Sunday, March 12, 2006

177. somebody stop me!

Hi, my name is Randall.

"Hi, Randall."

My name is Randall and I have a problem...

"Tell us about it, Randall."

My name is Randall and I'm a book slut.

*gasp*

"You sick freak."



Yeah, I've been on a kind of book buying binge lately and I decided it was time to face up to the facts. I decided to take all the books I've purchased recently, put them in a stack and get to reading through them. Also, I wanted to get all my new books together in one place so I can see what I've done to myself and stop buying new ones - kind of like a personal intervention.

Anyway, thought I'd share my stack of books with you.

1. The Rapture Exposed - The message of hope in the book of Revelation. By Barbara R. Rossing.

This is actually a book I just finished. I just wanted to list it here because it enlightened me on something that I think more people (especially Christians) need to know. The view of the end times described in the Left Behind books and through authors like John Hagee and Hal Lindsey, is a very recent invention - within the past 150 years. This view of the end times is called Dispensationalism and was created by John Darby.

Now the Bible teaches that Jesus is coming back to earth. What differentiates dispensationalists from more traditional views of the end times is that dispensationalists believe that Jesus will return to the earth TWICE - first to "rapture" believers off the earth and then then "a second time after seven years of global tribulation to establish a Jerusalem-based kingdom on earth. . ." (Rossing, 22).

The danger of this two-stage return of Christ is that it encourages Christians to live with a kind of abandon-the-world mentality because it's all going to be destroyed anyway. It also has disastrous implications for those working for peace between Israel and the Palestinians because dispensationalism outlines a timetable leading up to the return of Christ. Part of this timetable includes the rebuilding of the Jewish temple and a reestablishment of the original borders of Israel. And that means the Palestinians have to go because they're standing in the way of the fulfillment of this timetable. And this is not just a theoretical danger. Right now there are so-called Christian organizations that "are deeply involved in Israeli political life, with goals of aiding Israel in achieving regional dominance, control of water resources, and more." (Rossing, 66)

I always thought there was something fishy about what was being taught about the end times, and this book really helped give me some history and perspective on the issue. I still don't know what the end times will look like and honestly, I think that might be the most Biblical way to see the issue.

2. To Own a Dragon - Reflections on growing up without a father. By Donald Miller.

This is the book I'm currently reading and it's a fun, fast read. Like the subtitle says, it's about growing up without a father and some of the problems that causes and what the Bible says about how God wants to fix these problems. Like Miller's other books, he writes with a refreshing candor, not afraid to call a spade a spade but at the same time, not afraid to share his understanding of spirituality.

For example, there's a section where he's trying to open up the whole God-as-father metaphor in very practical, tangible ways and at one point he admits, "I know it all sounds like mushy new-age spirituality, like I ought to be living in a tent out in Colorado, asking a tree what I should eat for breakfast. . ." (Miller, 69) And though he admits that some might see it as "mushy," he steps right in it anyway because God gives hope and healing for those whose fathers' weren't there or weren't there enough.

- side note - I'm going to try and breeze through the rest of the books in my stack, and that shouldn't be a problem because for the most part, I haven't started them yet and so don't have all that much to say about them. Oh, and the books are presented in no particular order. I'm not sure which books I'll read first or last or if there are some that I'll never get to. On with the list:

3. A Tale of Three Kings - A study in brokenness. By Gene Edwards

Kelli donated this book to the home church I've been attending (see blog 175) and I picked it up because I know a friend who was really touched by it.

4. Quest for Love - True stories of passion and purity. By Elisabeth Elliot

Uh...normally I'd run from a title like this (see blog 73) but Kelli suggested it and she's really cute so I couldn't think of a polite way to turn the offer down. That said (and I'll flesh this out more in an up-coming blog), I know I've finally found contentment as a single person (see blog 162), but at the same time I don't want to give up on the whole love and marriage thing all together. And maybe this book will help me find the right balance between the two - looking too hard and not looking hard enough.

But that's not a very guy-friendly title, and the Harlequin/Danielle Steel looking cover doesn't help either. But at the same time, it's been a while since I've done much thinking about relationships and so maybe this will be a kind of refresher course.

5. Church Re-Imagined - The spiritual formation of people in communities of faith. By Doug Pagitt

You know, I'm looking at this book and I'm trying to remember why I bought it. This might end up on the give-away stack.

6. Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places - A conversation in spiritual theology. By Eugene H. Peterson

Peterson is the man who wrote the paraphrase of the Bible known as the Living Bible or the Living Translation. I'm really looking forward to getting into this book because it aims to provide a reasoned, theological framework for Christian spirituality. And I realize that doesn't sound like a very sexy read, but I'm excited about it.

See, for the most part, books on spirituality are heavy on feelings and are written from/to the heart but they tend to be a bit light when it comes to feeding the mind. On the other hand, books on theology and absolutes and apologetics tend to be heavy on logic and reasoning but they leave the heart wanting. I want both - a Christianity for the heart and the mind - and I'm hoping this book will describe a way to integrate the two.

7. The Great Giveaway - Reclaiming the mission of the church from big business, parachurch organizations, psychotherapy, consumer capitalism, and other modern maladies. By David E. Fitch

Over the past few years, I've become increasingly suspicious of the close ties between the church and the voracious consumeristic (whoring) culture that we live in. I think this book will speak directly to those suspicions, and point towards a better way.

8. The Opposite Of Fate - Memories of a writing life. By Amy Tan

I picked up this book while attempting to write a novel for the National Novel Writing Month event. I love Tan's writing and even though I don't think she's ever equaled her work in The Joy Luck Club (a book that reduces me to a quivering, weepy mess), I love her liquid prose and her surprising plot turns.

This isn't a book I'm in a rush to get through from beginning to end. It's more a book that I keep on my night stand and flip through when I can't get to sleep. And I know that doesn't do the book justice, but hey, it's my book and I doubt I'm hurting her feelings.

9. Memories Of My Melancholy Whores. By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This is the only work of fiction in this list. I bought it after a reviewer gushed over it in an NPR review. Marquez has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I admit, I bought this book because it seemed like the right thing to do. I mean, NPR gave it a great review and Marquez is this award winning writer and I want to be a writer so I should read great writing...but I don't like the book. I don't get it. Maybe it reads better in its original language, Spanish.

This is another candidate for the to sell/give away pile.

10. New Way to Be Human - A provocative look at what it means to follow Jesus. By Charlie Peacock

Now who doesn't want to read "a provocative look at what it means to follow Jesus?" But it wasn't just the catchy subtitle that got me to buy this book. It was also the fact that it's written by an artist and the reviews on the Amazon website promised a unique perspective on Christianity.

I actually started this book a few months ago and from what I remember, it didn't live up to the hype.

Potential sell/give away pile.

11. Left to Tell - Discovering God amidst the Rwandan holocaust. By Immaculee Ilibagiza

See the movie Hotel Rwanda? Here's a first-hand account.

This is the book I take with me to work - the book I read during my lunch break when it's raining too hard to go for a walk (see blog 146).

12. Crunchy Cons - How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party). By Rod Dreher

I really can't wait to dive into this book. Like I explained about Christianity above (see point 7, The Great Giveaway), the conservative movement has been hijacked by corporate greed. Now I believe in a free market system of economics, but at the same time there's a point where the government needs to intervene. This book aims to reclaim conservatism, bringing it back to its core principles.

13. Decoding the Universe - How the new science of information is explaining everything in the cosmos, from our brains to black holes. By Charles Seife

I just bought this book TODAY (hence the blog title). I was browsing the Kahala Mall Barnes and Noble and innocently started flipping through the first pages and then I got sucked in. Big time.

See, even though I suck at math (I hit a brick wall once I got to pre-pre-Calculus, AKA Algebra III in high school), I'm fascinated by it and so I enjoy books that talk about cutting edge mathematics in layman's terms.

I also enjoy books about modern theoretical physics - books like The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene and Hyperspace by Michio Kaku.



Geeze, that took WAY longer than I thought it would and I have even more books than I thought I did. Even minus the books on the chopping block, I'm still left with nine unfinished books.

Okay, enough writing, back to the reading.

8 comments:

Tony said...

Wow! That's quite a few books there. I've been on quite a binge recently myself.

This weekend involved four movies: Shaun of the Dead (great!), Primer (too much for me), Just Friends (one of last year's most enjoyable movies), and Tristam Shandy (today at Academy of Arts).

Bookwise it's been just as bad. Even though I bought Peterson's 10,000 Faces, I'm just now getting past the halfway point. Why did I start rereading it? Because Peterson came out with two new books that I bought: Living the Resurrection and then Eat This Book ("sequel" to 10,000 Faces).

In the "Bought but on the Back-burner" stack are: Miller's To Own a Dragon, Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy, May's Dark Night of the Soul, Rolheiser's Shattered Lantern, and Kevin Brockmeier's Brief History of the Dead.

And then in the "Actually reading" stack are: Aimee Bender's An Invisible Sign of My Own (book club book) and Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov (slow, slow, slow).

Oh, and Norris's Virgin of Bennington goes back to the library tomorrow mostly unread.

I share your sickness, man.

Anonymous said...

Enjoying your good blog. In the same vein as your writing, you would enjoy reading "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," and getting to see it is as easy as going to Google. When you find out which view has been riddled with all sorts of dishonesty, you may freak out. Lord bless you.

Doug Pagitt said...

Hey, if you give away that Pagitt book give it to me.

-mike- said...

Hehe...

I would like the Pagitt book too!

Gobie said...

I'm glad there are others out there that buy more books than they can read! I'm always reading 3 or 4 books at a time to keep up with my addiction.

I think you're freakin' Doug Pagitt out though ... maybe you should go ahead and read the book :-)

Gobie

The LoneTomato said...

What's the deal, is Pagitt sending his fans after me?

Actually, I remember now why I bought the book. I've been going to a home church (see blog 175) and I got this book around the time we were starting it up. I wanted to get some ideas about how other communities of faith were working and this book sounded perfect for that.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be giving it away yet. Now that I remember why I bought it, I'm more likely to read it.

Bill said...

Hey bro!

Eugent Peterson wrote (edited) "The Message," not the Living Bible.

Sean Dietrich said...

My thoughts exactly.
Keep up the good blogging.
-Sean
________________
www.SeanDietrich.com
"All my music is free."