"I bought a book," I said to my husband as I slit open the box. "I used my credit card points on it, so it's not like I spent any money."
"That's OK, Alliee," he responded. "You can buy a book."
It always feels ridiculous. Here I am swimming against the tide of books flowing into the store. I even told one church that I couldn't accept the five boxes that they wanted to give me. I was too overwhelmed with sorting, pricing, and shelving eight boxes of multi-volume commentaries from the month before. Then in the midst of drowning in the waves, what do I do? I order a book. It's Eugene Peterson's fault.
You may remember from last month that I read Peterson's book WORKING THE ANGLES, about prayer, scripture, and spiritual direction being the primary work of Pastors. If you're coming into this conversation late, that newsletter is now posted on our companyofsaints.com website. I wrote Peterson a letter taking umbrage on his contention that pastors ought to stop acting like shopkeepers and get to the work of being a pastor. I pointed out that prayer, scripture and spiritual direction were at the core of certain shopkeepers, not to even mention Christians at large.
Eugene sent me back a lovely letter. Shock! This is not a usual response to criticism. He pointed out that he wrote THE MESSAGE (a 12 year project), a five volume work on Spiritual Theology with Erdmans, and then his memoir, THE PASTOR. He said that he had received more responses to his memoir from the laity than from pastors.
I knew about THE MESSAGE. Every so often that Bible translation comes into the store -- and then goes out very quickly. I wasn't up for five volumes of anything. I ordered THE PASTOR. It is an interesting memoir that traces Peterson's path of growing up Christian, his shift from academia to the pastorate, and his faithful years of forming and leading a congregation. The story's emphasis on developing an understanding of the pastoral role and office was interesting from a leadership perspective. I enjoyed the book; read it in a couple of days. It only irritated me slightly.
"We have learned a bit too late in the day that action springs not from thought but from a readiness for responsibility." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Meanwhile, the Church Leaders Network, which is a monthly meeting for church leaders to develop relationships, encourage one another and pray, has decided that their final meeting in June will be for Senior-Pastors-of-Churches only. No shopkeepers. Several years ago they similarly limited their yearly prayer retreat -- beginning the year after I went to it.
Therefore, any Christian Leader who wants to come to a Ministries Meeting on the first Wednesday of June is invited to The Word Shop at 11:30. We'll order Pizza. Let me know if you're thinking of coming so we order enough. The idea is to discover, pray for and encourage each other in Christ Jesus. All are welcome.
"People who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of people who are doing it." George Bernard Shaw
My husband was too sweet to point out that there was not one but TWO books coming out of the cardboard box. The second one was Jay Abraham's GETTING EVERYTHING YOU CAN OUT OF ALL YOU'VE GOT. This is clearly a book for shopkeepers; it was highly recommended by marketing guru Robert Middleton. A month later I'm only two thirds into it. There is a message here somewhere ...
Take Five: I love coming home on Friday afternoon with a handful of books to peruse over the weekend. Some books that look great in the store are, upon closer inspection, not so great. Others which appear only vaguely interesting turn into rare treats. The ability to peruse several books at leisure is a delight I've long wanted to offer others. Therefore, on any Friday in the month of June you can take five books for $5. Each book has to be priced under $5 (most of our books are $3 - $4). No, you don't have to return them, but we'll start with a limit of once per customer. Take Five Fridays. An experiment. Start your Summer Reading off with a bang.
Staff can borrow any books they want. Most of our staff work 3 hour shifts, once a week. We have openings for a couple of hours on Mondays and Wednesday's at various times between 10 and 3:00. Let me know if you want a few quiet hours a week in the company of saints.
"In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends imprisoned by an enchanter in paper and leathern boxes." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I wrote about Human Trafficking in my monthly *In the Spirit* column for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Here's the link:
I'm planning to go to the conference on Saturday. Maybe I'll see you there.