Book Club

My friend Roscoe Cooper, pastor of Metropolitan African American Baptist Church, once interrupted an intense discussion to ask, “Where did you come from?”

That’s the kind of question a good friend who has gotten to know you pretty well gets to ask. And it’s a great question to ponder, “How did I get to be who I am now?”

I’ve spent a decade reflecting on Roscoe’s question, and, honestly, the answer is so much longer than you would care to sit through. In involves various geographical locations, educational oportunities, numerous friends and mentors, family, career, history. And for me at least, who I am has been shaped by what I have been privileged to read.

One afternoon I was listening to NPR—I think it was last summer—and they were interviewing famous authors about books that had influenced them. Without looking back at my journal, I couldn’t tell you who the authors were or what books they mentioned, but the concept got me thinking. What are the books that have influenced me?

Back in February when I was planning messages for this summer, I pencilled in a series that I called “Books That Have Shaped Me.” My idea was to take one book each week, and share why it had been important and what it had taught me.

Mary Beth listened to the idea, and she is way too kind to say, “Oh, we can do better than that title,” but after a few days she came back with the “Book Club” graphic (which she totally stole from Oprah!). So here we are, ready to launch the five week series.

We introduced it in the [weekly], Northminster’s newsletter, this way:

Summer is a time when many people enjoy reading a good book, or two, or three. This summer Sammy has chosen five books that have shaped his life, and he will be telling us about them in July and August. The books, as you might imagine, are about how to live the Christian life authentically in our world today. Sammy will be writing about each book on his blog a couple of weeks before the message.

I narrowed the list down to 5 books, and that was pretty difficult to do. They’re just a start, really, but the series looks like this:

Sammy’s Summer Book Club

7/11 The Substance of Faith and Other Cotton Patch Sermons, Clarence Jordan

Message Title: Authentic Living

(You can order it here.)

7/18 Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen

Message Title: First Love

(You can order it here.)

7/25 Open Mind, Open Heart, Thomas Keating

Message Title: The Transforming Power of Silence

(You can order it here.)

8/1 The Power of Now, Ekhardt Tolle

Message Title: How to Take Control of Your Life

(You can order it here or here.)

8/8 The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann

Message Title: The Radical Way of God

(You can order it here or here.)

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