January 23, 2019
I am overjoyed to share with you that the surgery went very well, and that I have returned to normal function.
My doctor is very encouraged by my progress. He did, though, caution me regarding return to full activity too quickly, noting that my type of surgery can be deceptive in the way one feels strong while the internal reality is far more delicate.
You have been stalwart in your prayers and constant service; your loving support has changed me. I have a new testimony of meeting the Lord, even in the valley of the shadow of death. While there are days (and nights) I would never want to repeat, these last three months (I left for Nigeria on November 5) have brought me close—to the Lord, family, and dear friends and to you all as a cathedral and diocese. I can honestly say I am thankful for this trial.
And I am thankful for you.
Bishop Stewart Ruch III
Bishop Stewart was able to spend unusual time reading during his recovery, and below shares both the books and the insights gained by this gift found within trial.
January 22, 2019
Books Read During My Illness and Recovery
One of the many gifts of the last two months of recovery has been the ability to engage books, especially novels. After I got through the pain and misery of the infection and malaria symptoms (and the side effects of the medicines used to treat these conditions,) I could pray, read the Bible, and read novels.
Below, I have compiled a list of the novels I read.
A minor disclaimer—I certainly don’t agree with every element of some of the world views represented in these books. Indeed, that is why I read them.
The Lord of the Rings—I read this masterpiece for the first time in 1993. I was enthralled. I read it again in November, for the third time. And, yes, I was enthralled. I am unable to point to the greatest aspect of this epic—the use of the English language, the manifold and beguiling characterizations, the stalwart plot that always engages, and, of course, the transformative rendition of the Gospel. Ah, yes, the Gospel! Here, as we meet the Truth of Him who is prophet (Gandalf), priest (Frodo) and king (Aragorn), we meet the Gospel again. And it caused me to believe Him who is the good news even more fully. This novel teaches the power of the Resurrection as it depicts the deep sufferings of the Fellowship’s members and, therein, teaches us to understand our sufferings in the great light of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
A Gentleman in Moscow—A wonderful story set in Bolshevik 1920’s Moscow. It is a story with great humor, and a story of one who learns to love. I often laughed out loud.
The Dry—I read this after The Lord of the Rings which isn’t fair to any novel or author. But it was an engaging mystery with some graphic details of a murder that avoided the gratuitous.
There, There—This was the weakest of the novels that I read, but I am glad I did so. It tells the important story of contemporary Native Americans living in the urban setting of Sacramento. I would not recommend it to my high schoolers due to some detailed immoral scenes. But it breaks the heart and stirs the mind. It allows one a glimpse, albeit limited, into a community of Americans who need to be deeply loved and understood.
The Hate U Give—This novel was recommended to me this year by a leader in one of our church plants. Wow— such a moving and well told story. Like There, There it provides a window into an urban culture which, in this case, is African-American. It seeks to tell the story of African-Americans and their relationship with the police. It reveals the injustices that can be there but it does so with the complexity this national dynamic needs. It portrays heartbreak and heroism. Please note the language is very graphic and there is a scene of sexual intimacy between teenagers.
Finally, I am working through two other books.
Prophet of Freedom—The first is the biography of Frederick Douglass entitled Prophet of Freedom by David Blight. Douglass is an utterly captivating figure and his story is such an important one to know as we in white culture seek to strengthen our Gospel bonds with African-Americans and the black church.
Leadership in Turbulent Times—I am deeply enjoying Doris Kearns Goodwin (a Pulitzer Prize winning historian and one of my favorites) most recent book Leadership in Turbulent Times. It provides a colorful and piercing analysis of the leadership of four presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Baines Johnson.