Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Do it again!

"Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon."
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 4

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

where is church going in 2013?

Curious about trends in the church for 2013?  I thought this was a helpful post: thirteen issues for churches in 2013

I am particularly interested in the points titled Heightened Conflict, Community Focus, Cultural Discomfort and Organizational Distrust.  Any thoughts?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The year in books: 2012

Jeremy Myers pointed out on his blog that if you were to read a book a week, you could only read 4000 books in your lifetime.  That's a pretty generous estimate for a depressingly small number of books. It made me especially sad when I consider that I average more like a book every three weeks :(  It's a good reminder to choose my books well.  Do you have any reading ambitions this year?

Here's the roundup of books read this year.  Perhaps my comments on them will help you decide what to read this year!

  • The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  An enjoyable read (this is a children's book)
  • The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.  This little book of letters is a spiritual classic worth pondering.  See my two posts on the book here on suffering and daily wisdom.
  • Desiring God's Will by David G. Benner (finished April 29 - or before!?
  • The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, by James Martin, SJ.  This is a good introduction to Jesuit spirituality.  Easy to read.  (Perhaps a little too easy?) Here's a post drawing on this book.
  • Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper.  This a good devotional-type book about the attributes of Christ.  Here's a related post  in which I talk about how we begin to believe and one about how Christ will not be put in a generational box.
  •  Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens - If you read any book by Dickens, read this one.  It is SO good!  Here's my post on it.
  • Life Together by Bonhoeffer.  I've read this one twice this year.
  • King's Cross by Timothy Keller (TFA*)
  • The Call by Os Guinness (TFA*).  This book refutes the idea that some people are called by God and other's aren't, and helps people think about God's call in their lives.  Personally, I found it too anectdotal, but if you can get past that there's a lot of good stuff to think about.  Here's a post on the practical implications for of understanding calling for our work. 
  • A Free People's Suicide by Os Guinness (TFA*).  I struggled with this book some, as the writing is dense and the audience somewhat ambiguous.  I also felt that Islam was not adequately addressed (thus weakening his argument).  That being said, if you get a chance to hear Guinness speak, or to talk with him, do it!  He is a fabulous speaker.
  • The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.  Yet another good book by Lewis.
  • The Fall by Albert Camus (TFA*).  This book gets into your head.  A fascinating reflection on the darkness of the human heart.  We read this in conjunction with Augustine's Confessions (one of my favorite books!). 
  • Candide by Voltaire (TFA*).  A humorous but unpleasant read.  If you've read it, you'll know what I mean.  Philosophy to ponder.
  • The Freedom of a Christian by Martin Luther (TFA*).  A short but brilliant look at the Christian life, and the role of grace and works.
  • Unchristian by David Kinnaman.  I read this book for background on my study of the church.  It was helpful, although I felt that it was difficult to sort through what the research was really saying.
  • The Tangible Kingdom by Halter and Smay
  • Quarks, Chaos and Christianity by Polkinghorne.  A fascinating look at matters of faith and their relation to physics.  He deals with such questions as prayer, miracles and free will, among other things.  As always, it is refreshing to read someone so knowledgeable in both areas.
  • Seeking God (The Way of St. Benedict) by Esther de Waal (TFA*).  This book is a gem.  Read it.  She challenges us learn from St. Benedict in very practical ways.  Although there is much to be learned about the rule in this book, her clear desire in writing is really that we learn about seeking God.
*books marked TFA indicate that they were required (or strongly suggested) reading for the program I am in this year