Of the Making of Books…

I’ve been read­ing a lot late­ly. More than usu­al. Per­haps even more than ever, except per­haps the month or two after I received the canon of James W. Knox.

Notable, though, is that more than ever in the past nine years of faith, I am read­ing books not because I know I’m going to agree with just about every word and sim­ply want to rein­force what I already know.

Rather, I am pour­ing over books which are chal­leng­ing aspects of my faith which at one point I thought were unshak­able, aspects of my faith which I have at times zeal­ous­ly defend­ed against the types of peo­ple who would read the books I’m now devouring.

I guess you could call this per­son­al growth. Per­haps “ref­or­ma­tion” would be a bet­ter word. Some may say “rev­o­lu­tion.”

All I know is that my read­ing list keeps grow­ing, and it seems I can’t read some of these things quick­ly enough.

This past week­end, I fin­ished up Pagan Chris­tian­i­ty by Frank Vio­la & George Bar­na, a book rec­om­mend­ed to me by Glen. Pagan Chris­tian­i­ty is one of sev­er­al books I ordered a cou­ple of weeks ago.

It’s the first of that batch which I’ve fin­ished, but that did­n’t stop an impromp­tu trip to a book­store today net­ting me yet anoth­er stack of books, and this stack sees me break­ing out a bit fur­ther from my com­fort zone.

For the curi­ous, the books are

  • Vel­vet Elvis: Repaint­ing the Chris­t­ian Faith by Rob Bell, which I start­ed read­ing today. I can already tell that this lit­tle vol­ume will chal­lenge my per­cep­tions of just what Chris­tian­i­ty is all about. Well, I hope it does, any­way! Thanks, Lorene, for the suggestion!
  • The Abo­li­tion of Man by C. S. Lewis, which the back of the book declares to be “a defense of uni­ver­sal val­ues.” The exis­tence of uni­ver­sal mean­ing & val­ues, per­haps more than any­thing else, is proof to me that God exists; if I were an athe­ist, I would be forced by log­ic to argue that noth­ing mat­ters, that noth­ing holds intrin­sic val­ue. I’m curi­ous what Lewis can add to my under­stand­ing and approach to this topic.
  • The Irre­sistible Rev­o­lu­tion: Liv­ing as an Ordi­nary Rad­i­cal by Shane Clai­borne. As a point of fact, I loved Clai­borne’s Jesus for Pres­i­dent. When I saw The Irre­sistible Rev­o­lu­tion on the store shelf, I knew I had to read it. I’m also curi­ous how one can be an “ordi­nary rad­i­cal”; per­haps it is yet anoth­er one of Chris­tian­i­ty’s innu­mer­able paradoxes?
  • Final­ly, and most sur­pris­ing­ly to me: The Green Bible: Under­stand the Bible’s Pow­er­ful Mes­sage for the Earth (in a trans­la­tion I ordi­nar­i­ly would nev­er give a sec­ond thought to, the NRSV). Essen­tial­ly, this is lit­tle more than your stan­dard Bible, except instead of high­light­ing the words of Christ in red, vers­es & pas­sages through­out the book which deal with the earth are high­light­ed in green. There’s also a “trail guide” after Rev­e­la­tion to allow read­ers to walk through what the Scrip­tures teach regard­ing the earth.

I’m unsure what order I’ll end up read­ing these in — I still have plen­ty from my pre­vi­ous recent pur­chase as well, not to men­tion shelves full of books that I should some­time read.

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d be inter­est­ed in your com­men­da­tions & con­dem­na­tions there­of; is there one I should give a high­er pri­or­i­ty to than others?

And giv­en the above books, what are some oth­ers that I should look for in the future when I’m ready for more?


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Rick Beckman