Wow, after getting home from Hong Kong this past Saturday evening, my first week back has been slammed! It is totally (my three-year-old grandson says that) my fault; I am trying to complete my final two theology courses (no big deal, only the Trinity and Race) of my MA in Theology at Fuller Houston along with this amazing LGP9 experience. Oh, I am also paid to take care of the finances, buildings, and human resources for our church (our new lead pastor is so awesome, he actually said he trusts me to take care of Glo, my graduate work, the church, and our movement’s coaching! He is so weird!).
While we were in Hong Kong, I was asked to serve our national Vineyard coaching team as the mentor coach coordinator for our coaching network. I felt it was God’s call, so I said yes (it’s the typical Vineyard denominational opportunity, responsibility/authority without pay). I then promptly changed my doctoral focus to helping pastors develop adaptive leadership skills through coaching. Thus I can symbiotically resource and benefit my coaching team throughout the dissertation research process. What a gift from God!
Also in Hong Kong, some of you know we got the results of Glo’s biopsy back. Well, it looks like the “c” word is back again for the third time. For some odd reason, Glo and I can laugh and joke among ourselves as we begin the process of many visits and interactions with the Houston area medical community. Pray for us and laugh with us at the bounty of God’s amazing grace. What was it that Dr. Jason Clarke taught us in Hong Kong, that God will surprise us and that the work of God in and through us is incredibly messy and mysterious. That is we would not choose his choices! Again, amazingly in the midst of Glo’s current health challenges, we are expecting our second grandson any day, and this brings such joy to Glo. I am amazed at God’s grace along with being perplexed at his poor timing choices (hopefully you know by now that I believe sarcasm is one of the unrecorded spiritual gifts!)
Finally, before I get to the assigned resource for this blog, I truly am amazed at the diversity and depth of LGP9 community. You are all amazing leaders, and I can’t wait to see what God will teach me through all of you. I think you can tell I am becoming comfortable being myself among you, the “Niners”!
Well, to the assignment at hand, “How does one write something about books I haven’t read?” I did try to read the Bayard book and still don’t know if the book is intended for application or entertainment. I think the most helpful element I derived was to think of books within a system and how each book within the system relates to every other book. Utilizing Bob Logan’s 5 R coaching model, one of the Rs describes how to help the coaching client by asking them, “Who can help you with this?” or perhaps better, “Who do you know who may know other resources that can help you?” The intent is to help the coaching client think of other people as an interconnected network of resources that can help inform them to open up possible solutions within their current dilemma. For example, we can see this network of people in operation when one is trying to broaden the net of possible vocational opportunities when one is looking to change one’s current employment status. It is a truism that who you know will always broaden and inform what you know.
As a fledgling researcher, I am beginning to look at books/authors as people who know people or perhaps better, resources who know resources (i.e., mining bibliographies for further resource possibilities). In so doing I have to learn to apply the various reading levels outlined in Adler and Doren with judicious discretion. Perhaps from a macro to a micro view, I must learn the art of first applying the second level of active reading, the inspectional or systematic skimming method. This level will help me process a critical mass of sources (perhaps well over one hundred candidates) down to a manageable volume for further processing. While resources may be discarded, perhaps the mining of the bibliographies will lead to other sources that will fit better within my dissertation research universe. “In building the dissertation plane as I fly,” I liken this to always returning to the posited research question which is the nexus of my research universe. By periodically stepping back from the trees to observe and examine the forest, I should be better able to stay on my working research track.
Perhaps then, I will apply the fourth level of reading, or the syntopical approach. Here I will need to place my sources concerning a common subject about one another. This level of reading seems to tie best into Bayard’s systemization of books and their authors. Where the source content lends itself to greater inclusion within my projected research, I will need to apply the first level of active or elementary reading. Here I will need to focus on what was said (or perhaps stated in the text). I would imagine this level of reading will come into play at key developmental turns in my research work. Finally, for reflection purposes, I will need to apply the third level of analytical reading (i.e., ruminating on the material.) This analytical reading level is where I imagine I will need to stridently prove that the assembled arguments support my points and my case.
 Bayard, Pierre, How to Talk About Books You Haven’ Read (New York, NY: Bloombury, 2007), 10-11.
 Adler, Mortimer J. and Charles Van Doren, How To Read a Book: The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, rev.ed., (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2014) 17-20.