Finding a Devotional for 2015

When I traveled I tore out the pages I needed and returned them to the book when I got home.

When I traveled I tore out the pages I needed and returned them to the book when I got home.

One of the challenges of following Christ for 40 years is a bad case of “been there, done that”.  It is easy to start reading something about a Bible passage and check out because I have heard it before. I wanted to mix up my morning routine and figure out a devotional habit I could stick with all year. Will Schwalbe mentioned a devotional his dying mother had by her bedside: Daily Strengths for Daily Needs, by Mary Tileston. I bought it and every day I read another entry. I sustained the practice and I have just one entry left.

It has been short enough to make it impossible NOT to read everyday even though a lot of the entries are in old fashioned language that is hard to comprehend. Here is an example of one of four parts of December 27: “Whatever we are–high or lowly, learned or unlearned, married or single, in a full house or alone, charged with many affairs or dwelling in quietness–we have our daily round of work, our duties of affection, obedience, love, mercy, industry, and the like. And, that which makes one man to differ from another is not so much what things he does, as his manner of doing them.” –Cardinal Henry Edward Manning.

I started searching for a replacement last week. Stephen Mattson mentioned Rob Bell’s “What is the Bible?” found on Rob Bell’s blog on Tumblr.  I checked it out and I love it. Posts are a perfect length. Enough to provide some inspiration or insight, not so much I have an time-limit excuse not to read. I have read 7 entries already because I love the perspectives.

If you are not part of the parallel universe of American Evangelical Church, Rob Bell is controversial. He wrote a terrific book called Love Wins that alienated him from the orthodox evangelical church. It must drive them crazy because he is a very gifted theologian, trained at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a great writer. He is a postmodern so he is approaching worship and following Christ differently. The main beef seems to be that he is not willing to condemn homosexuals to hell, or anyone really (hence Love Wins!).

I have read many Bible commentaries and devotions where I did not agree with everything the author wrote, so I do not mind exercising my discernment muscles. Plus I am more alienated from American Evangelicals and more aligned with Bell.

Most importantly it is reconnecting my intellect and my heart and the Holy Spirit.

Eat, Sleep, Read

One of my favorite t-shirts says “Eat, Sleep, Read” and when I wear it I almost always draw compliments from other avid readers. I have recently read a couple of books that are books about books.  The End of the Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is a memoir that focuses on the last two years of his mother’s life and the books they read together while she was waiting for chemo treatments. It is not as sad as it sounds. And it led to on-line shopping at Powell’s Books.  My first box of books included:

  • Mary Tileston, Daily Strength for Daily Needs
  • Susan P. Halpern, The Etiquette of Illness
  • Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons

Uncommon Reader

and Alan Bennet’s The Uncommon Reader.  This novella is comfy to hold and a hoot to read. It imagines what might happen if the Queen of England discovers reading in a mobile library parked behind the kitchen at Buckingham Palace.  Of course she reads; however, there is a difference between a casual reader and a compulsive reader. She raises eyebrows when Queen Elizabeth II becomes an avid reader.  It turns out that the books that Alan Bennet (who also wrote the delightful play/movie The History Boys) are books I love so I did not discover any new titles.   Except Proust, but I doubt I will read Proust.

Other book titles that I jotted down from the End of the Life Book Club and have not bought yet:

  • Frances Osborne, The Bolter
  • Sheila Weller, Girls Like Us
  • Alice Monro, Too Much Happiness
  • Victor LaValle, The Big Machine
  • Thomas Mann, Magic Mountain and Death in Venice

And these books I downloaded on my Kindle with my sister-in-law Heidi’s Mother’s recommendation (at Thanksgiving):

  • Simon Winchester, Krakatoa
  • Simon Winchester, Their Noble Lordships.

What are you reading?  Please comment, I really do want to know!