Summer books

The Godly Home – Richard Baxter (1645) // Excerpted and edited from Baxter’s 1,143 page Christian Directory, this is an excellent manual of Christian marriage and family life and glowingly recommended to Christian men. Still powerfully relevant today. I am still in the midst of blogging through the excellent section on the directions and motives for the holy leading of families.

Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury (1957) // A great summer read, as it is an semi-autobiographical novel of a summer in the life of a pre-teen boy. Bradbury is a profound and magical wordsmith, as I found myself re-reading so many paragraphs for their sublimity. Some weird mystical and religious reflections near the end, quite different from his Fahrenheit 451 and his other science fiction, but still very much enjoyable.

Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection – Robert Farrar Capon (1967) // Capon, an Episcopal priest and amateur chef, reflects on food, life, wine, hospitality, feasting, and onions in this engaging book. Capon has the Lewis-ian gift of writing with power, wit, and insight. I might even go so far as to call him winsome.

Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape our Practice – Bryan Chapell (2009) // This is on the short list of helpful books on worship that I’ve read. An historical, pastoral, and biblical examination of what a gospel-shaped liturgy should include (adoration, confession, assurance, thanksgiving, petition, instruction, communion, benediction). However, Chapell lost some rapport with me on the “Shine Jesus Shine,” “Mary Did You Know,” Twila Paris, and other questionable music recommendations as well as his veiled endorsement of emergent worship.

The Subversion of Christianity – Jacques Ellul (1986) // Ellul is thoughtful and provocative in this dense book, wherein he argues that Christians and the church have lost their subversive characteristics in the world. This isn’t your typical postmodern “be the church” anti-establishment manifesto, but Ellul argues passionately for the retaining of doctrine and practice. Ellul touches on moral, institutional, sacramental, political, technological, and sociological failures of the church that has contributed to its subversion. I’d add “subversion” to my list of buzzwords, but Ellul uses it accurately and meaningfully, and before it was cool.

Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truth that Lasts – Joshua Harris (2011) //  I wrote a full review here. This is an accessible introduction to Christian doctrine that’s appropriate for youth group/high school study or for quick personal study

In Living Color: Images of Christ and the Means of Grace – Daniel Hyde (2009) // An excellent, short, pastoral defense of utilizing only God’s prescribed media to see and experience Christ: preaching and the sacraments. Hyde expertly but accessibly uses Scripture, ancient creeds, and the Reformed confessions and catechisms to make his case. Really enjoyed this one.

The Search  for Christian America – Mark Noll, et al (1989) // Very dated, but a fascinating historical look at America’s Christian roots. The authors are respected, Christian, and scholarly historians who argue convincingly that America is not – and has never been – a Christian nation. Well researched yet accessible, though I would recommend a more recent book on the topic first.

The Second Coming – Walker Percy (1980) // Percy considered this to be his best novel, and it’s easy to see why, with its intense autobiographical elements (the protagonist’s father and grandfather each committed suicide, as did Percy’s). This novel is about Will Barrett, a rich and seriously depressed widower contemplating suicide who accidentally meets a mental hospital escapee living in a greenhouse. More prominent than the plot is Barrett’s existential crises, quirky philosophical ramblings, search for God in a cave, obsession with his father’s first attempt at suicide, and his discontent with believers and unbelievers alike. Enjoyably quirky, philosophical, and beautiful. Not my favorite Percy novel, but he has been further solidified in my upper echelon of favorite novelists.

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist – John Piper (1986) // Finally read the full book. I’m not a Piperite, and though I took issue with aspects of the book, it was good to spend some time in the evangelical/Calvinist hallway. I found the chapters on prayer, money, and missions to be especially challenging, important, and worth the read.

Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship; Celebrating the Legacy of James Montgomery Boice – Philip Ryken, ed. (2003) // Excellent, lengthy resource on all aspects of Reformed worship with contributions from dozens of prominent Reformed pastors and teachers. I found the chapters on liturgy, worship music, and the sacraments to be especially poignant, though I admit that I skimmed the chapters geared toward preachers (e.g. expository preaching).

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