The books we’re taking on vacation
The summer of 2017 is here, school has finished, vacations are happening, and we have the time to spend with a good book. But what to choose? To help you decide, here’s a peek at what our clergy are reading.
Rev. Drew’s summer reading list
The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity by Lee Strobel (304 pages). Lee Strobel wrote another book, The Case for Christ, after his attempt to disprove the story of Christ led him to become a Christian. In The Case for Faith, Strobel takes on the objections of people who may be drawn to Christ’s narrative but see apparent contradictions or inconsistencies in Christian teachings about God. These objections become roadblocks to belief, and Strobel takes them on one by one.
Drew+ recommends, in particular, the Introduction and Chapter 1 entitled, “ Answering the Objection: Since Evil and Suffering Exist, A Loving God Cannot”. Although this chapter is only 55 pages the content is rather weighty and so we recommend against planning to read it in one or two sittings.
The Men’s Supper Club will be taking a look at The Case for Faith when it resumes in the fall.
Making Sense Out of Suffering by Peter Kreeft (184 pages) looks at the question of why a loving God would allow evil and suffering. This is a book for people who have been hurt and wonder how it could make sense. Why are good people made to suffer? Why do tragic events often seem so random? Is there some redeeming quality in living through suffering?
Kreeft, a Roman Catholic apologist and philosopher, writes from a place of observation and experience. He explores philosophical, artistic, and religious traditions, and what they have to say about why bad things happen and how we can respond to suffering. From these he develops a clear understanding of where God is in all this.
Where is God When it Hurts? by Philip Yancey (288 pages) is another look at pain and suffering, and why a loving God would allow these things. Yancey explores biblical teachings, especially the story of Job – a pious man whose faith was tested severely when God seemingly put him through suffering – to understand why pain exists at all, why painful things happen, and why God is not indifferent.
Yancey also looks at ways that people respond to pain by telling the stories of several people who have faced great difficulties in their lives. Yancey then offers us thoughts on how we as individuals can respond when pain enters our own lives.
Rev. Tim’s summer reading list
Silence by Shūsaku Endō (201 pages) caused controversy when published in Japan in 1967. It has been made into a movie this past year by Martin Scorcese. The novel is set in Japan in the 1640s. It tells the story of an idealistic Jesuit priest, Father Rodrigues who has come as a “second wave” missionary to help Japanese Christians who are at that time brutally oppressed.
It is a relatively short novel but it is a challenging one. It deals with issues of the apparent silence of God (hence the title) when we are faced with excruciating choices. There are questions of sacrifice, martyrdom, faith and love. This is not a light beach read, but it is thought provoking.
For lighter reading, and a joyous celebration of life in Cape Breton, Tim+ recommends two books by Alisdair MacLeod: No Great Mischief (304 pages) and Island: The Complete Stories (448 pages). No Great Mischief chronicles the lives of a family in Cape Breton from the their arrival from Scotland in 1799 to recent times. Island is a collection of short stories about diverse colourful characters in a landscape where life is rarely easy. Both books are beautifully written and deal with the themes of family, culture, and change.
For those looking to plunge deeper into faith, Tim+ invites you to join him in reading Fleming Rutledge’s Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (696 pages). You may recall that Drew+ preached at length on this book on Good Friday, and indeed, this book speaks to the centrality of the cross in our faith. Rutledge feels that many churches, to avoid controversy, play down the cross. Rutledge believes this is a mistake because it is only by knowing the meaning of the cross and the crucifixion that we can fully comprehend the gospels.
Tim+ offers an invitation:
I didn’t have the time to dedicate to reading it during the Easter season (an occupational hazard), so I have just started reading Crucifixion now. Anyone else who reads it, please send me a note and dinner is on me. I would love to discuss it with you after you have read it. (Seriously, I will buy anyone dinner who reads this book and wants to have a conversation about it.) I have just begun the book and already I know that it will shape my perspective. This is a book for people who give a damn about who Jesus is and what does the fact that ‘Jesus died on the cross for me’ actually mean.
Rev Guy’s summer reading list
The Way In is the Way On (256 pages) is a collection of teachings and writings of John Wimber. Wimber, who passed away in 1997, was an evangelical pastor who was pivotal in setting the direction and growing the Vineyard Movement of churches. With an emphasis on low-pressure evangelism and church planting, personal connections to God through worship, and downplaying actions perceived as dogmatic, the Vineyard Movement has grown to over 1500 churches worldwide.
Wimber seeks to understand how the Holy Spirit is working in us. How would we behave if we could set aside more of our own presumptions and were more receptive to God when He speaks into our lives? This collection of writings offers spiritual insights along with practical applications.
Guy Chevreau, who is now helping to revive and re-mission St. Leonard’s Church, is himself the author of seven books. Turnings: the Kingdom of God and the Western World (224 pages) stands out for its motivation from profound experience. Guy explains:
Heidi and Rolland Baker are two of my dearest friends, and it has been a great privilege to serve their network of over 5,000 churches in southern Africa. As I have witnessed many miraculous healings and the phenomenal church growth, the Spirit has called forth a most unsettling question deep in my spirit: ‘Why so much there, and so little here?’ Turnings grows out of a disturbing discovery: the Kingdom belongs to the children; the poor possess the Kingdom; those working for righteousness inherit the Kingdom, and the rich have to try to enter, if they can.
Guy+ has made available a few copies of this book; they may be purchased from the SJYM church office.
Enjoy the summertime with a good book or two!