Archive for 'Book Recommendations'
Posted on 16. May, 2012 by Tim Stoner.
Eric Metaxa’s brilliant autobiography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was easily my favorite book of 2011. It introduced me to a teacher, preacher with the unnering and unnerving prophet’s eye. Abraham Heschel describes a prophet as ones who, “said no to to his society, condemning its habits, and assumptions, its complacency, waywardness, and syncretism.” Such a man was Bonhoeffer and for it he paid with his life. This book made me wonder whether I was reading more of a prophesy than a biography. The choice for him was between the German Church and the Confessing Church (which he helped found). Today it might very well be the Accomodated Church one the one side and the Faithful Church on the other. But, what is clear, we desperately need more prophetic preachers like him inside as well as outside the church.
Posted on 14. Apr, 2012 by Tim Stoner.
Who would have imagined Stephen King was a romantic? Certainly not I. But in 11/22/63 Stephen wears his heart on his sleeve. While the horror is still there–though muted, the joy and the love for things past and things present swings, sways and carries you away in a delirium of delight. It is written out of love and for love. Love for a place, a time, a president, a dance, a car, and most of all a flawed and brilliantly drawn woman. It is a book for dancers. It is a book for lovers and maybe even for haters too. It is about suffering and loss and, ultimately, a great but terrible gain. It is a book to relish.
Posted on 12. Feb, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
A Walk to Remember is a heartbreakingly romantic book. In it the protagonist, now in his late 50’s, remembers a walk that he has never been able to forget. In my fundamentalist tradition the walk we were never to forget was that one we took during the “altar call.” It would serve as the reminder of the iron-clad guarantee of our eternal security. However, Hebrews disabuses us of all notions that our confidence is in a brief stroll in the past. Instead the picture is that of a grueling race in which victory is not at all certain. There is great danger of falling short, falling away, or falling down. Thanks to a sermon by David Platt on the Rich Man and Lazarus, I am wondering whether I am in danger of doing all three.
Posted on 22. Jan, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
In Generous Justice Timothy Keller does something almost impossible: he wrestles a golden calf off its marble pedestal while keeping the conservative reader from pushing the eject button. The argument he makes is that caring for the widow, orphans, immigrants and the poor is not an option, it is a duty—it is a necessary act of love. Starkly: choosing not to sacrifically serve those in need is not stinginess but “an offense against God”. And most starkly of all: refusing to “do justice” means we have not been truly saved. He does this gently, but for those with ears to hear Dr. Keller has issued a prophetic pronouncement that will rock the boat and hopefully the world.
Posted on 15. Jan, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
This astonishing, miraculous true story makes you believe it is possible to transcend yourself. If nothing else it tempts you to think that there is no wall too high, no limitation too restrictive, no pain too intense, and no suffering too excessive, that it need stop us from performing feats of heroic grace. It also says to us that there is always the very real possibility of a miraculous transcendence—despite the terrifying impossibility of the present moment. It is “a celebration of gargantuan fortitude” and easily, the most inspiring book I have read in a decade, at least.
Posted on 18. May, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Desiring the Kingdom was authored by James K. A. Smith, a philosopny professor at Calvin College and is one of the 10 most influential books I have read. It shines unrelenting light upon the deficits of the traditional perspective on Christian formation-discipleship. Its thesis can be summarized simply: Christians have been wrong for over 400 years in defining humans by placing the focus on the mind–we are thinking beings that are containers for ideas. He argues that being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head; rather, it is a matter of being the kind of person who loves rightly. We are first of all lovers not thinkers. And then he gets dangerous.
Posted on 17. Jun, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
This is the best book about Jesus I have ever read. Pope Benedict has written about Jesus brilliantly and insightfully. But, what won me over was His love for the Man he was writing about. This book taught me, corrected me, inspired me and illumined the life of Jesus for me in ways I cannot recall that any other book about Jesus has. It made me love (as well as honor) Jesus more. As a supericilious Protestant, it also humbled me.