Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Spring 2012 Reading List

We're into June and that means its time for a reading list update.  If you've been following the blog at all you know I've been on roll reading books concerning Christianity, the church, theology etc. etc.  For those of you used to a little more diversity in my recommendations (I apologize for no Stephen King this time) but I am certainly tacking in a particular direction right now.  I went so long without reading any books on Christianity that I think I'm making up for it now or be the judge.

The following books I have read, or am in the process of reading, since February this year:

Beauty will Save the World by Brian Zahnd.

Zahnd suggests that we need to focus a little less on apologetics and ethics in our Christianity and let the natural beauty inherent in the faith rise again to the surface.  Also has an amazing examination of the Sermon on the Mount which I unashamedly stole and used as a basis for a sermon a couple months ago.  This book lit the fire in me that resulted in a flurry of reading that follows.

Insurrection: To Believe is Human, to Doubt, Divine by Peter Rollins

Like Zahnd above, I first saw Peter Rollins when interviewed on The Harvest Show. (So blame them :)  Rollins writes in Insurrection that for many Christians, God is not part of the natural narrative of our lives but is wheeled out when needed to address a problem or or help in some manner.  Instead,  those that claim the Resurrection of Christ must be willing to take part in an Insurrection that challenges not only cultural foundations but the church's.  Normally I shun books like this because the writers tend to be burnt out and angry.  Rollins instead is both humble and gracious even as he is challenging the very pillars of your beliefs.  And he will challenge them....this book is not for the faint of heart.

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

I must admit for a while I tended to avoid Rob Bell.  I was enjoying his NOOMA videos back around 2007 but when Mark Driscoll said he was "off" I kinda took his word for it.  Then later I realized Driscoll is a bit "off", and for that matter so was I. (aren't we all really?) So when my friend recommended Velvet Elvis, I gave it a shot.  Loved it!  It's a fast read and gives a new angle to look at in regards to our faith.  I especially enjoy his knowledge of Jewish history and putting the New Testament in context of its Jewish roots.

Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince

I must admit I'd seen this guy on the christian channels before...and kept right on switching the channel.  My friend Paul Ellis though said I needed to give Prince a listen...and he was right! Then he bought me the book Destined to Reign and it has been like a devotional book for Tammy and I.  I don't read this book straight through so much as I read little bites and let it soak in.  Great insights into just how much God loves you!


Sacrilege by Hugh Halter

I actually met this guy in Denver Colorado years ago where his missional church Adullam is located.  Just finished this book and it is a great encouragement and practical guide for people wanting to make their church integrated with the community.  Oh, and as the title suggests, he smashes a few sacred cows along the way.

How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins

Yes, my second Rollins book in as many months.  In this earlier book Rollins outlines some of the services they do in a bar called The Menagerie for his faith group IKON. I read one of the services outloud to Tammy on the balcony last Sat. morning and she got so depressed  (they were trying to recreate the dark time of the soul the Apostles must have felt on the Sat. night between the Crucifixion and Resurrection) I thought she was going to jump...she didn't. Alright, that's an exaggeration; but it really affected it was meant to.  OK, some of what they do at these meetings even offended me...oh yeah! :)  Loved it!

So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobson & Dave Coleman

I never got around to reading The Shack but this is by the same authors.  Unlike the other books on this list,  this book is a novel.  Jake, is a pastor who meets the Apostle John in a modern day context.  Through a series of conversations Jake's understanding of what church is supposed to be, and what it has become are made front and center.  This book will resonate for anyone who has been a Christian for more than 5 years.  Since I've been a Christian for 37 years it REALLY resonates with me.  Oh, and you can get this book for free here

How God Became King by N.T Wright

Have downloaded the sample of this on my Kindle and am sure I will read the whole thing shortly.  I really enjoy Wright's take on the kingship of Christ and know it is a message the church at large needs to hear.

Well, that's what I've been reading the last 3-4 months...How about you?


Andrew said...

I have always enjoyed NT Wright as a speaker, but the books not so much. That is funny that you dismissed Bell based on Driscoll's take - to quote Banner "His mind's like a bag of cats. You can smell crazy on him."

The Zahnd book sounds interesting. One of the things I think that attracts Westerners to the Eastern religions is beauty and serenity. Sounds like he is on a good path.

Steve H. said...

The talk that I heard Driscoll give was pretty good and he raised some points, but his judgement subsequently has proved suspect. My bad...

Yes, you would like Zahnd Andrew but I think you may like Rollins even more

Michael said...

Love your summaries and you have given me a couple of great ideas for my Amazon wish list.

I haven't read a book in a year (sort of an intellectual cocoon after major life changes). Ready to start again and my first will be "What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite".

Then I'm on to a couple of yours!

Bob said...

I keep track of books I read on my Shelfari shelf on my home blog page.

I'll recommend a couple of fiction books with Christian themes: Distant Land of My Father and City of Tranquil Light. Both by a female author named Bo Caldwell.

I generally don't get into Christian fiction and these aren't officially that genre, but the theme is definitely there, especially in the second one. Both are set in China so they might be particularly compelling for you.

Thanks for the great reviews!

Steve H. said...

Thanks for the comments Michael and Bob! Look forward to hearing what you think