Finished a few books in the past week or so:
- Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends, by Kevin Vanhoozer, ed. This is a great book on how to make theological sense of culture. Vanhoozer writes the introductory essay that outlines his method for such interpretation, and is worth buying the book. As you might expect (for those familiar with Vanhoozer), he orients his method within speech-act theory and the locution, illocution, and perlocution of a text or trend. It is a nuanced and balanced way to think about culture, much better than approaches that simply dismiss cultural phenomena because they contain “bad things.” It provides a great way to think and talk about culture within the context of youth ministry. The rests of the chapters are actually papers written by Vanhoozer’s students in a class on interpreting culture. They discuss topics such as Eminem, church architecture, the movie Gladiator, and a host of others. It’s a bit academic at times but worth the effort, especially if you want to talk coherently about culture with teenagers.
- The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics, by Stanley Hauerwas. This was my first time to read Hauerwas, and won’t be my last. If you are thinking about a traditional introductory ethics text when you hear the subtitle of this book, forget it. In the book, Hauerwas reveals that he realized that in doing ethics as a Christian he wasn’t an ethicist, but a theologian. The book provides the basics of Hauerwas’ thought and combines the fields of theology, ethics, and ecclesiology. I really need to read it again to get a good handle on it, but it wasn’t overly difficult to read.
- Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, by N.T. Wright. I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for a while and decided to just read it as quick as I could before I read Wright’s newest book (see below). So, I picked up the book Friday and have about 20 pages left, which I’ll finish today. If you aren’t familiar with Wright, this is a great introductory book to his thought. Extremely easy to read, clearly organized and thought-out, but with the depth you’d expect from a world-class scholar and theologian. There are definitely echoes of his larger works (Jesus and the Victory of God, for example) that come through in a clear, simple, and accessible fashion. Besides being a great introductory text to the Christian faith, it is also a great introduction to Wright. Some have called it a Mere Christianity for our day. I’m not sure I would go that far, but time will tell.
Now that I’ve got those books clear and will be heading to the beach for vacation soon, I need to make sure I’ve got good reading material with me. So, I’ll be taking these books with me on vacation:
- Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, by N.T. Wright. This is the newest of Wright’s books (I think), and I bought a copy for one of my graduating seniors. He’s already started reading it and I want to read it along with him. It’s a semi-sequel to Simply Christian, which is why I figured I’d read the other book first.
- Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, by Eugene Peterson. I decided a while back to try and read everything Peterson has written. Wisdom drips from the pages of his books. He also has the right rhythm and tone to make it a great, relaxing beach read.
- Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say, by Douglas Rushkoff. I read a review of this book on a blog somewhere and was fascinated. It’s not a Christian book, but talks about the “power of media and the mechanics of deception.” Sounds fun.
I don’t expect to read all these books on vacation, but with plane rides there, time in airports, and laying on the beach and in the hotel I should have plenty of down time. Maybe I’ll get through one. One of my greatest fears in life is to want to read something and not have a good book laying around. So, like the good cub scout I was, I’m always prepared.