Monday, December 30, 2013

This Year In Books

Like last year, I wanted to evaluate what I've read through the course of the year. I intended to do a review of all the books I read, but I just didn't get that done for a variety of reasons. Anyway, here are the books that I read this year.

  1. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. This is a must read. Read my review.
  2. In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. Another must read. I also reviewed this one.
  3. Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. MUST READ. Go get it now. I started it in 2012, but finished it in 2013. It is simply an amazing book. NT Wright stated several things that I have believed for quite some time and just didn't have the words for. He put what I had already been thinking for quite some time to words, and he did it with a scholarly background that I simply cannot ever attain. This is one of the best theology books ever. This prompted me to read a few more NT Wright books and I will read more as he writes them. He is simply a great author.
  4. Simply Christian by NT Wright. Great book.
  5. Simply Jesus by NT Wright. Ditto.
  6. How God Became King by NT Wright. If you forget that Jesus was a Jew and came to Jews and lived among Jews and lived in Jewish culture, you'll miss the story the gospel authors were trying to tell. We talk an awful lot (rightly so) about the birth and the crucifixion and resurrection. But this book examines what happened in between the birth and death.
  7. The Shack by William Paul Young. I have overlooked this book for so many years because I simply didn't want to hear about the God who loves everyone. This book is about the God who loves everyone. Mark Driscoll and other Calvinists and fundamentalists would discourage you from reading this book. Don't listen to that advice. Read this book. It's beautiful.
  8. Healthy Intelligent Training: The Proven Principles of Arthur Lydiard - Keith Livingstone. I was working my way through a Lydiard cycle. I didn't make it through because I injured my calf, but a buddy of mine did and had a breakthrough. I had to give it another read to be sure I understood what he was saying. It turns out that I can teach this stuff better than I can execute it. (That sounds so familiar. I'm a much better at teaching most everything, including the Bible, than I am at actually practicing it.)
  9. Daniels Running Formula by Jack Daniels. I am experimenting with his marathon training principles on my own body. His 5k training principles did wonders for me, so I'm trying his approach to the marathon. So far, my body hasn't been able to do what he asks me to do.
  10. The "Gender-Inclusive" Movement among Churches of Christ by Kyle Pope. I really hoped this book would offer something besides the same tired old proof texts and same tired old explanations for the passages that show women in leadership roles. It did not. There is nothing to this book. If you've sat through a Bible class or a few sermons about women's roles in a church of Christ, you've heard everything this book has to offer. I really have nothing positive to say about this book. Not surprisingly, churches of Christ are doing everything right, according to Pope. Women can't preach or teach if even one man is present and women can't serve the Lord's Supper or lead a song, but women can talk and make a point in a Bible class and ask questions in a Bible class. Turns out that the church of Christ has been doing it right all along. Sigh.
  11. The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight. This is a much better book on the subject of gender roles. McKnight starts by devoting nearly half the book to hermeneutics. Then he gets into a specific application of hermeneutics to gender roles. This is good stuff.
  12. Conviction Versus Mercy by Gardner Hall. I had such high hopes for this book and it let me down. It is very well researched, well written, and well edited. But it has some big flaws. You can read my review of this book.
  13. Muscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank. This book is the terrible awful. It's poorly edited and it has an arrogant tone and it would be better titled "Why the Church of Christ is Right and Everyone Else Is Going to Hell". It is full of straw men, grammatical errors, and outright false teaching. If the churches of Christ had a Watchtower Society, this would be their first book. It's a conservative church of Christ tract rack put to narrative. Read my review
  14. Benefit of the Doubt by Greg Boyd. Brilliant. If you've ever struggled with the tension between faith and certainty, this book can be extremely helpful. Also, Boyd emphasizes the crucial difference between contract (how most Americans think) and covenant (how Bible authors talked). This is a very good read.
  15. Love Wins by Rob Bell. Rob Bell has a way of saying just enough to make you ask a question or to make you think without saying enough to answer the question or think for you. God is love, and we need to be busy proclaiming that to the world.
  16. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This was an interesting read and an interesting approach to improving relationships. I found it a little difficult to execute, but definitely worth considering how you can learn your spouse's love language and speak it with them.
I didn't read as many books as last year, but still got through enough by my standards. I didn't read some on my planned to read list, but maybe I will in 2014. Also, I continued to read the bulletin of Eastside church of Christ in Athens, several articles from Pepper Road church of Christ in Athens, Rachel Held Evans' blog, Greg Boyd's blog, The American Jesus blog, and a few articles from Al Maxey. So, as you can see, I read a lot from folks I disagree with. I also followed the podcast of Eastside church of Christ in Colorado Springs, CO and read Patrick Mead's blog while it was available and I'm glad to see it back.

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