Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Tuesday Tome - Spinoza: Ethics

I'm starting Spinoza's Ethics this week in preparation for a book club led and hosted by my friend, Jordan Peacock. I'm looking forward to the reading and even more to the discussions. We get started in just a couple weeks. If you're interested in participating, let me know and I can pass along Jordan's contact information.

Spinoza: Ethics
(Penguin Classics)

Publisher's description...
Published shortly after his death, the Ethics is undoubtedly Spinoza's greatest work - an elegant, fully cohesive cosmology derived from first principles, providing a coherent picture of reality, and a guide to the meaning of an ethical life. Following a logical step-by-step format, it defines in turn the nature of God, the mind, the emotions, human bondage to the emotions, and the power of understanding - moving from a consideration of the eternal, to speculate upon humanity's place in the natural order, the nature of freedom and the path to attainable happiness. A powerful work of elegant simplicity, the Ethics is a brilliantly insightful consideration of the possibility of redemption through intense thought and philosophical reflection. The Ethics is presented in the standard translation of the work by Edwin Curley. This edition also includes an introduction by Stuart Hampshire, outlining Spinoza's philosophy and placing it in context.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Music - Your Word


How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living, by living according to your word.

I seek you, Lord, with all my heart–
Don't let me stray from your commands.

I have hidden your word,
hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

"Your Word" by Dave Burkum from Fireside, © Copyright 2003 by Dave Burkum.
Words adapted from Psalm 119:9-11.  Click Here to listen or download.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Help Us to Persevere

Help us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts. We humble ourselves before you. We know we cannot rely on our own strength, and we rejoice in your mercy. Thank you for your promise to forgive and purify us. Thank you for being the one who saves.

Forgive us our sins. Renew us by your Spirit. Show us how to act, think, and live as Christ.  As you have forgiven us, make us merciful and ready to forgive those who have sinned against us.

Remind us, O God, of your promises. And help us to persevere in our lives with love and reverence for you. Lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil. Protect us from discouragement, and encourage us by your Spirit. Bring us safely through this day and all our days to come.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Favorites - Blossoms at the Fair

The Cactus Blossoms
Minnesota State Fair
Schell's Stage at West End Market
Sunday, Sept. 6 and Monday, Sept. 7
8:00 p.m.

Brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum have been crooning country tunes as The Cactus Blossoms since 2010. Their hypnotic, timeless and unforgettable songs have made them favorites in the Twin Cities music scene.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday Thinking - Joy and Gratitude

Ever thought about the connection between joy and gratitude? Brene Brown sure has, and because of her research and personal experience she has come to believe that one precedes the other. Take just a couple of minutes to see what she has to say. Click Here or on the image below.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday Words - August Morning

It’s ripe, the melon
by our sink. Yellow,
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes
the house too sweetly.
At five I wake, the air
mournful in its quiet.
My wife’s eyes swim calmly
under their lids, her mouth and jaw
relaxed, different.
What is happening in the silence
of this house? Curtains
hang heavily from their rods.
Ficus leaves tremble
at my footsteps. Yet
the colors outside are perfect--
orange geranium, blue lobelia.
I wander from room to room
like a man in a museum:
wife, children, books, flowers,
melon. Such still air. Soon
the mid-morning breeze will float in
like tepid water, then hot.
How do I start this day,
I who am unsure
of how my life has happened
or how to proceed
amid this warm and steady sweetness?

“August Morning” by Albert Garcia from “Skunk Talk” (Bear Starr Press) © Copyright 2005 by Albert Garcia.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Tomes - Christian Prayer Books

Next Sunday I'll be wrapping up my current teaching series at Valley, "Praying with Jesus." In the final sermon I'll be sharing a number of prayers from Christians through the ages. In preparation, I've been going through a number of Christian prayer books that have been important through church history. Here are a few you might be interested in checking out...

The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle
Tickle has gathered one full week of fixed-hour prayers, providing an ideal companion for travelers, office-workers, people on retreat or pilgrimage, as well as newcomers to this age-old spiritual practice. As Tickle writes in her introduction, "prayer is always a place as well as an action, and the daily offices are like small chapels or wayside stations within the day's courses." Seven of these daily offices are offered for each day of the week, and each office contains the Call to Prayer, the Request for Presence, the Greeting, the Reading, the Gloria, the Psalm, the Small Verse, the Lord's Prayer, the Petition, and the Final Thanksgiving. Tickle draws her texts primarily from the Book of Common Prayer and the writings of the Church Fathers, and includes memorable devotional and meditative poems by Cleland McAfee, Charles Wesley, and others. Tickle also provides a chapter of "Traditional, Seasonal, and Occasional Prayers" in order to accommodate special dates like Advent, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving; major life-changes such as marriage, birth, death, and illness; and moments of special petition or thanksgiving.

The Book of Common Prayer
This is the standard Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church together with The Psalter or Psalms of David according to use in the Episcopal Church in the United States as authorized in 1979.

The Glenstal Book of Prayer
Reflecting the richness of two ancient prayer traditions: Benedictine and Celtic.This rich, nourishing prayer book draws on the strength of Benedictine and Celtic spirituality. It offers morning and evening prayer, night prayer, prayer for special moments during the day, prayers for special occasions, additional psalms for meditation, and a series of quotations from the Rule of St. Benedict.

Common Prayer: A Litergy for Ordinary Radicals
Common Prayer helps individuals and today’s diverse church pray together across traditions and denominations. With an ear to the particulars of various liturgical prayer traditions, and using an advisory team of liturgy experts, the authors have created a tapestry of prayer that celebrates the best of each tradition. The book also includes tools for prayer scattered throughout to aid those unfamiliar with liturgy and deepen the prayer life of those already familiar with liturgical prayer. It includes a table of days and readings for the morning prayers as well as an annotated list of saints and days to remember. Churches and individuals who desire a deeper prayer life–and those familiar with Shane Claiborne and New Monasticism–will enjoy the tools offered in this book as a fresh take on liturgy.

The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers
The strength of Puritan character and life lay in prayer and meditation. In this practice the spirit of prayer was regarded as of first importance and the best form of prayer, for living prayer is the characteristic of genuine spirituality. Yet prayer is also vocal and may therefore on occasions be written. Consequently in the Puritan tradition there are many written prayers and meditations which constitute an important corpus of inspiring devotional literature.

Celtic Daily Prayers
Celtic Daily Prayer is the fruit of the spiritual life of a remarkable community. Its liturgies, prayers, and meditations are drawn from a deep well of spiritual experience that transcends fashion, culture, and denomination. Blending prayer and praise and building upon the ancient wisdom of traditional Celtic Christianity, this prayer book is extraordinarily fresh. At the heart of the life of the Northumbria Community, as well as this book, lies the Daily Office -- morning, noon, and evening prayers and a monthly cycle of meditations for individual or communal use each day. With words drawn from sources such as St. Patrick's Breastplate, Teresa's Bookmark, Columba's Blessing, and the Psalms, this cycle of daily prayers reflects the essential rhythms of life.

My Prayer Book (Concordia)
With more than 200 prayers for Christian living, this book is for family or worship, for marital difficulties, for servicemen or women, for the job, and for the lonely. Includes presentation page and a section on key chapters and stories of the Bible.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Music - Vintage James Taylor

I've been listening to the new James Taylor album in recent weeks. It's made me want to listen to some of his early recordings. Can't believe how good and consistent this guy is. Walking Man is one of my favorites from way back when.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Nourish Us with Goodness

O Lord God, we acknowledge your power and your holiness. You are the author and giver of all good things. Work in our hearts and teach us to truly love you.

Nourish us with goodness. Help us to live out true devotion and to worship you in all we do. Help us, by faith, to do the good things you have in mind for us to do.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus.  Help us as we extend that same forgiveness to others who have sinned against us.

Help us become a community called grace. Help us to have a redemptive and healing impact on the world around us.

We thank you, O God, for life, and hope, and salvation.

Lead us away from temptation. Deliver us from evil.

Provide for our needs this day.

Protect us from discouragement, and encourage us by your Spirit through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Favorites - Blossoms at the Fair

The Cactus Blossoms
Minnesota State Fair
Schell's Stage at West End Market
Sunday, Sept. 6 and Monday, Sept. 7
8:00 p.m.

Brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum have been crooning country tunes as The Cactus Blossoms since 2010. Their hypnotic, timeless and unforgettable songs have made them favorites in the Twin Cities music scene.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday Thinking - The Nitty Gritty Saintly Life

Allan R. Bevere has a thought-provoking piece posted on the Christin Century blogs network. It's worth the few minutes it will take you to read it. Here's a short excerpt to whet your interest...
What makes Christians saints is not that they are above it all, but that they in the middle of it all—working, serving, and ministering. Saints, just like the Lord they serve, are not afraid to get their hands dirty for the cause of the gospel, are not discouraged by the almost unmanageable need they see each day, and will not be influenced by those who find scandalous their willingness to associate with the kinds of people Jesus spent time with in his ministry. Saints are holy because they are worldly—that is, they engage themselves in the realm God in Jesus Christ has come to redeem.
Click Here to Read It All

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Words - Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

"Sleeping in the Forest" by Mary Oliver, from Twelve Moons, © 1979 by Mary Oliver.