Thursday, September 11, 2014

Worthy Reads

Now that learning Kiswahili is my focus, I won't have as much time for reading these days.  But here are some great books I've read from the past few months.

Escape from North Korea by Melanie Kirkpatrick

Riveting account of the prison that calls itself a country, those who manage to escape, and those that help them get out.  Don't read this book if you want to stay comfortable with your life.  

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

Probably the best marriage book I've read, and I've read many.  "We are always, always the last to see our self-absorption.  Our hurts and wounds can make our self-centeredness even more intractable.  When you point out selfish behavior to a wounded person, he or she will say, 'Well, maybe so, but you don't understand what it is like.'  The wounds justify the behavior."

"Longitudinal studies reveal that two-thirds of unhappy marriages will become happy within five years if people stay married and do not get divorced."  

"Marriage by its very nature has the 'power of truth'--the power to show you the truth about who you are."

Good stuff, that.  I could fill this whole post with amazing quotes from this book.  A must-read for singles especially, but really, pretty much any God-fearing person will celebrate this book.  

Brilliant, insightful read.  Though it's a work of fiction, it's told from the perspective of an autistic teenager.  Fascinating glimpse into the way these unique individuals see life.  

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

The subtitle reads:  A gay son's journey to God.  A broken mother's search for hope.  This is a beautiful memoir, full of honesty, hope, and so, so much grace.  

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

If you told your teenagers that you wanted to discuss nihilistic and post-modern philosophy with them, their eyes would probably roll back in their heads and drool would start coming from their mouths.  But if you handed them this book (if they haven't already bought it themselves, since it's a teen best-seller), they might be much more interested.  

This book is essentially nihilistic philosophy packaged in a funny, witty, engaging novel.  I doesn't sound possible, but that's really what it is!  The main characters (who are teenagers) even quote philosophy to each other.  Seriously, this would be an amazing book to discuss with your teenager.  But don't hand it to her unless you are ready to read it along with her.  

Jesus or Nothing by Dan DeWitt

So after you've read The Fault in Our Stars, next read this one with your teen.  This is a short, to-the-point, apologetic for Christianity versus, well, everything else, but especially nihilism.  It speaks the language of college students and would be a great gift for those students living in the trenches.  

"If the entire show is the result of blind chance, then there really is no reason to trust our mental faculties--which are just one small part of the show.  If our brain is itself an accident, then any argument we develop to the contrary can only be considered just another accident."

"I often hear statements like, 'I'll only accept what I can prove scientifically.'  This is, of course, a philosophical statement.  It cannot itself be proved scientifically.  You cannot see truth through a telescope.  Is it thus false based on its own logic?  It is certainly begging the question."

Okay, so I probably bit off more than I could chew with this book.  This is a looong book (though not as long as it first seems because half of it is end notes).  And I am only a minor history buff and not a major one.  Thus, I skimmed large sections that did not interest me.  

However, I still am highly recommending it because parts were utterly fascinating to me.  Stark re-examines the way we view history and brings out the biases that pervade how it is taught.  I especially loved the parts on slavery, the Arab world, the so-called Scientific Revolution, and the founding of the New World.  Totally different perspective to what I was taught, and yet very well researched and cited.  

I've read many books over the years on Islam.  Hands down, this is the very best one.  Qureshi knows what he is talking about since he grew up Muslim, and he shares the basics of Islam and how it compares to Christianity while telling his own inspiring, incredible story of coming to know Jesus.  If you have a Muslim friend, you must read this book.  

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

This is a classic.  How did I live in Africa for so long and not read this book?  This is the heart-wrenching story of a tribe in Nigeria, before and after the coming of colonialists and missionaries.  So insightful into the worldview and culture of Africans.  Very, very thought-provoking for us as missionaries.  

And since we so desperately don't want to make the same mistakes as those who went before us, Gil and I are reading multiple books on culture and worldview.  This is the best one so far:

Definitely a must-read for anyone involved in missions or cross-cultural ministry.  Convicting, insightful, and life-changing.  

"Ask me what is the first precept of the Christian religion, I will answer first, second, and third, Humility."

"People usually don't act randomly or stupidly.  Those from other cultures may think it random or stupid, but from the local person's perspective, they're thinking or acting out of a larger framework that makes sense to them....Too often we assume others are foolish or illogical simply because their reasoning is not self-evident to us."  

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