Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What I've Been Reading...

Here's what I read this month...

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mocking Jay, by Suzanne Collins

I read these in 3 days, just before I left for Africa- the heat was on, because Jim started reading them too, and not only did I really want to finish them fast, but I did not want to leave and have him find out the ending before I did. 

These books are instant classics that (I believe) should be read in American High School classrooms for the rest of time.  Not only is the plot well-crafted, but the deep, deep themes in this book are rich and will leave you stirred up and haunted for weeks afterward.  There is so much here to dwell on, and we need to dwell on it. 

I could easily construct an entire semester's worth of material for a high school English course based on these books- essay questions were just blowing up in my face the entire time I was reading- there is so much here to cover- whoa dog I was into it.  Combine these with other classics such as 1984, Animal Farm, and Lord of the Flies, throw in historical and biographical information from US History, and you've got a rich syllabus.

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne

I first read this book in 2005, and though I found it good then, upon reading it now, I saw a huge shift in our lives toward the core concepts of this book in the years since- which made me hopeful, and motivated to keep pressing in to it.  And grateful for the road we've travelled, the friends we've made, the changes we've made, and for the church we call home. 

Also, this was the first thing I read when I got back from Zambia.  I'd put it on my 2011 book list weeks before, thinking I'd like to pick it up again, and because I already owned it, I checked it off my list first.  I really believe that wasn't a coincidence- it was, for so many reasons, exactly what I needed for re-entry into American life- I felt motivated, encouraged, affirmed, validated, challenged, and convicted with S.C. by my side through it.  I felt like I wasn't alone, which was important, in retrospect.

Art and the Bible (Ivp Classics) by Francis A. Schaeffer

I was really excited about this one.  The first half is an overview of God's emphasis on art and creativity in the Bible.  Honestly, I found these chapters to be weak- I think Schaeffer could have done better- but the second half was the Schaeffer I was looking for- I just wish it hadn't been so short.  I know he delves into these topics more in other works, and this was meant to be a short book to whet appetites for further inspiration, appreciation, and study, but- I just wanted more. 

He makes some incredible points and observations, and provides a useful guide for approaching, appreciating, and creating art as a whole person alive in Christ. 

The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars. - Francis A. Schaeffer

Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just, by Timothy Keller

I do love Tim Keller books- but this one has been absolutely incredible- I'm not quite finished with it yet, but I wanted to get it out there for all of you who've been asking me about Africa, and who are trying to figure out social justice, and what it means for you.
In fashion true to T.K. form, it's thoughtfully, systematically, carefully pieced together, it communicates groundbreaking truth straight from the Bible, and it's clear and applicable to your life without simplifying the the message to make it "easier" to receive. 
I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to really dive in to the life of justice that God calls us to.
I've been working through it with lots of time to reflect, and may actually read it again before I move on.  I may share more later, but, here is a short note from my journal, dated 1.19.11- 
Right relationship to God naturally and fully spills over into right relationships with others- all others- and making right what is broken around us.  Righteousness, therefore, is a social, others-focused, outward expression of a heart surrendered to God.  Righteousness is not simply personal purity and closeness to God- Righteousness is social and it is constantly seeking peace and justice in all it's forms.  Righteousness = Social Justice.

No comments: