Monday, May 25, 2009

Reading List

I have scads of little pieces of paper, index cards and emails I've sent to myself with books recommended or talked about by people I admire, I try to toss those little tidbits on my desk and then regularly do amazon searches and add them to my wish list so that at least somewhere I have a searchable record of those books. I began doing this when one of my favorite people in the world made his recommended reading list. I grabbed a few of those books and they changed my life forever. Nothing I had read up to that point had touched me as deeply as those books. I guess that's because the man who recommended them touched me more deeply than anyone else had before.

His name was Mike Yaconelli. He is no longer with us physically, but his writing and talks still pay forward in my life, and since I was only graced to see him once a year, it's almost like he's still around practically influencing my life.

I was doing some research for the talk I'm giving at church on Sunday and saved a transcript for the Bill Moyers Journal he had with Parker Palmer back in February - 17 minutes you will never regret - but don't listen until after Sunday if you go to my church! :) (Parker Palmer's Let Your Life Speak was the first book I read on that list and things shifted so dramatically within me that I will never be the same again) When I saved the transcript I found Mike's book list and I'm going to copy it here so that I don't forget again - there are so many books on this list I still get to read and I thought you might enjoy a couple of them too.

Here's Mike's Recommended Reading List (with a bit of advice thrown in) The only thing I'll add is Mike's own book Messy Spirituality:

  • Read like a madman.
  • Most youth workers don't read. Yet reading is absolutely essential to your spiritual growth.
  • Ask people you admire and respect what books they read. If you're drawn to someone, chances are they have the same reading interests you do, so trust them to get you on the right reading track.
  • Note those authors you resonate with, then get all their books. I have my own group of authors, who through their books have become my reading-world friends: Eugene Peterson, Barbara Brown Taylor, Walter Wangerin Jr., John Claypool, Earl Palmer, Henri Nouwen, Calvin Miller, Frederick Buechner, Alan Jones, Will Willimon, Evelyn Underhill, Philip Yancey. I read everything they write. Somehow, they know me, they name what I am struggling with, they put into words what I have been unable to find the words for. Put those few books that have really affected you in a bookcase close to where you work. In my study I have all my favorite books——my friends——just to the left of my desk, in arm's reach. I have lots more books in my study, but my friends are right next to me.
  • Interact with your books. Mark your favorite passages, make notes, mark then file the quotes that grip you. Books are made to be marked——and stained with tears, too. Reading is more than gathering information——it's a relationship.
  • Don't worry if you take a break from reading now and then. Sometimes your soul needs space and time to process what's going on in your life. At such times reading can actually distract you from soul work you should be doing.
  • Whatever you do, don't limit your reading to religious books. Read recent novels, old classics, biographies, short stories, essays, articles. Christians aren't the only ones speaking truth. Truth is truth, regardless of who says it.
  • Stop impersonating yourself.
  • For what it's worth, here's my recommended reading list. Let it start you making your own book list.
  • Robert Bensen, Between the Dreaming & the Coming True (HarperCollins)
  • Bob Benson, Disciplines for the Inner Life (Word)
  • Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination (Fortress)
  • Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews (Doubleday)
  • Christopher DeVinck, The Power of the Powerless (Zondervan)
  • Jacques Ellul, The Presence of the Kingdom (Seabury)
  • Suzanne Farnham and others, Listening Hearts (Morehouse)
  • Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder (Jove Books)
  • Thelma Hall, Too Deep for Words (Paulist)
  • Abraham Heschel, Man's Quest for God (Scribner's)
  • Abraham Heschel, The Prophets (HarperCollins)
  • Alan Jones, Passion for Pilgrimage (HarperCollins)
  • Alan Jones, Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality (HarperSanFrancisco)Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion (HarperSanFranciso)
  • Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits (HarperCollins)
  • Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies (Pantheon)
  • Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (Noonday Press)
  • Johannes B. Metz, Poverty of Spirit (Paulist)
  • Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (Riverhead)
  • Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk (Riverhead)
  • Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (Crossroad)
  • Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love (Doubleday)
  • Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak (Image)
  • Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak (Jossey-Bass)
  • Parker Palmer, To Know As We Are Known (HarperSanFranciso)
  • Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor (Word)
  • Eugene Peterson, Living the Message (HarperCollins)
  • Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (InterVarsity Press)
  • Eugene Peterson, Subversive Spirituality (Eerdmans)
  • Barbara Brown Taylor, The Preaching Life (Cowley)
  • Barbara Brown Taylor, When God Is Silent (Cowley)
  • Evelyn Underhill, The Spiritual Life (Morehouse)
  • Evelyn Underhill, The Ways of the Spirit (Crossroad)
  • Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines (HarperSanFranciso)
  • Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan)
  • Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing about Grace? (Zondervan)

Are there any you'd add to this list?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Real advice for how to sell on eBay - Part One

I have sold on eBay for nearly a decade (although not recently) and a friend wrote and asked me for some advice. I realized that since I was typing I'd blog it and others might benefit from what I've learned.

I used to teach a class on how to buy & sell at the Sewickley Public Library in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. I'm not going to tell you how to make TONS of $, but I will give you tips you might not find from others trying to sell you on selling on eBay.

I can tell you everything I know. First of all it's the hardest season to sell as people are away from their computers enjoying outside. The fall is better, but if he doesn't care it's not a big deal.

It's work for you no matter if he sells anything - so most of all you want your time covered. Especially if he thinks that his stuff is worth more than ebay buyers think it's worth. That is the biggest problem selling for friends. If THEY think that THEIR Precious Moments TM figurines are priceless you have a problem. One of the things that eBay did was let everyone know how NOT RARE their special items were. The one or two antique stores you had in your town could claim something was RARE because how could you know? Now we all know that beanie babies are worthless and most 45's hold very little value.

The biggest thing I learned selling in eBay was that something is only as valuable as a buyer tells you it is with their bid.

Secondly - you can only sell something that can be searched. A precious green, glass dish made in the 40's is no good on eBay unless you know that is is an Hazel Atlas Depression Glass Compote - then compote collectors, depression glass collectors and Hazel Atlas collectors can find your item. Green & antique will never be a searchable description. It if has a tag, name or you are an expert you can sell it - if not making your item "findable" is KEY.

The things that actually have the most sellable value on eBay right now are the mid-century - 70's decor. It's not the antiques so much, but the Brady Bunch kind of decor that is the most collectible.

Anything that is hand made should be sold on instead of eBay - handmade items and crafts are undervalued on eBay and have never gotten the foothold and respect they deserve there.

Auctions end on the same day as they begin - so timing the end of an auction is important. Do NOT close an auction during the final episode of American Idol or LOST or something with a huge fan following. Your buyers will be watching tv instead of shopping on eBay. Time zones are also really important. West coast shoppers seem to be more generous - so timing auctions to close well on Pacific time instead of while their stuck in rush hour traffic makes sense.

If you have multiples of items to sell DO NOT list them at the same time. Let your buyers think your item is RARE. I purchased a case of 50's restaurant ware creamers from a yard sale and sold them over two years. I paid $2.00 for the box and sold them individually for up to $25.00 each. Every buyer thought theirs was THE ONLY ONE.

The strangest items have value on eBay and you will rarely ever know what will hit. I listed a lot of postcards I bought at an auction once and this tiny little 70's motel from Anaheim started to soar into unheard of prices for me - had NO idea why. Little did I know it was because there was a tiny corner picture of an old, demolished baseball stadium on the card. Little did the buyers know that I had SIX of them - and each sold very well. The buyer is king on eBay - if you have something that two people want things can get very out of hand - which is very good as a seller.

In Part Two I will talk about listing your items.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Red Energy

“Someday, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the human race, we will have discovered fire.”

Pierre Teilhard Chardin

Friday, May 08, 2009

She hath wings

Be Like the Bird

Be like that bird
Who, pausing in flight,
Feels the bough give way
Beneath her feet
And yet sings,
Knowing she hath wings.

Victor Hugo

Thursday, May 07, 2009

To hear the things ye hear, and heard them not

Pete Rollins is having a parable writing competition - very cool:

To mark the US release of my latest book, Paraclete are running a writing competition. The idea is to get you, yes you, to write a parable dealing with pretty much anything. It should ideally be between 100 and 1000 words in length. Oh, and you can enter as many times as you like.

First prize is a beautiful limited edition print entitled ‘New Life‘ by the artist Jared Robinson (Jared is currently collaborating with me to create work inspired by my writings). You will also receive $100 worth of Paraclete books of your choice and the adoration of your friends and family.

Second and third prize will receive $50 worth of Paraclete books.

My desire in running this competition is to help people rediscover the importance and power of parable. So, if you attend a writing circle, church community, youth group etc. you might want to take some time to explore the theme of parables (suggested reading below) and then encourage everyone to write one.

So what are you waiting for? Send your entries to Carol Showalter, no later than 1st August, 2009. 

The entries will be judged by myself and the winners announced on 1st September, 2009 both here and at Paraclete Press.


A parable can be loosely described as a short, fictional narrative that draws the reader 
into an insight concerning some aspect of faith and life. Parables often work best when 
they challenge commonly held attitudes and unmask the poverty of some widely held value. Parables are generally structured in a very simple and stark way, with a narrative that avoids any unnecessary detail that may detract from the central, evocative message.

Some books, apart from my own, that might help get you in the mood include,

The Song of the Bird

Parables of Kierkegaard (Kierkegaard’s Writings)

hat tip to Adam at Pomomusings because I read his blog post even before I read Pete's :D

image credit: ‘New Life‘ by the artist Jared Robinson also at Eye-Catchers Media

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hoping to Fall

Leaning out as far as she can, hoping she'll fall soon, so she can stop worrying about whether it will happen or not.


Image taken Summer 2008 Penobscot Bridge, Maine