Some Recent Reading for Me

A Calendar of Wisdom, TolstoyHere is an update of reading over the last two to three weeks and the things that have been shaping my thoughts and devotions.

A Collection of Wisdom by Tolstoy
This is in the form of a daily devotional reading that has best thoughts Tolstoy collected over a long time from the great literature of the world. The quotes are quite uneven in their substance. In some ways, Tolstoy seems to be very ecclectic in his position on faith and religion. Jesus is probably, for him, just a great moral teacher and is not the unique Savior of the World.


Pensees by Pascal
I have not read this in a long time (probalby 20 years) and I decided to read it again this year as part of the devotional classics work I do. I love Pascal. Many of his thoughs are dated and yet others are timeless.

By the way, Peter Kreeft has a stunningly wise book where he walks through the thoughts of Pascal. Look for Christianity for Modern Pagans by Peter Kreeft.


The Duty of Pastor by John Owen.
This is not really a book as much as it is a long essay by Owen on what it means for all believers to be a part of the priesthood and how they are qualified to teach and train others in the ways of the  Bible. He then adds thoughts for those who are called to the ministry of teaching.

I am actually not quite sure why I read this. I know it was referred to in another book and from time to time I like to read the Puritans. 


Fallen a theology of sinFallen:  A Theology of Sin
This is a collection of essays (and a very fine collection I would add). It is mainly biblical and theological studies on why sin is an essentially necessary doctrine which must be understood and taught in the church today. This seems a very relevant book. Good for biblical and theological study. Not so useful for pastoral and personal engagements.

Still, my favorite book on the subject of sin is, Not the Way It is Suppose to  Be by Cornelius Plantinga. That is closely followed by Signature Sins by Mangis. I also like my own workbook on sin - What's Gone Wrong?



the trivialization of God, your God is too smallThe Trivialization of God: The Dangerous Illustion of a Manageable Deity
This one certainly has a ZINGER for a title. It is a wise, thoughtful, passionate and devotional look at what our modern culture has done to our understanding of God. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to think about these things. I hope we all want to reflect on these things, for our missional engagements with the world are with a world that has trivialized and domesticated the God described in the Bible.

In a recent sermon I did on Psalm 145 -  Who is God?, this book was very motivational for me and stretched by imagination for a Very Great God.


Renaissance the power of the gospel however dark the times, cultural change, cultural transformation, Os GuinnessRenaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times.
Os Guinness has been one of my favorite writers. This is one of his contributions that encourage Christians to have a "gospel-saturated" approach to changing culture. Guinness is both critically realistic and yet full of vital optimism about the power of the gospel to engage our times with transforming truth.

I would say that Guinness is always on the more "elite" side of culture. I love what he says, the philosophers, artists and poets to whom he is indebted. I wish he would be a little more willing (or able) to use pop culture in positive ways. That would make him more useful to a larger audience. 

I know this can be done, for one of my favorite books is Reordered Love - Reordered Lives by David Naugle. Naugle is both in touch with high and pop culture and weaves them together in stimulating ways.


This Will Make You Smarter, John BrockmanThis Will Make You Smarter
This is edited by John Brockman who is the founder-curator of EDGE.ORG. This is an online science salon where some of the smartest people on planet earth gather for conversations. I started this on vactation, read about half of it, and will finish it in a few days. The book is about 150+ short essays (1-3 pages in length) from a diversity of authors on the new scientific concepts you can use to improve your thinking.

Many (most) of these authors are among the new atheists and are dismissive of religion. Some are neutral and there are a few Christians who contribute as well. Even when I think they are wrong, these are stimulating essays and I have come away with about 40 ideas (so far) that have been helpful.


Christian Monasticism, David KnowlesChristian Monasticism by David Knowles
This has been a great help for me to better understand the monastics. As part of my working through church history and the devotional classics, I am very interested in the contemplative spirituality of the monastics, as well as the hybrid orders that arose with missional purposes co-existing alongside their desire for contemplation. 

Knowles is probably too detailed for most readers to really enjoy this book. I am still looking for a general overview of the monastics that I can recommend for the average reader.


Cistercian Abbeys, monasteriesCistercian Abbeys.
This is a magnificent explanatin of the Cistercian monastic way and it has about 150 different monasteris featured. The photography is amazing. It is an oversize coffee table edition. Pretty expensive, but I found an inexpensive used (like new) book for under $10.00. Not recommending you get it, but for monastic geeks - it is!


This is part of my life long learning the past few weeks.
Trying to read things that are stimulating in a variety of areas.
As I looked back over this list, I realize that reading on leadership has been on the very "lite" side in recent weeks. I had also been reading quite a bit by and about C.S. Lewis, but took a break from that area of interest. I will pick that up again in the fall.

Psalms for Preaching and Worship, a lectionary commentaryDevotionally I have been working through the Psalms for several months now. Not all of them and not in order, but scanning and then choosing particular Psalms to sit with for longer periods of time. 

While I have only read the appropriate sections in this helpful resource, Psalms for Preaching and Worship is a very nice resource.

How about you - what are you reading these days?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International