Hands down, I think I read some of the best books I’ve read in 2015 during June. From a Pulitzer Prize winner that lived up to its reputation to a David McCullough biography of two heroes from my own state to a classic of environmental writing to a significant book on spiritual friendship, I read some great books! In addition, I just finished a book on leisure and spirituality and an older book on the academic vocation that is still quite relevant in upholding the worth of teaching. So with that preview, here’s the list (all links are to the full reviews on this blog):
1. Preaching with Accuracy, Randal E. Pelton. This book contends that to preach with accuracy, one needs to find the big idea in the text, but not only that, to understand that idea in the context of the book, and ultimately all of scripture, which means connecting it to the person and work of Christ.
2. Let Creation Rejoice, Jonathan Moo and Robert S. White. A scientist and a theologian get together to assess both environmental trends and biblical teaching and contend that there are reasons for serious concern, concerted action, and because of the gospel, for hope.
3. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr. Two teenagers, a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, and a German orphan, Werner Pfennig, with a gift for radio electronics, are brought together at the end of World War 2 through underground radio broadcasts by her great-uncle of recordings by her grandfather while a dying German Sergeant Major seeks a treasure in the girl’s possession. This won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
4. Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill. This is an exploration of the place of friendship in the life of the Christian, particularly its importance for those who chose, either because of sexual orientation, or other reasons to live celibate, chaste lives.
5. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson. This classic of environmental writing made the case that pesticides were rendering harm to just about everything in the American landscape, including human beings, except for the pests targeted by these chemical poisons.
6. Grassroots Asian Theology, Simon Chan. In contrast to the growing list of “contextual” Asian theologies out of academic “elitist” settings, Chan explores the Asian theologies implicit in the popular church movements and writers in the Asian context, and particularly the significance of Pentecostal theology.
7. The Wright Brothers, David McCullough. The author traces the Wright brothers successful efforts to develop the first powered aircraft to successfully, fly from their home town bicycle shop in Dayton, to their trials at Kitty Hawk, to their global success. The book also highlights the importance of their sister Katherine throughout their efforts.
8. Words of Life, Timothy Ward. A Reformed treatment of the doctrine of scripture that begins from a study of scripture’s teaching about itself, moves to a Trinitarian theology of scripture and finally explores the classical affirmations about scripture. Another significant aspect of this book is its incorporation of “speech-act” theory which Ward uses to delineate the relationship of God and the Bible.
9. Exiles From Eden, Mark R. Schwehn. Chronicles a shift in the academic vocation from one of formation of the mind and character of students to one of making knowledge, reflecting a change from religiously shaped values to a valuing of formal and procedural rationality, and from an integral sense of self to a multiplicity of “selves.”
10. Private Doubt, Public Dilemma, Keith Thomson. This book, drawn from Thomson’s 2012 Terry Lectures, explores the conflict between religion and science through a look at two men who struggled with this conflict, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Darwin, considering how they handled scientific findings that conflicted with their beliefs and the public aftermath and expresses hope for a different engagement in the future.
11. Leisure and Spirituality, Paul Heintzman. An exploration of the connection between leisure and spirituality from a Christian perspective, considering contemporary and classical concepts of leisure, the perspective on leisure we may gain from the Bible, and the author’s own synthesis and critique of leisure concepts, biblical material and contemporary research.
Best of the Month: I had several choices but will say Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Can See. In my review I wrote, “Doerr is a master painter with words, with all the strokes falling just as they should.”
Quote of the Month: The Buckeye in me can’t resist this one from The Wright Brothers by David McCullough:
“If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” –Wilbur Wright
Right now, I am reading an Agatha Christie mystery, some historical fiction by Sharon Kay Penman, a book on C.S. Lewis’s writing on the spiritual life, and one on walking the labyrinth. A reading group I’m in is going through a collection of Spurgeon sermons that I will finish in late July-early August. Also look for a review of Rachel Held Evans Searching for Sunday in July.
Summer is a time to relax and replenish the well. Books are just one of the things that help with that, but what fun it can be to lose oneself in a good one! I’ve been fortunate to find several.
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