I’m late getting this out. No bones about it – the past week has been hectic. But better late than never …
Here’s a rundown of the 6 books I read August.
The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching Augustine to the Present edited by Richard Lischer
This is a required text for my doctorate of ministry seminar on proclamation. It is a thick collection of preachers talking about preaching – from Augustine to modern day voices. A great resource for those interested in the history and craftsmanship of preaching. The book does not contain original material but pulls from previously published works to a wonderful resource in a single volume.
I loved essays from Barbara Brown Taylor, Gardner Taylor, Henry Mitchell, Richard Hays, Fred Craddock, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and more. It provides voices from a wide range of contexts, denominations, styles, theologies, and time periods.
Reading For Preaching: The Preacher In Conversation With Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists by Cornelius Plantinga
Another required text for my studies – but one that is right up my alley. Plantinga argues for a good general reading plan for preachers. You could not get a louder “Amen!” from me.
He discuss how reading great works of literature tune the preacher’s ear, makes them deep thinkers, and expands their knowledge base.
You don’t need to convince me. I’m on board with the thought process. Yet, is the argument convincing to those who currently don’t devote time to reading? I don’t know.
The Sermon Under Attack by Klaas Runia
You guessed it – another required reading for my doctorate program. Yet, another one that I enjoyed. This book was published in 1983 but is still revenant when it comes to addressing criticisms of preaching and providing cautions to the preacher. It was downright prophetic in discussing the day when evolving technology will compete against the preacher’s voice.
Highly technical in nature – only for those interested in the field of homiletics.
Sermon Preparation edited by Craig Brian Larson
Another required text … but not one that I enjoyed. I personally believe that “How-To” guides should be left to instruction manuals. There is no “How-To” guide when it comes to preaching. Every preacher is different. Every church is different. Every congregation is different. Every passage of Scripture is different. Every week of the year is different. If a preacher expects every week and every sermon to look the same – get ready for absolute disappointment.
The book does show a wide-range of ways of going about the task of preaching. That does have some merit.
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of The Inklings by Philip and Carol Zaleski
The book is massive and fantastic. It was so fantastic that I purchased it twice. I packed this in my suitcase for the mission trip to Romania. I saved it for the long flight home – a twelve hour flight from Germany to Dallas. I read about 60 pages of it on the short flight from Romania to Germany. Unfortunately, when I boarded the flight to Dallas I realized my book was still in the airport. So, I purchased it again to finish the remaining 500 pages.
The book will go down as an all-time favorite. The Inklings were a group of educated individuals with a passion for literature. They would gather often to discuss literature and read from their own works in progress. The group over the years included a fair number of people. This work looks at four of the most influential: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams. It is in-depth and well-written. I LOVED the subject material and the writing style.
Sphere by Michael Crichton
This is my latest adventure down the road of reading the works of Michael Crichton. Thus far this year I’ve read Jurassic Park, Congo, and now Sphere.
In my limited knowledge of science fiction – this book is a great example of the genre. Heavy on characters. Heavy on science. Heavy on plot twists and turns.
Crichton was a master of telling a fun, fast moving story with deep themes running underneath a page-turning plot. This book dips into everything from technology, humanitarian ideals, psychological manipulation, scientific interest, racism, and sexism. Fun read.