Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Read These Books

If You Can Keep It:  The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty by Eric Metaxas

Read this book.  Wow.  Read this book.  At this crazy point in American history, every American needs to read this.  I thought I was pretty familiar with the history of my country, but Metaxas asks important questions that I hadn't fully considered before.  What makes America unique in the history of world governments?  Why has democracy worked in the States but failed in so many other countries?  Why is the morality of our leaders so vital to the success of our government?  Why is our increasing cynicism destroying us?

Non-Americans will also find this book interesting since it helps to explain so much about why America is the way it is, and why it's failure would have worldwide implications.  I found Metaxas' observations to be fascinating but I didn't necessarily agree with his conclusions.  However, the topics he brings up are exactly what Americans need to be discussing right now.  It would be great to read together with teenagers.  This is a short and compelling book.  Read it.

Between Worlds:  Essays on Culture and Belonging by Marilyn Gardner

If my recent posts have been particularly nostalgic, it's all Marilyn's fault.  I thought I didn't really have third-culture kid (TCK) "issues," but I found myself constantly getting a bit weepy as I read through Marilyn's book.  She speaks deeply into the heart of those of us who have spent a significant portion of our lives away from our passport country, especially to those of us who are now raising kids the same way.

Every good story has a conflict.  Never being fully part of any world is ours.  That is what makes our stories and memories rich and worth hearing.  We live between worlds, sometimes comfortable in one, sometimes in the other, but only truly comfortable in the space between.  This is our conflict and the heart of our story.

Blessed:  A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler

I bought this book because I wanted to have a better understanding of the theology that so greatly influences the churches here in Tanzania.  What I discovered was a better understanding of American theology as well, and of the subtle ways that the Prosperity Gospel has influenced me even though I've been avidly against it.  This book started as a dissertation, so it is scholarly, thorough, and very well referenced, but totally fascinating.  Bowler simply states the facts and allows the readers to draw their own conclusions.

The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

I was first introduced to Jerry Bridges when he came to speak at The Master's College my junior year.  Though I went to chapel three times a week during my time at TMC, his sermon is one of very few that I remember.  His teaching on grace was utterly life-changing for this "good" girl.  I then devoured a number of his books, and his straight-forward, biblical teaching on grace, holiness, and trusting God completely revitalized my life. Transforming Grace and Trusting God remain on my top-10 most influential books of my life.  So when Bridges recently passed away, I decided that I needed to read one of his books that I hadn't picked up before.

If you've never read anything by Bridges, this is a great place to start, as he draws together a number of the themes from his earlier books.  I can guarantee that you will walk away with a greater fervency for Christ and a greater joy in your salvation.

If God's blessings were dependent on our performance, they would be meager indeed.  Even our best works are shot through with sin--with varying degrees of impure motives and lots of imperfect performance.....Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace.  And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace.

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obiama

I was looking for an entertaining, thought-provoking summer read, and I knew that this one was set in Nigeria, written by a Nigerian, and had won lots of awards.  And it was indeed gorgeous writing, haunting, compelling, and filled with insight into Nigerian culture and thinking.  But it was also deeply disturbing and fairly traumatizing.  A great book that I definitely recommend, but not when you want to be entertained.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

This novel, however, totally delivered.  This is a re-telling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, and it was not only totally engaging and entertaining, but also full of great story-telling, wonderful character development, and beautiful redemption.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and now I'm looking for more Anne Tyler recommendations!

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