Subversive Bookshelf

The Subversive Bookshelf

Understanding my Bookshelf

To begin, you must understand that my personal library exceeds 1,500 volumes — I’m a bit of a bookworm, or at least I was. What’s listed on the bookshelf here are the just ones that make it from my study to my “current” pile – stuff I’m currently reading, ones I’ve read before and pulled off the shelf for some reason, or ones I haven’t read but that I want to. This latter category may include books that have been in my library for years. Understand as well that I don’t always accomplish the task of reading everything I intend to read. I used to get close to that goal, but now it isn’t even a contest. There may be method or purpose to the mix of what’s on the shelf, but I don’t guarantee it.

A New Kind of Christian

Brian McLaren

A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey “A tale of spiritual renewal for those who thought they had given up on church” — the introduction alone is more insightful than many books I’ve read. This one is kind of an “emerging church classic” I guess; it was recommended to me as a kind of “everyone should read at least this one” sort of book, and I would echo the recommendation for anyone just starting to consider what the whole thing is all about. Of course, this is part one of a trilogy.
Recommended: Highly
ISBN: 078795599X

Blue Like Jazz

Donald Miller

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality In September 2004 I found this book in the local Christian bookstore and although I didn’t buy it, the news of the week was that I’d actually found a book I wouldn’t mind reading. In November 2004 over the course of one week, three different people in three different and unrelated conversations told me to buy this book. Okay, I got the picture. Miller’s effort is refreshing, sacriligious, encouraging, and down-to-earth. Not only does it drip a kind of real-life authenticity (a kind of spirituality in the dust and dirt of life), it also posesses something all-too-rare for popular Christian books: it’s very well-written. You can find further thoughts on this book sprinkled around the blog. If you’re not accustomed to being spiritual and sacriligious at the same time, this book is good exercise.
Recommended: Highly
ISBN: 0785263705

Windows of the Soul

Ken Gire

Windows of the Soul I read this one several years back, and found it adjusted my view of how God speaks to people – through what Gire calls “Windows of the Soul” or which we might imagine to be summed up as sheer circumstance and life events. Currently just pulling the odd tidbit from it. I think this one did confirm my thinking on why to write though.
Recommended: yes
ISBN: 031020397X or 0310209722

Life Together

Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community The cover shown is not the same as either of my copies; the one I’ve got out right now is a great old hardcover volume in excellent condition with the dust jacket intact. I don’t think it’s a first, but it is one of the early English printings. Anyhow, it’s out because I’m thinking about the church, and no serious thinking about the church should be done without this volume somewhere near at hand, as it’s a genuine classic. I’ve just been reading bits and pieces in no particular order. The Amazon Listing for this title includes this quote from Malcolm Muggeridge: “When I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, some words Gorky used of Tolstoy come into my mind–‘Look what a wonderful man is living on the earth.'”
Recommended: Highly
ISBN: 0060608528

Cinderella with Amnesia

Michael Griffiths

Cinderella with Amnesia

Michael Griffiths

Here’s an example of a book I’ve never read through, but I’ve pulled bits and pieces from it. I haul it out at times when I’m considering the nature of the church, mainly because I’m just blessed by the title alone. My copy is subtitled “A practical discussion of the relevance of the church” whereas other versions are subtitled “a restatement in contemporary terms of the Biblical doctrine of the church”.
Recommended: probably
ISBN: 0851103812 (my copy, probably o/p with that subtitle)

Small Pieces Loosely Joined

David Weinberger

Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web This isn’t at all theological, doesn’t try to be… but it does achieve or at least spark what I find to be a relatively profound view of how or why a seeminly chaotic disorganized structure must be so in order to function. He’s talking about the Internet, I’m talking about the church… more on these thoughts are contained in an article I’ve written on the subject. This book has been on the shelf for months as I’m moving through it fairly slowly with an interest in what he has to say about the Internet. Weinberger is one of the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, which fact alone was enough to interest me in reading the book. The cluetrain is an interresting work for the fact it contains 95 Theses directed toward “Business” as we know it.
Recommended: yes, but only if the actual subject (the Internet) is of interest.
ISBN: 0738205435

Healing Spiritual Abuse

Ken Blue

Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences Now here’s a book that isn’t among the ones you really want on your “current” shelf. I picked it up a few years back when talk of “Spiritual Abuse” was all the rage and there were some much less gracious books out there, the ones that you feel slimed by reading because they themselves seek to destroy rather than build up. I only actually purchased one book on the subject, this one – it seeks to build, not to destroy, and focuses on helping those who have been hurt by misuse of spiritual authority or position, rather than seeking only to slander or accuse those perceived of inflicting abuse on others. If you’re only going to read one book on the subject, I suggest filtering with the same criteria – look for one which focuses on the helping the victim rather than on accusing the perpetrator. Further thoughts and notes on this book are posted in a blog entry.
Recommended: Avoid the subject, but if you must, then yes.
ISBN: 0-8308-1660-7

Christ and Culture

H. Richard Niebuhr

Niebuhr: Christ and Culture Basically this one is a classic; my copy was published in 1956 (copyright is 1951) and Christ and Culture is still in print. Despite being 50 years old, the subject addressed is timeless — how Christ relates to the culture in which one lives. Back in my college days, the subject of the gospel and culture was a missiological one, one which seemed to presuppose that the culture to which the gospel must be related would not be one’s own, but one in “the mission field.” In actual fact of course, the gospel is foreign to all cultures, so the question must be asked of ones own culture as well. Today, the question is to be specifically asked concerning postmodernity.
Recommended: well, as a classic…
ISBN: 0061300039

The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church

Roland Allen

The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: And the Causes That Hinder It The cover pictured is newer than my copy. A synopsis for the newer edition runs like this: “Though he wrote almost a century ago, Allen’s ideas addressed problems in missionary thinking that survive to this day. He exhorts missionaries to biblical simplicity and sound doctrine while warning against the cultural and organizational tendencies of mission organizations and the churches they plant.” I have also found it in digital form here and here, and have therefore mirrored both the PDF and DOC files.
Recommended: yes
ISBN: 0-8028-1002-0

The Problem of Wineskins

Howard A. Snyder

The Problem of WineSkins

Howard A. Snyder

Subtitled “Church Structure in a Technological Age,” this and a subsequent edition are now out of print. A classic from the 70’s, Snyder asks how the gospel fits into the man-made structures of the church. Evidently we still haven’t answered the question, so it’s a fair practice to see what the prior attempts have been. From what I can tell, Snyder’s work is likely to find on most Christian bookshelves that were established in the 70’s or early 80’s, especially where questions of any sort were asked about church. That’s basically how I got my copy, anyway.
Recommended: a reasonable used-book purchase
ISBN: 0-87784-769-X