“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”
These three themes below, I have come to see as very interrelated. They are related in terms of containing ideas and impulses that need to be examined, felt deeply, apologized for and reconciled with as well as ideas and impulses that hold the promise of a better day for all as we see and act on their interconnectedness and importance.
So many valuable books and so little time. As you know, February was Black History month. I learned a lot last year about my own biases and the need for me to help move the dial on racism within myself and society. I listened a lot, facilitated several Think Again-Faith Again’s on the subject, participated in several multiple week guided discussions on the topic as well as wrote a letter or two to politicians. And I read a lot. Here’s many of the illuminating books that I listened to related to this topic:
- The New Jim Crow
- In Search of Black History with Bonnie Greer
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
- How to Be an Antiracist
- Race Matters
- My Vanishing Country: A Memoir
- The Other America – A Speech from The Radical King
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Earth Day & the Environment
April will bring Earth Day, a cause I always try to highlight in one of our Think Again-Faith Again discussions. This year George Handley will lead a discussion springing from his excellent new book, The Hope of Nature. I highly recommend it along with the following. There is a strong relationship with our treatment of the earth and the most marginalized and dispossessed. The first two books are exceptional. Braiding Sweetgrass is like poetic scripture for me. It brilliantly, weaves together science, heart, and sacred native traditions. It is powerful and so timely. The Overstory is also poetic and powerful, blending a set of disparate fictional but believable characters into a common factual cause of environmental urgency.
- Braiding Sweetgrass
- The Overstory
- Any book by Wendell Berry and Terry Tempest Williams
- The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History
- I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
- Galileo: And the Science Deniers
Faith and Doubt and the Restoration
And then there are books of faith and doubt that I have found useful. I could list a lot of those. I am going to keep it to two very current ones for me—besides the ones I already highlighted a couple of months ago. I’m finding both of these very timely along side my church’s study of the Doctrine and Covenants this year.
- Faith After Doubt
I wish every person of any religious persuasion would read this, as well as secularists and atheists. I especially wish those in my Latter-Day Saint tradition would read it. It gives valuable perspectives on doubt and faith crisis in the larger Christian world that could help everyone get along much better.
- Looking at the Doctrine and Covenants Again for the Very First Time
Written by my friend and former TA-FA presenter Jim McConkie, this view of the D&C actually reflects many of the themes in Patrick Mason’s book, Restoration. Really helpful in seeing the restoration from the culture and context of the people of the day. And that is very instructive for our day and its continuing restoration or renovation, as Patrick would call it.
These are not exhaustive lists. Nor do they include the podcasts, essays, journal articles, opinion pieces, poetry, music, and movies that have also enlightened me. And most of these are within the last couple of years. I’d love your recommendations on any of these topics or others.