Reading this month

Thanks so much for everyone who made recommendations the last time I posted a booklist. I'm picking up those recommended books, but slowly. There is so much to read!

Here is a list of what I've read in the last month:

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Great book on personal productivity. Slow in the middle, but Chapters 11-13 are worth the price of the book (especially the idea of Next-Action).

Phantastes by George MacDonald

Beautiful and imaginative and for sale for $1 on Kindle.

Thomas Wingfold, Curate by George MacDonald

Thoughtful narrative meditation on faith and doubt. Free on Kindle.

The Myth of a Christian Nation by Gregory Boyd

Challenging book by a thoughtful firebrand who loves Scripture. Didn't agree with all of it, but think it's worth reading.

The Ball and the Cross by GK Chesterton

Laugh-out-loud, page-turner and philosophical work. What's not to love? Free on Kindle.

Exponential by Jon and Dave Ferguson

These guys combine the missional movement with the megachurch movement through the practice of apprenticing. Fascinating book. Only $6 on Kindle.

Invitation to a Journey by Robert Mulholland

Mulholland shares the most insightful material I've ever read for how the Myers-Briggs fits into Christian spiritual formation. Very helpful.

The Pineapple Story by Otto Koning

Strong insights into anger, submission and the Christian life wrapped in a dated and mildly offensive package. Maybe the racism is in there to force me to work on anger in the moment!

On deck, I'm working on Tim Keller's Center Church, The Resurrection of the Son of God by NT Wright, and Naturalism Defeated. I'm also hoping the Divergent series comes through from the library. I was number 43 in line, but they have a ton of copies of it.

What are you reading?

What's so great about being white?

When we enter the multi-ethnic conversation, a lot of times things get awkward for white people. They may be subject to targeted attacks attempting to provoke guilt and shame. They may be completely ignored or silenced. And when they are engaged, they may be told that the only good thing about being white is that they have lots of power and privilege to share with others.

The fact that so many white men and women engage in conversations about ethnicity, given this situation, speaks volumes about their courage and about God's work in their hearts.

I've been blessed to be directly supervised by four wonderful, white managers over my years in InterVarsity.* And during their supervision, I've developed some positive stereotypes for amazing things that white folks bring to our ministry. Here are a few ...

Dean Miller helped me grow in appreciation for history. He had this amazing sense that he and I were a part of something amazing that God had been doing for millennia in the world. He drew a great deal of wisdom and joy and identity from his connection with the church that lived in ages past. I've seen this love for history echoed time and time again in my white friends.

Jimmy Long is a genius at building systems. Under his leadership, the Blue Ridge Region of InterVarsity has developed rock solid ministry structures on the sifting sands of collegiate campuses. Everyone in InterVarsity - whether they know it or not - is influenced by Jimmy's wisdom. The realm of infrastructure, systems and strategy is a place where the wisdom of my white friends really comes in handy. I'm so grateful to serve in ministry with folks like Jimmy.

Evan Keller helped me pay attention to God's abundant provision. Evan showed tremendous financial acuity when he was my boss, negotiating contracts and raising strategic funds for the ministry. But through it all, he demonstrated a confidence that there was always going to be enough, that people were generous and that God would provide. I've found his example - and the example of my many white friends who truly believe that God will provide - challenging and inspiring.

Stacy Gaskins is currently my supervisor with InterVarsity. She brings many strengths to the table, but there's one that's super-relevant here and that's her willingness to take risks. I've thrown out some off-the-wall ideas to her over the years and she not only considers them, but green lights them most of the time. She's willing to take big risks for Jesus and with Jesus. My white friends are some of the biggest, wildest risk-takers I know and I admire that about them.

Now, you may be wondering: history, systems, confidence and risk ... what about those things has anything to do with being white? And you may be thinking: I know lots of non-white people who do these things and have these qualities.

But isn't that the way these conversations often go? The mechanisms are murky and the stereotypes could apply elsewhere. I mean, sure, Latinos are communal and hospitable and not time-oriented, but so are the Peavyhouses (and they are not Latino).

Stereotypes are useful. We use them to navigate the world. And we're going to use them whether we want to or not and whether we talk about them or not. If we are going to use stereotypes in the multiethnic conversation, we should honor God's work in blessing ethnic identity by pointing out the ways God blesses us through our white friends.

What other strengths have you seen flow out of white identity? What do you think about the practice of talking about positive stereotypes?

*My best and longest supervision experience was with Joe Ho, InterVarsity's new National Director of Asian-American Ministries, who was my Staffworker at Duke and supervised my ministry for four years at W&L. Joe's ministry to me has been immensely formative. I could write a book about how amazing Joe is and barely scratch the surface. My comments about Dean, Jimmy, Evan and Stacy aren't intended to minimize in any way Joe's influence on my life.

What are you reading?

This has been a season of very fruitful reading for me. In the last 6 weeks I've read a lot of books. (See the list below)

I also had the opportunity to spend time with a group of men at Joseph Holbrook's annual Readers' Retreat. A group of 11 men gathered to talk about books that have been important to us in the last year. We talked about the ideas we found helpful and the questions the books stirred in us. The men listened well to each other, pushed when they needed to push and encouraged throughout it all. Though we gathered around the books, the significant connection wasn't with the books but with each other. This is one of the most meaningful elements of reading: connecting with other readers.

So, what are you reading? I'm on the lookout for new books to pick up and for people to talk with who're reading the books I'm reading. Post a comment below or send me a message via Facebook or Twitter.

And here's what I've read in the last 6 weeks:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
The Man who was Thursday by GK Chesterton
The Man Who Knew Too Much by GK Chesterton
The Ballad of the White Horse by GK Chesterton
Surrender to Love by David Benner
The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner
The Deeper Journey by Robert Mulholland
The Life of Antony of Egypt and Other Writings by Athanasius
Living in Christ's Presence by Dallas Willard and John Ortberg
Seeing Through the Fog by Ed Dobson
In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher