Here is a rundown of the 5 books I finished reading in April. I’m nearing the completion of a handful of books – the month of May will be a long list.
How God Became King: The Forgotten Story Of The Gospels by NT Wright
I read this book in part as preparation for a sermon series on the book of Galatians. At the forefront of Galatians is a fight for the gospel. Wright makes the argument that many people reduce the gospel merely to Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ death. Thus, removing the Gospels from the gospel. He points to the creeds of the church as an example.
Wright also paints the picture of Jesus as “the climax of the story of Israel” and as “bringing the long story of Israel to its proper goal.” It is a much needed corrective to a simplified telling of the Jesus story. You can’t render the Gospels unnecessary in your telling of the gospel. The life of Jesus matters.
Being Mortal: Medicine And What Matters In the End by Atul Gawande
This book is well outside of my normal reading – but I loved it. Gawande makes the case that modern medicine, with all of its triumphs, has also produced a few unintended failures. He highlights the medical profession’s unpreparedness in helping the aging live a good life rather than merely providing a good death.
Gawande provides tons of stories and plenty of research detailing his own patients and their experience with growing old and the reality of death. He discusses the role/affect/effect of nursing homes (which provide safety at the sake of freedom) and the tendency of doctors to provide false hope in the form of treatments and operations (which prolong life but many times reduce the quality of life).
I’m not qualified to discuss the merit of his arguments. I’m over my head when it comes to the medical profession. Yet, I routinely walk with congregation members as they face sickness and/or death. It’s a good book for preachers to digest.
Life Together: Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I’ve been discussing Christian community a great deal these days from the pulpit and elsewhere. Each time that I speak “Christian community” I’m reminded of this classic work from Bonhoeffer. I’ve read this book countless times. Each time I read it my copy receives more underlines, exclamation points, and stars in the margin.
If you’ve never read Bonhoeffer, Life Together would be a great introduction to his theology and ministry.
The Preaching Event by John Claypool
I picked this book up at my local library’s annual book sale. I paid $1 for it and received my money’s worth and more. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.
The core of this book is Claypool’s material provided at the Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School in 1979. Truth be told – there is nothing earth shattering provided in this thin volume. Yet, what I found was a gentle and needed reminder of some basic but profound necessities of the task of preaching.
Claypool describes the preaching event as:
- The preacher as reconciler
- The preacher as gift-giver
- The preacher as witness
- The preacher as nurturer
Again, nothing earth shattering. But I was blessed by it.
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
OK. Once again – not my typical read. Yet, this book had a profound impact on me as a 7th grader. I know that dates me. Some will think I’m young. Others might consider me old. It’s all a matter of perspective.
As a 7th grader I was required to read a novel and provide a presentation for English class. I picked Jurassic Park when I saw it on the list due to a fascination with dinosaurs that I carried since I was a little boy. The book captured me. I loved the book and still fondly remember making dinosaur noises into a tape recorder (yep – that sounds old) with my mom to play for drama during my presentation.
For old times sake, I picked up this gem off my shelf. It once again captured me and I read it over the course of three days.