So what did you get for Christmas? One of my favorite gifts to give and receive is a good book. I gave about thirty books for Christmas this year. I received about seven. Here are some of the titles I will be reading in 2009 and why.
Although, before mentioning books, pride of place goes to my new John Calvin bobblehead in celebration of the 500th anniversary of his birth. Now that’s an amazing, unforgettable gift!
One Man’s America, George F. Will. George Will is one of my favorite essayists. Every four years he comes out with a collection of his columns. I have read every one of them. He is one of the thoughtful, historically rooted conservative voices of our day who is able to weave current issues with history. His writings on baseball are often interspersed with his commentary on politics and biography. Lots of wisdom here.
Washington’s God, Michael and Jana Novak. There has not only been a tragic forgetting of the founder of our country, but an on-going debate on the nature of George Washington’s religion. Michael Novak has written this new portrait of our first president which attempts to clarify the record about his faith.
Ten Books that Screwed Up the World, Benjamin Wiker. Which books would be on your list? Wiker lists The Prince, Leviathan, the Communist Manfiesto, Beyond Good and Evil, Mein Kampf, Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, among others. When I saw this one, I could not resist putting it on my Amazon wish list. As Richard Weaver said, not only do ideas have consequences, but bad ideas have horrendous consequences.
A City Upon a Hill: How Sermons Changed the Course of American History, Larry Witham . John Adams once said that “being a clergyman is the most important profession in a republic.” This book looks at the influence of sermons in American history. Since I preach several times each week, I’d like to get some historical perspective on how sermons shaped our nation.
Christ and Culture Revisited, D.A. Carson. H. Richard Niebuhr wrote the classic book Christ and Culture. It has been a standard in church history classes on the interplay between the Christian faith and contemporary culture. But it is a bit dated. In many ways there is no more crucial issue facing the church. Don Carson, besides being one of my favorite New Testament scholars, is a great thinker, and takes a biblical/theological approach to addressing the issue.
The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller. Keller’s treatment of the parable of the prodigal son takes this to a whole new level, by examining both sons, and both ways we can rebel against our Heavenly Father. Keller describes human sin and God’s wondrous grace in deeper ways than we are accustomed to.
Anniversary Leatherback edition of A Generous Impulse: The Story of George Sweeting, Jerry B Jenkins. A number of years ago I was able to gather some of the information for Jerry when he wrote my dad’s life story. Now my dad is retired, and Jerry is famous. But to have a special leather bound third edition is a treat for my family and my shelves!
Mortimer Adler: Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
Cicero: A room without books is like a body without a soul.
Daniel J. Boorstein: A wonderful thing about a book, in contrast to a computer screen, is that you can take it to bed with you.
Elizabeth Hardwick: The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you the knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.
Kathleen Norris: Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.
Lenore Hershey: Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.
William Ellery Channing: It is chiefly through books that we enjoy the intercourse with superior minds… In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most previous thought, and pour their souls into ours. God be thanked for books.