Summer lists are rolling out, so I thought I’d throw out some titles I’m enjoying this month. Last week, I posted books on 1 Corinthians, so I won’t relist those here.
This is a cultural history of human nature, not humanity’s first sin, as Alan Jacobs emphasizes. It’s a fascinating read. So far he’s culling from Greek mythology, Bibilcal stories, anthropological case studies, and theology.
Americans can’t read and reflect enough on the sabbath. Once a cultural fixation, the sabbath has largely left the Christian field of view. Bruggeman argues that it is “the most difficult and most important” of the Ten Commandments. The Preface is worth the book, where he makes a distinction between the Adamic man–who creates through work, and the Mosaic man–who cultivates reflection and worship through inaction and devotion.
Most of us have an “under-developed” Mosaic man, sucked into production and consumption by work and play, we no longer know how to resist the flow of consumerism and capitalism, and are losing our distinctive, sabbath identity as Christians.
Most of us have an “under-developed” Mosaic man, sucked into production and consumption by work and play, we no longer know how to resist the flow of consumerism and capitalist, and are losing our distinctive, sabbath identity as Christians. Church attendance, alone, is a sign enough of that, but the signs run much deeper and further.
Based on the recommendations, I’m expecting a lot out of this analysis of the 20th century culture wars and how American Evangelicalism is really a struggle for authority in a faith that advocates both faith and reason.
George Marsden is back at it, drawing ideological conclusions as he deftly sweeps in and out of decades of American history. Probably the shorter version of Apostles of Reason, but I’ll have to read that to find out for sure. I liked his observation about how America jettisons God in the 50s and 60s, while keeping God’s values of human freedom, self-determination, and equal rights. If you boot God, its harder to make a case for these values.
Jettison God and it’s hard to keep God’s values of human freedom, self-determination, and equal rights.
This book is an entirely different pace than the rest of the titles above, but touches on similar themes to Bruggeman and Jacobs. It’s very accessible exploration on the meaning of the soul, how we’ve neglected it, and what to do about it. Lots of Dallas Willard and story-telling in here. The closing description of Peter’s harbinger in the Gospel of John has stuck with me: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”
When you’re young, you go where you want to, but when you’re old, you learn to go where God wants you to, and you embrace the cross-shaped life.
I really enjoy the balance, clarity, and pull of Gordon Smith’s writing. His book, Transforming Conversion, was great. Here he argues maturity is a vital dimension of the church’s teaching that often goes neglected. He writes:
“Congregations that do not pursue with passion and vigor a dynamic maturity in Christ are surely as fraudulent as a hospital that is not passionate and vigorous in its pursuit of healing and holiness.”
Stew on that one for a while.