Thursday, February 21, 2008

Smart Glasses

Teleological eschatology. Christologies from above and below. Multivocal symbols. Homiletics. Mystical interpretations of Johannine literature. Axiology and Thomistic aesthetics.
My senior year of college, my roommate Sarah had a particularly unique study habit. She would produce binders, books, pens, paper, handouts, and syllabus, and then, when the materials for her study surrounded her, mountain-like, she would whip out a pair of cute glasses.
Sarah doesn't wear glasses.
Except when she studied.
And she doesn't need reading glasses.
She called them her smart glasses. I borrowed them a few times. Eventually she accumulated enough for all four girls in the apartment to sit around wearing them if we so desired. Which we sometimes did.
Note: it does make you study better if you start off feeling smart. Academic thoughts begin to swirl, and before you know it you're learning and reading and making note cards.
Put on your smart glasses.
But I've been sick. What could I possibly have to say that sounds smart? Not much. Luckily, however, these people do. These are books I've begun to read recently. I give you material to contemplate, absorb and ponder. It's part of a balanced breakfast. Pump that frontal lobe iron. Make your brain drop and give you twenty.You'll be glad you did.
But don't forget your smart glasses.

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy is an easily readable, very provocative account of the Nickel Mines shooting at a tiny Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. The authors offer the facts of the story as well as insights into the life of the Amish in general. What makes this book haunting is less the evil of the killer and more the stunning, simple displays of forgiveness offered to the killer's surviving family. With expositions on the key role that Matthew 5 plays in Amish thinking and living, this book will challenge believers and nonbelievers alike. You don't have to don a black bonnet to realize there are lessons to be learned from this branch of Christendom. Difficulty: low Authors: Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher

Faith Seeking Understanding
presents a basic primer for Christian theology. It is a summary, an overview, but it succeeds in capturing important nuance nonetheless. While any book on theology has biases, I think that this one manages to recognize it's own in a way the reader can note and accept or reject. The author freely appeals to Luther and Barth, but not to the detriment of other key players in church history. Another strength is the author's ability to consistently connect the rich doctrines of Christian faith with the concerns of today's world. The book covers the meaning of revelation, the authority of Scripture, the Triune God, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the mystery of evil, and the good creation, to name a few theological topics explored. What cannot be emphasized enough is the importance of the average believer to know what doctrines are important to the church and why. This volume will provide that for orthodox believers looking to add understanding to their faith. Difficulty: medium Author: Daniel Migliore

Les Miserables
is a classic novel of both fiction and redemption. Transcending the musical version and even the film adaptation (which is a masterpiece in its own right), Les Miserables follows the lives of the destitute, the holy, the criminal, and the innocent. As a story, it is first-rate. As a moving tale depicting mercy, justice, and redemption, it is, in my opinion, one of the most important novels ever written for narrating Christian truths. I do suggest, for those intimidated by very long books (1,300 pages), to whet your appetite with the movie first (starring Liam Neeson). I never suggest watching a movie version first, but given the length of the novel I think it acceptable. Do not think, however, that you can substitute the movie for the book. And I must add that if you choose only one book to read this spring, this should be it.Difficulty: hard, due to length and some particular historical references
Author: Victor Hugo

Please let me know which of these recommendations you like, if you've read any before, and comments you have on these books.

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