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I have long been an avid reader…of tangible books. (I am not a kindle fan. I have NO desire to own one. Blah.)  Mostly I read nonfiction – it’s probably about 80 – 90% of my reading. Although I do read some fiction, I tend to think of fiction as a “waste of time”.  I hope that doesn’t sound snobby, but I’d just rather be learning and growing in knowledge. Nonfiction can be really fascinating too. I have found the adage “truth is stranger than fiction” to be quite accurate! For example, a couple of nonfiction books that left me spellbound were:  Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Artic and A School Teacher in old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece.

So far in the New Year, I have spent much of my free time reading. I think the combination of having recently turned a room of my house into a home library, and having acquired a bunch of books of late from several sources…has made me even more enthusiastic about reading than usual! This is what I have read so far in 2011:

  • Blue Like Jazz (Nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality) by Donald Miller.  *I finally got around to reading this book! I was suspect because of the endorsement on the back cover by Brian McLaren, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I really like it. Personal, authentic, honest, down to earth, sometimes rambling reflections on Christian life and faith.
  • The Thomas Factor (The Key to believing when you cannot find an answer) by Winkie Pratney. *This book is out of print. It was not what I thought (I was thinking it was more about academic type doubts and unbelief), but nonetheless it was worth the read. Devotional and encouraging thoughts for Christians who aren’t doubting God’s existence per se, but doubting God’s love or providence because they are going through discouraging times and feeling distant from (or ignored) by God.
  • Walking Away from Faith (Unraveling the Mystery of Belief and Unbelief) by Ruth Tucker. *Yes, I already read this book that I posted about only a couple days ago! I could hardly put it down. For anyone really wanting to delve deeper into the issue of belief and unbelief, I recommend this book. Many Christian writings on doubt focus more on the “positive” aspects of doubt (doubts can strengthen faith for example), but this book’s focus is more on the “negative”. While the book isn’t without hope, it is just a very frank perspective that does not sugar coat the issues. It is more academic, but the author explains things so the layperson can understand. It would also be a good introduction on the history of unbelief…Learn about Nietzsche, Voltaire, Hume and the like.
  • Five Women of the English Reformation by Paul Zahl. *This book has chapters on Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Jane Grey, Anne Askew, and Catherine Willoughby. These strong and intellectual women stood firm in their Reformation beliefs, and suffered imprisonment, exile, and martyrdom. Although mini biographies are given of each lady, the emphasis is primarily on their theology. I was challenged by their unwavering commitment.

I just started reading The Holiness of God by RC Sproul. Another book that I am purposely reading through slowly so as to carefully consider the issue, is Beyond Sex Roles (What the Bible Says about a Woman’s place in Church and Family) by Gilbert Bilezikian. And I am also reading The Prophets as Preachers by Gary Smith for my spring semester class.

I like to hear what others are reading…so what are you reading?

In closing, the epilogue of the book Five Women of the Reformation shared four lessons we can learn from these women. Here they are:

  1. Study the Bible. Try to see it through their eyes, as the life-source that it was as they were able to read it for the first time.
  2. Be Courageous. There is nothing to fear if my status is secure in Christ and death has lost its sting. The consequences of exercising or not exercising courage can affect generations.
  3. See God as my only authority. That is a wonderful and fearsome thing. It gives enormous freedom, and tremendous responsibility.
  4. Be grateful that I am not being asked to die for my faith, though I stand on the shoulders of many Christians who have. Pray for those being persecuted now.