I love to read. I put goals on Goodreads and then blow past it because I hit streaks where I just want to consume books. I love reading new work and work from the past I’m introduced to, and occasionally re-read past books, like Merton’s Seven Story Mountain or Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy.
Part of “Last Third Living” is about reading well. Part of that for me is reading deeper. I want to continue to challenge my mind and thinking. Years and years ago I bought Karl Barth’s massive work, Church Dogmatics. It is his “magnum opus” and multi-volumed. It was on sale and I was finishing seminary at the time. My enthusiasm ebbed away quickly.
I have pulled that work out again and have decided this may be what takes me to “the end.” I may never complete the project, but I will begin with the first volume. I am reading slowly, deliberately, and with not a little confusion, as I take notes and reflect on my own life and theology.
I have long admire Barth and his work and thinking was instrumental in the 20th Century to return the Western Church to the study of the Word and creating new paths for theological formation. One thing I deeply admired about Barth was that he treated the Bible as the written word that would lead us to the living Word, and the living Word was far more crucial. He anchored himself in Christ and his Church. This has grounded me.
In my theological formation I have found a lot has changed over the years but the few essentials I hold to have not changed. I can hold to the Nicene Creed and find far more room to “play in” than ever before. Over the years I have moved my thinking and practice on communion, baptism, and Scripture (not to the same degree) while I have held to a few other things, like my theology will be Trinitarian and I will stay grounded in the person of Jesus Christ.
This is a project that may never be finished. I may never finish the first volume. It is worthwhile for my own journey and may I find this to anchor my life in my “last third” of living.