Mid-Summer Musings: Let’s Read

Aug 7, 2023

Summer is the time we think about slowing down – grilling on the patio, harvesting the bounty we have sown in our gardens, sipping a cool drink while conversing with neighbors, hiking, biking, swimming, and laying by the pool or on the beach with a good book. Ah, the summer beach read…. light-hearted, never too challenging, unless you like a great mystery, fun to read and fun to talk about with friends…..

Summer is also a time to catch up on some of the books we’ve heard about via reviews or word of mouth, books we haven’t managed to buy yet or once purchased crack open, due to a demanding schedule or simple forgetfulness, or…. And there are books we’ve missed, through inattentiveness or having not been exposed.

We Presbyterians are book people. We buy them. We trade them. We recommend them to each other. We shelve them. We dust them. We hate to part with them.

We’re sharing a few books that have attracted our notice lately. Some are edifying, some may challenge your thinking, some are just plain fun – in other words this list is a very random, exceptionally eclectic collection of books that might tickle your fancy or enhance your ministry.

The Great Dechurching: Who’s Leaving, Why Are They Going, And What Will It Take to Bring Them Back?, Jim Davis and Michael Graham. Examines the largest spiritual shift in the US since the Great Awakenings. “The Great Dechurching takes the insights gleaned from [a comprehensive study commissioned by the authors] to drill down on how exactly people are dechurching with respect to beliefs, behavior, and belonging.”

You Are Changing the World Whether You Like It or Not, David LaMotte. Presbyterian musician and peacemaker, La Motte, “challenges some deeply held, though seldom examined, ideas about how large societal changes happen and what our own roles in those changes can and should be.” Endorsed by Bruce Reyes- Chow, Brian McLaren, Richard Rohr, Bishop William J. Barber II, and Kathleen Norris.

How to Be a Patriotic Christian: Love of Country as Love of Neighbor, Richard J. Mouw. The Distinguished Professor of Faith and Public Life and former president of Fuller Theological Seminary asks “what does it mean to love our country? Placing love of country in the context of Christian love of neighbor, he sees patriotism as an expression of our heavenly citizenship and a call to help our country be a place where all people can thrive in peace.”

Jackie Robinson: A Spiritual Biography, Chris Lamb and Michael B. Long. “Explores the faith that, Robinson said, carried him through the torment and abuse he suffered for integrating the major leagues and drove him to get involved in the civil rights movement. Marked by sacrifice and service, inclusiveness and hope, Robinson’s faith shaped not only his character but also baseball and America itself.”

Coloring the Silence: An Adult Coloring Book for Reflection, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Jessica M. Springman, illustrator. Beloved storyteller and rabbi, Sasso, “offers an interactive way to find the quiet we need to get in touch with our deepest selves. Designed to give you peace, inspiration, and a much-needed pause amid the business of daily life.”

A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing, Walter Brueggemann. Examining the Psalms and what they have to teach us and looking at popular hymns, the renowned biblical scholar says “singing… is a countercultural act. It marks the Christian community as different from an unforgiving and often ungrateful culture. To know why we sing, Brueggemann writes, may bring us to a deeper delight in our singing and a strengthened resolve to sing without calculation before the God who is enthroned on the praises of Israel (Ps. 22:3).”

Race in America: Christians Respond to the Crisis, Laura M. Cheifetz and David Maxwell, editors.Originally published in 2016 as Race in a Post-Obama America, this updated edition offers contributions from a diverse group of pastors, professors, and activists on the history of racism, the issues of racism today, and action plans for moving toward antiracist work and racial justice.”


Love Novels? Here are two that may cause you to ponder miracles, mysticism, and visions, the nature of suffering, and what it means to be a faithful community member.

Lying Awake, Mark Salzman. Meet Carmelite Sister John in this “finely wrought gem that plumbs the depths of one woman’s soul, and in so doing raises salient questions about the power-and price-of faith.”



Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks.  In 17th century England, a village “quarantines itself to arrest the spread of the plague, … and villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition….” along the way one woman grapples with the meaning of service, sacrifice, and longing. Based on the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England.”


We know you love books, too. So let’s get a conversation going. Share you favorites and why on the Los Ranchos FaceBook page.

In the next issue of the eNews we’ll look at some books for children.