What are you reading?

th-2I have a stack of read and unread books on my desk with titles that engage me. Most of them are about Christianity on the fringes, which is what most interests me since Christianity has become so mainstream. Since it’s the overwhelming impression of the New Testament that true Christianity will never be mainstream, it makes one suspicious of what it is we have now; thus the appeal of the messages that might not hit the current bulls eye in the Christian market.

Take Os Guinness’s The Global Public Square which we have discussed on a number of occasions here at the Catch, as well as enjoying Os as a guest on our BlogTalkRadio show. Os is encouraging Christians to work for greater freedom for all religions — and none — in the marketplace, because freedom for all means freedom for the truth of the gospel to surface and not be forced or sold by the state or the subculture.

Then there’s Nothing But the Blood, by Zach J. Hoag, which somehow pulls the gospel out of the Showtime series Dexter, the story of a psychotic killer. I haven’t read this book, nor have I seen even one episode of the series, so this is not a recommendation. I was simply intrigued by the bizarre nature of the connection that I had to get the book just to find out how he does it and if it’s legitimate.

Then there is Jim and Casper Go to Church, by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper. This one I have read, and it’s a fascinating look at churches written by a Christian through the eyes of an atheist who accompanied him to a number of well-known and not-so-well-known churches across the country. How does an atheist react to evangelical Christianity today? There are some surprises here.

Speaking of atheists, a friend of mine just sent me Frank Schaeffer’s new book, Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God. Frank is another of our radio guests who will probably not be a best-seller in Christian bookstores. Frank’s books sell better outside the Christian market, which is a good thing, since, in spite of their controversial nature, they still carry the message of the gospel in a way that might gain some thoughtful consideration by those who normally would be closed to it.

None of these books so far give Christians what they want. On the contrary, they make us think. They push us beyond our comfort zones.

Then there are two books sent to me by Catch members I have yet to tackle, but I love them for their titles. There is The Myth of a Christian Nation by Gregory A. Boyd with the subtitle: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church, and my favorite title of all, Questions to All Your Answers: The Journey from Folk Religion to Examined Faith, by Roger E. Olson. You almost don’t have to read that one; the title’s that good. I’d much rather read a book which raises questions than one that hands out answers.

Which leads us to our last entry, one written by my friend Ramon Presson, with a title that greatly challenged his search for a Christian publisher because he refused to give up the title he wanted: When Will My Life Not Suck? Kind of flies in the face of all those answer books.

So what’s the point? Live to be challenged. Read what stretches you, not what confirms everything you already know. Bolster the truth, not the party line. Look for help with the way things are, not the way we wish they were. Fill your life with praise, not propaganda.

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8 Responses to What are you reading?

  1. Carol says:

    Another great one is “Messy Spirituality” by Mike Yaconelli.

  2. David Morgereth says:

    Thanks John – I’ve added a couple of your recommendations to my Amazon Wish List. Two others that are really good:
    – “The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More than Our Lips” by John Dickson. He “steers away from the technique-based evangelistic approaches and shows how every facet of life can be lived in such a way that it promotes the gospel and its transforming power” (from the Amazon summary)
    – “Twelve Steps for the Recovering Pharisee”, by some guy named John Fischer 🙂 A great book on how none of us are righteous, and all of us need the gospel.

  3. Cathy says:

    One of the very best books I have read is “Eternity, Reclaiming a Passion for What Endures” by Joseph Stowell. It’s an older book, 2006, but one that I re-read, to remind myself what matters.

  4. bobbobs60 says:

    Not ashamed to admit that I’m currently reading “The Essential Groucho – Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx” by Stefan Kanfer.
    Nothing necessarily ‘spiritual’ but, every so often, I find I need a break from Christian-based publications.
    It’s always nice to belly-laugh after an extended period of reading the oft-humorless compositions of Christian scriveners.

    “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.” 🙂

    • jwfisch says:

      All writers are human. There is much good in being human. Everyone has access to that. I would hope you would not only read Christian writers.

      • Robert Smith says:

        No, not any more.
        But there was a time – in our early church-going days – when reading or listening to anything from a source other than one branded “Christian” was frowned upon.
        And, if you did happen to read the newspaper or watch “secular” news, you were supposed to place it in the context of how it aligns with Scripture and how it all proves that the world is going to hell in a hand basket.
        Reading or thinking anything outside of the prescribed Church recommendations was best left to those with “stronger spiritual strength or intellect” and/or divinity degrees.
        That was then, but is still probably the case these days too…

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