When life gets hectic, I've developed a coping mechanism: I make lists of books. Reading is a meditative and disciplined habit in my life--I almost consider it my primary form of monasticism--and so the listing of books feels much like preparing to pray, or calming my heart for worship.
So here are four books I plan to read (or have read) this fall that I feel confident in recommending for your consideration.
1. Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African by Lamin Sanneh. Sanneh is perhaps the greatest missiologist now writing in English, and I have for quite some time been curious about his life story as it relates to his teaching and theology. This is his autobiography, and it offers incredible insights into world Christianity, the nature of religious conversion, and more.
2. I'm kind of on a missiology jag this fall, so my second recommended volume is Walk Humbly with the Lord: Church and Mission Engaging Plurality, edited by Viggo Mortensen and Andreas Østerlund Nielsen. This is a collection of essays from the 100th anniversary conference (in Aarhus, Denmark) commemorating the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh. Responding to issues of globalization and increasing religious pluralism, the authors address an interesting question. Is Christian faith called to permeate plurality or establish an alternative to plurality? And what kinds of churches will either of those options take?
3. Luke (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible): Beginning this Advent, we enter Year C in the lectionary cycle, the year of Luke. I try to read a new commentary each year on the gospel for that year, and the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series is the commentary I have over time been trying to collect as a set. Scott Hahn says of it, "Always attentive to the text and sensitive to the historical background, especially the Old Testament, David Lyle Jeffrey opens the reader's eyes to the literary artistry, spiritual drama, and theological depth of Luke's portrait of Jesus's life, teaching, death, and resurrection. Drawing deeply from the wellspring of the church's living tradition, Jeffrey's commentary allows us to hear anew the voice of the Evangelist as it's been born by the Holy Spirit down through the ages into our own life and time. Beautifully written, this volume will prove equally valuable for study or contemplation, preaching or prayer. Truly one of the exemplary works in this popular series."
4. When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God by T.M. Luhrmann. I think this is definitely the best book I've read in 2012. Her anthropological approach is first rate, and offers an incredibly empathetic view of Christian communities striving to hear God's voice in their life and worship. I'd like to try and bring the author to Fayetteville in 2013.
What are you reading? What do you recommend?