I finally decided on the topic of this year's forum--spiritual formation. We have had success with our past forums. Our first forum was on the emerging church, the second was on hip-hop culture and the church, the third was on The Shack, and last year's was on John Calvin. Besides the topic nothing else has really been settled so I have a lot of work ahead of me. In preparation for the forum I will be reading The Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality by Evan B. Howard. The literature on the subject of Christian Spirituality is enormous and growing. Howard has done a masterful job of making the fruit of that corpus accessible to the average reader. I've only read portions of it in the past but look forward to reading it from beginning to the end. But not only is the content of this book excellent its presentation is exemplary. Each chapter begins with an extensive outline and lays out its objectives. It is filled with sidebars, focus boxes, charts, pictures and cartoons (Yes, cartoons. One of my favorites shows a group of people sitting and one of them says, "Well, I haven't actually died to sin, but I did feel kind of faint once!") You'll also find an extensive glossary, exercises, chapter summaries and lists of works for "Looking Further." The book gleans from the three major traditions of Christianity: Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.
Howard wrote an article for Christianity Today back in 2002 which is still worth reading. It is called "Three Temptations of Spiritual Formation". He is the director of the Spirituality Shoppe: An Evangelical Center for the Study of Christian Spirituality, based in Montrose, Colorado
I'll keep you posted as details for the forum come together. From time to time I'll fill you in on my progress through Howard's book.