Archives For Books

"10" by Leo Reynolds (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“10” by Leo Reynolds (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

2014 closed out with the usual smattering of Top 10 lists of books that had been meaningful to people during the course of the year. The same people are opening 2015 with lists of resolutions that they hope to keep—changes they want to make to their lives. But I suspect that there are plenty of people out there who don’t want things to change. Real change is disruptive and unsettling. It upsets the status quo and prevents life from continuing on as usual.

With that in mind, I give you, in no particular order, 10 Books to Avoid in 2015 (Unless You Want Things to Change). Seriously, if you like your life as it is right now, don’t read these books. If your horizons are broad enough, stay clear of the things on this list. If you find nothing wanting with your church and your theology, make sure these books don’t find their way into your library. Each one of these books will challenge your sensibilities and may cause big changes in your life. Who wants that?  Continue Reading…

Invisible Girls book cover

When I was in middle school, there was this girl in my church that I had a huge crush on. I was a shy, gangly boy, sporting a bowl haircut, glasses, and braces. Each Wednesday night before youth group, I’d put on a Polo shirt, tuck it in to my pleated-front khaki slacks, put on my braided leather belt, and tie up my Converse All Star high-tops. Then I’d try and find ways to get in her line of sight, hoping she’d smile or, even better, start talking to me. It never happened.

After several months, I got up enough courage to call her one Wednesday night after church. I retrieved the church’s photo directory from the kitchen and thumbed through to the “L’s.” It took me 15 minutes to work up enough courage to dial all seven digits of the number and let it ring. Her mother answered. I politely asked if I could speak to her daughter. She said she’d be right back. When she returned to the phone, she informed me that her daughter was taking a shower and couldn’t come to the phone right now. I left my number and a request that she call me back. The phone never rang.

I don’t think she was in the shower after all.  Continue Reading…

With my dissertation submitted and currently undergoing evaluation, I have some margin in my life to start working through the stack of “books I really want to read one day” that has accumulated over the past several years. On the top of that pile sits James McClendon’s three-volume systematic theology: EthicsDoctrine, and Witness. Yeah, that’s right… my first foray back into leisure reading is not to head for a novel but to dive right into a set of books on theology. I’m such a nerd. Deal with it.

I’ve been wanting to read McClendon because I resonate with his story and (what little I know of) his theology. McClendon was a Baptist from the South (like me) who found himself wandering away from that theological sphere and towards the theology of the Radical Reformers, those who are also often called “anabaptists” (also like me). McClendon would later come to call himself a “small-‘b’ baptist,” instead of an anabaptist, a term which was originally used in a derogatory sense. Last year I was having a conversation with a guy who studied under McClendon. We were talking about theology and my hopes for the future of the church. He said, “You know, you remind me of a young Jim McClendon.” I thought that was a curious statement, obviously meant as a compliment, and that it would behoove me to read the man’s work.  Continue Reading…

mennonite dove

How would you define “true faith” as it relates to discipleship and christian living? I’ve been reading through Confession of Faith in Mennonite Perspective on my lunch hour for the past few weeks. Today, I came across this bit in Article 17:

Conformity to Christ necessarily implies nonconformity to the world. 1 True faith in Christ means willingness to do the will of God, rather than willful pursuit of individual happiness. 2 True faith means seeking first the reign of God in simplicity, rather than pursuing materialism. 3 True faith means acting in peace and justice, rather than with violence or military means. 4 True faith means giving first loyalty to God’s kingdom, rather than to any nation-state or ethnic group that claims our allegiance. 5  True faith means honest affirmation of the truth, rather than reliance on oaths to guarantee our truth telling. 6 True faith means chastity and loving faithfulness to marriage vows, rather than the distortion of sexual relationships, contrary to God’s intention. 7 True faith means treating our bodies as God’s temples, rather than allowing addictive behaviors to take hold. True faith means performing deeds of compassion and reconciliation, in holiness of life, instead of letting sin rule over us. 8 Our faithfulness to Christ is lived out in the loving life and witness of the church community, which is to be a separated people, holy to God.   Continue Reading…


Remember when you were in grade school and one of the first assignments upon starting a new school year was to compose a short essay on how you spent your summer vacation? Well, this is like that. Except it’s about Christmas. And I’m not in grade school anymore.
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My post will be up at The Other Journal on Monday, May 28. Tony’s response will be posted on Thursday of that week. Do come and join in!