November Reading Log

Here’s a rundown of the nine books that I read in November. It was another big month due to required reading for my Doctorate of Ministry program. Happy reading!

The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan

Public Theologian

This book is required reading for my upcoming Doctorate of Ministry seminar (It is to be contrasted with the book below with a very similar title).  I loved and loathed this book with every page.  The topic is dear to my heart since I consider myself to be both pastor and theologian.  Yet, due to my interest in the topic, I’m prone to passionate agreement and disagreement.

Overall, I agree with the premise and the desire to see the pastor as a theological office.  Yet, I think the book makes things a bit cloudy by adding more definitions rather than simplifying the role of pastor.  I also disliked the lack of engagement with the pastoral epistles.  1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus say a great deal about the role and characteristics of the pastor.  Is that not a good place to start and a good place to find common ground?

The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting An Ancient Vision by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson

Pastor Theologian

This book is much like the previous book.  In fact, I don’t think the books disagree with one another on many points at all – they simply move towards differing definitions.

The previous books calls for pastors to be “public theologians” while this book calls for pastors to be “ecclesial theologians.”  If interested, pick the books up and dig into the definitions.

For those in pastoral ministry, I would recommend both books.  They provide healthy images for the role of pastor and provide space for a beneficial dialogue on the core purpose of the pastorate.


Gathering Together: Baptist At Work in Worship edited by Rodney Wallace Kennedy and Derek Hatch


This is another  required book for my Doctorate of Ministry seminar.  It is now littered with marginal notes of disagreement.

It is a collection of essays on the topic of worship with most contributors pushing Baptist towards liturgy.  I find the topic interesting and necessary but I often came down on the other side of many of the presented arguments.

I told someone just the other day, “There is only one rule when it comes to Baptist:  There are no rules.”  This tongue in cheek statement came in response to a Methodist friend who was shocked that my Baptist church celebrates Advent.  I have no problem with liturgy, but as Baptists, each Baptist church is free to settle on its own forms of liturgy.  The basics of our liturgy has already been settled: Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and the supremacy of Scripture.

Spiritual Companioning: A Guide to Protestant Theology and Practice by Angela Reed, Richard Osmer and Marcus Smucker


You guessed it … another required reading for my Doctorate of Ministry seminar.

I found this to a beautifully written book with a very important message.  “Companioning,” according to the authors, might be better described as community, spiritual formation, or life-on-life discipleship for those who have not read the book.  It looks at companioning in the midst of the congregation, spiritual direction, small groups, everyday life, and the journey of life .

The book provides a helpful framework for spiritual formation for the uninitiated.  It is also a great read alongside perhaps a book like Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline.”

Baptist in America: A History by Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins

Baptist in America

A great, and relatively short, book on Baptist history.  I have a few Baptist history books that could double as boat anchors if need be.  They are huge.  Denominational history books tend to be massive and dull.  Yet, this book breaks the trend.

The authors break the book into helpful segments and also include a great chapter on a few Baptist controversies.  It is well worth the time for those interested.  I’m sure those looking for a invigorating Baptist history lesson is a slim audience – but this book fits the bill.

Giving: How Each of us Can Change the World by Bill Clinton

GivingThis book has been sitting on my “To-Be-Read” shelf for a long time.  I love presidents.  I love the concept of giving.  Yet, this book was a big “womp. womp.”

A pastor of any local church could write this book with much more passion and much better stories.  Take your humble blogger for example, I can share countless stories of people in my congregation who give sacrificially to incredible causes and people who whose their God-given gifts to change families and communities.  The supply is endless.

Clinton’s effort reads more like a PR piece for some of his favorite charities filled with well-crafted stories on extremely generous people.  There is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I think the book should be commended and Clinton should be applauded for writing a book focused on the work of other people rather than writing a book lauding the work of a former president.  Yet, it could have been so much more.

Airframe by Michael Crichton


The latest addition in my effort to read the works of Michael Crichton.  This was a good one.  A simple story:  An airplane incident results in a few deaths and a large number of injuries.  What happened? The book has a few interesting characters and more than a few plot twists.  Its an engaging story with good use of dialogue.

This is another example of Crichton’s ability to weave complex issues into a fast-moving novel. It deals with safety regulations, journalism and media ethics, morality, and the search for truth.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban by JK Rowling


I finished the second and third volumes in the Harry Potter series this month.  All I can say:  A simply fantastic story with wonderful storylines and characters.

I was very skeptical about picking up this series.  I figured I might try the first volume simply to say that I made an effort.  To tell you the complete truth:  I only gave it a go because I was tired of not picking up Harry Potter references and refused to watch the movies before reading the books.  Yes –
I’ve never seen the movies either.

After reading three volumes, there is no doubt that I will finish the complete series.  These are extremely easy-to-read books designed for a children’s audience.  Yet, you can’t get around the fact that they are great books period.  Gripping stories.  Gripping characters.

I’m still a little embarrassed to be seen carrying them in public – but I shouldn’t.

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