Summertime is the perfect season to slow down, breathe, think, rest. Below are some of the voices that will be companions to me over the next several months as I pray, think, and recreate. I hope that maybe some of them will be helpful to you too, as you prepare to embark on the road trip, visit friends, recalibrate your schedule, or head “down the shore”…
The Divine Hours- Phyllis Tickle. This user-friendly resource is an excellent introduction to “praying the hours”: taking up the rhythm of setting aside time at the beginning, middle, and close of the day to pray the Psalms, and reflect on Scripture. Tickle draws from the best of various historic Christian prayerbooks to produce this easy-to-use volume.
Daily Prayer app- This is one of my favorite daily prayer mobile apps; it’s a user-friendly-formatted electronic version of the Church of England’s rhythm of prayers and Scripture readings.
The Justice Calling: Where Passion meets Perseverance- Kristen Johnson. Kristen Johnson is a friend & a theologian at Western Theological Seminary, and this past spring, we hosted a seminar together with our friends at City Church in W. Philly in which she presented material from The Justice Calling. Her book is both an expansive introduction to the theme of justice and human flourishing in the Scriptures, and a practical guide to a life of sustained service to the world in Jesus’ name.
What’s In a Phrase? Pausing Where Scripture Gives You Pause- Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. I love Marilyn Chandler McEntyre because McEntyre loves words. McEntyre is a Christian writer and professor with a deep reverence for the power of language, and in this book, she offers brief meditations on a number of biblical words, images, and phrases- some familiar, and some less so.
The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection- Robert Farrar Capon. One thing my family prioritizes during the summer is sharing unhurried meals with people we love. This masterpiece by the late Robert Capon, who was an Anglican priest, an author, and also a New York Times food critic, is equal parts theology, spiritual meditation, and cookbook, and has been a singular guide for me in the practices of Christian hospitality and savoring the gifts of food and drink. As a bonus, if you want to explore Capon’s work some more, check out the newly-launched Capon Project by the MockingBird organization.
Triumph of the City- Edward Glaeser. Glaeser is a leading urbanologist and economist, and this book is an informed global and historical tour of the city. Glaeser makes a compelling case for the goodness and strategic value of cities in the world- a case that matters for Christians seeking the good of our city.
Creative Quest- Questlove. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is a native Philadelphian, a musician, entrepeneur, professor, and all-around cultural omnivore. This book is a tour of how he thinks about creativity and what it looks like to live a creative life, no matter what your field, vocation, or interest.
FICTION & POETRY
East of Eden- John Steinbeck. Each summer, I keep the practice of immersing myself in a large piece of great literature. This summer, it’ll be East of Eden: John Steinbeck’s magnum opus. He tells the story of good and evil, strength and weakness, love and hate, beauty and ugliness by intertwining Genesis allegory and family history, set in California’s idyllic Salinas Valley.
Everyman Pocket Poets- John Milton. Poetry slows us down, arrests our attention, and uses language to open our eyes, minds, and imaginations. And John Milton has few peers in doing just that. His Paradise Lost virtually re-invented the English language, and his sonnets are startlingly modern in their honesty and confessionalism. If you’re new to poetry and want an accessible place to start, this little collection of Milton’s poems is just perfect.