Summer is always a fun time to break the monotony of our routine and shake things up. It’s a time to have a little fun and often try something we wish we could try but don’t have time for at other parts of the year.
Last year I took a little time off from writing during the summer and invited a few friends to guest blog on my site. Part of this was because I had just graduated seminary and wanted to take a little time off to recharge my theological batteries. But it gave me a chance to do something different with my blog.
This year I’ve decided to lay out a loose plan for what I want to write about over the summer. With schedules calming down a bit and the opportunity to vacation comes the chance to read more. Those who know me in real life know that I’m a pretty avid reader in all seasons of the year. But I’ve found it to be a good discipline over the past couple of summers to lay out a reading list. This year, I’d like to try blogging through my summer reading list.
[Keep in mind these are my theological reads — I also have a few fiction books on tap for the summer as well]
Below are a couple of books I plan to read and blog through. I’m open to more so please feel free to comment with more book suggestions.
1) Almost Christian by Kenda Creasy Dean
I’ve already begun this series with a post here. This book is a great commentary on the state of Christianity in America. Dean argues that the luke warm faith (or lack thereof) of our teenagers is a direct result of a churches and adults teaching that faith is not central to one’s life — at least not in the sense that it should alter the way we live day to day. She argues that while we might teach the fundamentals of a sport or hobby to our kids, we’re just fine simply exposing kids to faith. As we face a growing decline of authentic Christian faith in our churches, Dean’s book is an amazing read with insights that can both convict and enlighten us to rediscover our faith in new ways.
2) Bishop by Will Willimon
Willimon’s book will offer a church context for a larger conversation I want to have on the subject of leadership. As a young pastor I’m very weak in the area of leadership due to a lack of experience. Therefore I find it very important to read and learn as much as I can on the topic in the hopes that as I learn, I can put theories into practice. Willimon’s book has made waves of late because of its candor and behind the scenes glimpse into the life and issues of being a bishop. I personally think it offers a lot on the subject of leadership as Willimon leans on leadership literature for a good many of his citations. So my hope is to blog through this book but also bring in some other leadership material along the way. Obviously this series will involve more questions than answers.
3) Why Narrative? edited by L. Gregory Jones and Stanley Hauerwas
This is my dense theological reading for the summer. In a world that tends to flatten things like faith out in order to make it relevant or accessible, I’m intrigued by narrative theology. In narrative theology, one is challenged to read a story deeper in order to discover the formative ways that story can act on and in your own personal narrative. I love the power of story-telling and feel it’s becoming a lost art in a church culture that prefers more teaching sermons where people can be given 3 to 5 points on any given topic and apply it to their lives. For me, story-telling dares to tell listeners that they’re story isn’t THE story — but it can be a part of something larger. Also, the power of God’s story is that it can still call people anew and transform their lives. Teaching through story requires trust in the Holy Spirit and faith that God’s story can stand on its own. So I’d love to get into a series on the power of narrative and story and how they shape and form us into the people of God.
What other books do you recommend? Is there something you’re reading right now that’s impacted your faith?