I started last year with the intention of 3 things: 1. Sans Social Media Sunday– A day where I unplug from all social media outlets. 2. Face-to-Face Connection where I choose connection once a week with another human(s) instead of Netflix and isolation. 3. Get #Lit with Words-where I committed to reading a book every month or 2. When I look back on these goals, the one I was most successful at was reading. I maintained my one day social media blackout for 3/4 of the year and then it just went to shit. What was worst was my ability to crawl out of my home to meet with friends. Ask me my favourites shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and in a drop of a hat I would tell you: 1. Fleabag (both seasons) 2. The Good Place 3. Schitt’s Creek 4. Forever 5. The Boys. So yes, I connected a lot with my streaming services. Don’t be judging me!
So, let me share with you the 10 books I read this past year and some of the highlights of each of them. I resonate with James Baldwin’s words, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive. ” Maybe, in 2020, the books we read will spur us further to connect our pain and heartbreaks with others so we don’t feel alone in this cold world.
This book was the one that I kept returning to all year. It’s unsettling and empowering all at once. I’ve become a huge fan of Miguel De La Torre and I cannot recommend him enough to anyone.
“Hope, as a middle-class privilege, soothes the conscience of those complicit with oppressive structures, lulling them to do nothing except look forward to a salvific future where every wrong will be righted and every tear wiped away, while numbing themselves to the pain of those oppressed, lest that pain motivate them to take radical action.”-Miguel A. De La Torre
“We must be careful not to define hopelessness as resignation, inertia, and melancholy…The call for hopeless is not despair, but perseverance, even when the end is so near. Hopelessness recognizes night is coming…In the desperation of the oncoming abyss, one may desire hope for its avoidance of reality; but hopelessness embraces the reality, recognizing that commitment to liberative principles is what defines our very humanity.”
Henri Nouwen has a compassionate way of leading me towards confronting the difficult corners of my life.
“In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding: no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me-naked, vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken-nothing. It is this nothingness that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something…that is the struggle. It is the struggle to die to the false self.”Henri Nouwen
I don’t know why this book took so long to finish. I think it might be because some of the things hit really close to home.
“If we’re always following our children into the arena, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they’ll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own.”Brené Brown
Through the crucible of having been fired from their church and denomination (Vineyard) because Emily married another woman and Ken refused to fire her, their prophetic insights carry an urgency. Together they now co-pastor a church in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A must-read if you’re on the fence about full inclusion of our LGBTQ2S+ siblings!
“The table I long for-the Church I hope for-has each of you sitting around it, struggling to hold the knowledge that you, vulnerable you and courageous you, are beloved by God, not just welcomed but desperately, fiercely wanted.”
Emily Swan and Ken Wilson
“…the evangelical Church world is unwilling to practice full LGBTQ+ inclusion, and only a little less inclined to effectively support the equality of women in ministry. Leaders in this world will need to operate outside the camp of evangelicalism- a move that comes with a high cost.”
“Pray and act: this is the spirituality of the vulnerable, the poor, the oppressed, the disinherited-and any who wish to align with the God who aligns with them.”
My relationship with the Bible is complicated and will take more than my lifetime to untangle. However, like Rachel, it’s a process I want to participate because there is so much goodness to be salvaged from it all. The Bible has often been used as a weapon against others; as an anesthesia from the reality of injustice and oppression; as a placebo to cure all of life’s ills and problems. In reality, so much of the Bible is a collection of stories filled with people just trying to figure shit out just like the rest of us.
“I am a Christian because the story of Jesus is still the story I’m willing to risk being wrong about.”Rachel Held Evans
I don’t have any quotes to share about this book. Tara is an incredible writer of a harrowing story. You want to believe it’s fiction because of how surreal it all sounds. This is the only book that caused me to weep this year.
I read this book in one evening and don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a “light” read. It packs some powerful punches and statements worth processing.
“When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it’s easy to start believing bigotry is rare, and that the label “racist” should be applied only to mean-spirited, intentional acts of discrimination.”
“White people desperately want to believe that only the lonely, isolated “whites only” club members are racist. This is why the word “racist” offends “nice white people” so deeply. It challenges their self-identification as good people. Sadly, most white people are more worried about being called racist than about whether or not their actions are in fact racist or harmful.”
“Reconciliation is the pursuit of the impossible-an upside-down world where those who are powerful have relinquished that power to the margins. It’s reimagining an entirely different way of being with one another. Reconciliation requires imagination. It requires looking beyond what is to what could be. It looks beyond intentions to real outcomes, real hurts, real histories.”Austin Channing Brown
Vicky Beeching came out at the age of 35. Before coming out she was an acclaimed and sought-after Worship song leader in the US and UK. All of the Evangelical churches and organizations that once held her up as an exemplar Christian leader closed their doors on her the moment she revealed her truth. But God did not reject her or her calling. This is a memoir of her past and her bright future.
️ “Rabbi Zusya of Hanipal was an influential 18th-century Jewish teacher. As he lay on his deathbed, he couldn’t stop crying. His followers stood around him asking, “Rabbi, why are you so sad? After all the good deeds you have done, surely you will receive a great reward in the afterlife.” Rabbi Zusya replied, “I am afraid. When I get to heaven, I know God is not going to ask me, ‘Why weren’t you more like Moses?’ or ‘Why weren’t you more like King David?’ I’m afraid God will ask, ‘Zusya, why aren’t you more like Zusya?’ And then, what will I say?”Vicky Beeching
“We become our most beautiful, powerful, irreplaceable selves when we allow our diversity to shine.”
This book has altered how I want to engage with my online digital world and what I want to teach/model to my children. It’s a “must read” for any parent wanting a 101 on what exactly this digital landscape looks like and the ever evolving dangers.
“The Latin word “addictus” was once used to describe the stretch of time an indentured slave had to serve his or her master. The servant with the sentence was called “the addict”…A study shows that an average adult with a mobile phone connected to the Internet checked his or her phone more than two hundred times a day.”
“Warning: Not looking at your baby could cause significant developmental delays.”
“Things that have been proven and have been confirmed by short-term studies: ▪️When a screen is on, a baby is less likely to play on its own-exploring the physical world-which is how real learning takes place. ▪️When a screen is on, parents tend to talk to their child less, which is detrimental to a baby’s language learning. More screen time also means less eye contact and facial reading.”
“Having secrets is natural for a child. Snooping and spying on their online lives-pouncing on their unattended cellphone to read their texts or checking their social media activity-is problematic. Studies show that children who have overbearing parents just learn to be more secretive. Worse than that, research shows that when those children run into trouble, the last people they will turn to are their over-controlling parents. In other words, be vigilant but not a vigilante.”
There’s something intimate about reading MLK’s prophetic sermons and how you hear his thundering voice quickening your heart towards love and justice.
“A religion that professes a concern for the souls of men and is not equally concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them, is a spiritually moribund religion.”Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We must pray for peace, but we must also work vigorously for disarmament and the suspension of weapon testing.”
“A man said to me, “I believe in integration, but I know it will not come until God wants it to come. You Negroes should stop protesting and start praying.” I am certain we need to pray for God’s help and guidance in this integration struggle, but we are gravely misled if we think the struggle will be won only by prayer.”
“But I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. And I go on believing that. Reach out and find the breadth of life.”