Friday, August 5, 2011

What I'm reading - August Edition


The problem with reading blogs is that occasionally frequently they will review books that sound really interesting. This is causing my 'to-read' list over at Goodreads to increase beyond what I could possibly read in at least the next six months. And every time I knock a book off, two or three more come to take its place. This could get expensive if I bought every book, fortunately we have a great library system that has most of them available. But sometimes books hover at the top of my list for awhile and the library doesn't have them and I never win any of the free copies given away on blogs, so I give up and order them. I just got an order in this week, so suddenly my pile of books has grown dramatically. Here's what I'm reading, or contemplating reading, this month.

Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. This is a library book that I'm about half-way through. So far it has been a surprisingly easy read (there are copious footnotes and references at the bottom of each page for the more scholarly minded). The book explores the roots of...well, just about EVERYTHING we do or see in church. From the set-up of the building, to what we wear to the order of service this book shows where those practices came from and how they deviate from what the 1st century church looked like and was intended to be.

OK, I wasn't naive enough to think that the early church looked like how we do things now. Still, it is eye-opening to see just how we differ and why that can hinder the church functioning in the way it was intended to function. No, I'm not ready to run out and join a house church; I love the church I'm at too much for that. But this book is making me rethink how we function as a body and wonder if there is any way to move back at all.

Following somewhat off that is the next book on my list Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh. If you know me you know that I am an introvert's introvert. There's not even any question about it. My 'I' on the Meyers Briggs is about as heavily weighted of an I as you can get. So from the moment I saw this book reviewed I knew I had to read it, because honestly the attitude of the many wonderful extroverts I know that with God's help I can exhibit my passion just like them is getting a little bit wearying. If God wanted me to act like them then wouldn't he have made me an extrovert? This book is about introverts finding our place in a church that values extroverts as the highest example of the what we should attain to. It is a book for introverts like me, struggling to find their place. It is a book for the extroverts who love us, to help them understand that we are not simply less passionate versions of themselves. It is a book for the 25% of pastors who are introverts in a position where people expect them to be extroverts. It as a book for the members of their churches wondering why their pastor doesn't act the way they think a pastor ought to act. In other words, its a book for all of us.

The next book on my list is Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James. (Are you detecting a theme here?) This book is my antidote to the teaching of 'what a Godly Christian Woman (TM) looks like'. It takes away the assumption that all women operate on the same economic or stage of life footing and examines what God really calls us to be.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Kristof and WuDunn is next on my list. (See, I just took the theme and turned a corner!) This one hit my list mainly because I am passionate about women's and children's issues and am trying to figure out how to direct that passion.

And finally Just Moms: Conveying Justice in an Unjust World, a compilation of stories from 27 authors on modeling Christian social-justice principles for our children. I will admit that so far this one is my favorite because it is SO readable. Every story is short, every story is self-contained, every story is REAL! This is the perfect book for moms like myself who are right the thick of mothering and wondering how to teach our children about things like simplicity, equality, peace, and giving. It is a book to reassure us that we don't have to follow some program and get it perfect, that we don't have to turn out perfect little activists. We just have to be real, and allow our children to be real as well.

Oh, ok, that's not the last book in my list. Lest you think I'm all about the non-fiction let me assure you that my primary delight is fiction and this month I am also reading:

Unwind which I need to pick up from the library today and also A Game of Thrones because it has been awhile since I geeked out on a good epic fantasy. I may also work a few cheesy mysteries and chick-lit books in there as well. I am so not an intellectual!

So, that's what I'm reading, what about you?

P.S. I can't possibly read all of these books at once, so if anyone in this area really wants to borrow one I will happily lend it out.

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