I am not a good reader. I don’t jump into books very well, I’m not into fiction and I have way too much energy to sit down and make myself read. That said, I love reading. So while I only get to reading a few books a year, I try to make them amazing. So this year, these are the authors that made a dent in my thoughts and life. You’ll notice I’m starting to appreciate some older theology, I’m not sure what it is, but it is fascinating for me to see these words being written over twenty years ago and still be needed for today.
1. Stanley Hauerwas – Even though we brought him into our Amidst the Powers conference, he’s been writing books that people have been quoting for years and he’s one of the more respected theologians out there, I have never actually sat down to read anything of his as a whole. I’ve read a few articles and they were always great, and his quotes were always beautiful. So this year I sat down and read Community of Character and I came away extremely happy I did so. This is a book that anyone who has any interest in the church, let alone planting them or leading them, needs to read. Hauerwas seems to have a perspective on the world and the church that accounts for a lot of the bullshit that flies around. His hope for the church and Jesus actually brings hope. I look forward to reading some more.
2. Leslie Newbigin – The first book I picked out on my Kindle to read was Foolishness to the Greeks, and it is excellent. He’s another one of those older theologians who I just seem to connect with as of late. This book he seems to be more of a philosopher than anything. He just seems to get the world and the Christian’s role inside the world. When you read people who write like he writes it makes you not as embarrassed to be a Christian. He can contribute into academics like Christians should rather than yelling from afar trying to debate things that no one cares about.
3. James K.A. Smith – I don’t have a great taste in my mouth from the reformed folks. I’m not sure what it was, but it seemed like I always had the biggest “theology blowups” with them. The problem with this is that I seemed to agree with most of their “people” and what they were saying. I connect with a lot of reformed tradition and theology, it was just the people I knew were reformed were so sure they were right that it turned me off completely of whatever they were saying. I figured any theology that had someone that convinced of something, with very little grace for anyone who believed different, wasn’t a theology worth spending my time with. James KA Smith was a breath of fresh air. I ran into a few of his excellent articles online like his review on Hipster Christianity and his Interview on Patrol and then I fell in love. So I picked up Devil wears Derrida and every chapter was a different essay about something and his outlook was clear, humble and refreshing.