Rev. Ron's Bookshelf

Books . Movies . Music . More
Rev.  Ron's Bookshelf
Rev. Ron's Bookshelf
Books . Movies . Music . More

Rev. Ron

Lead Pastor

My Current Favorites

Five books, movies, or songs influencing me now
A Bigger Table
A Bigger Table
by John Pavlovitz
WHY I LIKE IT
I stumbled on this book after finding myself reading multiple blogposts from Pastor and author John Pavlovitz. And boy am I glad I did! This book has challenged and inspired me to think about how big my vision of God's table is and who are the invited guests to feast there. It's also been a source of encouragement to me as a pastor and builder of "messy, authentic and hopeful spiritual community," as the subtitle suggests.
Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives
Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives
by Richard Swenson
WHY I LIKE IT
This is one of those books that is more true today than when it was first written in the 1990's. We are breathless and overextended and this Christian doctor's prescription is above all else, learning to reclaim and live with margin in every area of our lives.
Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe--and Started the Protestant Reformation
Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe--and Started the Protestant Reformation
by Andrew Pettegree
WHY I LIKE IT
A timely and insightful look at how Luther not only changed the church and the world through his theology but also through the brilliant and strategic use of the technologies of the day (the printing press, pamplhlets, etc.). Were he alive today, he would have definitely been on social media spreading the good news of Jesus!
Saint John's Bible: Pentateuch
Saint John's Bible: Pentateuch
 
WHY I LIKE IT
The St. John’s Bible is an art-rich illuminated text in the Benedictine tradition that was commissioned by St. John’s Abbey & University in tiny Collegeville, Minnesota back in 1998. Donald Jackson, the Queens Caligrapher in England, became the Art Director for this ambitious multi-year project that was completed on September 15, 2011. The result was nothing short of stunning: a seven volume hand-crafted and illuminated scripture on vellum co-created by a team of artists and biblical scholars. The Smithsonian described it as “one of the extraordinary undertakings of our time” and Newseek dubbed it “America’s Book of Kells.” There are 160 larger panel illustrations of texts (my favorite is the creation story) and embellishments throughout that make it a delight to see and read.
Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion
Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion
by Sara Miles
WHY I LIKE IT
In this memoir, Sara Miles writes beautifully about her conversion to faith and the powerful spiritual journey that ensued. Her encounter with Jesus at communion -- an experience she describes as "something outrageous and terrifying happened. Jesus happened to me." -- leads her into sharing the grace of God with others through a radically hospitable food pantry that they set up in the sanctuary around the communion table.

My Essentials

My all-time favorite books, movies and music
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
by Barbara Brown Taylor
WHY I LIKE IT
I love anything by Barbara Brown Taylor -- have been reading her sermons and books for 25 years now -- and this may be my all-time favorite. It is a beautifully written invitation to be captivated by the wonder and complexity of God's world and a call to take our faith outside of the church and find our altars/places of worship anywhere and everywhere. A great summer read!
Living Prayer
Living Prayer
by Robert Benson
WHY I LIKE IT
This is a book that I return to again and again when I want to re-ground my life in prayer. Here's a great quote to give you a taste: "It is a life lived at attention that I seek, a life in which prayer has woven itself into the very fabric of my days, a life in which prayer has become a constant, as regular as breathing out and breathing in."
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
by Gregory Boyle
WHY I LIKE IT
This is the kind of book that's hard to put down once you pick it up. Father Gregory Boyle tells the inspiring stories behind Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles. You'll meet memorable characters and find grace in some surprising places along the way. And you'll come away with a deep sense of how we are all God's precious children, no matter the painful paths our lives have taken. One of my all-time favorites.
Furthermore: From the Studio From the Stage by Jars of Clay [Music CD]
Furthermore: From the Studio From the Stage by Jars of Clay [Music CD]
 
WHY I LIKE IT
Jars of Clay were one of the first Christian groups that I felt combined thoughtful and poetic lyrics with complex and beautiful music. They remain one of my all-time favorite bands and if you want to get a taste of their music, I'd check out the "Redemption" track on the Studio disk and "Tear My World Apart" on the Stage disk.
Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace
Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace
by Nora Gallagher
WHY I LIKE IT
Nora Gallagher is one of my favorite authors. I've been revisiting her book during the Easter season to be reminded of how resurrection is not a one-time event that happened long ago, but the ongoing movement of God in the world to bring new life.
The CEB Women's Bible Hardcover
The CEB Women's Bible Hardcover
by Common English Bible
WHY I LIKE IT
I first learned about this new version of the Bible because a dear friend and colleague, Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli (pastor of Foundry UMC in Washington, D.C.) is one of the editors. When I bought my own copy last month, I was thrilled to discover all of the cool features that make it unique. Not only are all of the contributors women (scholars, pastors, authors), but there are wonderful short "interludes" that enhance your reading of scripture, thoughtful reflections on important themes (heart, dreams, hope, miscarriage, race) and women biblical figures. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite Bibles my collection of 20+!
Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures
 
WHY I LIKE IT
This is my favorite movie of 2017 and I've seen a bunch! It tells the story of three remarkable, pioneering African-American women who helped launch John Glenn into space in 1962. Using pencils, slide-rules, adding machines and sheer brain power, these women "computers" were an integral part of the Space Program at NASA in its early days.
Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today
Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today
by Adam Hamilton
WHY I LIKE IT
Hamilton's book offers a thoughtful and practical approach to reading the Bible with our heads and hearts. The first half of the book provides overviews of the Old & New Testaments, a discussion of how the Bible developed over time as the sacred scriptures of first the people of Israel and then the Christian church and perhaps most importantly, an exploration of what we mean when we call the Bible the inspired "Word of God." The second half of the book builds on this framework to approach difficult issues and passages (like Faith & Science, the book of Revelation, Homosexuality & the Bible and Women in Leadership). For me, it's the right balance of good scholarship and pastoral guidance and it helps us to ask questions of ourselves about how we read the Bible. It has also made for a great topic of conversation in our small group studies here at SPUMC.
The Cost of Discipleship
The Cost of Discipleship
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
WHY I LIKE IT
When I want to get back in touch with the challenge and high calling of Jesus, I find myself returning again and again to this book. Bonhoeffer's description of costly v. cheap grace convicts me every time and I love his deep insights on the Sermon on the Mount which is why it's been on my desk for the last couple of weeks.
The Message//REMIX Paperback Wood: The Bible in Contemporary Language
The Message//REMIX Paperback Wood: The Bible in Contemporary Language
 
WHY I LIKE IT
Peterson's colorful and deeply faithful translation of the Bible into American idiom is my go-to source when I want a fresh take on a passage of scripture. His approach draws out nuances and meaning that may not always be as obvious in a stricter translation like the NRSV (which is my main study bible version) and sparks my own imagination as I come to the texts. Highly readable and indispensable.

My Bookshelf Archive

my archived books, movies, music, and more
Listening Is an Act of Love A Celebration of American Life from the Storycorps Project (Paperback, 2008)
Listening Is an Act of Love A Celebration of American Life from the Storycorps Project (Paperback, 2008)
by Various
WHY I LIKE IT
I've long enjoyed Story Corps pieces that air on NPR (and many, many more that appear on their website). This book is a collection of these heartfelt & poignant stories as grandchildren interview grandparents, friends interview friends, and spouses interview one another. I mentioned this book in my sermon from July 16 as I was talking about one of our core values, the power of listening deeply to one another.
The Art of The Saint John's Bible: The Complete Reader's Guide
The Art of The Saint John's Bible: The Complete Reader's Guide
by Susan Sink
WHY I LIKE IT
This is a companion guide to the Saint John's Bible that helps to interpret the art that is found throughout. You'll marvel at the level of detail and the depth of thought and heart that was poured into every piece.
Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
 
WHY I LIKE IT
I heard a story about this book when it first came out and I I ran out and bought it that day. A mixture funny, inspiring, hopeful and poignant tales told succinctly that leave you wanting to know more. The idea of telling your story in six words is both compelling and daunting and I have invited people into this practice many times as a way of reflecting on their lives, most recently during our Lenten Bible Study. Read it for yourself and then write one of your own.
Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life
Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life
by Henri J.M. Nouwen
WHY I LIKE IT
Henri Nouwen was a Dutch-born Catholic priest who became well known over the past 30+ years for his books (39 of them!) on the spiritual life. He taught at Yale Divinity School, spent time in base Christian communities in Latin America and then rooted himself late in life at L'Arche, a unique Christian community for people living with disAbilities where everyone is treated as equals. I first got to know his writing through the pastoral classic, The Wounded Healer and have read his work throughout my whole ministry. This book offers an intimate look into his life via his correspondence with friends and colleagues and his grace-filled spirit comes through at every turn.
Reading John for Dear Life
Reading John for Dear Life
by Jaime Clark-Soles
WHY I LIKE IT
John is the most unique of the four gospels and this book offers and accessible and in-depth look at what makes it that way. Jaime Clark-Soles invites us into an intimate and thoughtful exploration of Jesus as the Lifegiver.
Lion
Lion
 
WHY I LIKE IT
Holly and I finally got to see this movie over the weekend and it was well worth the wait! An intricately and beautifully told true story about Saroo Brierly and his search to find his family back in India after becoming separated from them when he was just 5 years old. Bring the Kleenex!
The Mission: Music From The Motion Picture
The Mission: Music From The Motion Picture
 
WHY I LIKE IT
I recently re-ordered a copy of the this soundtrack for myself and am having so much fun being reminded of why I fell in love with both the deeply theological movie and the amazing music over 30 years ago. Ennio Morricone's score moves from the beautifully meditative ("Gabriel's Oboe" is the most well-known piece) to hauntingly dramatic and everywhere in between. Check it out!
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It's All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Series)
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It's All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Series)
by Richard Carlson
WHY I LIKE IT
I still go back to this book from time (like I did for my sermon on 2/26 about not being anxious)to be reminded of the important things in life that keep us grounded and put things in perspective for us, Two of my favorite principles that can help us let go of unnecessary stress are: 1)“Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time” and 2) "Ask yourself the question, “Will this matter a year from now?”
Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People
Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People
by Nadia Bolz-Weber
WHY I LIKE IT
Nadia Bolz-Weber is not for the faint of heart! This edgy, tatooed and down-to-earth Lutheran pastor offers insights on the ways of grace and the kingdom that range from the profound to the humorous and always thought-provoking. She will help you re-think who we might include among the saints of God.
God Has a Dream - 1st Trade Edition/1st Printing
God Has a Dream - 1st Trade Edition/1st Printing
by Desmond Tutu
WHY I LIKE IT
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a pivotal figure in the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa and the healing of the nation as they dealt with their painful past. God Has a Dream is his attempt to invite us into God's vision for our lives and our world, a vision of justice, compassion, love and goodness that we are called to co-create with God. It's a quick read (only 134 pages) filled with life, joy and depth.