Shadows & Dust, Vol. III, Issue 6

I’m in a little bit of a post-Holy Land haze. Sometimes you can experience something (or many things in succession) that overload your senses, and that’s what happened to me during my trip to the Holy Land from April 17-26. Who knows how long it will take to process everything?

In the meantime, I, as usual, have a stack of books and resources I’m waiting to plow through. Many of them came from a very fun and fruitful recent trip to the Used Book Emporium in Longmont, Colo., which may very well be my favorite-ever bookstore. The neat thing about it is they except 100% credit for all used book purchases! (Most used bookstores only allow for partial credit toward purchases.) And since Angela and I have traded in a multitude of books over the years, we have a gigantic credit account at the store. Well, we did. Now, it’s just a decent-sized one. Anyway, I used credit to buy like a dozen titles to further my ongoing research into Sand Creek, Wounded Knee and the plight of our Native American neighbors, and into personal growth titles about spiritual disciplines, parenting and anger management. I also couldn’t pass up a few Stephen Lawhead and Morgan Llewelyn fantasy novels.

As for this month’s recommendations, here are few you might consider looking into for yourself, your small group or your faith community:

  • Encounter Point —  I tried unsuccessfully to connect with the filmmakers of this award-winning documentary about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during my short time in Jerusalem. I tried to meet with them because this is one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in the last 10 years. I can’t recommend it enough, and it’s a great resource for small and large group discussion.
  • Non-Violent Communication, A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values by Marshall B. Rosenberg — At the beginning of April, I think it was, I attended a seminar on “Nonviolent Communication,” led by a friend from church. It’s become part of the common lexicon of our faith community over the past few years, but I hadn’t really looked into it for myself until the seminar. It’s good stuff. I found it corresponded to a lot of things we used to teach when we served as campus ministers, but I’m sad to say I haven’t been practicing what I preached for many years. The basic NVC process involves communicating honestly and listening carefully about: observations, feelings, needs and requests. This seminar was both convicting and helpful in presenting usable tools for everyday life and relationships. I’m really hoping to get back to practicing what I preached in the months and years to come.
  • Orientalism by Edward Said — This seminal text helped expose the unconscious, but embedded stereotypes that pervade Western descriptions of the East (including the Middle East). A bit academic, but an eye-opening read.
  • Petra: Lost City of Stone— Another great documentary that details how the engineers of the ancient city of Petra made an incredible stone-carved oasis in the middle of the desert. Still, I can now say from personal experience that Petra is far more impressive in person that it is on a film.
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