Forgiven: The Amish School Shooting, A Mother’s Love, And a Story of Remarkable Grace – (started 2022.06.29)
Recommendation: Do you remember where you were the day if the Anish Schoolhouse killings? I was at a pastors’ retreat in Indiana on 2006.10.02. Terri Roberts does, on the day her oldest son took five girls lives, wounded five others, and shot himself. I cannot put this book down!
Bluebeard – Kurt Vonnegut (2022.04.12)
Recommendation: “J” and I read this together and loved it. It is an autobiographical story told in the first person of a fictional aging Abstract Expressionist painter. The storyline loosely resembles the life of “Bluebeard” from the French fairytale by Charles Perrault, although our character doesn’t kill every woman he is in a relationship with; the main character makes this reference. Vonnegut’s writing paints a beautiful picture of the painter’s story. (Pun completely intended!) And yes, I am on a Vonnegut kick.
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut (2022.02.21)
Recommendation: This is a story of a writer who is writing a book called The Day the World Ended. Set in the early 1960s, this is bizarre, profound, satirical, and laugh out loud funny at moments. The date the world ended: August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m.
Welcome to the Monkey House – Kurt Vonnegut (2022.01.19)
Recommendation: This is a series of short stories. Strange, bold, and dark sense of humor and amazingly creative. Some stories are futuristic and others contemporary (mid 20th Century). Some seem almost prophetic.
The Pilgrim’s Progress – A Readable Modern-Day Version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress – Alan Vermilye (2021.07.28)
Recommendation: Yes, this was my first time reading it! It is a wonderful allegorical treatment of the faith journey. Bunyan is like an ancestor to CS Lewis. And shout out to Vermilye’s modern English translation.
In the Name of Jesus – Reflections on Christian Leadership – Henri J.M Nouwen (2021.06.21)
Recommendation: Confession time; this is at least my fifth time reading this book. If you are a pastoral leader, read this book, and keep reading it! I have a member of our church family starting seminary in August 2021. This will be on her summer reading list!
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man – Emmanuel Acho (Finished 2021.06.14)
Recommendation: Emmanuel Acho is a former NFL player, and the son of Nigerian immigrant parents. His writing style is casual, comfortable, and transparent. You may not agree with everything Emmanuel says, but you must agree to read this book!! Make sure you read the Introduction.
The Bible Tells Me So… Why Defending the Bible has Made Us Unable to Read It. – Peter Enns (finished 2020.06.05)
Recommendation: Enns often finds himself under fire simply because he was trained as an Evangelical scholar, but then he took a step out of the tradition that bred him and into a world that also has claimed the likes of Rob Bell. There are moments when I want to throw this book across the room, and others where I find myself saying, “Dang, why didn’t I think of that!” Sometimes it is good to challenge ourselves to look outside of our “tradition” and hear what other people of faith are saying. You don’t have to believe it, but you must engage it!
Caught Up in Christ: Spiritual First-Aid for Believers and Seekers – Rick Merfeld (finished 2021.06.05)
Recommendation: Yes Friends, the Hitchhiker is engaged in personal reading once again! And what a gem to start with. Truth be told, Rick is a personal friend. He is not clergy, nor is he Presbyterian. Shh!!! He’s Catholic. But do not let this derail you. Rick lays down a wonderfully Biblical offering for the walking wounded in a world that believes truth is whatever people decide it is. This book contains TRUTH!
Collected Stories: Everyman’s Library – Roald Dahl (2020.06.27)
Recommendation: From the author who gave us children’s literature such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG, Dahl was also a genius in adult short fiction. I am told that many of his short stories could have been episodes on The Twilight Zone, and indeed were they were used in a BBC series known as Tales of the Unexpected. This is no Willy Wonka!
Confronting Christianity – 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion. Rebecca McLaughlin. (2020.03.29)
Recommendation: Her writing style is comfortable and engaging. This is one of the best apologetics I have read in many years. I will be using this book to teach an adult classes in the fall. I am not surprised that Christianity Today gave this book an award!
All I really need to know I learned from watching Star Trek – Dave Marinaccio (2020.03.17)
Recommendation: Marinaccio is a marketing guy, so this is written from a secular perspective. It is a fun read, and each section is in small digestible bites.
Three Mile an Hour God. Kosuke Koyama (2020.02.01)
Recommendation: The writing of this Japanese Christian Theologian is thought provoking and wonderful. Each topic gets about three to four pages, and is wonderfully profound. I went an ordered another book written by him!
The Shema – Spirituality and Law in Judaism. Norman Lamm (2019.12.21)
Recommendation: Sermon series preparation. It gives awesome insights into the Jewish mindset and history on the amazing prayer of Hebrew identity.
The Case for Christmas – A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger. Lee Strobel ( 2019.10.24)
Recommendation: Good little book that I recommend you read every year sometime after Thanksgiving to remind you why Christmas is important.
Exodus – Why Americans Are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity. Dave Shiflett (2019.10.25)
Recommendation: I was intrigued by the title as I have studied the massive decline of the mainline Protestant traditions . Don’t be confused by the sub-title because he is speaking theology, not politics. His thesis is that the more a church (denominations, traditions) drifts from orthodoxy in theology, the smaller they make God; and the smaller they make God, the smaller the church gets. In other words, belief in the affirmations of faith set forth in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds are essential for faith and supported by scripture. Unfortunately, he is not as even handed as he could have been because there are some on the extreme right who can make God just as small as those on the far left.
Saint Patrick Retold; The Legend and History of Ireland’s Patron Saint. Roy Fletcher (2019.09.05)
Recommendation: Fletcher takes scant historical and archaeological evidence and tries to piece together a clearer picture of this legendary figure. This is a little heady for the average reader, but good stuff for a nerdy type like me.
Seven Stories of Christmas Love. Leo Buscaglia (2019.09.02)
Recommendation: If you have never heard of Leo Buscaglia, you should! Check out his writings and PBS specials on YouTube. He’s been gone for over two decades, but his legacy of love lives on!
Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne (2019.08.01)
Recommendation: I think I just might make a visit to the “Hundred Aker Wood” in the summer of 2020!
Making Sense of God – Finding God in the Modern World. Timothy Keller (2019.06.18)
Recommendation: A good book for those who are skeptical, and those Christians who walk alongside them.
Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069. William Strauss & Neil Howe (2019.06.17)
Recommendation: The book is excellent at historical perspectives (read it for this). Because it was published in 1991, it does not take into account the rise of smart technology, 9/11, the economic crisis of 2008, or the 2016 election, all of which are dramatic secular crises. It leaves me asking questions ; Did the Boomers let us down, have the 13ers (Xers) ever stepped up, and are the Millenials forcing a fundamentalist “religion” on us? Just the random thoughts of a practical minded 13er!
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (completed 2019.05.19)
Recommendation: Pretty good little book. Lots of imagery, illusions, and direct references to Scripture, but make no mistake; this is not a Christian book. The reflections on the relationship between shepherd and sheep are fun to ponder. A nice book about journeying in life, as the author puts it; seeking one’s “personal legend.”
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry (Reread 2019.06.01)
Recommendation: What can I say? I read it again. The thing that jumps out in this first person narrative is how the landscape changes over life. It also documents well how our society has changed from a self-sufficient, productive, community centered, simple agrarian culture to a reliant, consumeristic, self-absorbed, complex culture. Lastly, there is a faith component as the main character fulfills his call to ministry not as a preacher but as a town barber.
Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright (completed 2019.04.21)
Recommendation: This is an important book to challenge your views on life, death, resurrection. And Wright is Biblically very sound.