16 books for summer ’16!

It’s an unimaginative blogger who turns to lists, but I resign myself to one now!  I find summer time a great chance to grow by reading.  Quiet rainy morning on holiday somewhere?  Lazy Sunday evening before the week starts?  How about the time the kids have sprinted off to the garden to play?  Developing a habit of reading things other than blogs and online articles is fab.  Give it a go!  Here’s a few I’ll be reading:

  1. The Space Trilogy (CS Lewis)
    We grew up reading Narnia and I still get groups of students together to narrate it round the fire during long winter evenings.  Belfast boy (and Oxford Professor) Lewis’ other works have been foundational to my spiritual life (if you want a starting point try here) .  But I’ve not read any other fiction that Lewis had written, so I thought that’d be fun – let’s hope they’re as good as Narnia!
  2. The Coconut War: Vanuatu and the struggle for independence
    My sister brought a Vanuatuan friend to Scotland recently, who she works alongside in Chad.  A fun e-book to teach me something about a country I know nothing about was this, so here’s hoping it helps me ask good questions to him!
  3. Heaven (Morgan and Peterson, Crossway)
    Every year the Relay study program challenges me in various ways, even though I’m not doing it!  Colossians 3 taught me that contrary to popular belief, people who spend most time thinking about heaven, are the most earthly use.  So I’m resolving to meditate more on Heaven and will start with this fascinating conglomerate of a book.
  4. Confessing the Faith: a reader’s guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith (Van Dixhoorn)
    I’ve been brought up with the WCF but like everything in life, am still increasing in my understanding of why it says what it does, why it places emphasis on certain things, and what the implications are for life and ministry.  We all have creeds or beliefs that we hold to and live out.  I find it challenging to see how consistent (or not) I am to mine.  Van Doxhoorn’s work is simply the best, given his study and yet it is in easily digestable chunks.
  5. The Islamic World in the New Century: the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, 1969-2009 (Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu)
    History is the bane of my life (well, a little exaggerated) but I was once told not only to invest in your weakest area but also that if you find something interesting, you can learn history through it, so voila!
  6. Beamish and Crawford: the history of an Irish brewery (O’Driscoll and O’Driscoll)
    As much as Beamish is Cork’s local brew (Guinness is simply a tourist drink), this colourful publication I’ve been working my way through since it’s publication and is a delightful intro to everything Cork.  Maps, images, descriptions of life and fun facts.  Marvelous, even for those with no desire for the black stuff.
  7. Carved by God, cursed by the Devil (ebook, Archer)
    Nearly one year on from the Midnight Sun Marathon, and I’m mulling over whether to do another one in life to beat my time.  In the meantime I’m getting back to hockey training and dreaming of challenges greater than I’ll probably ever do – the Marathon des Sables (ultra marathon in Sahara, Morocco) should contain enough fun tales of gruelling hours running in intense heat and across sand, that it’ll make amusing reading.
  8. Answering Jihad (NabeelWIN_20160614_203701 Qureshi)
    Nabeel, previously a Muslim, helps us think through whether Islam is violent at its core, what Jihad is, what motivates ISIS/Boko Haram, who are true Muslims, how does jihad compare to Old Testament stuff or crusades and many other key questions that he deals with compassionately yet insightfully.  This is probably the most easily-read introduction to an essential topic nowadays.
  9. Leslie Newbiggin (a lot of)
    Do you ever borrow books and never read them?  Well this is my guilt speaking (sorry Frank Peters!).  Newbiggin is one of the key missiologists of the last century, though given the opening few pages I’ve read, I’m not sure whether I’ll agree hugely with him, given his doctrine of revelation.  Still, no doubt a lot to be learned regardless.
  10. August 1914 (Solzhenitsyn)
    “A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” is in my top 10 reads of all time, and very short too.  So I’m giving Solzhenitsyn the benefit of the doubt and trying one his meatier novels.
  11. WIN_20160614_203729The Righteous Mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion (Haidt)
    Haidt, an American democrat and social psychologist, seems to be fed uhp of American polarised politics that yell across a chasm at each other and never try and understand each other.  Similarly perhaps with some religious thinking.  Haidt tries to outline how such folks could actually sit down beside each other and understand each other.  Nominated by Richard Cunningham (UCCF director) as one of his reads of the year, I wonder whether our human nature will allow his brilliant thinking to be put into practice.  We’ll see!
  12. The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist (Taunton)
    Having read many of Hitchens works and being drilled in him by the University of Nottingham Secular Society, I’m interested to read of the human side of such thinkers.  Definitely not one saying of death bed conversion (like so many made up stories), this one is written by a top Christian apologist who shared time with him in his dying days.  Good on Hitchens for seeking company outside of his worldview, right up to his death.  It’ll intrigue me.

  13. A Quest for More (Tripp)
    CCEF material always wrenches my heart (helpfully) and helps me spiritually counsel others.  Asides from the lack of the use of law in the Christian life in CCEF material, I’m looking forward to his critique and engagement with such a relevant topic in today’s culture.
  14. The Vine project (Matthias Media)
    As I shift my role as staffworker to being more of a teamleader, admin will doubtless rear it’s ugly head.  “The Trellis and the Vine” was a great read on how to prioritise Word-centred-ministry, over and above emails, admin and everything else life throws at me in work.  This is a workbook to help apply some of that, perhaps in team life.
  15. God’s Super Apostles (Geivett and Pivec)
    WIN_20160614_203722Wonder whether apostles and prophets still exist today like they did in the past?  Mulling over miraculous gifts and their use in the church?  I’ve been thinking a lot recently about this kind of stuff, and this is just the latest, given the nonsense that has gone no in Cork recently.
  16. More: How you can have more of the Spirit when you still have everything in Christ
    If the last one leaned towards cautious cessationism (my guess from the contents page), then this one is a conservative, charismatic, anglican who tries to persuade us along the lines of the title.  With such works, I wonder how much is essentially just different terminology, for the same Biblical doctrines.  Perhaps it’s the Biblical language that we need to re-find.  Just my guess before reading!

So, there’s 16 for summer ’16 and with that, I’ll leave you to have a happy summer reading.  Do drop me any other suggestions.  As I cheesily finish my book plugs in the flesh saying, “Leaders are readers!”

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