Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why are you reading Voltaire?

Nobody has asked me this yet - except maybe myself. As it says at the top of the blog, I like to read a lot, but I don't think through things very thoroughly. I read it, say, "that was an enjoyable use of time," and shelve it. Now I've always wanted to be growing as a pastor so I've really worked hard at reading, to learn from the best minds available. But sometimes I grow weary of reading theology and the like (don't ask me how I grow weary of it when I don't do a great job of internalizing it) and I try not to get sucked into too many TV shows. Soooo ... I decided to branch my reading out a few years into a professional list and a personal list. The professional list has stuff that pertains to my "profession" as a pastor - OT/NT studies, theology, apologetics, preaching and pastoral books, stuff like that. I have a knack for making simple and enjoyable things more complicated than they need to be.

My personal list has stuff that I just like - Grisham (but I've had enough of him at this point), or baseball books. And devotional reading (like Yancey) or books on prayer (Foster and others). But, inevitably, obligation creeps in. I begin feeling like I should read something on church history, and then history in general (I loved history in high school, but it is a pretty distant memory), and then substantive novels (once I got bored with Grisham). Don't worry, I still read baseball books each year (Moneyball by Michael Lewis is my favorite) - at least for the last couple years.

This is where Candide by Voltaire comes in. I'm trying to "layer" my reading. So, for my "Missions" book (professional list), I'm reading Transforming Mission by David Bosch (it's been on my shelf since seminary). He's talking about how God's mission is being realized in different historical epochs. I was reading most recently about the Enlightenment (some great food for thought on another post). The next book I'll be reading in US history (personal list) is about Lewis, Clark, and Thomas Jefferson (Undaunted Courage by Ambrose). I knew Jefferson was a big Enlightenment guy (from reading John Adams by David MacCullough - great book). I decided to try to align my "novel" reading (personal list) with my historical reading - you know, an influential book of the time. I heard Candide did a great job of capturing the Enlightenment so I thought it would be a good one to read since I'm heading into Jefferson and I just finished reading about Mission in the Enlightenment.

I also try to wrestle with something I'm interested in, or that is controversial. Right now I'm reading, alongside the two lists, stuff on the emergent/emerging church. There's a lot of good stuff in the movement, but some things trouble me as well. That's why I'm reading and posting Mark Driscoll summaries right these days.

That's why I read what I read - for better or worse. What are you reading? Why? What do you suggest is good? What was a waste of time? Do you know of any good books on prayer?

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