Wednesday, May 08, 2013


The other day a young guy working in a refrigerator repair shop came to take my refrigerator to get fixed and saw my books. His question, like that of so many others, was, "Have you read all of them?"

I do a lot of reading here in Honduras. Almost two years ago I invested in a Kindle and that has enabled me to find some good reads – some fairly cheap.

I also like a real paper book in my hands and slowly bring down a few more of the books I have stored with friends in Ames. Also I will occasionally order books when I’m going to the US or when someone is coming down and willing to bring them.

The Dubuque Franciscan sisters in nearby Gracias are also a source of books. We share books – often mystery and suspense novels, but also books on ministry and spirituality.

My reading interests are varied, as you can see in the list of books I’ve read in the last few years here. (To be totally honest, that list doesn't reflect all the books I've read since I've left off the novels by the likes of John Sanford, Anne Perry, James Patterson, Lee Child, and Jonathan Kellerman.) I also have a big wish list.

But I’m usually reading several books at the same time. Sometimes that due to some books being slow reads or my desire to have something lighter or easier to read while I'm plowing through a tough read.

Right now I’m reading:
     Paul Sabatier’s Life of St. Francis of Assisi
     Sigrid Undset’s Catherine of Siena
     Donal Dorr’s Option for the Poor and for the Earth
     George Lakey’s Facilitating Group Learning: 
                  Strategies for Success with Adult Learners.

Last fall, in preparation for a pilgrimage to Assisi, I started reading a lot of books on Francis. Right now I’m trying to finish Sabatier’s book which is slow reading. I find him verbose and he seems to be going off on moralizing tangents all too often.But i want to finish the book.

Before the feast of Catherine of Siena I started Sigrid Undset’s Catherine of Siena.  About forty years ago I read several of the large novels of this Norwegian Catholic novelist:  Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Her work on Catherine is intriguing. It’s not a straight-forward biography since Undset comments on the life and times in ways that have helped me understand and better appreciate this fourteenth century lay Dominican mystic.

To keep my mind (and heart) attuned to the spirituality that sustains me I recently began the latest edition of Donal Dorr’s  Option for the Poor and for the Earth. I read and enjoyed the earlier editions of his Option for the Poor and find this helpful in thinking through my social ministry here. What is significant is that this new edition added the option for the earth as a major theme.

A few days ago I began George Lakey’s Facilitating Group Learning: Strategies for Success with Adult Learners. One of my concerns here is how I work in the countryside in the formation of pastoral workers and catechists. My approach has been much more participative than is normal here, where people sit for long talks on topics. But I’m always trying to find ways to better involve people here in the learning process. Lakey’s work with Training for Change and nonviolent education projects in the US, informs this work, which I am finding very helpful as I think about how we can structure training in the Dulce Nombre parish. Padre German’s concern for popular methodology has moved me to buy, read, and study this book.

What else?

I have several unfinished books, including Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith by Daniel Horan, OFM., Willam T. Cavanaugh’s  Migrations of the Holy, and the volume of book chapters, The Ten Best Books to Read for Easter, edited by Jim Martin, S.J. – all of these  are collections of articles. I may get around to finishing them sometime this year. I also started Don Di Lillo’s novel,  Underworld, which is interesting, but not an easy read.

Two other works partly read are Like A Hammer Shattering Rock: Hearing the Gospels Today by my friend Megan McKenna and Barbara E. Reid’s Reconsider la cruz: Interpretación latinoanericana y feminista del Nuevo Testamento.

What do I want to read in the next few months?

A few biographies or novels – but I don’t have any good ones here to read at this point. I’ll have to wait to get some from the sisters or from other visitors.

For my work, I’m planning to read a book by my long-time friend, Dan Ebener. Blessings for Leaders.  I haven’t read his earlier book, Servant Leadership Models for Your Parish, which I’ll probably get the next time I’m in the US. (I’ve know Dan since before 1980 and have long appreciated his commitment to peace and social justice.)

I have on my list of books to read Ultimate Price: Testimonies of Christians Who Resisted the Third Reich, edited by Annemarie S. Kidder, which reflect my long-held interest in those who stood up against Hitler.

There are two books in English related to Honduras I also hope to read: Jeffrey Jackson’s The Globalizers: Development Workers in Action and Robert Brenneman’s Homies and Hermanos:God and Gangs in Central America.

I also should finally get around to reading Ramon Amaya Amador’s  Prisión Verde, on the banana strike in the 1950s. It’s a classic Honduran “novel.”

I’ve had The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day  on my shelf for a while and need to get around to reading it – before it gets eaten more by some type of wood and book bug.

There are a few philosophy and theology authors I’d like to get around to reading – but they often require more concentrated time than I normally have: Hannah Arendt, Jon Sobrino, Gustavo Gutiérrez, José Antonio Pagola, among others.

Reading is a gift – and I’m glad I can take time to do it. I need to be a little more disciplined. My upcoming birthday might be a good time to again try to read in a more disciplined way.

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