March to June 2010


June 17, 2010

I have not been updating my reading this year so here are some of the books that I have read over the last few months.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

I like many things about Andrew Jackson after reading this book. He distinguished the President as a representative of the people and dispelled much of the elitist elements that distrusted the masses and wanted to run the government in the way they thought best. Jackson’s story was a sad one since his wife died weeks before he entered the White House and before he had any children. He never remarried. On a sad note, Jackson’s policies directly led to many injustices and cruelties to the Indian people. Although experiencing a late conversion after leaving the Presidency and stating, “Christ has no respect for color,” Jackson perpetuated the status quo of slavery in his attempt to keep the Union together.

The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War by James Bradley

A hard read for an American involved in the Philippines. Eugenics (or the idea of the superiority of the white race) policies advocated by Teddy Roosevelt and many in western cultures at the time are painful to read about. Roosevelt’s manly frontier image is exposed in Bradley’s book as a manufactured PR job designed to get him elected! Excellent, although sad background on the U.S. involvement in Hawaii, Philippine Islands, Korea and Japan. After reading this book, I understand why so many have been so angry at us.

Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci

Two groups are tracking down an evil murderer at the same time and after some tragic losses, they team up to take the bad guy down! Could not put it down.

Breathless by Dean Koontz

Fun read by Koontz in which a writer is tormented by an evil book reviewer. I wondered if some of this was autobiographical!

Conformed to His Image by Kenneth Boa

Read portions of this book in working on my dissertation. A valuable resource for those wanting to get an overview of different views of spirituality in the evangelical tradition.

Spiritual Formation, Counseling, and Psychotherapy by Todd W. Hall and Mark R. McMinn

Main chapter I read in this book was on “Measuring Religion and Spirituality: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?” Collection and expansion of articles published in two special issues of the Journal of Psychology and Theology. Plan to read over the section on Spiritual Formation and Christian Psychology.

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell

I put Bell in a similar category with Miller in terms of type of reading. Using an unorthodox type of writing, Bell communicates some surprisingly deep truths. I enjoy the way he draws upon historical and cultural background studies to make certain passages come alive. Always challenging traditional thinking, yet Bell stays connected to the text of Scripture. Yet, Bell, pleads for an epistemological humility in our Christian reading and thinking so that we will not get stuck in a historic Christianity that does not relate to the world in which we live. So the idea of the velvet painting of Elvis that is stuck in a basement.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Places by Donald Miller

I enjoy reading Miller. His writing is easy to read and it makes me think. In this book, he describes how he began to change his story and challenges the reader to do the same. For anyone, wanting to evaluate the direction of their life, this book would be a good one to get you started.

Apprenticeship with Jesus: Learning to Live Like the Master by Gary W. Moon

I confess that I did not follow the exercises in this book, designed as a 30-day experience so I likely did not get the full benefit out of reading the book. This is the third of Moon’s books that I have read and once again I appreciate his desire to integrate spirituality, psychology and formational practices and always maintaining a sense of humor. Moon has been heavily influenced by Dallas Willard and quotes him frequently in this book. Each chapter has a Reflection and an Apprentice Activity which are well worth the price of the book.

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life Welcoming the Soul and Weaving Community in a Wounded World by Parker J. Palmer

This is one book that I wish I had read a few years ago or at least earlier this year so I could have joined in a circle of trust community. I will be drawing upon Palmer’s book to understand how to build community in my life for some time to come. Although not strictly a Christian book, a discerning Christians would benefit from this heart touching read.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians Rob Bell I have read a number of books by Bell and have watched as many of the Nooma videos as I could find. This book just didn’t do it for me. I felt like it was the text from one of his videos, joltingly short sentences. I guess with a subtitle A Manifesto for the Church in Exile.

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