Since I’m going to be out of touch for a while without internet access, I though it would be a good chance to get some reading done. So, I looked through MCC’s library here and found some good material for our three week retreat with Low German Mennonites learning Plautdietsch and hopefully doing some farm work. All of these books fall under the patented Matt Hess Rule which states that only books 20 years or older are worth reading.
The Politics of God & The Politics of Man by Jacques Ellul I read Ellul’s Anarchy and Christianity when I was at the farm. That book didn’t blow me away, but piqued my interest. I’m almost halfway through this one and it’s been a very interesting read. His approach to the problem of free will and God’s sovereignty is not one I’ve heard before.
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster It’s good to return to the disciplines. Honestly, I’m not good at prayer. I know its benefits and have practiced many of the disciplines, but continue to struggle to make it a part of every day. I hope this will be a time of renewal and reconnection to the disciplines.
Christ and Culture by Reinhold Neibuhr I already have an opinion of this classic work and its not good. Much has been written since Niebuhr’s classic that has deconstructed and reconstructed his categories. However, I think it’s worth actually reading something I’ve already decided I don’t agree with.
The Peaceable Kingdom by Stanley Hauerwas Heard a recent interview with Hauerwas on Jesus Radicals and still don’t know what to think of him. He’s rough around the edges and fond of provoking, but also has penetrating insights. I came to Hauerwas late, while others found him transformative and essential to their journey.
Spirituality of Liberation by Jon Sobrino and Salvation and Liberation by Leonardo and Clodovis Boff MCC’s library has lots of books by liberation theologians and about liberation theology which they should since they work in Latin America regardless of what anyone thinks about it. I, however, love liberation theology and think it’s probably the greatest contribution to theology in the 20th century. Partially because it is the first “Third World” theology to pierce the bubble of the West, but also because it is an articulation of the Gospel that gives it breath to live in this world, not just the world to come.
Hope and Suffering by Desmond Tutu I love hearing this man speak and long for such a Spirit of joy and humor, especially from such a life of suffering and living under constant threat of danger and death.
Sharing Possessions by Luke Timothy Johnson The idea of property has been a recent topic on this blog and one I’ve been thinking a lot about. I stumbled on this book by one of my favorite New Testament scholars and all around good guys.
They Sought a Country by Harry Sawatzky This one is for work. It’s a study of the Low German Mennonite experience in Mexico which is where many of the Mennonites here in Bolivia were from at one point or another.
If I make it through this stack I will have made quite a start to 2011. Let you know how it went next month. Peace!
A lot of previous Mennonite scholarship tried to divide Mennonite identities into ethnicity and religion. I like the writings of James Urry (Mennonites, politics and peoplehood) and Daphne Naomi Winland for the work they’ve done in integrating those two approaches in the context of the Mennonite diaspora. Urry also does a good job of detailing the complexity and diversity of the Mennonites, how they negotiated their convictions with surrounding cultures and how certain themes (such as being the quiet – or loud – in the land) have remained and evolved over time.
So many books, so little time. I’d like to plow deeper into the soil of Ellul and Hauerwas especially, so I’d be interested in hearing what you thought of the books.