Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Books I Read Over and Over Again

There are some books that are so massively powerful that reading them just once won't do.
They are books I return to over and over again, as a way to shore up my own faith and to remind myself of certain basic truths that have guided my life so well. They are powerful, they are pure, and they seem to me to be right. Among these are:

Beyond Tragedy by Reinhold Niebuhr- This series of reflections on various Biblical passages changed the way I thought about the Bible, and is perhaps the greatest influence on my approach to homiletics. At it's core, it is about the theme of the transvaluation of human values which runs through much of the Bible. It is dense and many people have a hard time reading it. However, for some reason the words of this book are like music to my ears. They just flow into me and through me. I NEED to read this book from time to time.

When Bad Things Happen To Good People & Who Needs God by Harold Kushner- Kushner is in many ways the polar opposite of Reinhold Niebuhr in terms of writing style. But the truths his writings convey are simple and pure, like drinkable holy water. I commend to you everything and anything Kushner wrote, but especially these two books, which I come back to at least once every couple of years.

Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl- It was Kushner's writings that first introduced me to Frankl, which is appropriate given the fact that Frankl's value in my life ended up playing a similar role. Frankl is an expert in wisdom, if anyone ever was. This book is really about a direct encounter with meaning itself, as if meaning was a live and you could sit and have a conversation with it. It is as much about the man as his ideas, and it devastates me and lifts me up every time I read it.

The Tragic Sense of Life by Miguel De Unamuno- Unamuno is one of the most under-appreciated philosophers of all time, and I cannot understand why. There is perhaps no better approach to existential Christianity anywhere, and as a person whose writings consistently re-inform my life he exceeds even Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard and Unamuno are very similar in approach, belief, and in contribution to a well-lived life. However, Kierkegaard is not someone I've found I can read over and over again. Unamuno's work, I can.

A Rumor of Angels by Peter Berger- This is one of two books that I consider must-reads for anyone interested in apologetics. When I need to shore up my faith, and remind myself why I believe, I read this book and the next one on the list. Peter Berger's book here is really a work of phenomenology, as much as apologetics. The nature of his approach is second to none.

Mystery Without Magic by Russell Pregeant- This is the book that introduced me to process theology and I find it to be the best book on apologetics every written. If all I cared about is being the most rational person possible, I'd pretty much just believe what Pregeant puts forth in this book. Well-argued, and grounded in human experience, this book is not as accessible as Berger's book and its systematic approach differs in important ways. But they are both very close to one's actual experience of life and for that reason I find them superior to most other works in the field.

Religion in the Making by A N Whitehead- I had to re-read this book the first 6 times just to understand it. Over time, though, I've turned to it repeatedly to get a stronger handle on what life is all about. It is not something I suggest for everyone, though one day I will release a commentary that may help make it accessible to others. For me, it is the summit of what religious philosophy has to offer.

The Bible by Various Writers and God- The Bible is my obsession. I love to delve deeper and deeper into it, and it never ceases to amaze me how often the same passage has more and more wisdom to give and has an ever-increasing power to give one access to God. If it were not so, I would not be dedicated to it as I am.

No comments:

Post a Comment