Tag Archives: peter rollins

Top 5 Books of 2009

With 2009 wrapped up I figured I would tell the world which books were my favorite.  I don’t feel like I read as much this year, primarily because I was teaching the whole year and taking college classes through the fall to get my certification.  But here are the books I did get to and thoroughly enjoyed!

1)  Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – I can’t begin to count the number of conversations I have had about this book!  Outliers discusses the factors that lead to success, many times factors that you would never have suspected.  Gladwell uses all kinds of crazy data to show connections between these factors and success.  I highly recommend this book for anyone in the education field.  At the time I read it I was teaching gifted students and he specifically discusses the correlation between a person’s IQ and success.

2)  The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins – Earlier in the year I had mentioned this book.  It is so refreshing as it is far from other Christian books you will find on the shelves of bookstores.  Unfortunately, I am not sure you will find it in any bookstore that I know of.  I had to order it out of Amazon.  The book is a collection of parables meant to change your heart, not your mind.  Rollins points out in the introduction that most religious information is meant to change your mind or educate you, allowing someone to hear a message without heeding it.  Parables, on the other hand, “represent a mode of communicating that cannot be heard without being heeded.”  The book is full of 33 parables that will challenge you and resonate within you.  The ones that haved stayed with me, that I think about and remember, are “The Heretic”, “Salvation for a Demon”, and “Mansions”.

3)  The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson – First, let me say thank you to Robert Jordan (real name James Rigney Jr.) for this amazing series and that you will be missed but you are in a better place!  Second, thank God for Brandon Sanderson!  By now, every fan of the series knows that after Mr. Jordan passed his wife handed the reins over to Brandon Sanderson and like every Wheel of Time fan I didn’t have much faith in him.  I don’t think I have ever been so glad I was wrong in my life!  Sanderson did a great job with all the characters save one.  In fact, I think he may have done a better job with Egwene’s character than Jordan did.  The one character he fumbled, very unfortunately so, is Mat Cauthon.  Mat was my favorite character in the series and the differences in his personality were very obvious.  Hopefully this can be corrected in the final two novels, but if not it is a sacrifice I am willing to make at this point.  This book also had a lot of action in it, finally!  In fact, this book has some of the best action scenes and twists since the first half of the series.  Twelve books down and two to go!

4)  Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay – This has the most depth of any fantasy novel I have ever read.  Kay is definitely not the typical fantasy author, the tone of his novels is much more serious and engaging.  If the average fantasy novel is like an average beer, Tigana is like a fine wine – unique, mature, and meant to be enjoyed slowly.  The story is set in a land divided by generations of tradition that is conquered by two socerer tyrants.  Kay follows several individuals that are striving for freedom, for a memory of freedom.  Along the way you are drawn into the depths of the characters, each with a story that is many times powerful and traumatic.  The novel had a few themes, but the main theme was memory and the power and necessity of it.  Kay wraps the book up nicely with an afterword that explains these themes and where he got the ideas for the novel.

5)  How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins – Ahhh, I need to reread this book.  I read it at the beginning of last year and so it is not as fresh in my mind as the other books on this list.  Rollins has a PHD in postmodern thought and in this book he tries to show postmodernism as a way forward by exposing the problem of Christianity based on modern logic of the last couple hundred years.  The most powerful part for me is when Rollins writes about thinking about God as object vs. subject.  He says the problem with theology is that we view God as an object and when we objectify something we are able to hold it at a distance, measure it, weigh it, and (at least try to) make impartial judgements about it.  But God is not meant to be experienced as a distant object but as a radical subject that has captured our hearts and saved our souls.  A great book that is very thought provoking and challenging.

So what are the best books you read in 2009?  Let me know, I’d love to hear recommendations!

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Books

Seattle Update & Stuff I’m Lovin’

I am going to Seattle in a week!!!  Since I last posted I have found a place to stay and bought my non-refundable plain ticket.  Turns out my wife has had family there this whole time!  So I will be in Seattle from July 15th – August 6th, during which I will be doing a short term internship at Q Cafe.  I am really pumped to learn how the cafe is run and just be able to get help and encouragement with some of my ideas.  I am also going a few days before and staying a few days later than the internship so I am hoping to get around Seattle to a few more coffee houses, museums, a Mariners game, and maybe even one of the parks outside the city.

That is all the good stuff about the trip, now here is the negative stuff – my wife and I will be apart the longest we have ever been since we started dating in 2003!  I will be gone for those three weeks, get back, and two days later my wife leaves for a business seminar in Atlanta for four days.  Which doesn’t sound too bad but less than 24 hours after that she is flying back to AR to stay with family for a week.  We figure we will see each other for only about 72 hours in a 5 week period.  The thought hadn’t really hit us until this week.  Probably because we have had a lot going on between going back to AR in June and moving last week – oh yeah, we moved into a house last week!  So anyways, just the act of sitting here writing this is making me feel sad and a bit lonely.

STUFF I’M LOVIN’!

MUSIC – Two of my favorite artists/bands have just released new albums that really take their art in a new direction.  I have always been impressed with Mewithoutyou’s and Derek Webb’s incredible writing ability and therefore will always follow them regardless of their sound.  I say that because, at least in the case of mewithoutyou, many people will find the new sound remarkably different, but I welcome the changes!

  • mewithoutyouIt’s All Crazy, It’s All False, It’s All a Dream, It’s Alright! –It's All Crazy!... Everyone knows that mewithoutyou’s music is always passionate.  Often, in the past, that has come in the form of hard crescendos and screaming, but the band takes a turn in this album, mellowing the sound into more of a hornsy folk album rather than post-hardcore.  Ok, that sounds way to reviewish.  Suffice it to say this album is awesome!  As usual Aaron and the guys explore deep spiritual issues that are more than often lacking in any other form of music, “Christian” or not.  “The Fox, the Crow, and the Cookie” show cases Aaron’s amazing story telling ability (which I have actually heard is adapted from Suffi folklore but am not sure).  “A  Stick, a Carrot & String” and “The King Beetle On a Coconut Estate” are incredible, deep songs exploring the incarnation and the mystery of God.  As always, mewithoutyou pushes the limits of Christian music and this album does not dissappoint.  With songs like “A Fig With a Bellyache” and “Allah, Allah, Allah”, I wouldn’t doubt if this album earns a ban from Lifeway!
  • Derek WebbStockholm Syndrome – Derek just released his controversialStockholmSyndrome new album on his website Tuesday; however, right now you can only buy it on his website as it will not be available anywhere else until sometime around September 1st.  Anyways, this new album falls more in line with his One Zero Remix album and Moby that his acoustic albums as he has teemed up with Joshua Moore on the new record. So, if you are a fan of Derek’s acoustic and more traditional sounding work then this new album may not have much appeal.  That said, if you are a fan of Derek Webb then I can assure you it does not disappoint as this may be the best produced of all Derek’s work thus far and, as always, the lyrics are always on target.  Derek has a knack for offensive, incredible lyrics that expose the darkness of organized Christianity and the darkness of our hearts.  This tradition can be traced from the beginning in “Wedding Dress” to “T-Shirts” in his sophmore album and on through too many songs to name in his previous two releases.  Well, Derek has continued to strip his language bare to earn him a ridiculous explicit warning for dropping the *shit* bomb in one of the songs.  In context the language is completely appropriate and I am thankful that Derek fought so hard to keep it in there.  The song in question is “What Matters More” and is full of a righteous anger at the gap between what we say we believe and the way we actually live.  He continues to explore certain themes from his previous two albums, including our relationship with the government in “The State” and our seeming need to substitute God for lovers less wild in “The Spirit Vs. The Kick Drum”.  Unfortunately I have had the album for less than 24 hours and have not explored many of the other songs much more that listening to them a couple times.  Other exciting news, Derek will be playing in Florida three times in October!  Unfortunate news, I may only be able to go to one of the shows!

BOOKS

  • Peter RollinsThe Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales – This book is incredible!!!  It is both remarkable and unfortunate how absent parables are in today’s Christian writing and teaching, especially in light of how prevelant it was in Jesus’ teaching.  So with this book Rollins offers us 30+ parables to chew on, wrestle with, or any other metaphor you want to use to describe book that requires a lot of openness and reflection.  Rollins rightly comments that the reason parables are not used today is because they do not make faith easy or turn it into three bullet points that the mind can understand.  Rather than challenging and changing your mind, parables challenge and change your heart.  GREAT book that should be read slowly, carefully, and openly!The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Music

More Books!!!

Earlier I listed a couple of books that I had received for Christmas.  Following are the rest of the books that I received and hope to read in the coming year:

  • How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins – already read this one since I got it!  It was excellent and my friend Chris and I plan on creating a discussion group at Starbucks to read through it together and discuss it.
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – A book that has been highly recommended from several friends.
  • Simply Christian by N.T. Wright – Brad, a friend of mine, has always been a fan of Wright’s so I have wanted to get into his writing.  This may have not been the best book in which to accomplish that goal, but it’ll do.
  • What Would Jesus Deconstruct by John Caputo – Caputo is one of the premier continental philosophers in the U.S. and has always been recommended by one of my former professors.  Speaking of which…
  • Interstices of the Sublime by Clayton Crockett – Dr. Crockett was one of my Religion professors at University of Central Arkansas.  In this text he brings together three modes of thought:  psychoanalytic theory (Lacan & Freud), continental philosphy (Zizek), and theology.
  • The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay – As I think I have said somewhere on this blog before, I find missional ecclesiology and theology to be very refreshing and challenging.  I am also interested in it because Hugh Halter is involved with Church Resource Ministries, an organization that I have a lot of respect for and would enjoy being a part of (Nieucommunities, who Amber and I went to Vancouver with, is one branch of CRM).
  • Creating a Poverty Free World by Muhammad Yunus – As wierd as this sounds, I have become fascinated by the world of economics.  I still absolutely hate math and numbers, buy when I listen to men like Yunus and Jeffrey Sachs I genuinely believe we have the ability to end poverty if we can get over our greed and move beyond consumer capitalism (I emphasize consumer because I still believe that capitalism is a good system, but can be very destructive in its current form).  Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank and is one of the men responsible for the micro-lending revolution in third world countries.
  • Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw – My wife and I had the privelege of hearing Shane and Chris speak in Orlando.  When you read this book or hear these men speak you must call into question the role of Christians in politics.  What role do we play?  Why do we constantly seek political power?  And a myriad of other questions.  Perhaps the most challenging book on Church and Politics out there!

So these are the books I will be reading over the next year along with the other two that my wife bought me that I mentioned before Christmas and some other that I have not finished yet (The Divine Conspiracy – hopefully I will make it through that over the summer).  Hopefully I will blog through a few of them because I would love to get some input from others on some of the ideas I will be engaging.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized