I'm constantly being asked the question, "what are you reading these days?" So, here is my fall list of books I've read of late that are worth sharing and have my recommendation.
Brent's Fall 2021 Reading List: The Top Three I'd Recommend are:
1. The Lord of the Rings; The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
I have long loved the stories of The Lord of the Rings, and it was fun to dive into the first of the series. Although Tolkien was adamant that he despised allegory, saying, "I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history – true or feigned– with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers." That said, for a Christian, it is hard not to see the Kingdom of God in the story of good and evil unfolding on "Middle Earth." Allegory or not, these are incredible stories worth the time, and the fellowship of the ring is perhaps my favourite!
"Not all those who wander are lost." (Gandalf)
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." (Bilbo Baggins)
"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." (Frodo Baggins / Gandalf)
"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." (Gimli, son of Gloin)
"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater." (Haldir)
2. Run With The Horses by Eugene Peterson
Run with the horses was one of Eugene Peterson's first books to gain some widespread influence. Of all of Peterson's books I've read, I think this is my favourite. He writes a message of how to live an authentic, meaningful, fruitful life, especially when we find ourselves in times of trouble (exile). Journeying through the story of Israel and the life of Jeremiah the prophet, Peterson packs this book full of insight for life and God's heart for us to find our way in the place and time he has planted. I strongly recommend this book to anyone at any season and stage of life.
"My identity does not begin when I begin to understand myself. There is something previous to what I think about myself, and it is what God thinks of me. That means that everything I think and feel is by nature a response, and the one to whom I respond is God. I never speak the first word. I never make the first move."
"Some of us try desperately to hold on to ourselves, to live for ourselves. We look so bedraggled and pathetic doing it, hanging on to the dead branch of a bank account for dear life, afraid to risk ourselves on the untried wings of giving. We don't think we can live generously because we have never tried. But the sooner we start, the better, for we are going to have to give up our lives finally, and the longer we wait, the less time we have for the soaring and swooping life of grace."
"If we forget that the newspapers are footnotes to Scripture and not the other way around, we will finally be afraid to get out of bed in the morning. Too many of us spend far too much time with the editorial page and not nearly enough with the prophetic vision. We get our interpretation of politics and economics and morals from journalists when we should be getting only information; the meaning of the world is most accurately given to us by God's Word."
"Intentions must mature into commitments if we are to become persons with definition, with character, with substance."
"There is no living the life of faith, whether by prophet or person, without some kind of sustaining vision like this. At some deep level, we need to be convinced, and in some way or other, we need periodic reminders that no words are mere words. In particular, God's words are not mere words. They are promises that lead to fulfillment. God performs what he announces. God does what he says."
3. Live No Lies by John Mark Comer
This book was really, really good. John Mark brings a framework to understanding life that is true to Biblical orthodoxy, not as difficult to read as the likes of Dallas Willard, and helps a believer understand the World of Christian faith in today's context. John Mark unpacks in a brilliant and simple way, how the world you and I live in is raging against your soul and how Jesus invites us to find life in a way that is altogether different from the promises and pressures of the Devil, the World and the Flesh. This book will be massively important for years to come, and I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially millennials, gen z, or their parents.
"The devil's primary stratagem to drive the soul and society to ruin is deceptive ideas that play to disordered desires, which are normalized in a sinful society."
"We sin because we believe a lie about what will make us happy."
"The wise recognize that pleasure is not the same thing as happiness. Pleasure is about dopamine; happiness is about serotonin. Pleasure is about the next hit to feel good in the moment; happiness is about contentment over the long haul, a sense that my life is rich and satisfying as it is. Pleasure is about want; happiness is about freedom from want."
"While church is not LESS than spending an hour or two together each weekend, it is FAR MORE. It must be more to survive the Western spiritual apocalypse. Church must become a thick web of interdependent relationships between resilient disciples of Jesus deeply loyal to the Way."
Here are ten other books I've read in the past few months that are also worth mentioning, but in my opinion, if you were going to buy a book and read it, start with the three aforementioned.
1. Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas (Biography of Deitrich Bonhoeffer)
2. Man's search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
3. The Madness of Crowds by Douglas Murray
4. A Burning in my bones by Winn Collier (Biography of Eugene Peterson)
5. A man at arms by Steven Pressfield (Fiction)
6. Meateater's campfire stories by Steven Rinella
7. Beyond Order by Jordan Peterson
8. The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell
9. Project Hail Mary by Andy Wier (fiction/Sci-Fi)
10. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley