It's been a while since I've done one of these. I think I made the outlandish promise in 2011 to do a "Book Blurbs" once a month. I believe that was also the last time I did a "Book Blurbs" post. Well, the series is back for today. Hopefully it will decide to stick around longer.
My reading appetite has been all over the map lately. Sometimes I'm craving a deep theological book, sometimes it's a suspense novel, and sometimes I just want to watch TV. (Hence the gap in Book Blurbs.) Here's a short list of books I've been ingesting and two books I have yet to read, but am dying to do so.
The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith by Matthew Lee Anderson I just purchased this book on my Kindle and I am pumped to dig into it. Anderson is a super-blogger from Mere Orthodoxy and is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith (Another great read that really helped me write my post on tattoos). The End of Our Exploring is focused on how to question, doubt, and interact with the ambiguities of the Christian faith.
Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent by N.D. Wilson Wilson is one of my favorite living authors, having written Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World and the Ashtown Burials series. The Tilt-a-Whirl is a mind-blowing book that I've recommended before on this blog and so I have been anticipating Death By Living ever since I hear about it. While the former book focused on living, this one focuses on the reality of death and how that effects our living.
Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller This book is Keller's life philosophy on the church. The face of our culture is changing. America is becoming more and more a post-Christian society. People are moving away from the country and rural areas and are flocking to the cities. These cities are shaping culture and creating culture for the entire country. Through this massive tome, Keller seeks to answer the question of, "How do we effectively do church in such a new environment?" The result is a very interesting and provocative book. I'm not sure if I agree with everything Keller says in here but at least he's trying to do something.
Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America by Albert Mohler This book is very timely, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court cases. Mohler examines how the moral heart of America has shifted over the years—why it happened, how it happened, and what the results will be. Instead of fear-mongering, Mohler then tells Christians how we can react to such changes and how we can still make an impact for the Gospel.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor I simply love O'Connor's short stories about a "Christ-haunted" South. Her stories are dark, gritty, and will make you squirm because you'll realize she's writing about us. O'Connor isn't afraid to shine a light on the church and show that cracks of darkness have infiltrated the body.
God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China by Liao Yiwu Liao is a Chinese journalist and not a Christian but he was fascinated by believer's resiliency in the face of Chinese Communist oppression and persecution. Liao set out to travel around China and unearth stories of faith, martyrdom, and revival. This book is an eye-opener about how widespread and devastating Communist persecution of religion truly was. But it is also amazing to see how these fellow believers reacted in the face of extreme opposition. The whole time I read it, I kept asking myself, "Would I have been able to stand for the truth in the same way?"
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz Sometimes you just need a great novel to sit down with. I've always enjoyed the adrenaline rush Koontz's stories gave me and so I knew I needed to check out his most beloved character Odd Thomas. Odd is a young man who has been given a special gift: he can see dead people. No Bruce Willis does not show up. With the aid of his gift, Odd is able to combat the evil that seeks to stamp out his life and those around him. Odd Thomas narrates the book and he has one of the most unique voices I've ever read. He is funny, earnest, but also somber at the same time. Also, some have made fascinating observations that Odd Thomas is a sort of Christian hero for our day.
Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson If you want to know how N.D. Wilson learned to write so well, look no further than to his father, Douglas. Douglas Wilson is also an accomplished author, prolific blogger, and the wit-master of the 21st century. Wordsmithy is a tiny, tiny book centered not on just writing, but on the writing life. Wilson contends that you cannot be a good writer unless you are living a good life. Each section is written in blog post length and can easily be read in five minutes—which is good because as soon as you finish reading a section you will want to go back and read it again. This is by far one of the best books on writing I have ever read. When you have lines like, "Look at the world, and try not to look at yourself looking at the world," how could you not want to read this?
Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions by Sam Storms Including the fact that his name sounds like the alter-ego of a superhero, Sam Storms has a lot to offer in this book. It's a very straight forward book, dedicating one chapter to each of the twenty-five questions—and Storm did not pick softball questions. Storms picked questions that really do burn in people's hearts. Here are some examples: Does God ever change his mind? Are those who die in infancy saved? Will people be condemned for not believing in Jesus though they’ve never heard his name? Will there be sex in heaven? (Storms admits that this chapter is the first one everyone will jump to.) Can a Christian be demonized? This is a great resource book to refer to when you have a question but it's also great to read through all together.