Monday, February 2, 2009

MORE Book Awards: Best Read in 2008, Part 2

Awarded by Walt Mueller


The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World, by David Wells. Another thought-provoking book that’s bound to tick a lot of people off. When I first started reading Well’s critiques of American Christianity a few years ago I thought he was being a little bit rough on folks. But the combination of studying the Scriptures, observing the church in my travels, being deeply entrenched in the youth ministry community, watching culture, and reading/listening to Wells has changed my mind. Contrary to what some believe, this isn’t a guy who has an axe to grind. Rather, He has a Lord to serve. His criticisms, observations, and suggestions aren’t the result of some willy-nilly knee-jerk reaction that lacks insight and depth. I’m increasingly convinced that David Wells gets it. . . . which is why this is an important book for the church.

Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, And Live to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, by Frank Schaeffer. Another memoir written by the somewhat disgruntled son of one of my heroes of the faith. Francis Schaeffer has had a deep and profound influence on our ministry at CPYU. He had the same influence on many of my kindred spirits in the faith. Why then, would I choose to read a book by his irritated and angry son? I’m not sure. All I know is that of all the memoirs and biographies I read during 2008, this one gripped me the most. Perhaps it’s because I grew up living the fishbowl life of a preacher’s kid in the 1960s. A thread of fundamentalism wound through that life, although it disappeared as time went on. Reading Frank Schaeffer’s take on his childhood resonated we me in so many ways. Not only that, it’s made me rethink what it means to be a dad in ministry.

Child of Divorce, Child of God: A Journey of Hope and Healing, by Kristine Steakley. I grew up in an intact family. My wife did not. We come from different worlds. If you are someone working with kids, it’s likely that half of your student population is growing up in my world. The other half is growing up in my wife’s. Steakley takes readers on a journey through her own experience. It is gut-wrenching. It is real-life. It’s a story we need to hear. . . . especially if it’s not our own. What I like most about this book is the fact that Steakley found the source of healing, hope, and strength in Christ and his work alone. This is a must-read for children of divorce and for those called to minister to them.

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, by David Sheff. This is one of two memoirs on addiction that I read. The other, Tweak, was written by Sheff’s son Nick. When the world that is the way it’s not supposed to be rears its ugly head to shatter individuals and families, we can’t turn our heads in the other direction. . . . or cross over and walk by on the other side. This book is compelling reading into the emotions, realities, and dynamics of watching one’s child choose foolishly. . . and then become enslaved to the consequences of those choices.

Safe at Home, by Richard Doster. I had to include at least one book on baseball since I read quite a few. Dick Doster is a friend who edits ByFaith magazine. I’m always a little bit “iffy” on tackling novels by Christian writers. Too many bad tastes left in my mouth from bad experiences in the past. This one tasted good. It’s a great story about minor league baseball, the Civil Rights Movement, the south, and how one town handled the breaking of the color barrier when one of their own sons signs a contract with the town’s team. This is a good story that’s well-researched and well-written. I put this one down and picked up Jackie Robinson’s autobiography.

There you have it! Any suggestions for what I should be reading this year?

3 comments:

Nick Hill said...

Walt,

Have you read this book?

Don't Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough
by Michael E Wittmer

God bless! Thanks for your ministry!

LLGK said...

The best book I read was The Shack. I know there have been lots of debate about the theology of this book, and I understand some of the negative feedback about it. However, for someone that is firm in their faith, it was a great read for me to help put things in perspective and understand that the love of God is so greater then anything I can understand. The comparison of God's love to us compared to our love for our children made me appreciate both relationships more.

Douglas R said...

Although I haven't finished it quite yet because someone put it on hold at the library, Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris really challenged me; as well as the insights in the Art of Pastoring by David Hansen (an older book written back in '94).