Friends, I’d like to invite some more community discussion on the newsletter. So, we’ll start by opening up this thread. Share what you’ve been reading, good, bad, and ugly (maybe leave out the ugly!). Everything’s fair game!
-You Are Not Your Own, by Alan Noble. I’d heard good things but it’s exceeding my expectations. Really excellently written and careful, thoughtful reflection on modern society.
-Wonderfully Made, by John Kleinig. This has been a helpful theological anthropology as I’ve prepared to write the Digital Liturgies book.
-Shoutin’ in the Fire, by Dante Stewart. I may say more about this soon (or I may not). It’s certainly provocative.
What are you reading right now?
Just finish Lord of the Rings -- for the first time! -- with my 13 and 11yo boys. We're in a book club, so I'm reading The Wednesday Wars with them next. I'm also reading Uncontrolled Spread by Scott Gottlieb.
- God, Technology, and the Christian Life; by Tony Reinke. Tony is a tech optimist. I am borderline Luddite at times and more of a pessimist. But I've respected Tony's previous works and gleaned a lot. I am up for my mind being changed on things. So far it has been really thought provoking and theologically rich.
- You're Only Human; by Kelly Kapic. I heard him interviewed on a handful of podcasts and was blown away by his insights, counter-cultural thoughts, theological depth, and how it all hit me right where my existential angst is right now. Only a few pages in, but his diagnosis of our current cultural plight (in Christian and non-Christian circles) is dead on.
- The Call of the Wild; by Jack London. I have not read enough classics and need to do more. I have two boys who also need good adventure stories. It was a different kind of writing back then and it was richer and deeper.
- The Little House in the Big Woods; by Laura Ingels Wilder. Another classic I've never read. It was on the bookshelf so I figured, "Why not!?" A bit romanticized, I'm sure. But charming and engaging in its simplicity and showing the beauty of ordinary life and human agency. Also, a REALLY fun and interesting read alongside of Tony Reinke's book.
Great idea, Samuel.
I'm just finishing the companion books "Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew" by Scot McKnight and "Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew" by Hans Boersma. These both walk a fine line between popular and academic approaches, but they are worthwhile for any Christian who desires to think more deeply about scripture and its applications.
I'm also reading "How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kids for Success" by Julie Lythcott-Haims. This isn't written from a particularly Christian worldview, but is a valuable contribution to those of us (like my wife and I) who would like to raise our children to maturity and independence.
This thread is really neat to read. You should do these every so often. Keep up the good work!
- The Splendid & The Vile, since I'm a sucker for anything by Erik Larson. Plus reading about the Blitz seems very timely re: Ukraine.
- The Gospel Comes With A House Key by Butterfield. I'm teaching a Sunday School class later this year on hospitality, so I'm beefing up for that. It reminds me of Platt's Radical, but for hospitality, in that it sort of overstates its case, but it's a helpful rejoinder to our self-centeredness.
- The Warden & The Wolf King by Andrew Peterson. This is our third time through the Wingfeather series as our bedtime reading, and it gets richer (and the boys get more out of it) each time. We're about 3/4 of the way through the book, and I'm getting emotional thinking about where it's going.
- Jesus the Great Philosopher, Pennington: I'm only a few chapters in but I'm really enjoying it. The introduction ties in nicely with your latest article "Looking for Wisdom..." Pennington describes how losing sight of Jesus's teachings as philosophy leads us to seek out other gurus in search of the good life.
- Piranesi, Susanna Clarke: With a unique setting and narrative, this one has stuck with me since finishing a few weeks ago. You're thrown into a world that consists completely of a single great "house" with many halls displaying an almost infinite number of statues. It's perhaps dark in spots but kept me thinking.
The Philosophy of Tolkien by Peter Kreeft. Highly recommended for Tolkien fans and anyone with a philosophical bent. Kreeft is brilliant, with the keenest analytical mind of anyone I've read other than Lewis. The book could serve as a great textbook for an Intro to Philosophy course.
Stuff I'm actually reading:
Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self - which is fantastic, but slow going. Every time I finish a chapter I want to write out notes on all it covered and all the rabbit trails it opened in my mind.
Aggressively Happy - light but encouraging - Joy shines the most when she's telling unexpected personal stories that illustrate the principles she's propounding. But she's about to start talking about how Mr. Collins is actually misunderstood and so I'm bracing myself because I'm sure I'll disagree!
Parliament of Whores - I only knew PJ a very little but I've been wracked with guilt for never reaching out to him again after our brief email/work acquaintance in 2018, given his recent death. Reading this isn't really helping on that score, because I'm coming away even more impressed by his quick wit and snappy prose, but it's impossible to be sad reading him.
Stuff I'm sort of reading:
Robert E. Lee: A Life - I wanted to find out why Kevin de Young got cancelled by a handful of online types. Also I'm a Civil War buff.
A Sailor of Austria - This is the current audiobook, which is a fun and slightly quirky story about a man who fought in various wars in Europe over the course of 100 years. My pastor's wife gave it to me because I like Patrick O'Brian. Not very far into it, but very surreal to read with the backdrop of a European war...
Beauty by Roger Scruton - Started this in order to have some intellectual backing for an article I was writing. Very good, thought-provoking stuff, need to pick it up again. I love how he pushes back against the assumption that beauty should lie totally in the eye of the beholder.
Never Split the Difference - Reading for work, in order to give advice to some authors writing a (hopefully fantastic) Marine leadership book. It's really good, interesting stuff about negotiation and conversation. Asking open-ended questions keeps an opponent off balance...
Nice idea. I do miss reading the comments from the blog, so the community element is nice to incorporate every once in a while. I just finished Aimee Byrd’s newest book The Sexual Reformation: Restoring the Dignity and Personhood of Man and Woman.
-The Christian Faith, Michael Horton
-Salvation Belongs to the Lord, John Frame
-Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
I just finished the Shallows, and it's made a huge difference in how I teach my class (middle school Bible teacher at a classical Christian school)
I'm currently reading John Frame's History of Western Philosophy & Theology.
The Sickness Unto Death - Soren Kierkegaard
The Four Loves, by CS Lewis. I read this in college about 18 years ago and thought it would be beneficial to read with fresh (and hopefully wiser) eyes. I'm so glad I did, because Lewis' non-fiction works provide new insights on every page.
The Crown and the Fire, by NT Wright. I've been slow to dip into Wright's writing due to the (often appropriate!) pushback on some of his stuff on Paul, but I was really blessed by his "Following Jesus" and thought I'd give another one a try. I've found that I do disagree with some of his ideas, but when it's right, man, it's so good. In fact, he reminds me of Lewis in that way.
- The Shallows by Nicholas Carr thanks to your recommendation.
- Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Rereading this one along with a young man I’m discipling.
- “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury (Do you see a theme yet?)
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas
- Pride and Prejudice (Will be my first read.)
- About to start “Consience” by Naselli and Crowley
- Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson | Slow-paced, tragic story of a family featuring keen meditations on grief, loss, and ordinary existence.
- Teaching for Spiritual Transformation: A Patristic Approach to Christian Education in a Convulsed Age by Kyle R. Hughes | I'm a history teacher at a Christian school in Denver. I'm sold on the marriage of liberal arts education and the broader Christian reformed tradition, but this book helps unveil how the Patristics might be of service to this particular moment in education.
- Making Good Progress? The Future of Assessment for Learning by Daisy Christodoulou | As a teacher, I sometimes dabble in the contemporary conversation about key education topics, like assessment. In my view, this book is probably the most helpful, concise, and clear treatment of a highly contested topic. It also generally blasts project-based learning, which tends to cause a few tiffs in the education world.
Participation in God: A Thomistic Study in Christian Metaphysics, by Andrew Davison. It's excellent and I'd love to see a Reformed review of it (beyond Scott Swain's endorsement), and see more of its implications for, e.g., hermeneutics fleshed out.
I found the chapters on the Good, the True and the Beautiful at the end a particular joy to read.
Oh, and I'm just getting to the end of The Hobbit with my sons. It's been such a pleasure to read it with them.
- Strangely Bright, by Joe Rigney. This is a good refresher course after reading The Things of Earth a few years ago. His "comparative approach vs. integrated approach" is an enormously helpful hermeneutic for interpreting numerous Scriptural principles and commands.
- George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans, by Janet & Geoff Benge. Our family has found the "Christian Heroes: Then & Now" series to be engaging and excellently written. This volume is no exception.
- The Last Battle, by C. S. Lewis. Our young children have heard all of the Narnia chronicles except this one. We saved it for last because of its more mature content.
- Original Syn, by Beth Kander. This is the first and only time I have purchased a book based solely on the title. The world building for this sci-fi story is intriguing, but the book is getting more self-indulgent as it progresses. I'm losing patience with it, but I'm still going to finish it.
- Fault Lines, by Voddie Baucham. I want to address both the strengths and weaknesses of Baucham's approach with an informed opinion, so I'm (slowly) working through this book.
- Origin, by Dan Brown. There is, to be sure, plenty to critique about Dan Brown, including his palpable hubris and staunchly anti-religious bent. Even so, he knows how to craft a genuinely engrossing thriller. He’s found a formula that really works, weaving together puzzles and clues and revelations into a sensational tapestry that is pure fun to behold. Brown is something of a guilty pleasure for me.
I need to read You Are Not Your Own!! Putting it on my list for later this year. I love looking through everything folks are reading and adding to my (never-ending) list of books to read :).
Right now, I'm in the middle of:
"Great Lent," by Fr. Alexander Schmemann. Super powerful reflections on the services, hymns, and purpose of Great Lent. Really beautiful!
"Thirty Steps to Heaven: The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life," by Vassilios Papavassiliou. Reading this with a small lenten book group at church. Pretty sure I'll never be able to comprehend The Ladder of Divine Ascent, so I'm enjoying this regular people version :).
"Mother Maria Skobstova: Essential Writings." Mother Maria is often referred to as the Orthodox Dorothy Day and it's 100% true! Love learning more about her life, work, and passion for seeing Christ in each person.
"The Thursday Murder Club," by Richard Osman. Super fun murder mystery novel set in a retirement village. Pure fun.
The Cross of Christ by John R. W. Stott (for the lenten season)
I just finished The Hike by Drew Magary
I'm currently reading Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks and The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte (because I'm basically a 10 year old)
I just finished "A Burning in My Bones," biography of Eugene Peterson. I found it all fascinating, some a bit puzzling, some a bit maddening...but all honest and thorough. I know he is more than a bit controversial to some, but I enjoyed the read.
Becoming Elisabeth Elliot - Ellen Vaughan
Asian Christian Theology - ed. Timoteo Gener (skipping around to whatever section sounds interesting at the time!)
If I can ever finish a book.... Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices by Thomas Brooks.
Expository Exultation - John Piper
Gentle and Lowly - Dane Ortlund (second time through)
This is a great idea, brother. Here are some of the titles I am currently working through:
Thomas Schreiner, ‘Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification’, The Five Solas Series
Gerhard O. Forde, ‘Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life’
Andrew Solomon, ‘The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression’
Lewis Allen, ‘The Preacher’s Catechism’
Paul Tripp, ‘Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church’
Recently I finished TThe Maker Versus the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and Economics by Jerry Bowyer, excellent read. Next up I am reading Diapers, Dishes & Dominion: How Christian Housewives Can Change the World by Leah D. Smith
A combination of audio listens, slow/rotating reads of physical books, and a read-aloud with my husband:
- East of Eden (Steinbeck)
- The Complete Stories (Flannery O'Connor)
- Laurus (Eugene Vodolazkin)
- The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer)
- Raising Boys by Design (Gregory L. Jantz, Michael Gurian)
- The Rights of Women (Erika Bachiochi)
The Ongoing Role of Apostles in Missions by Don Dent (I disagree with the argument, but is pastorally quite prevalent an issue for me)
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (scifi book depicting the experience of a civilization on the edge of an empire being absorbed into it, losing their cultural distinctives. Interesting premise, not sure about the actual plot yet)
A wonderful series of books on ancient civilizations by different authors
Just finished Kapic's new release You're Only Human. Also reading Invitation to a Journey by Muholland.
I completely forgot that I am also reading "Killers of the Flower Moon" for a men's book club. Reading on my Kindle so that might be why I forgot. It's fascinating and wonderfully paced so far.
Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self - Haven't gotten very far with it, but it was my turn to pick for book club and it's been on my list for a while.
Emma by Jane Austen - Re-reading. This one's been a favorite of mine for many years.
Concise Theology by J.I. Packer - Absolutely loving this one! In his introduction, Packer reminds his readers that the Lord said "Feed my sheep" not "Feed my giraffes." Without diminishing the glory and depth of his topic, Packer communicates beautiful truths in an incredibly accessible way.
Thanks for this thread
- It's Good to Be a Man by Foster
- Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan
I think you discovered the secret of "how can I get people to comment on my post" :)
What I'm reading:
1) "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" by Fee and Stuart. Going through it (again) but now with a guy I'm discipling.
2) "Praying with Paul" by D.A. Carson. Just started, but finding this may ruin all other books on prayer. Really rich and recalibrating.
3) "A Raisin in the Sun" a play by Lorraine Hansberry. I am fascinated by early/mid-20th Century African American authors & playwrights and their use of art/literature to continue the push for racial equality - even 100 years after the Civil War.
The Orwell Reader: Fiction, Essays, and Reportage -- Unexpectedly stumbled across this at the local library a few days ago (trip was for the kids to get some fresh reading material) and noticed it contains the "Politics and the English Language" essay I've seen pop up over the last several years. The snippets I've read have been thought-provoking, so wanted to give it a full read. Might find some other good ones in this reader as well.
A Severe Mercy; Vanauken -- Read this little gem around 20 years ago, not long after I came to faith and was thereby introduced to Lewis, which in typical Lewis fashion rocked my world. Excited to get back to it now as a husband and father, and 20+ years older in the faith.
Be Thou My Vision; Gibson -- This one will be close by for the next several years. I've been basically reading and compiling several different sources during private worship with greater emphasis on some catechisms for years now. This wraps it all up in a gift that is far, far greater than it's packaging.
God, Technology, and the Christian Life; Reinke -- About to dive into this one. I've been a software/data engineer for years and years and am fascinated by the industry as a whole as well as the haunts of common grace in the particulars of this kind of work. I suspect Reinke's observations will not disappoint.
Also, for what it's worth, and it seems others here may concur -- you might consider making this particular open thread a regular feature of your newsletter (say quarterly or twice a year). To move from mere titles and authors to actual interaction with these texts, to share the impact and import of books in this way is refreshing.
Thank you Samuel for doing this and thereby being exposed to different books to read!
The Warmth of Other Suns - Isabel Wilkerson
It is the the story of America’s great migration from the south to the north starting in the early 1900’s. It was a National bestseller and highly awarded.
I am about a quarter of the way through it and it has thus far lived up to its top billing.
Eye opening to the hardships that African Americans had to face.
Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey, great critique of contemporary dualistic view of spiritual/mental and the physical. Pearcey bases her analysis on Schaeffer’s two stories from The God Who Is There.
The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing by Jonathan Pennington, so far a really interesting and novel way to understand the Sermon on the Mount via Matthew’s use of Greco-roman and second temple Judaism’s language of pursuing the good life.
Natural Law Liberalism by Christopher Wolfe, just started it.
Letters to a Birmingham Jail edited by Brian Loritts, just finished reading the Letter from a Birmingham Jail so I haven’t gotten into the contributors pieces yet.
And I have read several of the books below!