Tuesday, July 21, 2020

So, what are you reading these days?

As I enter my seventh year teaching full time (seven? how is that possible?) I am  returning again to the "music and worship" part of the cycle. My role at Trinity International University is a niche that suits me well -- and I hope the students and College, too -- with an academic background in music history and historical theology plus three decades of full-time pastoral music ministry. I teach a three-semester sequence in music history, and a two-semester sequence of core courses for church music and the College's new BA in Worship. This is my "worship year."

My current summer reading stack is about six books deep (all in progress) with a few others in line. I don't think I'm going to get through them all by the start of the semester. Books in both stacks fall into two categories:
* Books that are new, or at least new to me.
* Books that I started by didn't finish, or that I bought and didn't start.

Books find their way to my list by various routes: reviews in publications, publisher catalogs, recommendations or citations, and random free copies. I guess I am not a systematic reader-scholar . . . this may (almost certainly does) explain why I do not have a doctorate!

So, what is in my current stack?

Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime

Evelyn Underhill, Worship 

Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical worship from the Garden to the new creation 

Greg Scheer, Essential Worship: A Handbook for Leaders

Gerardo Marti, Worship Across the Racial Divide: Religious Music and the Multiracial Congregation 

Debra Rienstra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling language for faithful ministry 

Still to be cracked before the fall semester:

Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrind, and Life--a Systematic Theology 

George Ellis ande William H. Schubert, eds., Reflections from the Heart of Educational Inquiry 

Kathleen S. Smith, Stilling the Storm: Worship and Congregational Leadership in Difficult Times 

These lists do not include a tall stack of books that I need to keep fresh as I prepare for the year ahead--textbooks I have used and that I am re-evaluating, recommended reading lists, supplemental material for my own presentations and to recommend to students, and so on.

As I read, I often consider the privileges I had serving as a worship pastor. In earlier posts I have reflected on my bookshelves. These days I ask myself, "will my students acquire books, develop a core working library of wisdom, inspiration, and practical ideas? Or will they rely on the quick access of the internet--blogs, YouTube, online courses, eBooks--as admittedly I also find myself doing? What should my approach be to the future pastoral musician in regard to lifelong learning, exploring the past as well as living in the present?  Among the students I have worked with over the past few years, a surprising (and, to me, encouraging) number still say they prefer to hold and read a physical book; there are those who purposely are building up their ministry library. At the same time, they live in the digital world--they hold dual passports to learning.

I probably don't have many years of full-time teaching in my future. While I'm at it, I continue to enjoy the books I have (read, to be finished, and to be started), look for more books to read, and pray I will be a good steward of the reading I am privileged to engage.

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