Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Awards: Best Books (Read) in 2008, Part 2

Awarded by Derek Melleby

Now the hotly anticipated Book Awards Part 2! (Read part 1 to learn a bit more about how the books were selected.) Remember, they are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name and for no other reason. Here are the concluding 5 books of the top-ten read in 2008.

Awakening Youth Discipleship: Christian Resistance in a Consumer Culture, Brian J. Mahan, Michael Warren, & David F. White (Cascade Books). Coming in at just under 130 pages, this small book packs a powerful punch. It is composed of three sections. In part one White summarizes the creation and history of adolescence, illustrating how youth have been marginalized in society. He then offers a challenging critique of comfortable Christian parents who don’t really want to see their kids radically transformed by the Gospel. In part two, Warren explains how much of today’s youth ministry is shaped more by the techniques and assumptions of marketers and entertainers than the Gospel. And finally, in part three, Mahan directly challenges youth ministers (and himself) to consider how they have conformed to the patterns of this world by not inviting kids into the story of the Gospel, but rather into the story of the American Dream and consumerism. There is also a concluding interview chapter where each author has an opportunity to ask and answer questions about the essays. This book is challenging to say the least and should be taken seriously by those who wish to get at the root of issues facing Christian youth.

Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers, Eugene Peterson, (Eerdmans). This is Peterson’s fourth installment in his five-volume series on spiritual theology. Tell It Slant focuses on our language and the language of Jesus, particularly in his parables and his prayers. Peterson writes, “Every time we open our mouths, whether in conversation with one another or in prayer to our Lord, Christian truth and community are on the line… I want to insist on a continuity of language between the words we use in Bible studies and the words we use when we’re out fishing for rainbow trout.” There’s nothing better than Peterson explaining and reflecting on a biblical text. Here he is at his best, and this one gets an extra award: the most underlined book of the year!

Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service, Mary Poplin (Intervarsity Press). I like to give a book to everyone in my family for Christmas. This year I chose to give Poplin’s account of her time with Mother Teresa. There are so many elements to this fascinating book: it is a story about Poplin’s later-in-life conversion to faith in Jesus; it is a moving account of what it is like to serve the poorest of the poor; it is a handy collection of insightful sayings of Mother Teresa; it is a good example of how to integrate a meaningful, intense experience back into “normal,” everyday life. Ultimately it is a story of hope. God is still intimately involved in our lives and in His world, calling us to service right where we are. I couldn’t put this one down. You should pick it up! (Be on the look out for a CPYU Bookshelf Exclusive Interview with Dr. Poplin coming soon!)

The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor, John Stott (Intervarsity Press). There is one thing about the contemporary church that I have been noticing: more and more young people seem to have the strongest voices in determining its direction. This isn’t everywhere, and certainly, we should listen to younger opinions, but I wonder if too many parts of the church are failing to acquire wisdom from the older generation. In The Living Church, long-time pastor, evangelist and biblical scholar, John Stott offers reflections on the church. Stott brings clarity to the confusion that often surrounds “emerging churches” and suggests ways that the church can adapt to contemporary culture without losing the heart of the Gospel. As he suggests, a “living church is a learning church” and this book greatly assists the learning process. (Click here for a fuller review.)

The Shack, William P. Young (Windblown Media). Okay, I’ll admit it. I was almost too cool to include this New York Times bestseller. I mean, come on, everybody is talking about The Shack, declaring it the best book they’ve ever read, telling everyone else to read… Oh, you just gotta read The Shack. You haven’t read The Shack? The Shack this, The Shack that. The Shack, The Shack, The Shackgetta hold of yourself. Okay, here’s the deal: I read The Shack before it was popular. My copy does not say New York Times Bestseller on the top and I didn’t buy it at Costco. Yes, I am that cool. So there. But, truth be told, it sucked me right in. I devoured the book. I fought back tears. I told others about it. And, for the doctrine police who are reading: I did suggest that I wasn’t thrilled with all of its theology. Like every book, it should be read and tested against scripture. But let’s not forget what it is: a novel. It is a powerful story attempting to make sense of a loving God in the midst of tragic events. It is worth reading and discussing even if you don’t agree with every word. (Click here for a fuller review.)

That concludes the CPYU Bookshelf Book Awards. Thanks for reading. Feel free to add your own 2008 favorites to the list. It would be good to hear from you. Happy reading in 2009!

1 comment:

Tyler said...

Great list (both parts)! I have/have read some of your list and will check out the others. I would add the following all published in 2008: Surprised By Hope by NT Wright, Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne and The New Conspirators by Tom Sine...three of my favs out of the big stack I read this year!