CBWC Executive Minister Jeremy Bell sends out a weekly enewsletter, News and Notes, to share various aspects of denominational life. The most recent issue contains the summer reading lists of several of our friends from across the West. About a month ago I shared some reading ideas, but I thought it would be nice to share others’ lists as well. Below, I have reposted Jeremy’s newsletter from July 29. ~Cailey
My Father’s Day card for my dad this year was a picture of a very much younger man, reading a book on the beach, with his feet resting on an even large stack of summer reading. Call that an archaic way of absorbing information, or call it what it is – bliss!
As a model of truly eclectic reading, I turn to my mother Elizabeth (who is extremely and broadly well read) and my wife Kerry. I am a collector of biographies, and have been reading historical fiction and biographies since the age of 7. I am a history major, I did guided study with J. Edwin Orr (a great Irish evangelist and historian of revivals), and Geoffrey Bromiley, from whom I learned historical theology and church history. Bromiley also did a guided study on William Wilberforce and the relationship between the Clapham Sect and the Utilitarians. I feel like the matchmaker Yentil from Fiddler on the Roof, putting book and person together, to which Shelby Gregg asks “is there anything better?” Sure some things, but not a lot.
I have asked several people from a broad range of backgrounds to tell us of their summer reading. By the time you get this, we will be into summer, but dig in, buy, borrow, or simply vicariously enjoy.
The peace of the Lord be with you.
Michael Engbers (FBC Prince Albert, SK)
The next seven books on my reading list, in no specific order are:
Static Jedi by Eric Samuel Timm – This was a gift from a ministry group doing a presentation at our church and it speaks to the noise in the world and how that can challenge our ability to listen to God.
Mentoring Leaders by Carson Pue – a book someone gave me as they cleaned out their library. I’ve had a number of conversations about mentoring lately and thought this would be a good read on that topic to help me expand my understanding of what it means.
Affirming the Apostles Creed by J I Packer – This fall I’m doing a sermon series using the Apostles Creed as an outline for the series. Thought this would be a good way to dive into some of the preparation for the series.
A Failure of Nerve – Edwin Friedman – I read an earlier book by him called Generation to Generation and wanted to read some more of what he has to say about how organizations are like families and how we can lead them.
What’s in a Phrase? – Marilyn Chandler McEntyre – this author has been mentioned to me before, and so I grabbed this book for a more devotional style reading.
Necessary Endings – Dr. Henry Cloud – Not planning any major endings soon, so to me the best time to read on something is before you deal with it. I also know that I can hold on and be hesitant to bring an ending to something, and I hope this gives me some insights into the topic to chew over.
The God of Hope and the End of the World by John Polkinghorne – this book was recommended by a friend who is an Anglican Priest. The book is written by a man who is a theoretical physicist and Anglican priest. The recommendation is that it’s a very intriguing read so to me it was worth giving some time too.
Colin Godwin (President, Carey Theological College)
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. This is a short read (only 150 pages) that I haven’t cracked open since my undergraduate days. One of my personal, academic and spiritual interests is virtue. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman general and former persecutor of Christians, may have become a Christian later in life. In any case, he was an outstanding leader, and his thoughts on Temperance; Fortitude; Prudence and Justice influenced the theology of the early Church.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. If you are an introvert or are married to one, I highly recommend looking at the TED talk that Susan Cain did in 2012. It is also a great introduction to her book.
Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton. ‘What do others think about me?’ seems to be a rather universal question. Alain de Bouton takes a philosophical and humourous look at the human obsession with measuring up. I hope to gain some further insights about the consumeristic and status-conscious culture that has invaded Canada.
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. Part of ambition is modeling yourself after those you’d like to be like. Austin’s philosophy of ruthlessly stealing and remixing the greats might sound appalling at first but it is actually the essence of art. I’m a big fan of innovation so I look forward to some insights from Austin Kleon.
The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity by Kory Kogan, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne, time management and productivity experts at Franklin Covey. Our most valuable (and limited) resource is time. I look forward to hearing a few more good insights about how to focus my energies on the most important things in my life, including work, family and my faith.
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Another one of my personal, academic and spiritual interests is power. In recent years, I have read about power and powerlessness as it shapes international development work in Africa (and elsewhere). In the 48 Laws of Power, Greene provides an unashamed view on how power actually works in practice, both for good and for ill (but mostly for ill, I think). Jesus taught us a different way (Matthew 5-7; 1 Corinthians 1:18), but it is nonetheless useful to understand how the world ‘works’.
Why Mars And Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress by John Gray. I missed the entire series of ‘Mars and Venus’ books on gender and relationships when I was overseas. I picked this one up and look forward to reading it with an eye on both the book and Canadian culture.
Three books from Peter Drucker, the father of modern management theory and a devout Christian: Managing the Nonprofit Organization, The Effective Executive and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Two of these I have read before but want to reacquaint myself. I look forward to reading The Effective Executive for the first time, as well as the ‘sequel’ written by Larry Bossidy, Execution: the Discipline of Getting Things Done.
Carey’s VP Academic, Dr. Chung-Yan Joyce Chan, has had her second book published: William Dean and the First Chinese Study Bible. In addition to being written by a colleague and friend, this book fits well into my longstanding interest in Bible literacy and its role in global evangelism.
The Carey Hall Board of Administration will be working on some strategic planning in the fall. In preparation for this, I will be reviewing two important books: Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability by Jeanne Bell, Jan Masaoka and Steve Zimmerman and Extraordinary Board Leadership: the keys to high impact governing by Doug Eadie.
Finally, some fiction reading, two classic science fiction stories: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (1973) and Ringworld by Larry Niven (1970).
Faye Reynolds (Women and Intergenerational Ministries)
For light reading I like to pick up a Jodi Picoult and John Grisham read because they usually have some moral or ethical dilemma or issue of injustice that they deal with, so entertainment with some thought-provoking content. This year’s titles were: Handle with Care (JP) and Grey Mountain (JG)
By chance I picked up The Road by Cormac MacCarthy and it was a rather dark, apocalyptic read of a father and son trying to travel south with few supplies and resources after some catastrophic event that has left most dead in a grey, smoke filled world with a few bad people and a few good people. The challenge was to meet up with the good ones and not the bad. It purportedly speaks of the enduring human spirit and the light of goodness that survives, but I found more darkness than light in his tale.
The Reason for God: Timothy Keller. I am not usually drawn to Apologetic writings but Keller has been insightful on a few fronts and since I had also recently read Love Wins by Rob Bell, it was nice to have a counter perspective on eternal consequences. The most helpful point Keller makes for me is that if we do not believe in some kind of after-life accounting of deeds done, then humans have tendency to mete out justice on our own terms in this life, and vengeance perpetuates violence. When we truly trust God to sort out justice, knowing full well that he is righteous and gracious and merciful, we are less likely to take things into our own hands in this life.
I have a few favourite authors that I like to revisit in the summer like meeting up with old friends again. Frederick Buechner, Walter Wangerine Junior and Madeline L’Engle are on the top of the list and this summer I have chosen to re-read L’Engle’s Genesis Trilogy. She has an amazing way of seeing the humanness of the Biblical characters while embracing the miraculous within their life tales as God works with them, through them and often in spite of them. She understands so well the art of story that allows her to enter into the lives of the central characters in Genesis at almost a literal, face-value approach, and yet bring them into today as our stories that continue to speak into our personal faith journeys. A few of her illustrations are dated, but her insights are timeless and she is a master with words.
Aaron Dyck (Senior Pastor, Gateway Baptist Church, Victoria, BC)
1. Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper – Ben Witherington III
Ben’s always been a favourite of mine. Gateway is the most theologically diverse church I’ve ever been a part of, and our community’s backgrounds range from un-churched to Pentecostal, from Closed Brethren to Catholic and beyond. One of the places these collide is Communion, or “the Lord’s Supper.” Witherington re-frames the Lord’s Supper in such a way that not only invites disparate persons to the table, but demands it.
2. Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony – Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon
This is my third read through this book, and it is proving as prophetic as ever. Published in 1993, its call for the Church to be the Church, and the observations of the consequences when it tries too hard to relate with culture, is spot on.
Mark Doerksen (Heartland Regional Minister)
These are the books on my reading list for the summer. If the fishing is good, my reading list will dwindle significantly.
Daniel Block, Deuteronomy: The NIV Application Commentary. I audited a course by Dan Block this spring, and I have been reading this commentary since. His spin on the book would be that of recovering the gospel according to Moses, and he speaks much about how the Israelites would have seen the covenant as a grace to their community.
Daniel Block, For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Dan spoke of this book in his class a bit, and I’ve long been interested in the topic. Dan tries hard to convince his readers that worship is not about our enjoyment, but about whether or not God is pleased with our worship. I think it’s a good reminder for us all.
Timothy Keller, Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism. I am always interested in perspectives on preaching and teaching, and I find Tim Keller to be quite a good communicator, and so I’m going to try and get through this one.
Gary V. Nelson & Peter M. Dickens, Leading in Disorienting Times. The name Gary Nelson was familiar to me, so I picked this book up and look forward to reading it. I agree that these are disorienting times for society and the church, and I’m interested to see what these authors have to say about leading in such a time as this.
Mark McKim, Christian Theology for a Secular Society: Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land. Mark is the pastor at First Baptist Regina, and loves theology and having people learn more about theology. I picked this up in the fall, and am looking forward to completing it. The topic is related to Nelson’s book, and I appreciate Mark’s motivation as he writes. He attempts to relate Christian teachings to a secular society and to what is happening in the local church.
N.T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Part 1. I have been working on this for a while now, and it’s one of those books that I want to finally complete. A caption on the back of the book says that Wright explores the whole context of Paul’s thought and activity and then shows how those influences enabled him to engage with the many complexities the early churches were facing.