So many things have happened in the past month - and I do not have time to reflect or catch up on all of them here. Alas. I want to capture a few snippets.
I have returned from the first of three intensive weeks @ Duke University working with their "faith and leadership" program. I have extensive notes about many good things learned. Since returning I've read Samuel Wells Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics - a great book I'll be using in a couple of future projects about how we enact and embody the Kingdom. I've also read Leadership on the Line by Heifetz and Linsky. Good stuff in this text on adaptive and technical change.
My reading last month of Hauerwas' memoir inspired me to pick up two books by Hauerwas that I had not read - one of which he cites as his personal most important - the other uses a series of exchanges/lectures/dialogues he engaged in with the founder of L'Arche communities - Jean Vanier. Both excellent reads - and I am so impressed with Dukes Center for Reconciliation - a separate deal from the "faith and leadership" program I am working with - but connected and urgent and important! Anyway. God, Medicine and Suffering was an important work in which Hauerwas deals with the failing of any kind of theodicy - and the failures of it as a Modern project. Good read. The second book, Living Gently in a Violent World, puts some of the "feet" and "face" on the task of working with those who suffer in our world. Great books. Intriguing to read how Jean Vanier's story emerged. It has its own "memoir-like" quality to it in his essays.
With my work with Genocide Intervention Network - I earlier in the month of June finished reading the larger review of Genocide (it's 688 pages) written by Samantha Power entitled A Problem from Hell. I learned *much* in this book and see why it became "the Bible" of the GINet "movement." I think I was most "moved" by the consistent, steady, laborious, hard and diligent work of two persons - Raphael Lemkin who worked to establish the word genocide and then give it legal teeth - and William Proxmire who delivered 3,211 speeches in the U.S. Senate every day for 20 years regarding Genocide! Wow! Commitment! Also, Samantha Power demonstrates her own scholarly skill in crafting the stories. Good read.
Along the way - on some flights I took between places and with some family vacation for my parents 50th anniversary! (Delightful!)- I also read two great books on MLK, Jr. One that deals with the "conspiracy theory" (for lack of better term) regarding who/how he was killed - An Act of State. The other text was as important - perhaps at some level more so when it comes to the "person" and "ideas" of MLK - the text is titled I May Not Get There With You, by Dyson. In this compelling work, Dyson demonstrates his credibility as a scholar of MLK's story - but he also deals with how the idea and ideals of MLK have been domesticated and watered-down as he has become an icon of popular culture and popular imagination - instead of being viewed with the prophetic critique he brought to a world that needed to be scolded. (All my terms, not Dyson's.) Much to think about from this text, in particular. I wonder if we don't make null and void the effectiveness of anything we "holiday" into existence. It almost takes the serious magnitude of any event and - while honoring it - begins to marginalize it as well.
I breezed through Malcom Gladwells What the Dog Saw and while I enjoyed it - would not recommend it. I hardly recall any of the specifics he writes about - and only read it a few weeks ago. I don't think the book or writing was bad - it just seemed a handful of "random" topics and nothing that caught my unique attention for its sociological importance.
I skimmed The Checklist Manifesto - that basically convinced me of what I already know and do - maintain checklists to insure I get *most* things done well and on time and orderly in my life. But, a good reminder of the importance of checklists.
Finally, Switch - How to Change - another book I skimmed. Essentially, make small incremental changes by Directing the Rider (rational ideas) , Motivating the Elephant (our emotions) , and Shaping the Path (changing environment. The book can be summarized in that nutshell - or perhaps by clicking to this review.
Phew. I'm caught up on my reading for now. I think.
Oh, wait - No. I also "audio-read" The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I very much enjoyed what I learned and how I experienced the characters in the story - both in the story itself, and in the narration (voice inflection, etc) of the readers. I think a few issues in the book seemed potentially anachronistic as more current positions of "feminists" were read back into the 1960's. But, how can I know! I *did* feel like I could better appreciate civil rights issues - and women's issues - as a result of the reading. And that can't be bad.