Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What Are You Reading?

I've been reading a great book on the history of the Contemporary Christian music movement. It is The Great Worship Awakening by Robb Redman. I will do a proper review when I am done. So far Redman demonstrates a real good understanding of the roots of contemporary music, especially the worship music industry. And the Vineyard figure large in his exploration, which is encouraging for me as it affirms that my own passion for developing theologically sound yet accessible worship is a value deeply ingrained in our movement.

For me reading a book is nothing new, in fact I've read a few books this month alone. Mostly in preparation for a course I was delivering, but I also read fiction at night. It is funny, I can read academic stuff all day until I have no more capacity to read and then for relaxation I will fire up my tablet and read a pulp fiction novel. 

Enough about my reading habits. I thought that this would be a great place to try to start a conversation. Why not tell us what book you are reading and how it is encouraging or challenging you. One of the things that is helpful with reading is working with the ideas you find. This is a safe place to do that. Books are incredible resources, but ideas require a working out process. We need to talk about them, explore their contours, and even trim off the fat. It is one thing to read a book, quite another to digest it.

So here is the proposal. Let us know what you are reading and what are your thoughts on it.

Hope to hear from you all soon.

Frank Emanuel - Ontario Region


  1. What am I reading? Well yesterday I finished reading Greg Boyd's "The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church." As the title suggests, it was a powerful book build upon the radical concept that no nation or government can ever be a "Christian nation" as that nation/government can never actually live/behave like Christ Jesus. For example, Jesus said to love and bless you enemies, which a nation can not due as it has the responsible to protect its citizens.

    The next book in my lineup is "The Orthodox Church" by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware. I read his book "The Orthodox Way" a few years ago and love it, so I'm looking forward to seeing what jewels this book has to offer.

  2. I am usually reading some theology books, something that has to do with spirituality, a few on a topic I might be studying, and something just for fun, usually fiction. In the past few months I have enjoyed David F. Ford's "The Future of Christianity" which offers his ideas of what wise, creative theology should look like. I found it very encouraging because he writes like a scholar but one gets a whiff of pastor once in awhile.

    I am also really liking Jacques Ranciere's "The Emancipated Spectator" which is something on performance theory. Good stuff about how, in trying to make people less passive (mere spectators) and more active, we end up trying to control someone's experience. As a result, we can negate non-physical actions such as contemplation, thinking, etc.

    A book I just finished is "Keeping the Feast" by chef Milton Brasher-Cunningham: a unique combination of poetry, thoughts on food, community, and communion, and it includes some great recipes!

    Books on my shelf still waiting to be finished or started: a bunch of John Grisham novels which always make me ask tough questions about justice, "The Diary of a Country Priest" by Georges Barnanos (on recommedation of Eugene Peterson), and the latest biography of Vincent van Gogh.

    Thanks for asking, Frank!

  3. As a preacher man, I'm always reading several commentaries (even though I find them only rarely helpful). While they are less technical, I do appreciate the NT Wright 'For Everyone' series as he loads them with illustrations (which is always helpful for teaching).

    One theology book that I'm re-reading is "Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation" by James K. A. Smith. He discusses worldview, practice, and formation and how they all interact. I like what Smith has to say, particularly in the way that he puts his argument together. His argument isn't without it's weaknesses, but I still think what he has to say is important and adds to a healthy, nuanced view.

    I'm also reading "A Complete History of Flight" because I love airplanes.

  4. I'm currently reading "Mind the Light" by J. Brent Bill; "The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective" by R. Paul Stevens; and "The Hidden Christ: Taking the Gospel into the World" by Christoph Blumhardt

  5. Nathan, it is interesting that you read commentaries but rarely find them helpful. I have plenty of commentaries on my shelves and even though I turn to them when I'm preparing messages I also rarely find them that helpful. (I haven't tried Wright's yet though!) This practice kinda reminds me of the passion many evangelicals develop for Strongs, assuming that looking up a word is going to somehow give us language insights. I admit that I did that for many years until I took enough Greek to be dangerous and at least realize that I would need to take a lot more Greek to really go deeper than I could with several English translations and reflection. One of my Biblical Studies professors once told me that if you want to understand the commentaries you need to read the Bible. He was a funny guy, but there is a real truth to that statement. But like you I still stick my head in those commentaries when I'm wrestling with a text. Albeit now I try to read the context around my text before jumping into the commentaries. I agree with you completely that illustrations are much more helpful for teaching than knowing the technical aspects of a text.

    It is pretty encouraging the range of material people are engaging with.