Five secular books that have helped grow my faith

1. William James, “Talks to Teachers on Psychology” © 1962 Dover Publications ISBN 0486419649
“In teaching, you must simply work your pupil into such a state of interest in what you are going to teach him that every other object of attention is banished from his mind; then reveal it to him so impressively that he will remember the occasion to his dying day; and finally fill him with devouring curiosity to know what the next steps in connection with the subject are.”

This book was part of my Educational Psychology class at Hillsdale and, although the original edition was published in 1899, it speaks truth to teachers and youth ministers today. The thing that helped me grow most in this book was James' stress on the responsibility teachers have to practice their profession intent on being excellent at it, echoing Paul's warning that "not many of you should desire to be teachers" because of the high standard that must be exercised in passing on the knowledge from one person to another.

2. "Everyone's A Coach" by Don Shula and Ken Blanchard, (C) 1995 Zondervan and HarperBusiness ISBN 0310208157

This book gave me a model to apply to adult leaders in a church where most members were heavily involved in at least one sport, and usually more. In a "sports church" people understand coaches, and understanding myself and my leaders as coaches helped me get the message across more clearly to them.

3. "The Wind In the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame, edition (C) 2000 The Templar Company, ISBN 1840110198

"The Willow-Wren was twittering his thin little song, hidden himself in the dark selvedge of the river bank. Though it was past ten o'clock at night, the day still clung to and retained some lingering skirts of light from from the departed day; and the sullen heats of the torrid afternoon broke up and rolled away at the dispersing touch of the cool fingers of the short midsummer night."

This book reminds me that the English language is a beautiful thing and a responsive tool. When my writing or storytelling seems dry I jump back into Grahame's tales. The book also helps me keep a discipline against swearing.

4. "Peterman Rides Again" by John Peterman, (C) 2000 Prentice Hall Press, ISBN 0735201994

"It's strange to think of a major part of your life's journey pivoting on a coat, but I suppose that's OK if the coat opens the door to an existence you've only dreamed about."

This book tells a story about a man who took a huge, impractical risk and how it enriched his life.

5. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare, edition (C) 1967 Penguin Books, ISBN 0140707026

In a humorous way, both reading and acting in this play helps me remember two things: that the power behind the universe is always in control, even when I can only see chaos, and that sometimes it pays to remember that when God says "It's fixed because I said so" is in fact a good enough reason.

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