Reading Posts

My 62 Books of 2016

My 62 Books of 2016

Here are the books I’ve read since January of 2016 with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher. In addition to this list you might also check out my reading lists from previous years as well as my recommendations on how to become a better reader.

(Click here) to see the books I have personally written, and see below for the ones I’ve read this year. Topping the list were How to Be Here, The Sin of Certainty, Rejection ProofThe Explosive Child, and People to Be Loved.

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Finding God in the Waves

Finding God in the Waves

finding-god-in-the-wavesI recently finished a great book from Mike McHargue, popularly known as Science Mike. It’s called Finding God in the Waves, and it looks at Mike’s journey away from God and back again. Mike tells it with refreshing transparency as well as an enjoyable sense of humor. What makes it really stand out is the focus on science and logic he brings into the discussion. If you’ve ever wondered if faith is just a crutch for the simple-minded, Mike offers you another perspective. The subtitle of the book: “How I lost my faith and found it again through science,” shows that this isn’t your typical Christian point of view.

Mike’s story—and this book in general—doesn’t fit well into normal Christian categories. That’s why it’s a great way to challenge your thinking and possibly emerge with a much deeper understanding of your own faith in Jesus. As with all authors, I don’t agree with everything in the book. Yet I found this one to be a gem of a read and I highly recommend it. You can also hear Mike on the Liturgists podcast or on the Ask Science Mike podcast.

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How To Develop a Reading Obsession

How To Develop a Reading Obsession

It is easy to see how reading is on the decline for many people today. With the rise of movies and TV with today’s technology, books have to work harder to compete with companies like Netflix. Then there are things we actually do read involving words, but those words are likely in a digital form on a blog or website. The printed versions of words come to us in the form of a newspaper or magazine. It takes a bit of effort then to find yourself reading a book. Most likely, the book is a recent release or a current best-seller.

Years ago I read a book called The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership by former USC President Steven B. Sample (who passed away this year). It had a chapter about reading and explained something called the “fifty-year test.” This is a category of books that are still being read fifty years after they were written. Dr. Sample stated that reading these books will give you a deeper grasp of culture and perspective and set you apart from others. This is counter-intuitive (hence the book title) since most of us try to read to keep up with what’s going on right now. But I have noticed an unbelievable difference ever since I read that book and tried to pick my subsequent books accordingly. But how does a person ever get to a book which passes the fifty-year test that doesn’t completely bore them to sleep or drone on about irrelevant topics?

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People to Be Loved

People to Be Loved

Few topics today divide people (especially Christians) as quickly as our views on gay relationships. I continue to wade through this one as my heart longs for a stance that my understanding of Scripture doesn’t support. So I keep reading, and processing, and listening to gay people share their stories and perspectives with me. All the while trying to hear from God as clearly as possible. In that light, I was very grateful for Preston Sprinkle’s book, People to Be Loved. In it Preston goes point by point through the six passages in the Bible that address homosexuality and how to best understand them today. Preston does a great job exploring this through an objective lens with a heart for both sides. More importantly, he keeps his heart (and you as the reader) focused on people instead of an abstract issue. I would highly recommend this to anyone seeking to understand the Biblical perspective on this better.

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The End of Religion

The End of Religion

end of religionI finally got to a book I’ve been eyeing for a few years now. The Canadian pastor Bruxy Cavey wrote The End of Religion, and it provides a great way to see Jesus, the Church, and spirituality in a fresh way. In case you’ve never heard of him, Bruxy is one of those guys I keep up with on a regular basis as he challenges my thinking and keeps me on my toes. I was beyond excited when he agreed to write an endorsement for my book last September.

If you are of the more conservative variety in your theology (which isn’t super likely if you’re reading my blog), you might not appreciate the boldness in which he writes. For example, one of the lines of the book says, “Whenever the church gets into bed with political powers, the church becomes the state’s whore.” Your reaction to that quote may indicate whether this is a book you’d enjoy reading or not.

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Ethics

EthicsI recently finished an entire class on the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor and theologian during the rise of Hitler and National Socialism in Germany. As a pacifist, he later joined a plot to assassinate Hitler. As you might imagine, there are lots of complexities to all of this and we have numerous books he wrote to unpack his thinking along the way. One of my favorites is his book Ethics. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions in this book but I find his arguments intriguing and worth spending time considering. Some of his comments in the book even seem to help us understand the rise of guys like Donald Trump (see: The Successful Man).

Ethics gets into the gray area between right and wrong and looks at the complexities of how to live out our faith in the midst of trying times. Bonhoeffer didn’t argue that it was okay to kill Hitler because Hitler was extra evil. Rather, he argued that he willingly assumed guilt for his part in the assassination attempt because assuming this guilt on behalf of others was ultimately the right thing to do. Parts of the book can get a bit theologically dense, so the following are a few of my favorite quotes from the book to give you a feel for it. I group them into four categories: Jesus, assuming guilt, the will of God, and general thoughts.

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