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So Many Books, So Little Time

By Mike Mccauley on
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May 19 in Musings
If you know me at all, you know I love to read- widely, deeply, critically. And I tend to
read several books simultaneously, from a variety of genres. The author Diane Duane once wrote “Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” If I have several books going, it means that I have one for whatever mood I’m in- theology, novel, poetry, history. It also means that a few times a year I finish a number of books all at once. So here’s the recently completed list:
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. I wrote about this short novel recently. It’s based on a true story from the Bosnian War and is a fascinating reflection on beauty and the resilience of human beings.
The Scalpel and Cross by Donald R. Fletcher. Anna Kerr passed this to me, a short history of a medical missionary to Korea in the first half of the 20th century. These pictures of passion to care for people and spread the gospel, sometimes at great personal cost, are inspiring.
Prayer by Tim Keller. My men’s group read this over several months, and discussed it chapter by chapter. The founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City has a clear, simple way of writing which is put to good use in a study of prayer- scripture, history, theology and practical application.
Redeeming Sex by Deb Hirsch. Deb is from Australia, but now lives near Hollywood and has spoken at several Fellowship events nationally. She once pastored the Tribe church in East LA. In this book she reframes the very confusing and sometimes damaging conversation in the Church around sexuality, gender, holiness and grace. She has her own dramatic journey of faith and sexuality to bring to the conversation. Though at her core she tends toward more traditional values and practices, she pointedly wants to expand the conversation and the impact of grace.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. This has been a bestseller for some time now. Vance grew up in a very poor and fractured family in the Rust Belt, impacted by economic downturns and a poorly educated community. He gives voice to part of the U.S. which doesn’t always receive attention in political conversation, but may be responsible for the results of last year’s presidential election. The book is much more sociology than politics, and the last chapter connects to the political climate. This is a good read for people on all sides of the current spectrum.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. This vigorously researched 2010 book is about race in the United States. It is not fast reading, and the subject matter is neither easy nor comfortable. Alexander’s well-defended premise is that the old Jim Crow laws which kept African Americans in inferior socio-economic places may be gone, but they have been replaced by something even stronger. The statistics on the imprisonment of young men of color are convicting and depressing.  The numbers from many studies clearly show that whites who sell or possess drugs in equal proportion to all other races...are arrested and imprisoned far less than others. The reality check of  barriers people face once they get out of prison is equally discouraging. The system is broken.
The Complete Father Brown Stories. A detective series, G.K. Chesterton’s 59 short stories about the nondescript priest who somehow solves very confusing crimes are brilliant- and currently a BBC TV series. Just when you think you are reading something light and entertaining, Chesterton slips in a theological zinger that pulls you up short and makes you think more deeply about faith.
So there you have it, seven possibilities for you to read, think about, disagree with or talk about with someone. Good books stretch us, and prompt conversation about things that matter.  I have to agree with C.S. Lewis: “You can never get a cup of tea (coffee) large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” 
                See you soon,
                                    Pastor Dan
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