What Books Are You Reading This Summer?

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Network friends! What books are you reading this summer?

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Last month I read a couple books whose themes are sort of connected. 

Dominion is the history of how Christian values came to saturate western culture.  Where did the idea of ‘human rights’ come from?  Or ‘all you need is love’? Or distinctions like ‘secular’ Or of partnership between the sexes in marriage?  Or the notion that every person has the right to ‘life liberty and happiness’?  Ideas and values like these didn’t certainly didn’t come from the Greco-Roman culture into which Christianity was born.  Instead, these values grew up into, and then transformed western culture.  Above all, these notions flow from the power of weakness, the power of the Son of God crucified on a cross of shame.  This book, written by Tom Holland, who is not a Christian, tells how this transformation of values happened across the centuries.   

The other book was Pastor in a Secular Age about how what’s it’s like for pastors to do ministry in the part of the story where we live now, in a secular age.  He also tells the story of pastors across the centuries, and how they ministered.  In our secular culture it’s very easy for people to live with a sense that God is barely, if ever, involved in our lives.  That was not the case centuries ago, when people sensed that God was always involved, and that words, objects, and people had tremendous spiritual power.  Andrew Root describes a way of pastoring that imitates God, who acts as a minister to people in the stories of Scripture, and continues to minister to us in real ways.

 

This month I'm reading the big Chernow biography about Alexander Hamilton, the one the musical is based on.  I'm also reading about cell biology in a book by Nick Lane called Power, Sex, Suicide.  The title is a bit over the top, and refers more accurately to energy production in cells (power), genetic combination in cells (sex), and aging in cells (suicide).   The focus of the book is the role of mitocondria.  All this might sound rather esoteric, and while it's not the easiest to understand everything is explained pretty well.  With cell biology in the news daily due to the pandemic, it's a useful book to read.

Right now I'm reading "The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America" by Thomas King.  A few of us are studying it with a small group, using the Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee's short teaching videos to jump-start our discussion.  Much injustice has been done in the colonizing of our countries, and this learning is one step towards reconciliation and action on my part, and on the part of our church (I hope).  It is a quasi-history written with warmth and wit, honesty and power by master story-teller Thomas King.  I highly recommend it. 

I've also just begun to use Cornelius Plantinga's new book "Morning and Evening Prayers"   His language and word choices, and authenticity help me pray in new ways.  

"Gutter Child" by Canadian Jael Richardson is a powerful first novel, and while it's "fantasy" you will immediately see the parallels to systemic racism in our present world. 

I also really enjoyed "Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah, the comedian born and raised in apartheid South Africa.

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Thanks Ruth Ann!  We're so happy to hear that!

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Just finished "The Cross and the Lynching Tree", by James H. Cone. While Cone's theology and mine aren't an exact match, his conclusions are still poignant. The lynching tree is symbolically, and thereby, theologically, the closest example in modern American times of what Jesus' crucifixion was like. After Pilate declared Him innocent, Jesus was lynched and hung on a tree. Thousands of similar stories played out against blacks in America. The fact that this connection has been overlooked by biblical/theological scholars while black artists from the Harlem Renaissance, Christian and secular, have featured the connection prominently is robbing the American Church of a truer understanding of Christ's sacrifice. Pairing this lack of understanding (unorthodoxy) with the unresolved grotesque injustice of lynching (un-orthopractice) puts much of American Christianity, especially (but not only) in white churches, in a precarious spot in relation to their professed faith. 

Ken Follett's The Evening and the Morning, a historical novel set in a rural area of England in the 900's (A.D.). Found the portrayal of the church of the time both interesting and disturbing. A good read, it is the prequel to Pillars of the Earth.

Dominion, reviewed already on this post.

This is How They Tell Me the World Ends (Nicole Perlroth), a journey into the history and current nature of the cyber-weapons race. Makes one want to change passwords constantly and maybe even abandon the internet.

Live Not by Lies, a manual for Christian Dissidents (Rod Dreher), an amplification of the impressions of those who have lived under totalitarian rule and give a warning to our western society.

The Fix (David Baldacci) a diversion for me as I race through his long list of novels.

Beautiful Outlaw (John Eldridge), an interesting look at Jesus by pointing out the personality of our Lord with an aim to bring the joy of life into our Christian experience.

Next on the list: Voddie Baucham's Fault Lines.

 

Lifting Hearts off the Ground - Johnston & De Vito

Native - Kaitlin B. Curtice

Braiding Sweetgrass - Robin Wall Kimmerer

All of them are great!

 

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There are so many to choose from but these are the ones I am reading or are on the pile to read next :)

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
Book by Kristin Kobes Du Mez

The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth
Book by Beth Allison Barr

The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You've Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended
Book by Joanna Sawatsky, Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, and Sheila Wray Gregoire

Brave Church: Tackling Tough Topics Together
Book by Elizabeth Hagan

A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing
Book by Laura Barringer and Scot McKnight

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Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion
Book by Lamar Hardwick