When I started this blog I had several goals in mind, one of which was to connect with others who are interested in some of the same topics and issues that I am. I have been able to do that to some extent, but I would like to increase a sense of community and encourage more involvement and interaction. I have written several posts about community recently, and I want to encourage community through my blog as much as possible. Since I love reading, I have decided to share what books I have been reading recently and briefly offer my thoughts on them. I hope that you will share some of what you have been reading in the comments box at the bottom of the post, and tell me why you like it or don’t like it. One of my goals this year is to increase the volume and breadth of what I read. I plan on sharing some of what I have read every couple of months or so.
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The Second Mountain By David Brooks
I have appreciated David Brooks political insight for years on the PBS Newshour and this book lived up to my expectations. The genesis of this book was born out a season of personal struggle in Brooks life. His first marriage ended, he lost many friends as the conservative political landscape shifted, and he began to deeply re-examine his life, “confronting the problems of a twenty-two year old with the mind of a fifty-two year old.” The book has a wide breadth; discussing social and political philosophy, faith and religion, marriage, community, and the importance of commitment. Brooks draws on his background as a journalist to weave many personal stories into the larger fabric of the book. Written to engage the heart as well as the mind, I found this book to be a deeply satisfying read. I can’t say it opened any new horizons to me, but I found that it helped solidify a lot of what I have experienced and thought over the last several years of my life. It definitely helped push me further in the direction of my growing conviction that rebuilding deep community should be one of the highest priorities of the church. I would highly recommend this book.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
I tend to re-read books I really like, and this is probably at least the 10th time I have re-read Tolkein’s classic. Probably my all time favorite fiction book, although C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy is up there. If you aren’t familiar with The Lord of the Rings, basically it is a fantasy story where a hobbit, Frodo Baggins, attempts to save Middle-Earth and all the Elves, Dwarves, Men, and other creatures from domination by the evil Sauron. I won’t attempt to describe any more than that, simply because the overall story is too enormous and multifaceted to explain; but understand that it is that complexity that is a big reason for it’s enduring popularity. What I appreciate about the story, despite it being a fantasy, is that it has so much real world relevance. From the spiritual wisdom and the depictions of the nature of evil to the sense of deep loss at the destruction of the natural world, there is much about this fantasy work that I find illuminating in my ‘real’ life. And how could I be so hasty as to forget the Ents? Some people may fantasize about being Superman, others dream of being Batman, but me? Treebeard is my fantasy hero.
The Lord of the Rings, 3 Volume Hardcover Boxed Set
By J.R.R. Tolkien / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Trilogy of the Lord of the Rings set includes The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.
A Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card
Michael Card is an amazingly gifted man as he has authored over 28 books, recorded over 38 albums (he can play something like 9 different instruments), and hosts an excellent podcast, In the Studio With Michael Card. Despite all this, I feel like he is not as well known as he should be. He regards himself first and foremost as a Bible teacher; with his music, books and podcast simply being different venues to communicate Biblical truth. His book ‘A Sacred Sorrow’, is an exploration of biblical lament. Card views lament as a critical part of worship that contemporary Christianity has lost. He argues that we cannot truly approach God, nor truly repent of our sins, without the language of lament. “Apart from lament, you and I are robbed of our true identity before God.” Card investigates lament through the stories of Job, Jeremiah, David, and Jesus. An excellent writer, Card combines deep scholarship with a very approachable style that is insightful and challenging. What stood out the most to me was the insight that lament was not just for the Job-scale tragedies of life, but something that should be an integral part of our spiritual lives. “Through lament, we regain a sense of awareness, and a language to express the hopeless depth of our sin.” I found this to be a refreshing departure from the current cultural climate that insists that affirmation and acceptance are the cures to all that ails us.
A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament
By Michael Card / NavPress
In A Sacred Sorrow, Card takes you through the Scriptures to show what your worship and prayer life has been missing. From Job to David to Christ, men and women of the Bible understood the importance of pouring one’s heart out to the Father. Examine their stories and expand your definition of worship. Let your pain, questions, and sorrow resound with praise to a God who is moved by your tears. Winner of the 2006 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) award in Christian Life.
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