9 BOOKS I’M EXCITED ABOUT READING in the first part of 2016

 

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I’m almost embarrassed about the numbers of unread books I have in my house. I have a pretty voracious curiosity, and sometimes before I consume a book totally (I’m not the fastest reader), my attention moves on to something else.

So here is a short list of books that I currently already own, but haven’t read yet. Maybe you might want to read one or two as well…

  1. Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious ViolenceI love what Rabbi Sacks is highlighting with this book, namely (and I am greatly paraphrasing here) that the solution to religious violence (whether perpetrated by Jews, Muslims, or Christians in particular) can only be found in religion as it is properly understood. He shows how the “Abrahamic Faiths” (Muslims, Jews, and Christians) all share a story of a God who is radically inclusive and accepting. So far, this is inspiring and engaging.
  2. The 2nd Amendment: A Biography. As a self-avowed pacifist and (at least) “non-gun-owner”, the 2nd amendment—and specifically how it has been co-opted by the NRA to fight any type of gun control legislation—is pretty interesting to me. Waldman shows how the original amendment was written to balance “standing armies” and “well-regulated militias,” as well as how the 2nd Amendment took a significant turn (in regards to gun ownership) relatively recently.
  3. Against Heresies. St. Iranaeus was a bishop and church father from the 3rd century. His theology has had a significant impact on me personally, and I’m reading this in order to get things straight from the source, so to speak. The gist of his theology is a bit too deep to get into here, but suffice it to say that Irenaeus emphasizes spiritual growth and transformation in such a way that I think will be significant for the 21st century.
  4. Is God a Moral Monster? Copan tackles one of the more difficult subjects in the Bible: namely the apparent sanction of war and even genocide in the books of Joshua and Judges. Haven’t read too much of this yet, so I don’t have much to say, except that Copan appears to show that those “sanctions” or endorsements aren’t quite as clear-cut as we’d like to think.
  5. The Qur’an. Ever since the rise of ISIS in 2014, I’ve been trying to better understand Islam. (A super helpful book, by the way, is called The Great Theft: Rescuing Islam from the Extremists by Khaled Abou El Fadl.) One of my theology professors told me that he reads the Qur’an every year in order to have profitable conversations with Muslims, and he offered a reading plan that would help me navigate the text.
  6. Interior Castle. St. Theresa of Avila wrote this masterwork of Christian mysticism and prayer. I started this in November as part of my morning prayer time.
  7. No Man Is An IslandThomas Merton (along with Brennan Manning and Henri Nouwen) is one of my “g0-to” writers for meditation and contemplation. God continues to use him to challenge me to let go and become better at detachment. I read him constantly through the year.
  8. Short Stories by JesusAmy-Jill Levine is a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School. She is the “next-level” in understanding Jesus in terms of Jewishness (Levine is Jewish). She brings a thoroughly fresh (and often very challenging) perspective to the parables and stories of Jesus. Really great stuff.
  9. The Ninth Book I’m excited about is the one I’m going to write this year. I have a few things “in process”, and this year is going to be about overcoming “The Resistance” and pushing through the end of this. It’s time to produce. To Make Stuff.

So this is how I’m starting my year; I invite you to engage with any of these with me, and let me know what you think!

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