below are some takeaways from the the books i read in July and August this year. each rated with 1-5 *stars* based on how good i thought it was.
Understanding God's Will: How to Hack the Equation Without Formulas - Kyle Lake 3.5*s
i really like reading Kyle Lake. a lot. i wish i could have known him before he died.
ended up doing a whole 3 talk series on "God's will" for students & read this book as part of the prep for it. really, really good analogies & metaphors & language for understanding "God's will." i still put it in quotes because i don't know anything else better to call it.
probably the best & most helpful thing in the whole book was an excerpt from an article by McLaren back in the day. simply brilliant analogy to his son asking what his dad's "will" was for him to major in in college. dad's "will?" simply for his son to make his own decision :)
brilliant. of course, all is better in context.
best overarching metaphor is "Disciple" -- understanding God's will means to literally follow or apprentice Jesus. when we're doing that there's no need to worry so much about all this "is it God's will or isn't it" mumbo jumbo.
short story - this is a worthy (quick) read. as is everything by the late Kyle Lake.
The Performance Factor: Unlocking the Secrets of Teamwork - Pat McMillan 3*s
required for team building class. i think it was pretty good. he had like 6 steps to guarantee you've go a rockin team. none of them are coming back to me right now. that class was kind of a blur. i read this book in like a day & a half. i should probably revisit my notes on this because it's a huge NY Times best seller & all that.
i remember liking it and thinking "right on" but it obviously didn't motivate me to a lot of immediate action (consciously, anyway).
Homosexuality and the Bible: 2 Views - Via & Gagnon 4*s
i hadn't read a whole lot of books a theology of homosexuality... until i wrote a research paper on it during the summer semester. i read bits & pieces of another 20 books but this one was the best by far. also required for the class, so i read it in full.
LOVED reading these 2 scholars with very opposing views interact with the key biblical texts & flesh out their theologies on the matter.
eye opening. all of this is not as biblically cut and dry as the majority of Christians assume on the surface. i recommend this book if anyone is digging. it's a great presentation of both sides from 2 legit scholars.
The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics - Robert A. J. Gagnon 2.5*s
was much better reading this Gagnon guy interacting with Via and the 2 of them being forced to go back and forth. that keeps people honest. with Gagnon writing a whole book on his own he can pretty much go off and say whatever he wants without a 2nd scholar acting as a check or balance... this one was kind of long & got boring.
Spiritual Leadership - Henry Blackaby 2.5*s
i think the whole book can be adequately summed up with the subtitle... "moving people on to God's agenda." & that's pretty much what you get out of this book. nothing bad. it's all good.
fairly elementary though.
Transforming Leadership - Leighton Ford 3*s
this is by Billy Graham's bro-in-law & i think is like a big whig at my seminary. he wrote a ton of books. this was actually really good. for some reason i just can't remember a lot of the good. i think it was basically presenting Jesus' theology of leadership. a lot of really powerful stuff. relationships. serving. vision. all the hallmarks of the incredible leadership of Jesus. kind of long. like over 300 pages & could have been 150 pages maybe.
Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World - Dennis Hollinger 4*s
Hollinger was my prof for sexual & bioethics (& just happens to be the new president of my seminary). this book was brilliant. Hollinger is absolutely brilliant at taking these very scientific and intellectual ideas and boiling them down to popular level. amazing primer on ethics in general. i would start HERE if you're diving into ethics.
begins with foundational differences in all the worldviews that ethics are built from. critiques each & even presents kind of a new way forward. also dives in practically to pretty much every ethical scenario we face today. very practical. very well written for a pop level. very engaging. really really good. (if it were under 200 pages i would be tempted to give it 5*s... but alas... it's 300.)
Why the Church Needs Bioethics - John Kilner (editor) 3*s
every chapter was authored by a different expert from a different field relating to bioethics and/or the church/education/theology. some chapters were brilliant & gripping and i couldn't put them down. others were awful. especially one by VanHoozer. i say skip that one. can't remember where he's from but he must be a leftover fundamentalist or something.
there were a few that were absolutely brilliant and make the book worth reading. now i know just enough bioethics to be dangerous. :) just kidding.
actually this book did remind me over and over of the TV show Fringe. seriously. Science is advancing at such a rate that our theology & ethics will need to go where it has never dreamed of going before! (just ask Walter Bishop)
The Meaning of Sex - Dennis Hollinger 4*s
i can't think of anything better that i've ever read on the topic?
honestly, best of all it helped me form and clarify some of my own theology/philosophy on this topic. Hollinger and i aren't very far off at all. if anything i used him as a springboard to where i landed. very thankful for this book. i would definitely recommend it. read with an open mind.
basically presents 4 "Givens" or purposes for sex. pleasure, love, procreation, and consummation. that's a foundation for viewing sex & its meaning. all that is explored & then every sexual idea is critiqued through that lens.
The Third Conversion - Scott Rodin 4*s
a 98 page fiction about a professional non-prof fundraiser.
really really good stuff on giving. it's written for professional fundraisers, but i was more affected from a giving point of view. it's really a theology of giving/blessing (2 way) and it deeply resonated with my heart & thoughts on that stuff.
HIGHLY recommend this book to basically anyone! if you give $ or don't + if you raise $.
(side note - those authors doing fiction to make a point really have a lot more fun, don't they?)
While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks - Tim Laniak 4*s
this did something inside of me. this did something in my soul.
i read it every single morning on my porch swing for about 40 days... it was refreshing. basically short snippets of thoughts from on location in the middle eastern desert about LEADERSHIP & its connections to shepherding. 3 main ideas of protecting, guidance, and provision as role of a shepherd leader. brilliant concept. brilliantly written
beautiful thing it did inside of me.
The Future of Management - Gary Hamel 4*s
i almost give this book 4.5 or 5*s... i went back and forth. it was really really good & groundbreaking stuff. probably better than the 4 books above that received 4*s, but i couldn't bring myself to give it 5*s.
basically the future of management focuses on the EMPLOYEE NOT the customer or the system/org. + must be all about INNOVATION. every org will need to change faster than change itself, therefore people, systems, & leaders will be forced to changed lightning fast!
highly recommended for any leader.
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