A Faith Not Worth Fighting For (York and Barringer)

Anyone who enlists pacifism as a badge of honor in some pollyannaish sentiment of good will is an idiot. (Full disclosure: I had to look the proper way to spell pollyannaish.) At the same time, the caricature of Christian “pacifism” as weak-willed, emasculated hippy-religion is equally false. Anyone sincerely interested in investigating the various ways in which Christians conceive, argue for, and practice non-violence would do well to start here. I hope that people read this book (or my representation of it) with an open, generous, but critical eye.

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Illusions of Innocence (Hughes & Allen)

In the church I grew up in we prided ourselves on restoring the New Testament Church. This was a way of saying that the way we did things in our church was intended to be a copy in all things essential of the church as it we see it in the New Testament. We fought one another over the minutiae of this project, like whether the early church had one or many communion cups, but we never seemed to bother too much over whether they had things like air conditioning or a/v systems.

Philosophical Fragments (Kierkegaard)

Soren Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985 [1844] Edited and Translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong What difference does belief in Jesus really make in our lives? Most of us would probably suspect, or hope, that it makes a great deal of difference. We might be tempted to construct hyperbolic…

Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer (Williams)

There are a set of Christian writers, poets, theologians who I trust because they are a combination of depth, clarity, and an even-handedness that produces insight. Rowan Williams is among them. And yet one need only look at this man’s majestic eyebrows to know that he is going to bring some extraordinary wisdom. You don’t get eyebrows like that without wisdom.

Life and Holiness (Merton)

Thomas Merton, Life and Holiness New York: Doubleday Press, 1963. There are few more important persons and writers for our present world than Thomas Merton, for Christians especially, but in a way for the whole world. He was a libertine-turned Trappist monk who nevertheless considered his isolated vocation as a means to serve the world…

Presence and Thought (Hans Urs von Balthasar)

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Presence and Thought: An Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1988. Hans Urs von Balthasar, besides being in contention for most magisterial name ever, was a Swiss Catholic theologian in the 20th century. He is important for a lot of reasons, but primarily…

A Christmas Carol (Dickens)

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas Each year on my Christmas vacations I get the opportunity to read some fiction. This year I chose Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, mainly because I’ve been vowing that I will read it every year for the past five years. I am…

Open Secrets (Lischer)

Richard Lischer, Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery New York: Broadway Books, 2001. My wife stumbled onto this book almost providentially at a bookstore just a few weeks prior to starting our first preaching position in the rural town of Junction, Texas. Open Secrets tracks the life of a young Lutheran pastor at…

The Rule of St. Benedict (Chittister)

I first read a book on monastic spirituality almost by accident. I resonated with the sincerity in their search for God and the thirst for authenticity I saw in their words. Yet I was repelled by a way of life, an intensity of practice that seemed impossible in my own world. Sure, I could drop everything and go live in a monastery, but I had a gut feeling my then-fiancé would not appreciate that very much. I also wasn’t sure how I was going to afford my student-loan payments while living under a vow of poverty.