social spark Aisling Beatha: 2018


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Monday, October 22, 2018

50 Books Before 50 - Part 2 - Books I Want to Read

Continuing on from the post in which I shared the books I have read since the beginning of this year and the ones I have recently started. On to the rest of my "50 Books Before 50" list.

20. The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women
In The Wisdom of the Body, Christine Valters Paintner focuses on the true meaning of the Incarnation—God became flesh—and points to the spiritual importance of appreciating the bodies God gave us.
Each of the book’s ten chapters is a mini-workshop designed to lead us to new ways of being in relationship with our bodies. Starting with the senses and shifting toward emotions and desires, Paintner explores their role as thresholds to discovering the body’s wisdom. She draws from Christian tradition to offer principles and practices such as stability, hospitality, and gratitude to lead us on a journey that ends with a sense of deep peace and self-acceptance.

21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I have read this book before, when I was at my friend Dana's house in America some years ago and I LOVED IT. I still haven't watched the movie, and I want to re read the book before I pick up the dvd.

22. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine
From a jarring encounter with sexism in a suburban drugstore, to monastery retreats and to rituals in the caves of Crete, Sue Monk Kidd reveals a new level of feminine spiritual consciousness for all women—one that retains a meaningful connection with the "deep song of Christianity," embraces the sacredness of ordinary women’s experience, and has the power to transform in the most positive ways every fundamental relationship in a woman's life—her marriage, her career, and her religion.

23. A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace
When did we accept vengeance as an acceptable part of the Christian life? How did violence and power seep into our understanding of faith and grace? For those troubled by this trend toward the sword, perhaps there is a better way.
What if the message of Jesus differs radically from the drumbeats of war we hear all around us?
Using his own journey from war crier to peacemaker and his in-depth study of peace in the scriptures, author and pastor Brian Zahnd reintroduces us to the gospel of Peace.

24. Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart
What happens when you fully commit yourself to love? Endless good, insists Scott Stabile, who found that out by overcoming plenty of bad. His parents were murdered when he was fourteen. Nine years later, his brother died of a heroin overdose. Soon after that, Scott joined a cult that dominated his life for thirteen years before he summoned the courage to walk away. In Big Love, his insightful and refreshingly honest collection of personal essays, Scott relates these profound experiences as well as everyday struggles and triumphs in ways that are universally applicable, uplifting, and laugh-out-loud funny. Whether silencing shame, rebounding after failure, or moving forward despite fears, Scott shares hard-won insights that consistently return readers to love, both of themselves and others.

25. The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth

26. An Altar in the World: Finding the Sacred Beneath Our Feet
We discover that no physical act is too earthbound or too humble to become a path to the divine.

27. Embodied Prayer: Towards a Wholeness of Body, Mind and Soul
Our bodies have too long been in exile. We listen or pray with our hearts and minds but ignore much of our bodies; we become "disembodied." This illuminating book is about honoring what our bodies have to teach us. Brimming with words of wisdom that will allow you to discover what a gift your body is, Embodied Prayer invites you towards wholeness of body, mind, and soul.

28. Life Disrupted: Getting Real about Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties
Life Disrupted is a personal and unflinching guide to living well with a chronic illness: managing your own health care without letting it take over your life, dealing with difficult doctors and frequent hospitalizations, having a productive and satisfying career that accommodates your health needs, and nurturing friendships and a loving, committed relationship regardless of recurring health problems. Laurie Edwards also addresses the particular needs of people who have more than one chronic illness or who are among the twenty-five million Americans with a rare disorder. She shares her own story and the experiences of others with chronic illness, as well as advice from life coaches, employment specialists, and health professionals.
Reading Life Disrupted is like having a best friend and mentor who truly does know what you're going through.

29. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health
We have all experienced the connection between our mind and our gut—the decision we made because it “felt right”; the butterflies in our stomach before a big meeting; the anxious stomach rumbling we get when we’re stressed out. While the dialogue between the gut and the brain has been recognized by ancient healing traditions, including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, Western medicine has by and large failed to appreciate the complexity of how the brain, gut, and more recently, the gut microbiota—the microorganisms that live inside our digestive tract—communicate with one another. In The Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer, professor of medicine and executive director of the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress, offers a revolutionary and provocative look at this developing science, teaching us how to harness the power of the mind-gut connection to take charge of our health and listen to the innate wisdom of our bodies.

30. The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma
The effects of trauma can be devastating for sufferers, their families and future generations. Here one of the world's experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for treatment, moving away from standard talking and drug therapies and towards an alternative approach that heals mind, brain and body.

31. Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith
Benjamin L. Corey thought he was suffering a crisis of faith, but it turned out to be a spiritual awakening.
Corey became aware that the constant fear of hell and judgment that defined his Christian faith was out of sync with the idea that God acts from love, and promises to deliver us from fear. In the wake of this realization came newfound insights--from reading the Bible to re-examining American life and the church's role in the wider world. Corey learned that what he had been taught was a distorted version of Christianity that was not only untrue but caused real spiritual harm.

32. Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible
Gain a greater understanding of gender in the Bible through the eyes of a diverse group of evangelical scholars who assert that Christians have missed the point of some scriptural stories by assuming the women in them were “bad girls.”
Did the Samaritan woman really divorce five husbands in a world where women rarely divorced even one? Did Bathsheba seduce King David by bathing in the nude? Was Mary Magdalene really a reformed prostitute?
While many have written studies of the women in the Bible, this is a new kind of book―one in which an international team of male and female scholars look afresh at vilified and neglected women in the Bible. The result is a new glimpse into God’s heart for anyone, male or female, who has limited social power.

33. Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole, and Living Free From Shame
Vicky Beeching knew if she ever spoke up about her identity it would cost her everything.
Faced with a major health crisis, at the age of thirty-five she decided to tell the world that she was gay. As a result, all hell broke loose. She lost her music career and livelihood, faced threats and vitriol from traditionalists, developed further health issues from the immense stress, and had to rebuild her life almost from scratch.
But despite losing so much she gained far more: she was finally able to live from a place of wholeness, vulnerability, and authenticity. She finally found peace.

34. Shameless: A Sexual Reformation
Nothing gives church folk anxiety quite like the subject of sex. And that's why in Shameless, Pastor Nadia sets out to reclaim the conversation for a new generation. In the spirit of Martin Luther, Bolz-Weber calls for a reformation of the way believers understand and express their sexuality. To make her case, Bolz-Weber draws on experiences from her own life as well as her parishoners', then puts them side by side with biblical narrative and theology to explore what the church has taught and about sex, and the harm that has often come as a result. Along the way, Bolz-Weber reexamines patriarchy, gender, and sexual orientation with candor but also with hope--because, as she writes, "I believe that the Gospel can heal the pain that even the church has caused."

35. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder
She never expected the questions to lead as far as they did when her husband told her he no longer believed in God. The death of a friend, the unraveling of relationships and career, the loss of a worldview, and the birth of a baby girl with two heart defects all led Lisa to a tumultuous place; one of depression and despair. And it was there that her perspective on everything changed. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen tells the story of what can happen when you dare to let go of what you think to be true; to shift the kaleidoscope and see new colors and dimension by way of broken pieces.
Lisa’s eloquent, soul-stirring memoir brings you to a music stage before thousands of fans and a front porch where two people whisper words that scare them to the core. It is the story of how doubt can spark the beginning of deeper faith; how a baby born with a broken heart can bring love and healing to the hearts of many, and ultimately, how the hardest experience in life often ends up saving us.

36. Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are
When women are told that what is important about us is how we look, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to feel comfortable with our appearance and how we feel about our bodies. We are told, over and over--if we just lost weight, fit into those old jeans, or into a new smaller pair--we will be happier and feel better about ourselves. The truth is, so many women despise their appearance, weight, and shape, that experts who study women's body image now consider this feeling to be normal.
But it does not have to be that way. It is possible for us as women to love ourselves, our bodies, as we are. We need a new story about what it means to be a woman in this world. Based on her original research, Hillary L McBride shares the true stories of young women, and their mothers, and provides unique insights into how our relationships with our bodies are shaped by what we see around us and the specific things we can do to have healthier relationships with our appearance, and all the other parts of ourselves that make us women.

37. transforming
Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians provides access into an underrepresented and misunderstood community and will change the way readers think about transgender people, faith, and the future of Christianity. By introducing transgender issues and language and providing stories of both biblical characters and real-life narratives from transgender Christians living today, Hartke helps readers visualize a more inclusive Christianity, equipping them with the confidence and tools to change both the church and the world.

38. Falling Upward: A Spirituality For The Two Halves Of Life
In Falling Upward, Fr Richard Rohr offers a new understanding of one of life’s most profound mysteries: how our failing can be the foundation for our ongoing spiritual growth. Drawing on the wisdom from time-honoured myths, heroic poems, great thinkers and scared religious texts, the author explores the two halves of life to show that those who have fallen, failed, or ‘gone down’ are the only ones who understand ‘up’. The heartbreaks, disappointments and first loves of life are actually stepping stones to the spiritual joys that the second half has in store for us.

39. The Giver
The novel follows a 12-year-old boy named Jonas. The society has taken away pain and strife by converting to "Sameness", a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, as there may be times where one must draw upon the wisdom gained from history to aid the community's decision making. Jonas struggles with concepts of all the new emotions and things introduced to him: whether they are inherently good, evil, or in between, and whether it is even possible to have one without the other. The Community lacks any color, memory, climate, or terrain, all in an effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.

40. Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
"Within the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us."
Beginning in Advent and moving through the sacred seasons of the Christian year, Circle of Grace offers Jan's distinctive and poetic blessings that illuminate the treasures each season offers to us.

41. Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Boxed Set (as in, I would count the whole set as 1 book for the sake of this challenge)
Because they are awesome. So awesome that I am going to a "meet the author" event next month and I am travelling over 2 hours each way to get there.

42. How to be a Bad Christian: ... And a better human being
In this handbook to Christianity for people who describe themselves as spiritual but not necessarily religious, Dave sketches out some key practices for how to be a 'bad' Christian, including how to talk to God without worrying about prayer, how to read the Bible without turning off your brain, and how to think with your soul rather than trying to follow rules.

43. Harry Potter Complete Collection
And yes I'm counting them all as 1 item.

44. Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen
In this compelling memoir Stephen Hawking's first wife, Jane Hawking, relates the inside story of their extraordinary marriage. As Stephen's academic renown soared, his body was collapsing under the assaults of motor neurone disease, and Jane's candid account of trying to balance his 24-hour care with the needs of their growing family will be inspirational to anyone dealing with family illness.

45. Mend the Living
In the depths of a winter's night, the heart of Simon Limbeau is resting, readying itself for the day to come. In a few hours' time, just before six, his alarm will go off and he will venture into the freezing dawn, drive down to the beach, and go surfing with his friends. A trip he has made a hundred times and yet, today, the heart of Simon Limbeau will encounter a very different course.
But for now, the black-box of his body is free to leap, swell, melt and sink, just as it has throughout the years of Simon's young life.
5.50 a.m.
This is his heart.
And here is its story.

46. With the End in Mind: Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial
Told through a series of beautifully crafted stories taken from nearly four decades of clinical practice, her book answers the most intimate questions about the process of dying with touching honesty and humanity. She makes a compelling case for the therapeutic power of approaching death not with trepidation but with openness, clarity and understanding.
With the End in Mind is a book for us all: the grieving and bereaved, ill and healthy. Open these pages and you will find stories about people who are like you, and like people you know and love. You will meet Holly, who danced her last day away; Eric, the retired head teacher who, even with Motor Neurone Disease, gets things done; loving, tender-hearted Nelly and Joe, each living a lonely lie to save their beloved from distress; and Sylvie, 19, dying of leukaemia, sewing a cushion for her mum to hug by the fire after she has died.

47. Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
I haven't watched the movie, but I really want to read the book first.

48. Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone
I won a copy of this book a few years ago and didn't finish reading it at the time. I want to go back and finish it.
Our bodies are more good than we can possibly imagine them to be. And yet at times we may struggle with feelings of shame and guilt or even pride in regard to our bodies. What is God trying to do through our skin and bones?
In Embracing the Body spiritual director Tara Owens invites you to listen to your thoughts about your body in a way that draws you closer to God, calling you to explore how your spirituality is intimately tied to your physicality. Using exercises for reflection at the end of each chapter, she guides you to see your body not as an inconvenience but as a place where you can meet the Holy in a new way―a place to embrace God's glorious intention.

49. There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love
Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all-been-that-deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. It is a helpful illustrated guide to effective compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.
There Is No Good Card for This features workbook exercises, sample dialogs, and real-life examples from Dr. Crowe’s research, including her popular "Empathy Bootcamps" that give people tools for building relationships when it really counts. Whether it’s a coworker whose mother has died, a neighbor whose husband has been in a car accident, or a friend who is seriously ill, There Is No Good Card for This teaches you how to be the best friend you can be to someone in need.

50. many many many more books are actually on this list, but I know that over the course of the next 2 years I will certainly add more books to this list and remove some from it. So I'm leaving it here for now.

If you have read the last post AND this one I am fairly sure you will have spotted some themes amongst this list.  I can see at least 3 clear themes straight away but I am sure there are others.

What themes do you see?

BTW, if either of these lists has you concerned about my relationship with God, please don't worry, I'm sure She doesn't.

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50 Books to Read Before I Turn 50 - Part 1 - Books I Have Read and am Currently Reading

Back in January, around the time of my birthday, I made a list of "50 Things to do Before I Turn 50".
One of the items in that list was "Read 50 books before I turn 50".  I promised I would post what I was reading, and have not yet done so.  We're almost 10 months into the challenge, which is 3 years long, so in theory I should have read over 13 books by now to stay on track.  Let's find out how I'm doing:

1. Motel of the Mysteries ~David Macaulcay

I bought this at Christmas as a gift for my son who has recently finished a Masters Degree in Archaeology.  We had been talking about the things archaeologists say about their finds that seem like assumptions to me, but my son was explaining how they can know what even a tiny piece of something is.  This book is set in the future, and is about an archaeologist who comes across a motel somewhere in what we know as America and all the assumptions that he makes about what he finds. It is quite funny to think about what we will leave behind and what future people groups would make of them if they rediscovered them as an archaeologist would.  I enjoyed this book.

2. Searching for Sunday ~Rachel Held Evans

Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn't want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals--church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it.
I didn't ENJOY this book as much as I had hoped to, but that may be because I never managed to get through it in one straight run.  I kept putting it down and coming back to it weeks and weeks later.

3. The Stolen Marriage ~Diane Chamberlain
I picked this up because the Kindle Version was on offer.  Check it out, it is a good read.  There's so much I could say about it but I don't want to spoil the mystery.  

In 1944, Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life, marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night and Tess quickly comes to realize that she is now trapped in a strange and loveless marriage.

4. How to be Champion ~Sarah Millican
Part autobiography, part self help book, part confessional, with all the humour we have come to expect from Sarah Millican.  This book made me laugh out loud more than once.

5. The Golden Acorn ~Catherine Cooper
The Kindle Edition of this Children's/YA adventure book is currently free on Kindle in the UK. I picked it up because my son recommended it as a book by a local author and I was not disappointed.

The Golden Acorn is the first book in the Jack Brenin series. Book 1 can be read as a stand alone or as the first book in an ongoing adventure. Once you've read this book we're sure you'll want to read more about Jack Brenin and the magical 'Otherworld' he becomes involved in.

6. In The Sanctuary of Women ~ Jan L Richardson

A book of reflections on women. Some are women I am familiar with through the bible, others are women I am familiar with through church history, others still weere not familiar to me before reading this book. If you are a woman on a spiritual journey, Jan's writing is well written, thoughtful and comes from a place of understanding from her own experience that life isn't all sunny.

7. The Early Classics of Agatha Christie

If you like Agatha Christie's later writing, try and find a copy of this anthology of someof her earlier stories. There is an early Poirot story as well as some of her stories that were not part of a series.

8. Room ~ Emma Donoghue

If you have ever watched the news stories of people who have been kidnapped and kept captive for many years and wondered what life is like behind those closed doors, then this novel is a great insight into what it might be like.
Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures ten feet by ten feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits there is a world outside.
Having read this book, I have refused to watch the movie based on it, as the book has already made the story far too real.

9. The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathan Fairfax

I picked this up on a 99p Kindle deal and loved it.  It made me laugh so many times and read out pieces to my family to explain why I was laughing.
When Jonathon Fairfax accidentally helps a murderer bump off Sarah Morecambe, the secretary of a senior politician, he sets off a chain of events that astonishes him. Jonathon is wrong-footed by even the most everyday things, so he's particularly startled to find himself caught up in a conspiracy that goes right to the heart of government.
If you have read any of the Douglas Adams Dirk Gently books and enjoyed them, I think you will like this one too.

10. The Sewing Machine

Sometimes I struggle with books written with shifting perspective, BUT this one is so well written and did such a good job of gripping my attention that I did not want to put it down. And truly, I never saw that ending coming, until right before it was revealed.
It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.
Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.
More than 100 years after his grandmother's sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams. He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

11. I am Malala
Have you ever wondered about the story behind the young woman who stood up for the rights of girls everywhere to be educated? This book takes us from her childhood home through the growing influence of the Taliban, on to the day when she was shot, and her move to Birmingham, England for treatment and recovery.

12. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Because - WHY NOT

13. A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear

Meh. I expected more from this but found it monotonous and repetitive.

14. Shalom Sistas
Taking readers through the twelve points of the Shalom Sistas' Manifesto, Osheta Moore experiments with practices of everyday peacemaking and invites readers to do the same. From dropping "love bombs" on a family vacation, to talking to the coach who called her son the n-word, to spreading shalom with a Swiffer, Moore offers bold steps for crossing lines between black and white, suburban and urban, rich and poor.

15. Walking the English Coast
Whether you are planning to walk the English coast or just tackle some other long distance walk in the UK, this book has much advice to offer. For the record, yes I'd love to the coast walk do but since I can't wild camp (sleep apnoea means I need electrical power at night) it is going to take a bit more planning.

As I said at the beginning of this post I should have read 13 books since the beginning of the year in order to be on track with this, so I'm doing OK so far, in fact, I'm a little ahead of the schedule.

16. Catching Contentment
If anyone has a right to feel angry with life, then Liz is a strong candidate. Having battled with lung disease from a young age, suffered at the hands of bullies, and, reluctantly, given up her much-loved teaching job, she has plenty to complain about. But she has made a point of exploring contentment.
Liz is the wife of a local church minister and I am part of the launch team for this book which doesn't release until the middle of November. So far, there have been parts that have really encouraged me, parts I have struggled with and parts where I have uttered out loud "THIS is what I'm talking about, why don't people get it?"

17. 12 Things To Pray (Chronic Health Conditions)
This book is for those with a heart and desire to pray for those struggling through the confusing and difficult road of a chronic health condition. Often people say, "I am praying for you" but don't know how to pray for those with chronic illness and pain. While this book doesn’t address every idea of what to pray and is not a "formula", it is a good "jumping off point" for you to be praying for yourself or those whom you love that struggle with chronic health issues and their loved ones.

18. Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship
I've only just started to dip into this book, and I think I am going to wait until I have finished the Liz Carter book mentioned above in order to not overwhelm myself with books on illness and disability.
Swinton wrestles with critical questions that emerge from theological reflection on time and disability: rethinking doctrine for those who can never grasp Jesus with their intellects; reimagining discipleship and vocation for those who have forgotten who Jesus is; reconsidering salvation for those who, due to neurological damage, can be one person at one time and then be someone else in an instant.

19. Finding God in the Margins: The Book of Ruth
In four short episodes we encounter refugees, undocumented immigrants, poverty, hunger, women's rights, male power and privilege, discrimination, and injustice.
In Finding God in the Margins, Carolyn Custis James reveals how the book of Ruth is about God, the questions that surface when life falls apart, and how he reaches into the margins and chooses two totally marginalized women who in the eyes of the patriarchal culture are zeros.
So far I am just a short way into this book but I love the comparison between the story of Naomi and the story of Job. Both lost everything, but Naomi also lost her spouse and as a widow in a patriarchal society had no way of gaining back any of what she had lost, whereas Job would have been able to at least try.

Books I WANT TO READ coming in the next post

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