Book Tag

Generally my brother has a bit of disdain for being tagged. Yet, he and I share an appreciation for the thoughtful writing of Emily Hunter McGowin. So, when she tagged Paul he obliged. Then as any good brother would do, he shared the love and tagged me. I thought, “What are brothers for?” I’ll give the tag a go.

  1. One book that changed your life. I am a bibliophile. To attempt to narrow the books that have influenced me to one is nigh impossible. Nearly ten years ago I received a copy of The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. Ironically it was given to me for helping coordinate the time of “Invitation” at Falls Creek one summer. Two interesting things – the giver had not read the book and I did not immediately read it. A couple of years before receiving my copy of The Divine Conspiracy, a friend we were talking about what we were reading. Hance suggested I pick up a copy of The Jesus I Never Knew. Immediately Phillip Yancey became one of my, if not the, favorite authors. I literally sought to buy nearly everything he had written. I have read most of his books and to this day am deeply indebted to the suggestion to read this book. Shortly after finishing The Jesus I Never Knew and What’s So Amazing About Grace, I ventured into Willard’s book. A road exposed by Yancey became one I would not soon leave as I worked through The Divine Conspiracy. (Those of you who have stayed past the first three chapters of this book know well what I mean when I use the word, “worked.”)
  2. One book you have read more than once. My mother in law gave me an old copy of Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Another volume I did not immediately read but after reading Willard’s book, I picked up this classic and have read it a few times. I am not sure there is another book I have read a second time – ever.
  3. One book you would want on a desert island. In college Dr. Hall taught a course on survival. Since I did not take the course, I would want to get a copy of a survival guide like those noted by Emily and Paul.
  4. Two books that made you laugh. There are likely a number of books that have made me laugh. My new friend Jim Palmer gave me a copy of his first book, Divine Nobodies. I finished this book, all but about 20 pages, on a flight from Miami to Dallas this past October. I immediately wrote Jim and e-mail thanking him for the book. I told him he made me laugh and cry. While Jim opens readers up to his experiences, some funny and some sad, he writes with such a style that keeps you ready for the next comedic description of some event or conversation. For some of the same reasons, it reminded me of a book I read in the early 1990’s by a Bruce McIver, Stories I Could Not Tell While I Was a Pastor. I am not sure I have laughed harder than reading and identifying with much of what Bruce wrote in 1991.
  5. One book that made you cry. There are some stories that are hard to tell. People will suggest the process is something akin to cathartic. We often run the risk of reducing someone’s story to how is “speaks” to us or for us. In doing so we may minimize the pain and the courage taken to tell those hard stories. Rene Alston wrote Stumbling Toward Faith. Rather than risk doing just what I described, I will simply say, you must read this book and you must be prepared when you do.
  6. One book you wish you’d written. There is something about identifying with those whose picture of Jesus tended toward the very one dimensional variety. Yancy, I think, referred to it as the “flannel graph.” For those too young to remember the flanner graph, think the stories you have heard of “vinyl albums.” Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew restored the humanity of Jesus and helped overcome something of a gnostic vision we tend toward by pristinating his every encounter.
  7. One book you wish had never been written. I am going to re-post Paul’s description here. This is tough because I generally think there is some value to most books including the ones with which I would violently disagree because I think there is something to be learned from them. I think the worst books are those that are entirely unoriginal and just boring or incredibly superficial. That said I think I’d have to go with the entire Left Behind series, mainly because I think they are deceptive. If people understood up front that they are just fiction that would be one thing. That they are taken so seriously and that the authors want them to be taken seriously leads me to view them as eschatological versions of The DaVinci Code.
  8. Two books you are currently reading. Recent conversations with a couple of theologians inspired me to pick up Leslie Newbigin’s, Proper Confidence. Something of an explication of Michael Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge, Newbigin notes the need for intruders. His own story of living among the Hindu in India helped him provide insightful missiological principles for Western Churches and Christians. The rash of “new atheist” tomes – thinking Dawkins and Hitchens here – led me to pick up I Sold My Soul on eBay by Hemant Mehta. Jim Henderson of Off the Map won the eBay auction and sent this “friendly atheist” to church. We need to listen to those “intruders” willing to share life and a conversation with us. (Note: David Phillips told me reading Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge was like a root canal. I am looking for the nitrous before sitting in my chair to read it.)
  9. One book you’ve been meaning to read. My friend John recommended Christopher Wright’s, The Mission of God. I admit this is way down in the stack. It looks like it could take a short sabbatical to get through. I might note, I have also meant to read Friedman’s, The World Is Flat.
  10. Five people that I tag. Natalie Burris, Rick Davis, Steve McCoy, David Phillips, and Alan Cross.
About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.