My brother, as I've mentioned in Desert Year, is beginning to imagine a life of faith. Like me, he's in his 50s and grew up in a family whose view of religion ranges from tolerant to skepticism to ridicule; unlike me, he did not have a high school education provided by first, nuns, and later, UCCers well versed in Scripture and Paul Tillich. He's explored Eastern forms of meditation, experienced the discomfort of living in a largely conservative mega-church environment, rejected my suggestion to make the long drive out of the suburbs and into the city in the direction of the two Prebsy churches whose websites shout "progressive and inclusive," and followed my suggestion to have lunch with the pastor of a local church, whom he found to be friendly and engaging but reluctant to address his real questions.
I need some books, he said. So I took a look at my library shelves, so packed that books fall off them more often than not, and sent him a little package:
Seeds of Hope: A Henri Nouwen Reader: Easy, short meditations and some insight into a Christian life of simplicity and depth, turmoil and peace.
Barclay's Mark: It happened to fall off the shelf, I figure the first gospel is as good a place to start as any, and maybe the commentary will help him with a text about which he knows nothing. One of the Amazon reviews says the scholarship is outdated, so I suppose I need to find him something else soon.
Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book: I think Peterson is one of the most elegant writers around, and offers a way into Scripture that combines love and prayer with serious engagement, humor, and generosity.