Page 14 - Reading Between the Lines - Sample
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Al Ledford: I'm working my way through House of Names by Colm Tóibín. It's a retelling (in English) of the Greek myth starring Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and their children, Orestes and Electra. "Game of Thrones" has nothing on this. If you can't judge a book by its cover, you might judge it by its first line: “I have been acquainted with the smell of death.” So says Clytemnestra. Tragedy, love, jealousy, hate, pain, revenge; it's all there.
Melissa Thomas: The last two books I've read both address themes of the sacred feminine and the other. I'm currently reading Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers (2011). Set in 70 CE it is a fictionalized retelling of the siege of Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert where 900 Jews held off the Romans for months. According to the ancient historian Josephus only two women and five children
survived. This novel focuses on four unique and extraordinary women whose lives intersect while they try to survive those harrowing days. It is a remarkable book so far...
Lighter, and set in current day, Hoffman's Practical Magic (1995) hones in on the theme of the "other" highlighting a family of female witches beginning several generations and a few hundred years earlier. Set around the Salem, Massachusetts area, the Owens women are blamed for everyone's bad luck, including their own! It's a great exploration of unity, family differences, forgiveness of self, love, and yes...magic. Sadly, this great book was made into a mediocre movie that explored none of these themes.
Bill Lindeman: I just finished reading again A Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman. He managed to get most of it on paper before he died in 1996. It was completed in its final form by colleagues, friends and family, and was considered by Ed to be the summation of all his life's work. In his first book, Generation to Generation, published in 1985, Ed basically took the work of psychiatrist, Murray Bowen (Family Systems Therapy), and translated it for churches and institutions. The title of this book, A Failure of Nerve, refers to the widespread inability of leaders across all disciplines to have the "nerve" to, first and foremost, manage their own functioning, (including their anxiety), instead of first relying on fixing other people, institutions, and nations by their skill, technique, and diagnosing. He refers to this ability to self-regulate as self-differentiation. That is, maintaining a clear connection with one's family, church, institution, nation, etc., without being overwhelmed by the anxiety in that particular system. This kind of stance shows itself by making decisions that are thoughtful, well-reasoned responses as opposed to reactions in the moment that are always driven by the anxiety of the surrounding situation, as well as your own. In short, it calls for a kind of leader who knows the difference between their stuff and other peoples' stuff. The kind of universal leadership he describes is illustrated in his oft-used phrase in the book, "from parents to presidents." Highly recommended reading!
Bill Dols: I returned to the Jung Institute in Washington recently to hear Ann Ulanov, professor of Psychiatry and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York, speak. She is an amazing teacher and, I was reminded, a gifted writer. I read again, after many years, an earlier book, Picturing God (Cowley Publications 1986). I was reminded again of the riches and mystery of the psyche as described by Jung. Ulanov has a sense of the symbolic that undergirds all the work of RBTL.
I have a shelf full of 700 page books that never got finished. The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster, 2017) by Francis Fitzgerald is instead a page-turner that ended too soon. The history of religious people intent upon shaping America is clear and familiar. One of the
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October 1 – November 26, 2017
What We’re Reading

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