January 12, 2004

The Twelve Books of 2004, Part 2

Here are the rest of the books I'm hoping to read (does it sound like my resolve is already waning?) in 2004, one a month. For the first six months' worth of books, check here in the archives.

Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity
Eugene Peterson

The third book in my 2004 Peterson trifecta. From the jacket: "This...volume provides an antidote to the powerful pressures that reduce pastoral vocation to a managerial religious job of running a church [talk about meeting my needs head-on!] by defining the distinctive work of the pastor as listening and helping others to listen to God as he speaks in Scripture, prayer, and the neighbor."

The Search to Belong
Joseph Meyers

Jordan Cooper shared an excerpt from this book that hooked me. I think Meyers' thoughts might resonate with some pondering I've been doing for about a year now on what it means to be a "member" of a church. Props to Lucas who sent me a 10% discount on this book via Amazon.com's "Share the Love" program!

Bobb Biehl

I'm jumping into Biehl's book for some of the same reasons I'm reading Peterson's Working the Angles. It's a how-to on strategic organizational planning. Biehl has a writing style that reminds me of my kindergarten teacher, in a good way--it's down-to-earth and consistently upbeat. I hope to develop some long-term habits from this one that will make me a more effective leader.

Mere Christianity
C.S. Lewis

A re-read. From the preface: "There are questions at issue between Christians to which I do not think I have the answer... But there are other questions as to which I am definitely on one side of the fence, and yet say nothing. For I was not writing to expound something I could call 'my religion,' but to expound 'mere' Christianity, which is what it is and was what it was long before I was born and whether I like it or not."

The Household of God
Leslie Newbigin

To give you some idea of how impulsive I am when it comes to buying books, I added this to my "must read" list based on a single passage, received via the Christian Quote of the Day service I've blogged it before, but I'm going to include the whole thing here. I found it incredibly compelling:

Western European civilization has witnessed a sort of atomizing process, in which the individual is more and more set free from his natural setting in family and neighborhood, and becomes a sort of replaceable unit in the social machine, His nearest neighbors may not even know his name. He is free to move from place to place, from job to job, from acquaintance to acquaintance, and -- if he has attained a high degree of emancipation -- from wife to wife. He is in every context a more and more anonymous and replaceable part, the perfect incarnation of the rationalist conception of man. Wherever western civilization has spread in the past one hundred years, it has carried this atomizing process with it. Its characteristic product in Calcutta, Shanghai, or Johannesburg, is the modern city into which myriads of human beings, loosened from their old ties in village or tribe or caste, like grains of sand fretted by water from an ancient block of sandstone, are ceaselessly churned around in the whirlpool of the city -- anonymous, identical, replaceable units. In such a situation, it is natural that men should long for some sort of real community, for men cannot be human without it. It is especially natural that Christians should reach out after that part of Christian doctrine which speaks of the true, God-given community, the Church of Jesus Christ. We have witnessed the appalling results of trying to go back to some sort of primitive collectivity based on the total control of the individual, down to the depths of his spirit, by an all-powerful group. Yet we know that we cannot condemn this solution to the problem of man's loneliness if we have no other to offer. It is natural that men should ask with a greater eagerness than ever before, such questions as these: "Is there in truth a family of God on earth to which I can belong, a place where all men can be truly at home? If so, where is it to be found, what are its marks, and how is it related to, and distinguished from, the known communities of family, nation, and culture? What are its boundaries, its structure, its terms of membership? And how comes it that those who claim to be the spokesmen of that one holy fellowship are themselves at war with one another as to the fundamentals of its nature, and unable to agree to live together in unity and concord?" The breakdown of Christendom has forced such questions as these to the front. I think that there is no more urgent theological task than to try to give them plain and credible answers.

I don't know why books on ecclesiology are so interesting to me these days...


Here's a few of the books I'm considering for December:

Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years by Bruce Sterling

The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder

No More Teams! Mastering the Dynamics of Creative Collaboration by Michael Schrage

Women in the Earliest Churches by Ben Witherington III

If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! And if you're interested in reading any of these books together, shoot me a comment or email! (Speaking of which, Jennifer, are you still up for Grenz's Primer on Postmodernism in February? And Lucas, I'd love to read-blog through Meyers' Search to Belong with you if you'd consider moving it into March...


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