so the reason i went to urbana and shelled out the substantial amount of cash (thank you house-sitting job) is so i could hear the current ideas in this corner of the missionary community. the topics are familiar but the range within them is unexpected. i really like what i'm hearing so far.
i started up a blog to chronicle my process in becoming a missionary. it's martadouglass.wordpress.com it's got a few posts but overall is kind of in 'beta' stage. i plan on posting more detailed comments on the lectures i attend, especially as they pertain to my thoughts on ministry in london. i'll post a few here as well, hopefully.
everything at urbana is enormous, including their bookstore. meredith and i were browsing today (actually only hitting 2 bookshelves in 45 minutes) and i picked up three (3!) books. ugh. so much enjoyable and beneficial reading to do. only four weeks and two days to do it (until seminary starts up again).
i picked up Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our lives for spiritual transformation by Ruth Haley Barton who wrote Invitation to Solitude and Silence (which really did the trick for me my senior year of college when i was pretty lonely). I liked Barton and am very interested in the spiritual disciplines. it seems to be a trendy topic in spirituality (at least for my demographic) nowadays, so that makes it worth studying anyhow. meredith is interested in it as well. i've been talking with tony (my boss at church) about having a silence retreat for the high schoolers and discussing some of the spiritual disciplines. i also want to do a talk as an overview in sunday school.
i think what also interests me in the spiritual disciplines is that they come so unnaturally to me. i am not, by nature, disciplined (at least in any easily recognizable way). I think (and myers-briggs people say this too) that at this stage in my human development I am searching out the things I am not naturally good at. I am learning how to cook and garden, for example. my boss at the florist was telling me that her mother-in-law was the most organized home-maker ever. she had a 8.5x11" sheet of paper for each week, with lists of things to do. she could whip together a picnic lunch in 10 minutes with food and supplies she kept around the house. extraordinary. organization mystifies and eludes me.
another book i picked up is A long obedience in the same direction by Eugene Peterson. I lurve The Message and read a little of his Eat This Book at L'Abri. One of the reasons I was drawn to it was because one of the speakers at urbana quoted Peterson quoting Nietzsche (which I thought was pretty cool):
"The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is...that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living." (from Beyond Good and Evil).
Again, part of the allure here is perseverance and stability, both things that I lack great strength in accomplishing.
Finally, the bookstore was offering NT Wright's book The Challenge of Jesus for $5. $5!! I wouldn't be a good seminarian if I didn't pick this up. I've seen Wright's big blue book on Jesus and have been too intimidated to even crack it. Apparently this book is a condensed/summarized version of the daunting blue one. Jesus has always been the hardest member of the trinity for me to understand. I talked with a Canadian seminarian for quite a long time about his love for NT Wright and how he thought that this book would blow my mind. Here's hoping.