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December Books

Well, this rounds of my first year of keeping track of the books I read. The total number of books I read cover-to-cover in 2005 was 92. I was aiming for 100 but, oh well, maybe next year.
1. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan. I couldn’t believe that this book was written in the 60s. McLuhan is able to read media (i.e. more than one medium) to a degree that fascinates me, and, consequently, he is able to foresee a lot of things that will take place (and have taken place) in the “electric” age. This book is sort of mind-blowing, both for its scope and the originality of its argument. It is here that McLuhan coins such phrases as “the medium is the message” and terms like “the global village”.
2. Old Testament Ethics for the People of God by Christopher J.H. Wright. I have recently been getting into OT studies (Brueggemann, Dempster, Alter… and hopefully Goldingay next) and so I emailed an OT scholar I know in Toronto to ask for his book recommendations. He highly recommended this book by Wright and, after reading it through, I can understand why. It is safe to say that I have fallen in love with the OT. Wright approaches the OT from three angles simultaneously: theological, social, and economic. Each chapter comes equipped with its own miniature bibliography which is also quite helpful. Very good stuff here.
3. Paul in Fresh Perspective by N.T. Wright. Ah, Tom Wright, you can never do wrong in my eyes. In this book Wright pulls from his previous works and looks forward to his upcoming major volume on Paul — leaving us with all sorts of tantilising hints along the way (for example, Wright suspects that Paul’s “eschatological urgency” is actually his desire to form integrated communities of Jews and Gentiles before Jerusalem falls. For, if those communities were not established beforehand it would be nearly impossible to build them afterward). It is also good to see Tom continuing to develop his thoughts on how Paul and his churches were involved in a political conflict with the pagan empire.
4. Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos. Another beautiful story about a humble priest — an excellent chaser to The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. This novel is grace-filled and humbling. It leaves the reader with a sense of wonder and longing.
5. Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan. So about 8 years ago I figured I would try out the fantasy genre and so I read a few books in Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I wasn’t too impressed so I dropped them and forgot about them… until this year. It turns out the series is still going and one of the kids at my work is reading it. So, I began talking about the books to use them as a connection point from which I could build a relationship… smart, eh? Everything was going great until the kid actually bought the latest book in the series, read it through, and then lent it to me. For the sake of our relationship I waded through 800 pages of characters and plot that had (surprise, surprise) completely changed since my last reading in ’97. Oh boy.

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  1. You know, you could have downed a few Mr Men books in the last minute to reach your goal …
    If you were to list your top 5 books of the year, what would they be?
    ALl the best,

  2. Dang, I should have thought of that. I’ll read the Mr. Men series this year.
    Top fives are always hard to pick for me. I’ll take a stab at it though and give you six — in no particular order:
    1. The Peaceable Kingdom by Stanley Hauerwas
    2. Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross by Michael Gorman
    3. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy by Walter Brueggemann
    4. Theopolitical Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism by William Cavanaugh
    5. The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age by George Lindbeck
    6. The Shape of the Church to Come by Karl Rahner
    Honourable mention goes to The Trinity and the Kingdom by Jurgen Moltmann (that book would have been in my top “five” but I had read it already a few years ago, so it was a re-read).

  3. Nice 5!
    I’m working my way through a collection of Rahner’s prayers at the mo. The best way to do theology I reckon: pray it.
    But I must admit, I’ve never read any Lindbeck.
    Apart from that, I’ve just ordered Hauerwas from the library …
    And thanks for your engaging comments on my blog

  4. Interesting that you mention prayer. One of my housemates is writing his thesis on the notion of developing a prayer-full hermeneutics — a method of interpretation that is based upon communal prayer or something like that.
    I’ll be very curious to hear your thoughts on Hauerwas, I have often wondered what Europeans would think of his work.
    Thanks for the kind words, I have also thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue we have had.
    What would your top 5 be?