Book Picks (Non-Theology)

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Pastors are readers, there is no denying it. And sometimes we read things that aren’t theological or somehow related to what we are studying or preaching. Sometime we read for fun. So here are some fun read picks from the PS23 team.

John – A Hobbit, a Wardrobe and the Great War by Joseph Loconte

Two of my favorite fiction authors are J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis (although The Chronicles of Narnia is not my favorite thing from Lewis). And I knew well that they were friends and met together, with the rest of the Inklings at the Eagle and Child pub and were fast friends. But what I didn’t fully appreciate was that they, along with most Englishmen of their generation, shared the formative experience of fighting in the brutal trenches of World War I. This short but powerful yet enjoyable work explores how their experiences in the war informed their later work. It’s no beach novel, but it is enjoyable and well worth reading if you are a Lewis or especially a Tolkein fan.

Greg – The Pilgrim’s Progress & Holy War by John Bunyan

When I was 18, my dad suggested that I read Pilgrim’s Progress. He bought it and I never read it. I don’t even know where that copy it anymore. Well, 8 or so years ago, I found PP in a thrift that was published by Banner of Truth, had some neat drawings, and was in the old English (as Bunyan would have wrote). I decided $1 was worth reading. I began and loved it and have made it my summer read ever since. Every year it hits me different and I relate to Christian (the man character) more each passing summer. If you haven’t read PP, you need to. And don’t watch the movie. The book is waaaaaaay better!!

Well, I told this to a friend of mine and he bought me The Holy War. He told me it was better than PP. I didn’t believe him, and I still don’t. But, it is a really good novel. Bunyan had a way of writing fiction that hits you right where you are in life and turn you back to God in faith. Both PP and HW have done this. I highly recommend both – even if you have to read them in modern English, lol.

Jason — To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

This year I set out with a few reading goals. 1. Read some classic literature, especially one associated with a Jr / High School reading lists. 2. Read some genres I normally wouldn’t pick up. 3. Read more church history. Since the scope of this article relates to non-theological works, I won’t talk about the greatness that is Pelikan’s The Emergence of Catholic Tradition 1-600 (Note, that is little c catholic).

Haper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird deserves the “classic” and “great” status. The world likes heroes and Atticus Finch deserves a vote. In a world filled with quickly reached perception, narratives, and stereo-types, these characteristics lead to false judgments and indictments. The Lord views them as sinful. Atticus is the rare character who is slow to react, tries to understand life from other’s views, and even figures out why a person may act contrary to culture’s standards or expectations. He displays grace, long-suffering, and compassion when he risks his career by defending the “undefendable” in court. Atticus is the kind of man we need to be in so many ways. The story is great, being told from his child’s perspective reminding and inviting us to read along and learn with her. The story is really a tragedy: on the one hand for those falsely accused and on the other hand because what the author’s observations about human nature and cultural stereo-types. I fear this book is being lost on the youth who haven’t experienced life enough to grasp the message’s greatness. If life required a reading list, this should be on it.

I normally do not read fantasy, but this year is different. Mistborn by Sanderson was a good book. I have zero expectations the author will advance or promote anything theologically accurate. Instead I’m interested in how he tells the story and being entertained. I was pleasantly surprised. The second book was my favorite in the series. I was happy to guess the ending (a past time that my wife probably wishes I would give up) and loved the concept of the story.

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