There’s no telling how many times I’ve thought of a quote that would go well on a sermon and then was able to find it easily because I had stored it on he blog. Thanks for everyone who’s stuck with me (and now us, since I’m not the sole owner of this new site) over the years.
Since I (Heath) started the original Tides and Turning blog several years ago, I have been the only person to write on the site. I have written every single post there and here at Recognizing Christ. Well that changes tomorrow. My co-conspirator, and longtime friend, Jeremy Beck, has written a doozy.
In the article, he deals with taking false comfort, and justifying lack of Christian growth, because of connection to a large church. It’s well worth the read, so I hope you’ll check it out when it’s posted. And we plan to bring more content like this to the blog as time permits. We are both swamped these days but are committed to adding content when we can.
The title will be, “A Counterculture of Christian Commitment.”
My friend Jeremy and I are launching a new site called Recognizing Christ (click HERE). We are working with a publisher and are hoping to launch a book in the next year or so. In light of that, we’re focusing our efforts on the new site. I will continue to monitor Tides and Turning, and probably make a post once in a blue moon, but my focus will be on the new site.
The new site is a work in progress, but in the coming months it will feature blog posts and a podcast focused on ‘Christ and culture’ primarily.
But here’s the main thing: You can also sign up for our insider updates where we’ll give updates on the progress of the book project, share what we’re reading and watching, and even let you read the first chapter of the book right before it goes to the publisher.
Want to know what the book is about? You’ll have to head over to www.recognizingchrist.com.
My posting on the blog is lagging. The reason for this is that I’ve generally posted on the blog about theological and cultural-theological issues, while at the moment I am reading a lot of fiction and don’t have the time to summarize everything I read. I am working full-time now as a pastor but I am also in a writing workshop and reading a bunch of good short stories and things about writing. I am not particularly interested in getting in conversations on the blog about writing, so I have not been posting most of it.
With that said, I have said from the beginning that the purpose of this blog is mostly selfish. I write things here to store them so that I can use them in the future (mostly in sermons, but not always). So, I’ve decided to start making some posts on the books on writing I’ve been reading so that I’ll have the stuff for easy future-reference. You’d be surprised how much this kind of stuff shows up in my preaching as illustrations and the like.
My point in raising this is simple – I am not making statements about writing that I want to debate, nor do I consider myself a great writer. I am a preacher who also writes and is trying to learn about writing. Pretty much everything good I take away from books on writing has some sort of application to preaching. I save them and share them because I find them useful. I just want to share that to say where I’m coming from since these posts are going to start popping up regularly for the next few weeks.
I just wanted to post a quick note to say that I haven’t forgotten about the blog. I am in the midst of ordination trials, plus my normal job, plus beginning my work at the church that has called me to be their new pastor (which will start full-time after Christmas). My reading has slacked off big time as I’ve been focusing mainly on prepping for ordination exams and studying for sermons, Sunday school lessons, and Wednesday night Bible studies every week. I’m looking forward to getting back to a more vigorous reading schedule soon…very soon.
I do have an interesting reading story though. Blog readers may or may not know that I’m a big fan of minimalist fiction. A few months ago I grabbed a Barry Hannah book for a quarter at the Goodwill. I’m a fan of Barry Hannah and quoted him regularly during my series on Ecclesiastes this year. Anyway, the book was laying with a stack of other books I bought at the same time. So I picked the book up to read randomly last night and not only did I discover that it was signed, even more it was personalized to someone who was apparently a minister. Hannah wished him success in the ministry. The book is in mint condition and still had an advertisement in it for the particular event at which he signed the book. It was in May of 1985.
To think that someone gave it to the Goodwill. That has the makings of a story in itself.
I had someone offer to give their late husband’s library once. I said, “You better check with your children first, that’s some serious stuff.” She said, “The books are still sitting in his study and they never use them.” ‘But still,” I said, “Even if they don’t use them, they may have some major sentimental value.” “Nah,” she said. “They won’t care.”
Books are so personal. I imagine that the man who had this book signed left it behind at some point. And whoever he left it behind to didn’t value it in the same way. Those who are closest to us elude us. Tell your family why you like the books you like. I tell my children that every book I’ve ever bought has a story behind why I bought it and a story about my experience reading it. Sometimes we’ll go through my library and I’ll tell stories about such. I let my kids do the same to me. Try it some time.
This past Saturday I finally had the letters M.Div attached to my name. It took me ten years to get there. I even went back to college in the meantime and started a new career. It’s been a busy 10 months since I resumed my studies and most of my reading has consisted of academic-theological stuff and most of my writing has consisted of exegesis and research papers.
If you want to keep up with my preaching, most of my sermons are being posted HERE. I’m presently working through the book of Ecclesiastes. If you dig through my recent sermons, you’ll probably hear me quote Lucy Grealy several times.
I’m going to get back to blogging through books. I’ve missed it. I’m starting off the summer with two books that are very different from one another:
- Autobiography of a Face,by Lucy Grealy. Lucy Grealy suffered from a rare form of cancer (in her jaw) from the age of 9. This led to a life of addiction that ended with a drug overdose at age 39. The book describes how her face, and the trauma of cancer, came to define her existence.
- A Vindication of the Moral Law, by Anthony Burges. Burges was a Seventeenth Century Puritan minister and member of the Westminster Assembly (which produced the Westminster Confession of Faith, Catechisms, etc.). This book is considered a classic in scholarly Reformed circles that deal with the relationship of law to gospel.