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June 18, 2020

Authors to Walk With

Written by: Julia Smolucha

The Rev. Christine Hides’
Summer Reading and Listening Highlights

I’ve always been an avid reader, but when shelter at home began, I shifted to audiobooks and podcasts, because I have been doing a lot more walking and my COVID-19 attention span is noticeably shorter. In these months of uncertainty and chaos wrought by two viruses, I have leaned into the words of psychologists, sociologists, poets, and the Bible to help me find meaning and peace. I’ve chosen these summer reading and listening highlights because I have found their voices to be good walking companions for times like these.

Checking In, a podcast by Harvard psychologist Susan David. When I first heard Susan David’s Ted Talk I was struck by her wisdom and insights into resiliency and emotional agility. Her podcast offers strategies for coping in an emotionally urgent time.

Unlocking Us, a podcast by researcher Brené Brown. I finished listening to the audiobook lecture Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice just before George Floyd was killed. This recording connects her research in the book Rising Strong with spirituality, which she defines as a belief in our interconnectedness and a loving force greater than ourselves. In recent weeks, her new podcast has featured Black authors like Ibram X. Kendi and Austing Channing Brown. Her conversations are both inspiring and challenging as she uses her research on guilt and shame as a tool for overcoming racism.

Poetry Unbound, a podcast hosted by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama. In each ten minute episode he reads and interprets one short, powerful poem. His tone and voice are perfectly suited to early morning contemplation.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo: Like many, I am inspired to read books about the history of systemic racism in the United States that lead to practical anti-racist actions. I’m not quite finished with Oluo’s book which comes highly recommended. I find it both informative and accessible. She begins by sharing her personal narrative and in later chapters explains systemic racism. Available as an audiobook at many libraries, an ebook, and a print book.

Jennifer Harvey’s book Raising White Kids is not new, but offers practical ways for adults to talk about race and racism with white children. These conversations are both difficult and critically important. Harvey was recently interviewed on All Things Considered. Other videos of her lectures are linked in this Anti-racism Resource List for parents.

Just as a cry for justice arose in our nation and religious leaders encouraged us to turn to scripture, Blessed to Bless: #AnIntroductiontotheBible by Tim Sean Youmans appeared as a surprise in my mailbox. From time to time Church Publishing sends me preview copies of books to review. This one receives my recommendation for two reasons. First, I am regularly asked for resources to help make sense of the Bible, especially the Old Testament; this book offers a wide and deep guide to approaching sacred texts. The two page chapters are an excellent accompaniment for those who wish to read the text critically and constructively. Additionally, the author has a unique perspective, as an Episcopal priest who grew up in the evangelical tradition. He pitches a large and theologically sound tent that “cultivates the best of sacramental ritualistic Christianity with the heartfelt spirituality of the evangelical tradition.”