Since I've begun tackling the LMTP reading list, it's been surprising to me how much I enjoy being a student again. After several years of intellectual non-stimulation during which I felt my brain cells popping into oblivion one by one, like bubble-wrap blisters in the hands of an obsessive-compulsive, it's envigorating to actually be expected to learn things. (I wish I'd felt this way when I was, say, 20, and paying beaucoups bucks for the privilege.)
Right now for class I am reading:
the Pentateuch (with the benefit of my New Interpreter's Study Bible; worth the investment)
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Baptized, We Live: Lutheranism as a Way of Life by Dan Erlander (a great refresher on the basic principles of Lutheranism...the groovy hand-printed text also gets me waxing nostalgic for my crunchy-granola student days)
Listening Hearts: Discerning Call in Community by Farnham, Gill, McLean and Ward
Also on the nightstand, on the recommendation of others:
God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis. Great book...a bit self-referential, a la Matthew Fox, but Wallis issues a stinging and timely critique of both "red" and "blue" mindsets.
No Experience Necessary: On-the-Job Training For a Life of Faith by Kelly A. Fryer. This is a nifty little primer for newbie Christians, especially Gen-Xers. Long-in-the-tooth, been-around Lutheran chick that I am, I was a little hesitant to get this book because in the reviews the content sounded so basic, but I'm glad I did. I've been recommending it all over Beliefnet, where I encounter so many Christian newbies with little or no guidance as far as practical living into the faith, other than the usual pop-Christianity platitudes. Fryer is colloquial, for sure, but the book has some there there.
On deck, on the nightstand:
Quarks, Chaos and Christianity by John Polkinghorne. I have to admit that I am not in a very quarky place right now (although I am quite acquainted with chaos), so I've not gotten beyond chapter 2 of this book, which discusses the relationship of science and religion, especially in light of the "new physics"...but I'm trusting that once my brain synapses have been sufficiently massaged by all my other reading material, my ability to process Polkinghorne will improve.
Jesus of Nazareth by Dorothee Soelle and Luise Schottroff. This book presents a portrait of Jesus informed not only by the historical and cultural contexts in which he lived, but also by feminist theology, liberation theology and dialogue with contemporary Jewish theologians. Great artwork, too.
Restless in Christ by Sarah Stockton. I purchased this book only because 1) I liked the title -- when I saw it on the shelf I said, "Hey -- me too!"; and 2) I am on a mission to support our new local independent bookstore...in a semi-literate blue-collar town of 3,000, it is a quixotic venture on the scale of, "I know! Let's build an opera house in the Amazon!" So I send my book business their way. (Obviously the proprietors are loving my new academic endeavor.) I've not begun reading it; hope it lives up to the blurb on the back cover.
In answer to the anticipated question: Every once in awhile I just read a Patricia Cornwell or Dan Silva thriller, and when I get to The Big City I've even been known to purchase a Funny Times.