Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

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What I’ve Been Reading: From Batman to Michelle

I read a lot! From Batman comics to works of theology, current events to historical reflections. Here is a sampling of what I have read over the last several months.

The Time of Our Lives: Collected Writings (Peggy Noonan, Twelve Books, 2015).

A former speechwriter for President Ronald Regan, Noonan has been a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Her book pulls many of her pieces together in one collection. A gifted writer, Noonan is able to share critical observations about current realities without being overly political. But don’t let that fool you. She praises Regan as one of the best presidents and is overly critical of the Clinton’s and Obama. That said, it is important to remember that this collection of essays is being read out of context. Weekly columns deal with the present. Perhaps the best part of this book is the introduction. Noonan offers a glimpse into her writing process. For any person whose main form of communication is the written word, Noonan provides a primer in writing.   (3 out of 5 stars.)

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Giveaway: Planet 316 Story Bible

Ever since the Planet 316 Story Bible arrived at our house, Toddler J has not let it leave her side. We had to read from it right away. In fact, we read most of the Old Testament stories in that one sitting. We continued reading at bedtime.

She loves this new Bible.

The colors are bright and inviting. The Biblical stories are appropriately retold. We had read, and reread, Jacob and Esau, Baby Moses, and Samson. There are over a hundred stories, with hundreds of illustrations.

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Book Review: The Lost Art of Good Conversation

The Lost Art of Good Conversation: A Mindful Way to Connect with Others and Enrich Everyday Life, Sakyong Mipham, Penguin Random House, 2017.

Have you noticed in this highly politicized time that it’s hard to have a good conversation? Among family members, in the workplace, and in churches, having a good conversation has become challenging. When you consider the conversations that the United Methodist Church is (and has been) having, particularity about human sexuality, it becomes even more challenging to have a good conversation.

Sakyong Mipham, head of the worldwide Shambhala community, uses his book to remind readers that in this hyper-connected time in which we live, we do not always communicate well. It is easier to make our point and refuse to hear another’s on Facebook and Twitter than it is sitting at a table, face-to-face.

By doing so, we no longer rejoice with those who rejoice or cry with those who cry. We lose any intimacy that a conversation would normally have. As Mipham writes, “We are at a dangerous crossroads because when we lose feeling, our exchanges with others lose value.” (11)

“It is a warrior practice of kindness using words.” -Sakyong Mipham (16)

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Book Review: Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior

Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior, Ed Clayton, Candlewick Press, 2017.

During a road trip one summer, Megan and I made a stop in Birmingham, Alabama. There, we went to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. As we walked through the museum, retracing the steps of the Civil Rights Movement, we walked pass Martin Luther King Jr.’s jail cell where he wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Crowded with large families, summer school programs, and other vacationers like us, the Institute was challenging to navigate. I noticed a museum employee pulling a cart through the crowd, politely asking people to make a path for him. On the cart was a bench. I watched as the employee took the concrete bench to the Birmingham jail cell.

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Book Review: Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers

Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers, Pamela Kennedy and Anne Kennedy Brady, Worthy Kids/Ideals, 2018.

The latest children’s book from the VeggieTales franchise is a padded board book of bedtime prayers.  Complete with colorful illustrations from Lisa Reed featuring the well-known, and well-loved VeggieTales characters.

There are short, easy to understand, rhyming prayers that can be used as part of the evening ritual of reading books before bed. The prayers in this little collection are designed to help child and parent reflect on their day and prepare for the day yet to come.  Scattered throughout the book are verses from the Psalms.

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