Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Summer (and Fall) Reading
Jonathan Merritt has posted an inviting article about his favorite 10 religious books he has read in the past 10 years. I invite you to share your favorite or most influential 10 religious books. You can read his here: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2013/07/15/top-10-religious-books-ive-read-in-the-last-10-years/
And mine are here:
1) Witness to Hope: Biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel.
The seminal biography of the most influential leader of the 20th century who was, among many things, the conscience of human rights in Eastern Europe as well as a strategic player in the fall of the Soviet Communist bloc. But more importantly he saw around corners better than anyone and provided an antidote to the Western slide into the sexual nihilism we are now facing.
2) Without End: New and Collected Poems by Adam Zagajweski
Outside of the Hebrew Prophets no poet has ever written so powerfully at the intersection of history and transcendence. Zagajweski is our greatest living voice. Along with four or five other Polish poets he has preserved his culture despite the collapse of his country - which is another similarity to the Hebrew Prophets.
3) Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the 21st Century by Harvey Cox
This swashbuckling account of the the Pentecostal movement is no mere chronicling. Cox digs deep at the wellsprings of this revitalizing force within twentieth century Christianity. Its essential reading for understanding Global Christianity in the 21st century.
4) Evangelical Disenchantment: 9 Portraits of Faith and Doubt by David Hempton
If surrender to the Holy Spirit is the primal source of enchanted Christianity, read this book to find out how the Church becomes "disenchanted." The American Church is increasingly in such a state and here is an important reason why. (All the books on this list are antidotes to disenchantment).
5) Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith
This is volume one of a planned trilogy whereby Smith explains how humans at the root are liturgical beings (we worship stuff) and who are constantly and subversively being shaped by cultural and secular liturgies (i.e. the mall, the stadium, etc). The antidote is not first and foremost apologetics but proper worship of the God who became King and who embodies ultimate reality. We become real by worshiping Him.
6) How God Became King by N.T. Wright
I could put two or more books by Wright on this list, but this one in particular places a lot of his earlier and scholarly tomes into the reach of all of us. I have a few quibbles with Wright, but this book inspires worship of Jesus and builds confidence in the goodness of the Good News.
7) Introduction to Phenomenology by Robert Sokolowski
Three of my favorite twentieth century theologians - Pope John Paul II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Dallas Willard - were all trained phenomenologists. This book helped me to be a better student of their writings, to read them with more sympathy and understanding.
8) Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson
I liked Gilead and Home, Robinson's more well known novels but this her first novel is my favorite. The book aroused a longing in me that was difficult to name. Very memorable. Her essays also merit your attention. I'd start with the Death of Adam. She is my favorite living Calvinist writer.
9) Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird
This is an enormously wise guide on "apophatic" prayer - prayer that brings us into the ever present presence of God without the aid of images. At the source of our being is the triune God and prayer is ultimately about coming into contact with the One who is our life.
10) When God Speaks Back by Tanya Luhrmann
This is a fair and insightful study of Charismatic Evangelical Prayer in various Vineyard Churches in North America. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard, was also very influential in the charismatic renewal within Anglicanism. Thus, this is an insightful guide into the prayer life of many of us at Truro. It describes "kataphatic" prayer - prayer that sparks off of interior images.