Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Books I'm Reading

One nice thing about not having classes right now is that I've got a bit of spare time to do some "recreational reading" for a few weeks. After that, I've got to get on with my supplemental reading list that will be part of my oral exams. Here's a list of what I've been reading:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This is a National Book Award Winner and it is easy to see why. Alexie will have you wanting to laugh but second guessing yourself for doing so. You'll probably cry too. I've got a feeling that there are very few books that can capture the tension that young native people must feel trying to live in today's world while still trying to maintain a strong sense of their culture. Outstanding book.

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. A nice read but not nearly as compelling as Plan B which I think I read in a matter of a couple of days.

Blessed are the Peacemakers: Christ's Teachings about Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness by Wendell Berry. I picked this up at a used book story and immediately fell in love with it. This is a short, 68 pages, book in which Berry has gathered various gospel stories related to peace, love, compassion, and forgiveness and then offers an wonderfully insightful narrative on how they relate to today's times. I'm thinking this book would make a great graduation present.

One Step Closer: Why u2 Matters to Those Seeking God by Christian Scharen. This is a wonderful book that not only gives great insight into U2's message and theology but also serves as a super resource for understanding some theological concepts and church history. It would make a great book for a high school or young adult study - which I intend to to this summer. Scharen takes the reader through U2's background and does an excellent job describing how their message has been shaped by their faith. It's a great resource for peeling away the layers of their lyrics to reveal even deeper meaning. (You can link to more of Dr. Scharen's work from this blog as well.)

In Defense of Food: an Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. I got this "free" with my MPR renewal. It's an interesting book but like Anne Lamott's latest it falls short of Pollan's other recent work "The Omnivore's Dilemma". In this book Pollan focuses largely on the manipulation of nutrition in our diets and how dietary science and politics have affected what we eat. Not as good as Omnivore, but it's still worth reading.

Performing the Faith: Bonhoeffer and the Practice of Nonviolence by Stanley Hauerwas. My "light" read for the summer. I'm fascinated by Hauerwas' work and found this at a used book store as well. I'm just wading into this one.

Day by Day with Saint Benedict by Terrence Kardong, O.S.B. This is my nightly devotional reading. I figured that since I'm attending a Benedictine university, I'd better get a little familiar with the Rule of St. Benedict. In this book Fr Kardong more or less randomly selects a rule and then offers an interpretation and/or a anecdote related to the day's rule. It's very insightful in that it provides an "insiders" look at monastic living and is full of spiritual advice. A perfect way to end the day.


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