Here’s a rundown of the 7 books I read in July. It’s a fun and diverse group.
Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking The New Testament Culture by David deSilva
I recently began work on a doctorate of ministry and this book was the first reading assignment in that endeavor. It is a thick, dense, scholarly work. Yet, I found the book to be fascinating. It highlights four key aspects of the culture of the New Testament. On each aspect a chapter is devoted to explain the particulars and then a chapter is devoted to explain how those particulars are displayed in the New Testament.
It was a valuable read. It will find a prominent place in my office and will be used beyond my course of study. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a deep study into New Testament culture and society.
Jesus Came Preaching by George Buttrick
This is another book required for my first doctorate of ministry seminar. This one left me underwhelmed.
The content is good. The presentation is poor. Far too much lofty and wordy prose. I can tolerate this in some books – but not in a book on preaching.
I did find the content matter helpful. Chapters include: Is there room for the preacher today? Is Christ still the preacher’s authority? Preaching Christ to the mind of today. Preaching Christ to the social order. Preaching Christ to the individual of today.
For a book published in 1931 it is fairly close to prophetic.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
Elon Musk is a fascinating character. He became a millionaire at a young age after he sold PayPal to eBay for a cool $1.5 billion. At 27, Musk took home $250 million from the deal. He then began chasing dreams. He now runs Tesla (an electric car company), SpaceX (a rocket company), and SolarCity (an energy provider).
I enjoy reading biographies of movers and shakers in industries far different from my own. I know nothing about rockets. My only connection to rockets – I live about 10 minutes from a SpaceX testing sight. That’s about it. I think there’s a lot to learn from reading about great minds from different fields.
This is not a particularly well-written biography – crude and course language at times. Yet, I think it gives an accurate depiction of Musk. Watch an interview or two – he is a fan of crude and course language.
The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
When you provide such a list as this, sometimes a confession is in order. Here’s mine: I have never read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In fact, I’ve never even seen the movies. There. I said it.
I’m not a fan of the fantasy genre. I don’t particularly enjoy the endless world building and background detail. It can be exhausting. Thus, this first volume in the trilogy bogged down in the middle. I enjoyed the start. Forced myself through the middle. And enjoyed the finish.
I look forward to reading volumes two and three. I have even purchased the prequel, The Hobbit. I’ll give a complete review of the trilogy when I have compelted the three books.
Appletopia: Media Technology and the Religious Imagination of Steve Jobs by Brett Robinson
A few months ago I completed premarital counseling with a great couple. The bride-to-be works for Baylor University Press. To my great delight, on our final meeting she provided me with a canvas bag filled with books. This is my first volume in the stack to complete.
This book was simply fun. I majored in marketing in undergrad and attempted a brief and failed career in marketing. Yet, I’m still intrigued by the field. I’m also a HUGE fan of Apple products. This thin volume examines the connection between the products created by Steve Jobs and religious themes. The book is enjoyable if you don’t take it too seriously.
The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
This book is believed by many to be launching point for the genre of science fiction. It is the first modern tale of alien invasion. It is completely outside of my normal reading interest – and I noticed with every page. This was difficult for me to get through. The thing that kept me interested was Wells’ use of a religion as a subtle theme. At a key point in the alien invasion drama, Wells provides an astonishing line of theology:
“Be a man!” said I. “You are scared out of your wits! What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars, and volcanoes, have down before to men! Do you think God had exempted Weybridge? He is not an insurance agent, man.”
Reading the book was worth that paragraph alone.
Congo by Michael Crichton
Reading Jurassic Park a few months ago and reading War of the Worlds this month led me to another work of science fiction. In fact, I purchased the majority of Crichton’s novels off the internet for $1 a piece. You’ll be seeing more of his work on future reading logs.
Congo is an engaging book. It has a plot twist which I found interesting and makes numerous interesting social points – a trend in Crichton’s work. He writes gripping books on a popular level but allows room for serious points to be made. On the surface level this is a book about diamonds and gorillas. On a deeper level it speaks to greed, ambition, and ethics.