A little while ago the stack of books I had for review started to get a little out of hand, particularly as I also have books that I want to read which don’t arrive in the review pile. To make matters worse, I have other things to do besides reading, a horribly inconvenient fact of life. Anyway, since I needed a solution to the review backlog, I assembled a crack team of average post-church readers from our merry little band of vagabonds. And I mean “average” in the good way of course, as in, just like the rest of us… except perhaps a little less prone to prattle on and on on a blog. Anyway, I distributed several books and a CD, and reviews are forthcoming. As a preview, I’ve heard good things so far about Sara Miles’ Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion as well as Life After Church: God’s Call to Disillusioned Christians (CBD Link) by Brian Sanders. I’m presently breezing through Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible (CBD Link), which I’ll be giving a strong recommendation when I finish it and write my review. I mean, unless Scot says something I really take exception to in the last quarter of the book, which is rather unlikely at this point.
Meanwhile, my habit of adding to the list of books I want to read is unending, and unyielding. I’m looking at recently-announced shortlists for the Booker and the Giller prizes, and thinking I should perhaps make a point of reading at least one prize-winner or finalist per year, just to make sure I’m reading good literature alongside the theological and brain candy selections I spend time with. And then of course there are the many reviews I come across as I’m reading the various blogs in my feeds, the ones which tip me off to books of interest. Like these:
Ben Witherington’s crack at fiction, The Lazarus Effect looks really interesting. I like the archaeological mystery genre, and this one is about an archaeologist who discovers the ossuary of Lazarus. (He must have died a second time, remember.) BW3’s announcement has some blurbs, including Anne Rice, but I don’t think I’ve seen a full review yet. I keep checking my mailbox, but no review copy yet. Sure, I could read it online, but it’s just not the same.
Dave Tomlinson, author of The Post-Evangelical (CBD Link), has written a new book called Re-Enchanting Christianity, which looks intriguing as described in a thorough review on Open Source Theology. “The book is actually a refreshing combination of theology and practical application, with a close eye to contemporary culture and society – especially its spirituality, which Tomlinson vigorously affirms, and with which he is clearly closely involved. At the same time he thoroughly affirms the expressive potential of the church’s rituals in which he immerses himself as parish priest.” I enjoyed his other book I mentioned, and this one looks good as well.
Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon have something out called Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (CBD Link), which Trevin Wax reviews, saying “Rarely do I come across a book that is so simultaneously upsetting and enjoyable.” As Trevin sumarizes, Hauerwas and Willimon say Christendom has fallen, which is a good thing for true Christianity, providing us with “a unique opportunity to be the church by embodying a social alternative that ‘the world cannot on its own terms know’ (18). Hauerwas and Willimon seek to dismantle the entire edifice of contemporary theology from the time of the Enlightenment. They believe that in large part, the church has been asking the wrong questions: ‘The theological task is not merely the interpretative matter of translating Jesus into modern categories but rather to translate the world to him. The theologian’s job is not to make the gospel credible to the modern world, but to make the world credible to the gospel.’ (24)” The authors, says Trevin, use the Sermon on the Mount to help transform our view of the church’s role in the world.” Well, with a Willimon-Hauerwas pairing, how can you miss?
Speaking of heavyweights, Tim Keller has a new book out, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (CBD Link), which I heard about via Daryl Dash.
J.R. Woodward’s review of Joseph Myers’ Organic Community: Creating a Place Where People Naturally Connect (CBD Link) reminds me I’ve still not read it (yes, shame on me) but I need to get myself a copy and absorb it. This is one of those highly-rated books in “the conversation”, and despite the helpful chart in JR’s review, I probably still need to read it.
Yesterday we were visiting my brother, and he loaned me The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (CBD Link) by Francis Collins — something else that’s had very good reviews (and a favorable comparison here) as well as noted hacker Kevin Mitnick’s book, The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security, which is reported to be very good as well.
So many books, so little time!
Then to top that off, today I found in my mailbox an advance copy of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin, which I’ve placed in the reading pile that already contains Frank Viola’s Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity (CBD Link) and Tom Sine’s The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time (CBD Link), which has been in the pile the longest.
Evidently, not only can I not review everything myself, I probably can’t read everything myself. I do subscribe to the theory that if you stop enjoying a book or find it unhelpful while you’re partway through, you shouldn’t waste your time plowing on, but should move along to another book. I don’t know if that will happen with my last review shipment for The Ooze, but I will say that I put in the CD and couldn’t bring myself to listen to the whole thing. I will try again, though. And I’d still like to get my hands on the The ESV Study Bible (CBD Link).
But hey — read any good books lately? Anything else I should have on my to-read list? (Man, do I need help!) Am I a bibliophile or a bibliomaniac?
Disclosure: the book links above are all affiliate links, which means if you buy through one of these, I get a few percentage points kicked back to me — it costs nothing extra, but I appreciate the extra bit of income. Affiliate links or free review copies of any book *do not* affect my review of them in any way.