Late Summer Reading

And Into the Fall (Vacation Novels)
I spend quite a bit of the second half of summer writing a workbook for Living Word Community Church - Jesus Encounters: Embracing the Life of Christ. it is the first of three workbooks we are using for our Life Essentials mid-size communities. It is a collection of resources, reflections and exercises on how we may grow in the virtues of Christ as we move into a deeper friendship with Jesus. I did some reading in the areas of virtue/morality as well as sanctification as I worked on this volume.

Putting on Virtue the legacy of the splendid vices, Jennifer HerdtPutting on Virtue: The Legacy of the Splendid Vices
by Jennifer A. Herdt

This may be one of the most challenging books I have read in the last year. I had to really work with this text. Herdt writes at a higher, more complex level on these issues then I would normally engage. So this one took lots of time, reflection, study . . . and I am so glad I did it. Her book covers issues of morality, transformation, culture, philosophy/theology and how transformation takes place. Is virtue infused or acquired or a combination of both? How do we think about virtue in a way that engages with secular thinking but has its distinctive Christian contribution. Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Erasmus, the Jesuits, Luther, Bunyan, Gracian, Pascal and many more. Outstanding

Acting the Miracle, John PiperActing the Miracle: God's Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification
edited by John Piper

This is a collection of messages given at one of John Piper's conferences. The topic is how Reformers should think about sanctification. It is especially important in light of the tension and struggles going on in this movement about the relationship of justification and sanctification. Generaly, the contributors all make a strong case that sanctification of the progressive, needs human agency using the God provided and empowered "means of grace" is clearly biblical. They argue against some in the Reformed tradition who collapse sanctification into justification. This little book is not the final word, but it is a good contribution. I especially appreciated the essay by Kevin DeYoung. I am going to get a copy of DeYoung's book, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness.

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins, Dennis OkholmDangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning From the Psychology of Ancient Monks
by Dennis Okholm

This is now a favorite book. I have read at least half a dozen books on the deadly sins. With the exception of Os Guinness' book, Steering Through Chaos: Vice and Virtue in an Age of Moral Confusion, this is my favorite. Heck...I have to vote them in tie for first place. Okholm is a professor, an Anglican priest, a Benedictine oblate and a fine author. In Dangerous Passions, Okholm explores the four great sources of ancient psychology on these deadly sins (Evagrius, Cassian, Gregory and Aquinas). He also dialogues with several core modern authors, changing the core authors for each new chapter. This is not a fast read, but it is a wise read.

Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective on How to Change
by Matt Chandler

I have had several recent posts out of this book, so I won't say much about it. Generally, this is another fine Reformed pastor who has a high view of progressive sanctification and the Spirit empowered means of grace that require active involvement on our part. Lots (and lots, actually too many) stories in the book. It is a little ironic that the title has "gospel saturated" but there is not much biblical study or exposition. Just enough biblical teaching, but then lots of stories. Too many of the stories sound generic and kind of composites with some details thrown in. With one exception. When Matt Chandler tells his own story of brain cancer - this is VERY powerful. 

I took some time off from reading C.S. Lewis and books about him. I started that back up and will continue doing more throughout the fall. I reread Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. This reading was a lot different for I have spent the last year studying many of the good biographies and studies of Lewis. So I was able to do a lot of reading between the lines, especially being introduced to many of the letters Lewis wrote.

I also quite enjoyed Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles by one of my favorite Lews scholars - David Downing. This is a literary and theological study of the Chronicles of Narnia. I don't know if most people would like it. But if you are a Narnia buff and want to get a lot more insight into the mind and heart of Lewis that is revealed in this series of seven books, it is worth picking up.

Surprised by Joy, C.S. LewisInto the Wardrobe, David Downing, NarniaWarren Bennis, Still Surprised, memoir

With the pasing of Warren Bennis, I am going to re-read several of his best books on leadership. But I decided to read his memoir that was published a few years before his death. Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It provided the context for Bennis' personal development as a leader and a thinker about leadership.

Samuel Johnson and the Life of Reading
by Robert DeMaria, Jr.

This was both a fine study of the nature of reading (four types of reading are discussed) and the illustration of those types of reading by the consummate reader and author - Samuel Johnson.

Reading Through Romans
by C.K. Barrett

One of the truly great commentators on the Book of Romans is C.K. Barrett. His commentaries were required "usage" for anyone who wanted to study Romans. Today they are many, many fine commentaries on this great book. I am going to be teaching through Romans this year (with my friend and colleague, Gordon Carpenter). I have picked up a number of new commentaries to catch up on the lastest and wisest perspective. I also decided to read a few monographs on this epistle. This little book though is really a summary reflection on each main section of the letter.

The Mentor's Guide, Lois ZacharyMentor, Laurent DalozThe Mentor's Guide by Lois Zachery
Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners by Laurent Daloz

These were two excellent books on the subject of mentoring. I had read both of them previously, but revisited them in preparation for teaching some courses on mentoring later this fall. I have about 20 books on mentoring/coaching and these are two of my favorites. The Mentor's Guide, in particular, is one of the most practical and well organized books available. 


Simon Greent, Voices From Beyond, Ghost Finders seriesKatherine Kurtz, High DeryniFUN READING:
Finally, while I had some other things I read, I also spent some fun time late summer reading novels. My "escape genre" is science fiction and fantasy.

I read a half dozen volumes by one of my favorite authors - Simon Green. EVERYTHING he writes is excellent. I read one of his Deathstalker books, his newest in the Ghost Finders series. The latest in the Secret Histories series, as well as a new volume of short stories (old stories collected in a book form).

I also picked up one of my OLD favorite authors - Katherine Kurtz and her Deryni series. There are (I think) 15 books in the different trilogies. I read the first trilogy.

As I read through C.S.Lewis and understand how powerful is the imagination, the genre of fairy tale, the archtypes of meaning that can be so well described through this genre, i realize that my thousands of hours of lingering reading in this genre since I was a child have shaped me so I love wonder, mystery, beauty, and the tales that take us beyond the typical themes of life. 

So, that's the late summer reading. I'll drop another Books Note, sometime this fall.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International