at the bookshelf

words on paper, over coffee... 

back in line...

to the table...

to the cd player...

Samuel Wells ~ Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics

This well-written book makes a strong case for rethinking the task of Christian ethics.  Wells' driving analogy is that just as skilled actors have been formed by months and years of rehearsal to be able to improvise compelling scenes together, so too Christians formed by the liturgical practices of the Church are equipped to act ethically - to improvise - in our ever-changing world.  Wells draws on the concepts and images of narrative theology and, in a sense, translates them into the "field" of ethics, from how we think about God to how we act.  The Church takes center stage in this book; it is a work of ecclesial ethics that is deeply challenging and engaging. 

Luke Timothy Johnson ~ The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters

Johnson's introduction to basic Christian beliefs, discussed through the lens of the Nicene Creed, is perhaps the most accessible yet thoroughly deep book about theology I have read all year.  He systematically engages the basic points of historical Christian doctrine, from God as Creator to Jesus , as God incarnate, as Savior.  He brings to bear the historical formation of the Nicene Creed in 325 AD without getting weighed down or sidetracked by historical data.  In all, it is a profoundly theological text, one that serves the Church catholic, holy and apostolic, which is well worth the read by any thinking or historically-minded Christian.  Coming soon, a brief sample...

Frederick Buechner ~ On the Road With the Archangel

Buechner's distinctive retelling of the apocryphal book of Tobit is told from the perspective of the archangel himself, as he guides a somewhat bumbling ancient Hebrew family into the deeper mysteries of faith.  It's a light read but a good one, seasoned with wisdom and grace, offering glimpses of a God who is much more merciful than we can conceive. 

John Perkins ~ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Perkins' confessions consist of his autobiographical account of how he, in collaboration with countless others, worked through purely economic channels to establish American imperial power across the world.  It's a gripping story that will leave even the most cynical person nearly in despair as he recounts using such "international," "benevolent" institutions as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as the tools towards Empire.  Acting in the name of capitalism (and, more recently, globalization), America has economically devastated large portions of Latin America, Africa and Asia, and Perkins was personally involved in this work until a change of heart left him regretful and remorseful.  A must-read for anyone interested in and concerned about how the US wields its mighty economic power throughout the world. 

David James Duncan ~ River Teeth: Stories & Writings

David James Duncan is perhaps best known for his amazing novel, The Brothers K (which I highly recommend).  River Teeth takes some of the best elements of that book and translates them into short fictional stories intertwined with autobiographical narratives.  It's beautifully written, evocative prose that makes you really feel like you're out fly fishing instead of sitting on your couch with the window open, or that you're listening to an amazing outdoor concert instead of the background music on your cd player.  Simply put, it's a great summer read.  Click here for Duncan's explanation of the title, taken from the book's Intro.  Click here for his description of an outdoor concert, taken from his short story "My One Conversation with Collin Walcott." 

Frederick Buechner ~ Godric

Godric is Buechner's imaginative telling of the life of Saint Godric, a real-life saint from medieval England who was known for his radical asceticism, humility, and love of nature.  The writing is archaic, beautiful and earthy at the same time, and Godric's voice in the book is just eccentric enough to sound like a saint.  if you're up for a change of pace from the usual fiction, this one is well worth the read...

Noah Adams ~ Far Appalachia: Following the New River North

Far Appalachia is a short book that's as easy to read as letting your canoe just drift downstream with the current.  Written as part travelogue, part memoir, part history, it's all good storytelling.  a great selection for your summer reading list...

Eugene Rogers ~ Sexuality and the Christian Body: Their Way into the Triune God

Rogers offers challenging theological and Scriptural account of the potential place for homosexual marriage within the Christian body.  it's well worth the (difficult) read for anyone on either "side" of the current debates surrounding this important and divisive issue.  he offers a robust theology of marriage as well...  

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