Best Book On Scripture ( Scriptural Study)
The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Birth --Borg and Crossan
I'll begin with my most recent read on the list. This book sheds a fantastic light on a parabolic understanding of the Christmas narratives. If you are wondering, no they don't force you believe that the virgin birth is historically inaccurate as a prerequisite to reading. They are more concerned about the questions, "what did these very distinct narratives (Matt. & Luke) mean in the early ch.?" and in light of that, "what do they mean for us today?" The parabolic approach does not diminish the stories, but in fact, reclaims much of what has been lost throughout the many years of watering-down the narratives. Borg and Crossan help the reader to add not only new understandings of these beloved stories, but also a greater depth to some of the understandings that we already have. A fantastic read!
Book That Most Touched My SoulIlluminations: Expressions of the Personal Spiritual Experience --Mark L. Tompkins and Jennifer McMahon
This book is filled with pictures, essays, poems, paintings, and conversations that are beautiful! They touch on all walks of the spiritual life, not just Christianity. Every time I open this deceptively thin book, I find myself somewhere within the depths of another person's words/images. You will def. be seeing more from this book on here in later posts!
Biggest Wake-Up Call
The World Without Us --Alan Weisman
This was a fantastic book that I listened to on my ipod! Weisman has done a lot of research and had a lot of conversations with experts in their field about what would (theoretically) happen if mankind were to just vanish tomorrow. His attention to imaginative detail explores how nature would reclaim the world from which we have stolen and exploited for our own selfish gain. It explores the relationship between mankind and nature, and asks questions like, "to what extent is what we've done to our world irreversible?". A great book that haunts you every time you are outside. A great premise for a discussion about our role in this world!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--J. K. Rowling
I think we all know why I was sad to put this one on the shelf. The end of a great epic is never a happy thing! Well done JK, well done!
Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century: The Classic That Woke Up the Church --Walter Rauschenbusch
This is a new look at a classic! Bringing Rauschenbusch's great work back into light of the new century, along with essays from a who's who of religious leaders. The revolutionary call of the original publication (that a Christian's responsibility was to bring the Kingdom of God to earth) is somehow still revolutionary today. As much as the Social Gospel Movement was needed in Raushenbusch's time, the call somehow seems even more urgent today as our world becomes smaller and smaller. Poverty, oppression, hunger, corruption... all of these things we can easily see on a daily basis. The responsibility of Christianity to this world is something that has been seemingly ignored by religious authorities in the past. Perhaps now the call will not only be heard, but will be taken seriously. A beautiful and compelling classic, especially when combined with the voices of those actively seeking these ideals today!
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier --Ishmael Beah
This book is simply heart-wrenching! The story of Ishmael is one of pain, suffering, and yet somewhere in there we can find hope! An amazing tale of a child abducted into the hell of war in his native country, Sierra Leone. The story of his descent into this horrible life against his will, his salvation by UNICEF, and ascent from the depths towards reclaiming his life is nothing less than inspiring. This is a story that no child should ever have to tale. Yet this book brings us face-to-face with the harsh reality of what is going on in some of these countries. Beah not only keeps us from ignoring these problems, he compels us to find out more and find ways to get involved! Thankfully, his story is much more hopeful than many others and because of that, will bring awareness and hope to other children in these situations. This is nothing short of a reality check to those who want to ignore the troubles of this world, as well as a face, name, and story to put with them. There are some truly funny parts in this book, which makes me admire Beah even more; that he was able to retain his sense of humor after the atrocities that he both faced and was forced to commit. A read you won't regret. One of the 3 books my wife read this year, she would say the true superlative should be, "most likely to make you want to adopt an African child to save it from the possible hell in which they may be forced to live!" That was a little more wordy than mine, but so very true!
Best Book I Reread
Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally -- Marcus Borg
I read this book back in my college or Div. School days, but in my mountain of reading, I didn't feel like I gave it the attention it deserved. So I finally got back around to rereading it, and well...almost every page is marked, folded and highlighted! A fantastic book that teaches, IMHO, a better and more historically accurate way in which to read, study and interpret the scriptures. As always, Borg makes fantastic points, and doesn't just give you the method and leave you on your own, but walks with you through the major movements of both the Hebrew and Christian texts. This is on my "must read" suggestion list! This book is both challenging for those who have never questioned the literal understanding/ interpretation that most of us grew up with, and eye-opening! The freedom this gives, not only to the reader, but also to the scripture itself, is wonderful. God is allowed to speak anew to us through Christianity's sacred text.
This category was a toss-up. Both graph. novels are epic stories that are far more than comics. They explore psychology, power, tragedy, responsibility, love, friendship, and humanity in general! If you're into graphic novels, and even if you aren't, you might be surprised by both of these fantastic reads!
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal --Christopher Moore
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I would stay up at night laughing my head off. The book is the fictional story of Jesus' "lost years" growing up according to his best friend, Biff. There are pages and quotes I have underlined (which rarely I do to a fictional book), and the premise of the story is far deeper than being a light-hearted read. The underlying theme is the journey young Joshua goes on in order to figure out what it means to be God's son in the world. Not only do I respect this book because of it's witty nature, but I actually connect with it on a somewhat spiritual level. The idea that Christ had to embark on a journey to figure out what it was God wanted him to do is not unbiblical! Many could (and would) argue that there is evidence that Christ did not know from the beginning that his journey would include the cross or even the inclusion of the gentiles. I connect with the humanity of Christ that moore shows off so well. This is not a book for anyone without a sense of humor when it comes to religion, Jesus, or...well...anything! It is comforting to think that perhaps Christ didn't always have all the "answers" when he wanted them either! If he was fully human, why not have a journey like we all do in life! Maybe the physical journey is fiction, but perhaps the personal/spiritual journey is not! By far Moore's best book!
(BTW... a leather-bound ed. was recently published which makes it look like a Bible/testament/gospel, adding even more to the humor of the book!)
Book That Caused The Most Strife
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception--John MacArthur
I read this book knowing I would disagree with it, but I had so many people coming to me frustrated with it, and not really knowing why. I didn't think it fair to address the book without fully reading it first! I came to it with an open mind, sincerely wanting to learn something from this book. Instead, I found little-to-nothing that I agreed with Dr. MacArthur on. First of all, the title. Very culturally sensitive (sarcasm)! The idea that Christians are at war to reclaim/uphold "THE Truth" sounds very crusading. I was watching "The Kingdom of Heaven" and was struck by a statement that one person says about the crusades: "This is not war of men, but a war of gods". It really bothers me when someone declares war in the name of God (be it verbally or actually) and the people that they declare war on are their fellow brothers and sisters that simply have a different set of beliefs. My personal opinion is that MacArthur's book is founded on a completely misinformed understanding of postmodern Christianity, but I realize it truly is hard for a modern person to completely understand the postmodern mindset. No wonder we can't come together as Christian brothers and sisters and do great things in this world! We're too busy being at war! A subjective war where the "winner" gets to claim that they are 100% right! I personally don't think ANYBODY has the patent on "Truth" or being 100% "Right". Thus why this book has frustrated so many! Truly, I should write John a thank-you note! Because of him, I have been able to help a bunch of people explore their own emergence into postmodernity. This was the "proverbial straw" for them that led them to ask and explore what they had been thinking and wondering secretly for a long time! I was glad I was there to be a part of that! This book has started some great discussions, and formed some great relationships! So Dr. MacArthur, if you somehow stumble onto my blog, please accept my sincerest thanks, as well as a, "we'll just agree to disagree". :) (and no I did not mean that sarcastically...it is genuine!).
Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith --Rob Bell
It's no coincidence I put this after MacArthur's book. First, John mentions Bell and his wife in his book. Second, this is one of the first books I would send a person "emerging" (or more accurately, recognizing their already begun emergence) in their faith. This is probably why I bought so many copies! I'm just ashamed the Bell didn't show up on my radar until early this past year! I did not make the same mistake with Sex God ! Bell has something that is very hard to find. A simplistic language that people can relate to. He doesn't have to use any of the Pomo tag words, he just speaks and it is always beautiful. Even if one doesn't agree with Bell's theology, there is a lot that people, esp. pastors, can learn from this man! It's not that this is the best book ever written, but it speaks to people where they are, and so many people have responded well to this book, that I find myself thinking of more and more people that I think would enjoy it! It has provided hours of great conversations between myself and others, and I am sure that it will continue to be a relevant book both in my life, and the lives of those I come into contact with! Thanks Rob for your wonderful gift!
The Book I'm Most Ashamed I Read All The Way Through
Death Star (Star Wars)--Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
Ok, so yes, I did read this all the way through. Being the Star Wars fan that I am, I thought it was an interesting concept: the story of the Death Star's construction up until its destruction. Yeah, not so much. But I saw it through to the end! I'm nothing if not dedicated...but those are nights I can't get back:)
I hope that you've enjoyed this 2007 superlative booklist. I love sharing with others things that I've read, and love to hear what you might suggest in return! Looking forward to a new year with LOTS of books backed up to read, and I'm sure a lot more will come out that will find their own special place on my shelves!
peace and love!