A Note from Pastor Sam: April 2019

ChurchPastor's Blog

Rev. Dr. Sam Pearson Parkes

What I’m Reading

This month, I thought I would share a bit about what I’m reading these days. I don’t have as much time to read as I would like (do any of us?), but these are the paper books and audiobooks that are informing my thoughts and leadership right now. I’ll also include one of my favorite podcasts that I listen to regularly. Let me know what you are reading/listening to, I love recommendations!

The Hospitable Leader by Terry A. SmithThe Hospitable Leader: Create Environments Where People and Dreams Flourish by Terry A. Smith

Your staff members have been reading this book together. I am loving it. Smith outlines a way of leading, rooted in Jesus’ style of leadership, that invites us to think about and create a church that is truly a “home” for all people. One that extends radical hospitality, encourages the dreams of every person, and feasts (both literally and figuratively) on the bounty of God’s goodness and love. If you are a leader at MEUMC (and as my colleague, Dani Peele frequently reminds us, ahem, YOU ARE!) then I encourage you to read, mark, and inwardly digest this thought-provoking and visionary book.

The Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark A. NollThe Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark A. Noll

From our vantage point, it seems rather obvious that traditional slavery of other human beings is not in God’s design or will for humanity. What Noll reminds us about is that for centuries, this was a point of deep theological debate, particularly on this continent. In fact, by looking at the writings of biblical interpreters and theologians of the 18th and 19th centuries, Noll convincingly claims that the Scriptures do not prohibit human slavery and assumed, within certain legal restrictions, that slavery of other humans is a natural part of Judeo/Christian life. The hard job of claiming otherwise fell to abolitionists. To abolish slavery and to do it in God’s name created a theological crisis that required fresh ways to approach scripture beyond the literal sense. This is a very fascinating and readable work. I heartily commend it.

Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate BowlerEverything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler

Kate Bowler had a sweet job as a professor at Duke University; she was married to her high-school sweetheart; she was loving life with her newborn son and thriving in her job. #blessed, #AmIRite? But then, at 35, she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Irreverent, funny, thoughtful, and heart-wrenching, Bowler reflects on how facing up to her death exposed some beliefs about faith and God that could no longer work for her. Her experience caused her to read the Bible differently and discover a Christianity that truly helps to make meaning of a hard and beautiful life.

The Bible for Normal People by Pete Enns and Jared ByasThe Bible for Normal People by Pete Enns and Jared Byas

Pete and Jared are biblical scholars, but this podcast is designed to bring great scholarship down to even my level! Witty and wickedly smart, they host a broad variety of guests on the cutting edge of biblical scholarship. You can find them at peteenns.com.