It’s happened again! I’ve read my way through another month and it’s time for my “Month in Reviews” post. This month included biographies of a baseball player and a World War 1 flying ace. I read a contemporary legal thriller and a classic Agatha Christie mystery. It included sermons from the Nineteenth Century and Dallas Willard’s last conference from just a couple years back. There was Joseph Conrad’s classic exploration of betrayal and some good contemporary theology on multifaith conversation, politics, and the influence of the Majority World church on Western Christianity. So here’s the list from July, with links to the full review post:
1. Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad. Conrad does for the crime of betrayal what Doestoevsky does for murder as he follows the wrestlings of a young student who betrays a comrade to save his own future in pre-revolutionary Russia.
2. Enduring Courage by John F. Ross. Ross tells the life story of a Columbus hometown hero, Eddie Rickenbacker. We trace his hardscrabble youth in the Brewery district of Columbus to his involvements in early auto-racing, and then flight, tracing his journey to becoming a World War 1 flying ace. The climax of the book is how he contributed to the survival for three weeks of an air crew on a secret World War 2 mission to MacArthur, that crashed in the Pacific.
3. The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-chan Rah. This is a challenging account of the growing influence of Majority World Christians not only in their own countries but in the West and how critical it will be to listen to and welcome that influence for the Western Church to break free of its cultural captivities.
4. Supreme Justice by Max Allan Collins. This legal thriller begins with the murder of a Supreme Court justice in a DC restaurant. But it doesn’t end there. A second justice is killed and it becomes clear there is an assassination plot afoot to change the makeup of the court. Joe Reeder, a retired Secret Service agent who took a bullet for an unpopular president, is called into an investigation where it becomes quickly apparent that this was an inside job and that he can trust no one.
5. Long Shot by Mike Piazza. This is an “as told to” autobiography by Mike Piazza, who describes the challenges he had to overcome to make the Major Leagues and become the player with the most home runs for a catcher and a .308 lifetime batting average.
6. The First and the Last by George R. Sumner. Summer focuses on how Christians might constructively engage a pluralistic context without becoming religious relativists through a strategy of holding to “the final primacy” of Christ.
7. Living in Christ’s Presence by Dallas Willard. This is essentially the transcript of a conference in which Dallas Willard and John Ortberg give alternating talks that explore what might be called “the essential Dallas Willard”. A highlight comes with the interaction between these two thoughtful Christian leaders at the end of nearly every presentation.
8. People-Pleasing Pastors by Charles Stone. People-pleasing is especially a peril of pastoral ministry but Stone helps any of us recognize these tendencies in our lives and proposes a seven step strategy summarized by the acronym PRESENT to counteract these tendencies.
9. After the Funeral by Agatha Christie. Richard Abernethy has been ill and died, rather sooner than expected, in his sleep. When the family gathers for the reading of the will after the funeral, oddball niece Cora questions, “but he was murdered, wasn’t he?” only to be murdered herself the next day with a hatchet. Hercule Poirot is called in to investigate whether the murders are connected only to discover a family where all are suspects.
10. The Good of Politics by James W. Skillen. In an age where people question whether any good can come of politics, Skillen surveys the Bible, church history, and the contemporary scene and articulates the conviction that we are political creatures from creation, not simply post-fall, and that believing people can participate in the process and have a redemptive influence.
11. The World’s Great Sermons, Vol. 4 by various. This is part of a digitized ten volume collection that a reading group I’m in chose to get a sample of Nineteenth Century preaching in both the U.S. and the U.K. This volume included examples of Lyman Beecher, William Ellery Channing (an early Unitarian), Horace Bushnell, Alexander Campbell and others that typify the preaching landscape of this era.
What’s coming in August? Look for reviews of Rich Nathan and Insoo Kim’s Both-And and Thomas Piketty’s, Capital, along with reviews of a Wallace Stegner novel, a book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a treatment on the theme of the preaching of the doctrine of hell in antebellum America. Don’t want to miss these reviews? Sign up to follow the blog! And let me know what some of your favorite summer reads are for this summer.