Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year's Resolution Suicide, or Why I Can't Seem to Do the Things I Plan

I am the king of unfinished New Year's Resolutions.  Like the broader American public, I start off strongly, surge ahead for a few months, and then, filled with an overwhelming sense of confidence and pride, take the plunge into "resolution suicide."  With my weight loss goals, this usually occurs when I decide to start eating Taco Bell on a more regular basis, or when I think something like "I've worked out enough to do nothing for the next month.  And with my reading goals, this happens when I get caught in a Netflix binge of some tv show, Being Human or Breaking Bad or what have you.

So admittedly, 2013 was not a great year for resolutions.  I made it until around June with my fitness goals; it was during that month that I completed my first (see ONLY) 10K as well as the Savage Race (a shorter version of the Tough Mudder, the popular mud-obstacle course race).  With my reading, I made it to somewhere around February.  Yes, it was that bad.

Part of the problem is that I was juggling school reading along with work and family, and so it was difficult to motivate myself to tack on extra-curricular reading to my already busy schedule.  Another part of the problem was that I didn't set any clear goals.

So this year, I'm setting some definite goals.  Alongside of my required school reading, I would like to read 12 non-fiction works, 12 fiction works, and then 12 miscellaneous.  This means I'm actually going to pick 12 non-fiction and 12 fiction books that I will intentionally read over the course of the year, and leave space for 12 or so more that happen to "pop up" in the meantime.  You know how that happens, hear a good NPR interview, or get a recommendation or just find something interesting at half-price books and need to read it right away.

I'm excited about this project; I'm an avid book collector, especially theological books, and I tend to acquire significantly more than I actually read.  So, I'm looking forward to the challenge of spending time with some of my "treasures" (my precious) and unpacking the reasons that I purchased them in the first place.

Right now, I've got 9 non-fiction books in the reading pile:

1)  "Evangelical Theology" by Karl Barth
2)  "Atonement, Justice, and Peace:  The Message of the Cross and the Mission of the Church" by Darrin W. Synder Belousek
3)  "The Myth of a Christian Nation" by Greg Boyd
4)  "The Prophetic Imagination" by Walter Brueggemann
5)  "Christians at the Border:  Immigration, the Church, and the Bible" by M. Daniel Carroll R.
6)  "Life on the Vine" by Phil Kenneson
7)  "Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work" by Eugene Peterson
8)  "The Missional Leader" by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk
9)  "The Bible Made Impossible" by Christian Smith

As far as fiction, I'm looking at working a little further in the Dune series as well as checking out some Neil Gaiman.

Additionally, if you have any suggestions, please let me know, I'm always looking for good reads.

Of course, these lists don't include the books I've already started from last year, or the books I'm currently reviewing for ERB.  But this, hopefully, a way to intentionally set out exploring theology, missions, pastoral work, current issues, etc, and maybe even becoming a more well rounded individual (though I would challenge to say that the many hours I have spent with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman have made me think deeper on morality and rightness).

In any case, this is it for now; maybe with some encouragement and internet accountability (whatever that means) I can avoid committing "resolution suicide" this year.