Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Books I'm Digesting

Almost Christian (Kenda Creasy Dean). This is one of those reads where you keep thinking about the implications for weeks. Dean addresses the implications of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD), the dominant spirituality of American teens based on a national study. I'm starting to recognize MTD in the language of the teens I shepherd, as well as my own thoughts at times. It's been a deeply convicting read even as a parent, inspiring me to lead my family in such a way that Christ is part of the very DNA and identity of the Mayward family culture, not just some add-on or "part of Dad's job." I've already done a teaching series based on this phenomenal book. Every church leader and Christian parent should read this.

Many Colors (Soong-Chan Rah). I had to read this for a seminary class I took in early January. It's one of those books I would have never picked up on my own, but now I'm a better leader for having read it. Rah writes in order to equip the American evangelical church for the cultural changes that are already occurring across the United States. He argues that we need to grow in our cultural intelligence, i.e. our ability to learn and love the diverse cultures that are all around us. This isn't just a book about overcoming racism; it is a practical ministry tool for loving every tribe, tongue, and nation in the name of Christ without ignorance.

Christ and Culture (H. Richard Niebuhr). Another seminary class book, this seminal book has caused numerous lightbulbs to go off and a variety of paradigm shifts for my own cultural engagement. Niebuhr offers five types/views that Christians use to engage culture, ranging from a Christ against culture model (i.e. culture is inherently bad and worth avoiding or condemning) to a Christ of culture model (syncretistic and liberal, basically affirming Christ only as He pertains to the culture at large). From the various ways we view film to the paradigm I have when approaching the culture of junior high students, the varying ways we engage culture as followers of Jesus is extremely important. We can do it out of ignorance and knee-jerk reactions, or we can engage culture intelligently and with an understanding of both why and how. I'd argue that Niebuhr is an absolute must-read for church leaders.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Eric Metaxas). I'm just barely into the first section of this monster biography about the German theologian, but it's been incredibly enlightening to read about the life of one of my favorite authors/theologians/writers. It's very well researched and comprehensive, making the book extremely long, but quite engaging and informative. As with any biography, I'm sure Metaxas comes at it with his own views and bent towards the life of Bonhoeffer, but thus far, it's been a fantastic read. I'm not a big biography reader, so this is a new genre for me, and one I'm eager to get into.

Check out my 2011 Book Journal for more reviews on books I'm digesting.

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