Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer Reading

Summer is for reading. Hopefully, you get some time away for uninterrupted hours of reading. Beach reading doesn't really happen here. Unless you like to lay on rocks in a driving rain. You can get away to a remote cabin but the bears pawing at the door may be a distraction. If you have a deck that is not in disrepair you may get a chance to lay out on a sunny day and read. But don't count on it - the sunny days. There are not enough of them to finish one book, unless you have a really short book.

You may be scheduled for a plane trip somewhere. If you can get out of Kodiak, you can read on the plane or in the airport during weather delays. This might afford you the best chance to get some reading in. If you finally get to somewhere else, then maybe you can read on the beach.

I have never been a big beach reader or beach goer for that matter. Too hot, too sandy, too windy - generally not good conditions for reading. I like to get up early when it is quiet and read, or go to a coffee shop. Priority number one on vacation is to find a coffee shop. I don't really change my reading habits during the summer. I usually find I have less time to read when I am away from home and my routines. This summer we are planning a driving trip from Kodiak to Oregon. Hard to read and drive at the same time and my wife will only drive for about twenty minutes at a time. Then we will have a few days on the Oregon coast. Beaches there are not ideal for reading but they have good coffee shops. Then we are flying back. So with weather delays always a possibility, I may get some reading in.

I have a huge stack of books I want to read this summer but not too much hope I will get very far. I want to finish a couple of history books I am reading. One is called The War Lovers and the other is What Hath God Wrought. The first has to do with Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge and William Randolph Hearst (why did people use all three names back then - I have noticed most people do it on facebook now too) and the Spanish-American War. The second is largely about Andrew Jackson and his severe treatment of Native Americans, among many other people he treated severely.

I also want to continue my reading in Karl Barth's theology. I have been reading his works for twenty years or so, on and off. He is probably the most influential theologian of the twentieth century. Barth wrote over 500 works but I am just concentrating on his four hefty volumes called Church Dogmatics. This is what attracts me to Barth: he was a pastor first. He broke with European liberals during WW1 and challenged their liberal theology. He was a student of the Bible. Often, in his writing he will go into long conversations with the Word. He wrote his theology after he was forced to leave Germany by the Nazis. To me that was an act of hope. While the Nazis were overrunning Europe, Barth wrote about the Hope we have in Christ. Eugene Peterson said that Barth was a man who believed in prayer; every page of his Dogmatics was prayed through. I do not find Barth easy to read. I feel like I have been reading him all my life and I have not gotten very far. I need to read him slowly and not be in a hurry. Like the way you eat a good dessert. Good books for the long days of summer in Alaska. Whether you are inside or outside. In an airport, waiting or in a plane going somewhere else.