Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book Suggestions

It is tough for me to give book suggestions concerning Christianity or even religion in general. That is because, to be honest, I have yet to find a simple book that I think easily bottom lines Christianity. The books that are written to appeal to a wide audience, like MERE CHRISTIANITY or SIMPLY CHRISTIAN are just not that good. At all. They don't impress me.

But the books I think capture Christianity the best are often too heady for most people. So it's a problem. But here are some books I think are just excellent, and most are quite readable:

These are books about apologetics and religion in general.

MYSTERY WITHOUT MAGIC by Russell Pregeant is simply one of the best books on religion, and on rational belief in God, ever written. It is not the easiest read, but it is accessible to anyone with a high school education. It is simply amazing, it will change your life. This book should be read by every human being, ever.

A RUMOR OF ANGELS by Peter Berger is the same way. It just lays bear what it is like to BE religious and how that kind of attitude affects how and why one believes what one believes. There is no greater foundation for religious belief I've ever read. This is real apologetics. This is what it is all about.

MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor Frankl is not primarily about religion, but about the meaning of life. It is mostly the story of Frankl's time in a concentration camp and his highly insightful psychological and existential reflections upon that time. Again, every human being should read this book.


The best and simplest books I know on Christianity are not non-fiction, exactly, but deeply philosophical reflections upon Chrisitianity using fictional characters and worlds:

LAMB by Christopher Moore. This book is irreverent, funny, and can be a little raunchy in parts. But at the heart of it is a reflection upon the person of Jesus. Part of it is deeply historically accurate, and parts take extreme flights of fancy. Only about 25% of the book is based on the Gospels per se. In the end, though, the book is the best reflection I've read about what it is like to actually BE Christian. For at the center of the story is Jesus' childhood friend Biff. He is an awful, sinful, gross man, whose only saving grace is he loves and believes in Jesus. That love redeems his life and opens him up to a fantastic adventure.

THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoevsky. BROS K includes the best arguments for both atheism and theism you're like to come across. Father Zossima's exposition on the nature of Christ and Christian Life are fantastic, and amount to better theology than 99% of what you're likely to find at your average book store.


Check out Reinhold Niebuhr's BEYOND TRAGEDY. To me that book is definitive. It is why I am a Christian, and it shapes my view of humanity, history, and God. This book can change everything for you. But it is a hard, hard read.

Miguel De Unamuno's TRAGIC SENSE OF LIFE. This is the best work of existential Christianity ever. The case it makes for Christianity is fantastic.

Arthur Zajonc's CATCHING THE LIGHT. This is not the work of a Christian, but it is the closest anyone has ever come to explaining consciousness and giving grounds for belief in a human soul. This book shows why religion as a whole matters. It is another text that can literally change everything for you. But that gift comes at the cost of a lot of work.

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