What We're Reading

Here's what the folks at Missional Wisdom are spending their time reading, contemplating, and teaching! Feel free to pick up a copy and join us in the conversation. 

"You can tell a lot about an organization by the books they are reading. When I saw this list, I knew I had found my people." ~Laurie Sandblom, Launch & Lead student

"Reading is one of my hobbies and your ‘What We’re Reading’ section is a favorite touchstone when selecting new books.  Thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom.  You are appreciated." ~Wisdom for the Way subscriber

Missional Wisdom Foundation will receive a portion of your purchase when you follow the links below to purchase from Amazon. *Please note - if you are prompted to proceed to the Amazon Smile page, we will receive a larger portion if you go straight to Amazon instead of switching to Smile.


I just finished this series - it was FABULOUS!!! Set in an alternative universe, this dystopian fantasy series follows the struggles of a handful of colleagues as they attempt to survive the end of the world. Each novel adds to the complex mystery and intrigue, fitting the details together like puzzle pieces as Vin and her allies consider issues of trust, sacrifice, faith, and justice. ~Wendi Bernau

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Lies We Believe About God
By Wm. Paul Young

I have been running into Paul Young, the author of The Shack, in a number of places lately – unfortunately, all of them virtual.  I have been catching up on back episodes of Ian Cron’s podcast Typology, and listened to a wonderful two part interview with Paul there.  That pushed me to pick up my old copy of The Shack, which reminded me of how much I enjoyed his characterization of the Holy Trinity.  The Shack has a special place in my heart – a number of years ago, a dear Sunday School student of mine died by suicide.  The following Sunday, our class of teens gathered, and we read the beautiful scene from Chapter 11 where Mack watches through a waterfall as Missy plays in a beautiful meadow with Jesus. We hugged each other and cried as we imagined that for our friend. That memory pushed me to watch the movie version of The Shack, which I had never seen, and that pulled me into Paul’s most recent book, Lies We Believe About God.

Lies We Believe About God seems to me to be Paul’s effort to tell us all that the healing journey that he describes in The Shack is available to us all. In his calm, peaceful tone, he picks off one after another of the assumptions and impressions we carry around about God. He strips away everything other that the image of a God who loves us and who is with us. He loops us back to the conclusion that God wants us to love God, and to love each other.  Nothing more complex or complicated than that. It was a lovely read.~Larry Duggins

I have just found Ian Morgan Cron - Denise Crane suggested that I check out his podcast - Typology - and I was hooked. This book was the first of his that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Many years ago, I started my journey into “applied Christianity” with Brian McLaren’s New Kind of Christian series. Cron has laid out the life-giving teachings of St. Francis using that same Wisdom Literature approach, using a fictional story to weave the biography and teachings of Francis.

The book is a call to set aside the trappings of church and to live the live Christ has called us to. Our work at the Missional Wisdom Foundation is an attempt to walk in that way. Cron lays out a wonderful path for us all to follow Jesus in the manner of Francis. ~Larry Duggins

I just finished reading my friend Carl McColman’s new book, An Invitation to Celtic Wisdom. It is a lovely book that touches on the streams of Celtic Christianity, the stories of the Celtic saints and suggestions about incorporating a Celtic flavor into the modern practice of Christianity.

Carl is wise and is a mystic, and his gentle approach flows through the book. Treat yourself, and spend a little time with this wonderful book! ~Larry Duggins

As someone who has spent the better part of my life feeling like I don’t fit in, this book was really inspiring. The use of the donkey is not pejorative. Donkeys are great in their own way. They are reliable, hard-working and constant, if somewhat routine oriented and afraid of change. Unicorns are magical animals but we often try to file down our horn in an effort to fit in when culture tells us we are too weird or too different. At the same time, unicorns who know our own fabulousness have to realize that just being a unicorn doesn’t mean I don’t have to work hard or be diligent. Michaels offers both empowerment and self-responsibility in those of us who can finally claim and be proud of our creative, innovative selves. ~Wendi Bernau

I came across this book by accident, as I was browsing online. It resonates with a lot of things that have been rattling around in my head over the past few months. I am learning the lesson that although I can do anything, I cannot do everything. There just isn’t time in a human life to do all of the things. The basic premise of this book is not to offer ways to minimize your life or be more efficient at the things you do, but to harness the power inherent in choosing to do fewer things better. He illustrates this with a few case studies, one of which also demonstrates why just copying the external trappings of a philosophy doesn’t work - one has to live into the whole. Letting go of doing everything half-way makes us able to make the few things truly fabulous. ~Wendi Bernau

This book is a fabulous collection of essays and viewpoints written by authors such as CS Lewis, Flannery O-Connor, Annie Dillard, Denise Levertov, G K Chesterton and Madeline L’Engle (and more!) which address all kinds of issues surrounding faith and the arts. It contains essays on everything from apologetics of literature, fairy tale and cinema; to inspiration and creativity; Transcendentals (Truth, Beauty and Goodness) and aesthetics; Christian discernment of quality and appreciation for the pleasures of reading and participating in art; and a whole lot more. It’s a deep topic, but the writings are very accessible. I find it continuously delightful and inspiring. ~Wendi Bernau

Learning to Walk in the Dark
By Barbara Brown Taylor

Recommended by Andrea Lingle

Rooted in Grace is a collection of essays, liturgies, and spiritual exercises focused on staying connected during difficult discussions. Each essay includes questions for discussion for ease of use in small groups and Sunday School lessons. While the collection was designed to be helpful in congregational discussions of the 2019 UMC General Conference and the discussion of The Way Forward, it does not specifically address questions around human sexuality. Rather, it addresses the vanishing art of disagreeing without devolving into animosity. The book has applications well beyond the current issues within the UMC.

Rooted in Grace was written by people connected to the Missional Wisdom Foundation. The authors are young and old, male and female, gay and straight, and the opinions and perspectives are varied. The result is a book that speaks to all people without regard to their political party or position on human sexuality issues.

By Justin Hancock, this is the newest book from the MWF library!

This book invites its readers to an exploration of some of the greatest theologians in Christian history through the lens of disability theology in order to understand how the Christian Church is intended to deal with the ever-evolving concept and reality that is the disabled human experience.

Larry Duggins says it best: "Andrea Lingle is a wise woman who is a curious, inquisitive Christian, who speaks from a depth of experience as a mother, a lay leader, a survivor, and a 'retro-church hipster.' As she walks us through Christian life and experience through the lens of Sunday morning liturgy, she speaks with a voice many of us are straining to hear--that of a 30-something adult who loves Jesus, but who has a few questions."

Read the new book by Bret Wells, that was created specifically for a class that he teaches in Launch & Lead.

As part of my [Larry Duggins] personal analysis of the Way Forward issues, I went in search of a good book that fairly deals with the various arguments around the human sexuality issues without screaming at me about them.  I made several false starts and then came upon Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church (Zondervan, 2016). Read more

Parable of the Sower (Earthseed)
By Octavia E. Butler

As I [Larry Duggins] was searching for an audio book to ride with me on my annual summer trek to Asheville, I stumbled upon The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler. I was hoping to find something written by someone who has a different life view than my own and Ms Butler was an African-American author winner of a Hugo, a Nebula award and a MacArthur Fellowship. Pretty strong credentials. Read more

Wendell Berry made a Sabbath practice of walking the fields of his seventh generation family farm and writing poetry about the experience. In this collection, he has chosen a few poems from each year spanning a segment of his life from raising a young family to empty-nesting. ~Recommended by Wendi Bernau

Reaching into our past and a new story for the future, All That We Share is a book about the "commons." There is another way of looking at ownership that is neither private nor public. This book is called a "Field Guide to the Commons" and it very much informs us of how some things belong to everyone. (Recommended by Bryan Mitchell and Kate Rudd, for it's influence in shaping Haw Creek Commons.)

After recently spending a week with Alexander Shaia on pilgrimage in Iona, Denise CraneAndrea Lingle, and Larry Duggins recommend his writing, especially Heart and Mind. Larry says, "Occasionally, I will read a book that sticks with me – I think about it throughout a day or a week or a month, and I randomly find myself turning over its ideas as I walk through life.  Alexander Shaia’s Heart and Mind: The Four-Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation is such a book." (Read the rest of Larry's review here.)

A wonderful introduction to Palmer’s work on Circles of Trust, A Hidden Wholeness attends to that inner journey we’re all making towards wholeness, and the necessity towards health it serves for our societal and global wholeness. It’s a great introduction to Parker Palmer’s work, and a thorough exploration of the work along the path of authenticity and peace. ~Evey McKellar

Returning From Camino
By Alexander John Shaia

Alexander Shaia is a wise and experienced man with a fascinating combination of lived and acquired knowledge. He has studied hard to build a wonderful base of psychological, theological and anthropological knowledge, and he has tempered those with the life experience of an immigrant and a pilgrim. Returning from Camino is a gift of both acquired and lived wisdom as it applies to the Camino in particular and to pilgrimage in general. Read the rest of Larry Duggins' review here.

Paul Tillich's The Courage to Be gave me language to articulate a knowledge that is deep within me. Sometimes life seems hard. Really, really hard. And just gathering enough pluck to keep your atoms together seems like a large ask...but if you do...if you let go of what you want to force life to be, then you can find the joy of being. If you release God from being what you think God is, then God is free to be the joy that God is. Read the rest of Andrea Lingle's review here.

Obtained recently while on pilgrimage to Iona, Blessed by Our Table caught the eyes of Rachel Wells, due to its compliment to the table theology work recently done by Andrea Lingle and Evey McKellar. It won her heart though, when she saw chapters for humorous prayers and graces for eating alone.

An Iona Prayer Book
By Peter Millar

This is a four week daily prayer companion with morning, mid-day and evening prayers, guiding the reader/pilgrim around sacred places around the island. For me, it’s been a helpful companion alongside pilgrimage, especially in my own inward journeys and transitions. ~Evey McKellar

By O'Donohue John

A great book of blessings for many occasions, and especially a few that rarely see formal blessings for such times. The words are beautiful, and O’Donahue does a brilliant job capturing the emotion and nuance of specific transitions, feelings, accomplishments, and seasons of release. I used a number of blessings for a personal service of release and grief at a specific season in life where there were many things happening at once - O’Donahue had words for each transition and space. ~Evey McKellar

Written by MWF co-founder, Elaine Heath, The Mystic Way will serve as the spine text for our recent multi-platform study led by Andrea LingleLent Incarnate.

New Collected Poems
By Wendell Berry

New Collected Poems is a an optional text for our recent Lent Incarnate multi-platform study led by Andrea Lingle.

Lent is the season in the liturgical year that has historically been set aside as a time of introspection and lament. This text was used in our recent Lenten journey exploring lament, restoration, and the sacredness of soil. ~By Andrea Lingle with contributions from Katey Rudd.

Written by co-founder, Larry Duggins, Simple Harmony, is one of the texts for Missional Ecclesiology, the Launch & Lead class that Larry recently taught. It was also January's topic of learning at our monthly staff meeting.

Written by co-founder, Larry Duggins, Together, is one of the texts for Missional Ecclesiology, the Launch & Lead class that Larry recently taught currently teaching.

Thin Places is a recommended text for Missional Imagination, the Launch & Lead class recently taught by Bret Wells and Denise Crane. You can check out Bret's review of the book here.

Recommended by leader, Luke Lingle, this book has helped to shape Missional Wisdom Foundation's theology of fundraising. It was a topic of discussion at our monthly staff meeting in March.


The Storytelling Animal was a required text for The Role of Story in Community Development, a recent Launch & Lead class taught by Robert Bishop

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Dr. Brené Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage. ~Rachel Wells

Elaine Heath describes Divergent Church as "one of the better books on innovative forms of church that I've read in the past couple of years. It features Jonathan Grace's Church in the Square, Valley and Mountain, and Simple Church, along with many others. They ask great questions about ecclesiology and what is happening to people's understanding of the meaning of 'church.'"

Liturgy of the Ordinary is recommended by Larry Duggins. Tish Warren, a young mother, wife and Episcopal priest, has done a wonderful job of sharing her view of ordinary life through the lens of liturgy.  She looks at mundane tasks like making the bed and checking email as worshipful acts full of life-giving energy.  This is especially interesting because Warren is very clear about how much she loves the liturgy of her church, and her explanatory descriptions are great insights into why liturgy takes the form that it does.  Liturgy of the Ordinary explores loving God through the daily activities of routine life in a readable and informative way.

The book behind a popular PBS and Netflix series, Call the Midwife is recommended by Rachel Wells. She enjoyed reading this book and finds it to be a beautiful picture of how just being a part of Christian community (similar the MWF way of doing things, as described in Together: Community as a Means of Grace) can end up leading someone to Christ. 


The Mountain of Silence offers a refreshing tale about Kyriacos and his struggle to reclaim his Eastern Orthodox Christian heritage after being educated in Western Schools of thought. Filled with fascinating dialogues between Kyriacos and his spiritual mentor, Father Maximos, the two companions slowly work their way through the major tenants of the orthodox faith and its often misunderstand mystical world view. The book's conversational nature makes it easy to read and hard to put down, while providing thought provoking insights into part of our Christian tradition that few Western Christians know much about. ~Ryan Klinck

"An expansion of Joseph Campbell's and Dan Vogler's work on mythology from a feminist perspective. A well-sourced, easy, and important read. I'm looking for ways to incorporate Frankel's ideas in the next iteration of The Role of Story in Community Development." ~Robert Bishop

CS Lewis is one of the great minds and in my opinion, communicates theology in a wonderfully exciting way. Till We Have Faces is classic CS Lewis which makes the reader imagine both the sinner and saint in us. Brilliant, entertaining, and informative all in the same package. ~Bryan Mitchell

The Rebirthing of God served as the spine text for our recent multi-platform study led by Andrea LingleAdvent Incarnate.

Paul: An Apostle's Journey
By Douglas A. Campbell

Douglas Campbell’s new work on Paul is a very readable survey into the writings of Paul. Dr. Campbell, a Duke New Testament professor who will be a key player in their new Certificate in Missional Innovation program, has written a book for the rest of us - clear, understandable and to the point. Read the rest of Larry Duggins' review here.

Recommended by a participant during the course of our recent Advent Incarnate study, several MWF staff members agree that Lamb is a good, light-hearted read.


As a leader of a group that tries very hard to be ecumenical and also tries very hard to impress on everyone the importance of spiritual practices that strengthen connection with God, Larry Duggins found Flee, Be Silent, Pray by Ed Cyrzewski quite interesting. Read Larry's full review of the book here.