iBooks vs. Kindle – Which is better for a theological library?

IBooks
Image via Wikipedia

I have been considering investing in digital books instead of physical books as I continue to build a library of books for ministry. The question that I have for you is: Apple’s iBooks or Amazon.com’s Kindle. Here is what I have so far:

Kindle – Pro

Kindle – Con

  • Black and White books
  • A Kindle has a single use.

iBooks – Pro

  • Color books
  • An iPad has multiple uses
  • Reader is available only limited devices
  • Integrated into a device that I already own (iPhone)
  • I am generally a fan of Apple

iBooks – Con

  • Smaller selection of books
  • Books seem to be outside of Apple’s core product strategy
What other pros and cons have I missed? Have you used these platforms? Which do you recommend?

Take thou Authority and Responsibility…

Seth Godin
SetImage via Wikipedia

In the post, Responsibility and authoritySeth Godin (picture to the right) inspired me to suggest a change in the phrasing used at the ordination of every United Methodist Elder. The post is short enough to warrant reposting:

“Many people struggle at work because they want more authority.

It turns out you can get a lot done if you just take more responsibility instead. It’s often offered, rarely taken.

(And you can get even more done if you give away credit, relentlessly).”

This post lead me to the conclusion that it would be helpful to reword the phrase used by a United Methodist bishop when ordaining elders should be “Take thou responsibility and authority…”

7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis

I recently finished reading Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis by Bill George. This is a short book that explains basic leadership lessons as described in the names of each chapter:

  1. Face Reality, Starting with Yourself
  2. Don’t Be Atlas; Get the World Off Your Shoulders
  3. Dig Deep for the Root Cause
  4. Get Ready for the Long Haul
  5. Never Waste a Good Crisis
  6. You’re in the Spotlight: Follow True North
  7. Go on Offense, Focus on Winning Now

I found the first three chapters to be particularly helpful. I have a tendency to try to take all the responsibility for getting things to turn around if I am part of a team that is facing a crisis. It was helpful to be reminded to be honest with myself, share responsibility and look for the root of the problem. While the focus of this book is on business leaders, I found solid parallels with leadership in the church. The guidance is illustrated well by narrative examples of leaders who have performed well or poorly in crisis. I found this to be a helpful technique.

I recommend this book to people looking for an easy read that provides pithy guidance on leadership.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher.

Boundaries

I appreciated the landmark title from Drs. Cloud and Townsend – Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. Cloud and Townsend move through defining boundaries, examining boundaries in different circumstances and finally suggestions on how to develop healthy boundaries. This is basic boundary stuff and it is good.

While it does contain quality material, it was not the most engaging read. I found it to be quite helpful for those who may be experiencing boundary crises. I will use some of the work from this book in my time providing guidance for people in the congregation and also look forward to improving my personal boundaries. I recommend it to all church leaders and those who feel that they may have taken on too much in their life.

Amazon Kindle and the UM Publishing House

I think that it is a no brainer for the denomination to offer resources on the Amazon Kindle. Imagine these available electronically and portably:

  • The Book of Discipline
  • The Book of Resolutions
  • The Book of Worship
  • The Pocket Book of Worship

I found myself wishing for this last weekend when I was at the bedside of a dying congregant. I did not have my pocket book of worship, but did have my iPhone via the Kindle App. I wished that I could have had those resources at my finger tips.

In addition, Kindle‘s could be given to General Conference participants and updates could be received electronically and in a way that is searchable – no need to print volumes of paper.

What might be preventing the United Methodist Publishing House from moving in this direction? How might I (or you) be helpful in making this possibility a reality?

Flickering Pixels

I just finished reading Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith by Shane Hipps. After just finishing the book I felt thoughtful, peaceful, powerful, aware and enlightened. This book was an unexpected breath of fresh air into my life.

Hipps is a Mennonite pastor in Arizona who formerly worked in advertising. He has a distinct perspective on media and how it shapes the way that we think. Hipps suggests that the book is about “training our eyes to see things we usually overlook” (14).

Hipps is a proponent of Marshall McLuhan’s phrase – the medium is the message. Hipps helped me to think critically about the media with which I engage in every day. I am more aware of the effect that the medium itself has on me as well as any given content.

Hipps ranges across a wide variety of topics within the field of technology and faith. After addressing media, images and how our brain learns and process information, he makes a clear connection with God. God communicates in many different ways with God’s creation and in a very real sense the medium is the message, particularly in the person of Jesus Christ.

I unequivocally recommend this book to those who seek to be more aware about the infoluence which technology has on life and faith.

The Echo Within

I just finished up The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling by Robert Benson. I admit that I was a bit skeptical of the book when I started. From the front and back cover, I assumed that it would be a bit too lovely for me. I was surprised at what I found.

Benson writes with a cadence that flows between personal narrative, interactions with others and teaching about listening for God’s call in your life. The book is titled after the resonance that forms when one hears or experiences something which may be a true calling – something for which God has created a particular individual.

I recommend it for someone that is looking for a narrative look at how to listen for God’s voice in your life. While I am not as comfortable with Benson’s approach to faith as others that are more direct, I found value in this book. I have someone in mind whom I believe may find it valuable and will pass it along.

If you are interested, you can purchase it at
The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling.

Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives as Narrative

I found Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives as Narrative by Ron Martoia to be an excellent book that reaffirms the importance of telling the whole story in scripture when having spiritual conversations with non or nominally religious people. Martoia asserts that a focus on the brokenness of people without telling of the creation of humanity in God’s image is inadequate.  Martoia addresses the various aspects of a spiritual conversation including: context, biblical text and human text. He suggests that structuring spiritual conversations based on these three texts will prove more fruitful than focusing on just one of these aspects.
I particularly resonated with Martoia’s understanding that a spiritual journey is best done in a narrative format and that this is the format that we see in scripture. I have not yet read other texts which address this theme as explicitly.
Transformational Archtecture is generally well written, although there are a few tangents that make their way into the text. I will keep this book on my shelf and refer to it again in the future. I suggest it as reading for someone who is interested in spiritual formation and narrative as a way of understanding a spiritual journey.

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight

I received Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, by Karen Saclf Linamen with a slight hesitancy. I thought that this book would be only for women and I would struggle moving through it from beginning to end. I was wrong.

Linamen provides solid advice about life change that is written in a light hearted and fun way. It is directed toward women, but I found it to be helpful for me (as a man) as well.

This is a book that I will keep on my shelf and likely refer to and suggest for others. I recommend it for any woman considering making changes in her life (and guys too). You can purchase it at Amazon with this link – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400074002

Me, Myself and I AM

Me, Myself, and I AM: A Unique Question and Answer Book: The Story of You and God by Matthew Peters is a book unlike any other that I have experienced before. Through a series of questions on many topics the author guides the reader through a discernment process. It is designed to be used in any order, at one time, or across a period of time.

I was at first skeptical of the book, but took some time to work through a few sections myself. I was pleasantly surprised. The questions are thoughtful, probing and at times a bit off beat. I found it to be an effective way to move through a time of self-reflection and discernment. I found some similarities with Wesley’s questions contained in the Rules of the Band Groups, but not close to the depth.

This book is only as good as the effort that the reader puts into engaging with the questions. Without a serious attempt to venture into self-reflection it is a worthless addition to your shelf. However an earnest effort at introspection will yield fruit. I am looking forward to continuing to engage with this book in the months to come.

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken: Everything Jesus Said About You, Your LIfe, and Everything Else (link to Amazon) is the second book by Steven K. Scott. As described on the back cover,

“For the first time ever, all the statements Jesus made in the New Testament have been brought together under more than two hundred practica, easy-to-find topics. When you want to know His will in a specific area of life; you’re seeking the answer to a perplexing question; or you are desparate for His encouragement, comfort, or wisdom, you can easily find the help you need.”

This is a very accurate description of the contents. The book is divided into chapters containing main topics and further subdivided into particular topics. The quotes are from the New International Version and does include dialogue if there is a series where Jesus is in conversation with others.

My first impression is that this is not a helpful resource. I believe that the words of Jesus are important but removing them from the rest of scripture takes away all context and does not allow for any flow of the narrative.

On a more charitable note, I think that this book may be helpful as a kind of concordance – to find specific passages and look them up in context. I would not recommend this text for use without a Bible.