March 2023 Reading Log

This is late but here it is nonetheless. Enjoy a rundown of the 6 books I read in March. I know – it is late and a low total. This brings my 2023 total to 25 books. Happy reading!

(I must always clarify that I read many books with which I disagree. I learn the most by reading things that do not represent my position.)

Civil War Shadows in Hopkins County by June Tuck

I’m deep into a rabbit trail of study on the Reconstruction Era in Northeast Texas. It all stems from my interest in the Union Stockade that was located in Sulphur Springs during the time period. Tuck was a Sulphur Springs historian, leaving behind published volumes and stacks of research. I recently had the pleasure of digging through some of the archival boxes she left behind. Civil War Shadows in Hopkins County is the compilation of all the research Tuck gathered for the Union Stockade historical marker. I poured over each page. Many pages led to many other rabbit trails.

All My Knotted-Up Life: A Memoir by Beth Moore

I knew I might like this one. I was surprised how much I liked it. Beth Moore tackles difficult topics – from sexual abuse to issues in the church – with grace. The opening chapters get wordy but Moore soon wins you over with winsome storytelling. Will this one remain on myself? No. Am I glad I read it? Yes.

Following God Fully: An Introduction to the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Michael Reeves

Who are the Puritans and why do they matter? This thin volume answers those questions and nothing more. This book has absolutely no filler. In 168 pages Beeke and Reeves give you what seems like an introduction to an introduction on the Puritans. If you know nothing about Puritan theology and key figures – this is a great primer. If you’re looking for more – I’d recommend Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were by Leland Ryken.

Churches and the Crisis of Decline: A Hopeful Practical Ecclesiology for a Secular Age by Andrew Root

I read this book in preparation to hear Dr. Root as the featured speaker at George W. Truett’s annual pastor’s conference. This book is brilliant but it takes work to get through it. I will need to read it again to fully digest it. Root takes the work of Charles Taylor and the secular age and brings those insights to bear upon the church. Root uses two stories to frame the book: one about a church whose building becomes a pub and the other about Karl Barth. On one page he’s telling a gripping story and on the next page he’s dissecting theological and sociological concepts which make my brain freeze. Is this a great book? Absolutely! Can I recommend it? Only to a specific audience.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

This book made me cry. Multiple times. Double eyed, ugly cry. No shame here. This is a beautiful book. I’m tempted to discuss how it is a powerful portrayal of community but I’m fearful of Berry’s warning:

Persons attempting to find a “text” in this book will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a “subtext” in this book will be banished; persons attempting to explain, interpret, explicate, analyze, deconstruct, or otherwise “understand” it will be exiled to a desert island in the company only of other explainers.

So just read a few Amazon reviews … but don’t believe the negative ones. This book in now an all-time favorite.

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I’ve read this book countless times (over a dozen?).  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. Bonhoeffer provides a glimpse into the Christian community he experienced while leading students of an underground seminary during the Nazi years in Germany.  The book explores the virtues of personal prayer, worship, everyday work and service, and much more.  

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