I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon. Every time I review a book related to the Apostle Paul, my view count goes up. What is it about Paul? At any rate, this was true with a book I reviewed this month, Paul Behaving Badly. As good as this book was, there were several that I would have loved to see more people look at including Dorothy Day’s memoir, The Long Loneliness and Deepening the Colors, a wonderful book about seeing our place in God’s story. Reading Your Life’s Story came at this same idea through the lens of spiritual mentoring. In recent months, I’ve read several narratives of LGBT persons. The most recent was Melissa Fisher’s Way of Hope, which features a church she characterizes as “neither condemning nor condoning.” Intriguing. A couple of the books I was really excited about were A Grander Story, and Matthew Levering’s Engaging the Doctrine of Creation, theological writing at its best. I reviewed a couple of thoughtful books about presence, one of which seems to flow well from the other: Life in God’s Presence leads to Faithful Presence. On other topics, I reviewed a book on public schools, a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Walter Lord’s The Miracle of Dunkirk.
So here are the books in the order they were reviewed. As always, the title links to the publisher page for the book, and at the end of the summary, you will find a link to the full review.
The Long Loneliness, Dorothy Day. New York: HarperCollins, 1952. A memoir of the life of Dorothy Day up to 1952, describing her search for God and a meaningful life, her conversion to Catholicism, her catalytic friendship with Peter Maurin, and the early years of the Catholic Worker movement. (Review)
Deepening the Colors, Syd Hielema. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2014. An exploration of the question of “what is my place in God’s world?” that proposes that as we live into our calling to pursue God’s kingdom, our vision of our lives and the world grows ever deeper and richer. (Review)
Reading Your Life’s Story, Keith R. Anderson. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016. An exploration of the work of spiritual mentoring using the idea of attentive listening to the Holy Spirit and a person to “read” one’s life, with practical instruction on the mentoring process from beginning to ending. (Review)
Eleanor of Aquitane, Alison Weir. New York: Ballantine Books, 1999. A highly readable account of the life of Eleanor of Aquitane, married to two different kings, mother of ten children, and “a tough, capable, and resourceful woman who travelled widely throughout the known world and was acquainted with most of the great figures of the age.” (Review)
The Miracle of Dunkirk, Walter Lord. New York: Open Road Media, 2017. A historical account of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of 338,000 Allied troops as the German blitzkrieg shattered Allied defenses and occupied France. (Review)
These Schools Belong to You and Me, Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi. Boston: Beacon Press, 2017. An argument for public schools where democracy is not simply taught but practiced by including teachers, students, and parents, as well as administrators as active participants in the educational process. (Review)
Encountering God through Expository Preaching, Jim Scott Orrick, Brian Payne, Ryan Fullerton. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2017. An argument for expository preaching as the means by which the people of God encounter the living God through the word of God, and an explication of the practices in preparation that lead to this in experience through the preached word. (Review)
Paul Behaving Badly, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016. Takes on the charge that there are many problems with Paul, among which that he is racist, pro-slavery, anti-woman, homophobic, and hypocritical, and suggests that while he behaves badly, it may be in different ways than we might think. (Review)
Life in the Presence of God, Kenneth Boa. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2017. A contemporary discussion of the idea that a vital Christian life is one increasingly lived on a moment by moment basis in the presence of God. (Review)
The Way of Hope, Melissa Fisher. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017. Through a narrative of her own experiences, the author proposes ways in which the church might offer hope to LGBT persons without condemning or condoning. (Review)
Engaging the Doctrine of Creation, Matthew Levering. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017. A systematic theology of the doctrine of creation beginning with the nature of the Creator, the significance of creatures, the meaning of the image of God, the mandate to be fruitful and multiply, original sin, and atonement that engages with scripture, contemporary sources, and most significantly, the theology of Thomas Aquinas. (Review)
Faithful Presence, David E. Fitch. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press (Praxis), 2016. Expands upon the idea of “faithful presence,” exploring how this may be practiced by the church in fulfillment of her mission through seven foundational disciplines practiced in three different settings or “circles.” (Review)
A Grander Story, Rick Hove and Heather Holleman. Orlando: Cru Press, 2017. An invitation to professors and graduate students who are Christians to live for the grand vision of God’s story in their life in higher education, including narratives of six professors, and practical recommendations. (Review)
Best book: I thought Matthew Levering’s Engaging the Doctrine of Creation, as I write in the review,
“a sterling example of excellent theological writing. Levering is not content to engage the writers of the last ten or fifty years, but roots his work in biblical teaching, the work of the church fathers, as well as major teachers of the church like Thomas Aquinas.”
Best quote: I loved the confluence of the idea of story and the metaphor in this passage from Keith R. Anderson’s, Reading Your Life’s Story:
“We live in what we have built. The stories of our life become a house we inhabit with its
limitations, eccentricities, mistakes, hidden meanings, and crafted beauty.”
What I’m reading: I’ve spent most of November reading Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country, a fictionalized rendering, or rather three renderings, of the life of Edgar “Bloody” Watson, a historical figure in South Florida. It is a fascinating exploration of who was Watson, really. I’m about midway through a biography of Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who parlayed buy-out funds from the startup of PayPal to launch both SpaceX and Tesla. Andrew LePeau’s Mark Through Old Testament Eyes not only helps us see the Old Testament background in just about every verse of Mark, but also begin to see how Mark has structured his narrative. Living Wisely with the Church Fathers is a book I’ve just begun and explores the wisdom of the Fathers for how we might both live, and die, well as followers of Christ. Other books I will be starting soon include one of the Ice Bucket Challenge, whose founder died yesterday of ALS, and Choosing Donald Trump by Stephen Mansfield, an exploration of why Christian conservatives supported him.
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