Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Reading List

summer is almost here... tell us what you are planning to read this summer and why. If possible, rank your book selection by priority.

I~ll have to contribute my list after I arrive back in Miami on Wednesday.

ok Laurel: go! You too Biiilly....


Laurel Long said...

I am very happy to go first! But, you must give me a few hours (at least 24) to post a thoughtful resume of my reading projects with links included so that you can check out the authors as well as the books. I admire your attachment to particular authors as well as publications by them; this is the way it should be, I have the same attachment and admiration to not a few.
Please be assured that whatever the consensus is regarding a particular topic and book I am perfectly alright with it. Just know that my basic reading program will endeavor to distill current conversation. I expect the same from the rest of you.
This is supposed to be fun and edifying. How can we make this kind of exchange a blast?
Let's take this to the next level!

just joe said...

most of my reading has been and will be preparing for my comprehensive exams at the end of July.

I read two books while I was down here, one edited by Huber, about agrarian land structures in Latin America in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, principally, Agrentina, Mexico, and Peru (there was also a chapter on Colombia and Brazil, but they will not be covered in my comps).

I also am reading a book on nineteenth century Agrentina, shortly after Independence edited by one of my professors, Dr. Mark Szuchman.

the only two non-academic books that I have had time to glance at recently are the book by Phyllis Tickle, and another book by Andrew Marin about Christian attitudes towards gays, (dont remember the name rigt now). I plan to finish it when I get back.

Laurel Long said...

I guess this is ladys first?
First of all, Joseph your energies and reading time are already spoken for until you complete your studies. It is extraordinary that you even have time to comment, more less, moderate this blog. Wouldn't you like for us to read something that you are including in your Doctoral Bib? I would be willing to stretch myself in this endeavor.
My approach to what I read and study is very simple. I am only a wanna be, but I am the most enthusiastic wanna-be you may ever encounter.
The author is the most influential factor in making choices and purchasing materials for the same. You can google each author noted here to learn about their particular emphasis of historical explanations. I hope that you will discover some new friends and perspectives in your study of history through these wonderful historians.

F.A. Hayeck is a Nobel Prize winning author on economic theory. His book, Road to Serfdom, is compelling and provocative in light of current trends towards Socialism by our president. Hayeck wrote his classic as an eye witness to the rise of fascism in Europe prior to WWII. I am nearly finished with this book and wish I could memorize it.
Will Durant is a Pulitzer Prize winning historian on the "Story" of civilization. His eleven volume "Story" is in our home library. Currently I am reading it alternately with Kenneth LaTourette's "History of Christianity."
LaTourette was a former missionary to China and professor of Divinity at Yale. Each one compliments, challenges, and teaches me how fragile history really is, but also, I can read between the lines because I know the Lord. The contrasts and comparisons of the two authors are riveting.
Barbara Tuchman is my very favorite historian; mostly because she was a housewife who had a passion to understand why the history of civilization is full of war and why, and how those wars contributed to civilization's survival and demise.
You all seem to enjoy "living perspectives" which I wholeheartedly respect and enjoy on occasion, but I must admit that my love of history is characterized by an inordinate love of those who are already dead and gone.
I would love to hear about what you all are reading. ON occasion I need to expand my perspective and purview.
There you are.

John M. said...

I'm impressed Laurel... you are very serious about you're reading.

I just finished Tickle's book. Before that I read a book by Carl Raschke, titled "GloboChrist" - It's about the phenomenon of globalization from an academic viewpoint. Raschke is professor and chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Denver. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Mars Hill Graduate School. He has written another academic book that I am part way through but kind of bogged down in. It's called "The Next Reformation, Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity".

I just started, "The World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman. My summer list also includes three by N.T. Wright, "Surprised by Hope", "Justification", and "The Last Word", dealing with the inspiration of scripture and published about four years ago.

Speaking of dead authors, I have a book titled "Incarnation, The Person and Life of Christ" by Thomas F. Torrance, edited by Robert T. Walker. Torrance is described on the book flap as "one of the most important Reformed theologians of his era. He was Professor of Christian Dogmatics at New College Edinburgh for 27 years. He died in 2007, and this is the first of two volumes of his lectures on Christology delivered to students in the classroom from 1952-1978. The next volume will be on the Atonement. It is edited by his nephew who holds degrees in philosophy and theology. I plan to read it slowly over the next six months or so. It was recommended by Scot McKnight, and I thought I could use some balance of all the postmodernity, gobalization and New Perspective on Paul.

Knowing myself, I will probably not get through all three Wright books by summer's end, and I more than likely will get snagged by something not even on my current horizon, and end up reading it also or instead...

On a personal note, I will be traveling June 18-22, and don't expect to have access to the internet. I'll check back in next week.

Laurel Long said...

I have read only parts of "The World is Flat," and listened to quite a bit more of it on CD. It is probably one of the most comprehensive record of current history. Very much worth the time invested.

just joe said...

Hi guys, I am back home in Miami, busy trying to organize my receipts so I can get re-imbursed by the Tinker award for my travels and badly needing to mow my yard (rainy season).

I am back to reading Andrew Marin’s “Love is an Orientation” – one of the best books I have read in a long time. This guy is doing the kind of things in the gay community that I have only dreamed of doing among secular young people or academics. Building bridges, exegeting a demographic group, and walking in agape love by listening respectfully while engaging in loving and truthful conversation.

While I was in Rio, I had a great conversation with a young skeptic who is a friend of mine. He is open to the idea of God but was totally turned off by evangelical Christians while on a mission trip to Brazil with his girlfriend and her missionary parents. At first he was excited to be involved in a medical team giving mercy ministry to hurting poor people – but then when he saw there was a “hook” … and that the purpose of the free medical care was to make converts, he became totally turned off and cynical toward Christians.

He and I had a long conversation while walking around Ipanema, talking about the difference between a “religious ideology” versus true faith. The conclusion I came to in our talk was that religious ideology seeks to impose an integrated set of beliefs upon other people – to make converts. True faith on the other hand, seeks to love without demanding anything in return. It also is willing to live in a high degree of uncertainty and humility. True faith is comfortable saying “I don’t know.” In other words, true faith leaves large room for mystery. God is God and we are not.

Back to Andrew Marin. This is a book that will not satisfy most evangelical conservatives, nor will it satisfy most gays. He does not try to stake out a black and white, true or false position. Rather, he seeks to change attitudes and build bridges between conservative evangelicals and the gay community – he seeks to heal the real or perceived wounds that have been inflicted upon gays by insensitivity of Christians. I highly recommend the book – be prepared to make peace with some level of uncertainty. He does not try to answer questions of wrong or right beliefs or actions, although he makes it clear that he continues to be a conservative evangelical himself.

Robert said...

I will read it before commenting. Summer reading involves a lot of Patrick Lencioni..Three Signs of a Miserable Job...Death by Meeting...The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Sounds clinical...but these are actually compelling reads. The book club continues. Wish we could get in the same room and yak a lot.

just joe said...

Robert, I LOVED Lencioni's book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" -- I read it several years ago in the lead up to our ACM conference that focused on the theme of teamwork. I know a lot about effective, teams, apparently I am just not good at it. I could teach it though! (wink)

steve H said...

Primary current reading list: Stephen Lawhead "The Silver Hand"; Dallas Willard "Renovation of the Heart; Phyllis Tickle "The Great Emergence"; Andy Crouch "Culture Making"

just joe said...

I was very tempted to order Andy Crouch's book: it is a subject that interest me. Let me know what you think.

david said...

current reading list: "Hesychia and Theology" by Metropolitan Hierotheos, "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan, "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church" by Vladimir Lossky.

just joe said...

The book by Lossky looks interesting. What does he have to say about mystical theology?

Brian Emmet said...

Been on the road: LA to do a wedding, now DEN w/ daughter and son-in-law. Enjoyed "How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization" by Frank Foer, and "The Golden Ocean" by Patrick O'Brian, author also of the Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels. Now partway through Bauckham's "Theology of the Book of Revelation"--a bit dry, but Revelation is such a marvelous resource.

Patrick said...

wow you guys read a lot!!

I'm reading Choose the Life by Bill Hull. and I'm finishing up another copy of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, one of my favorite fictional characters of all times. And before the summer ends, I'll probably get around to some Dave Ramsey or John Stott.

William said...

There IS alot of reading going around. Right now I am finishing up Unshakeable Kingdom and Unchanging Person. I am also reading essays and articles by Chuck Klosterman, a contemporary pop critic and pretty entertaining. He also makes some interesting inisights and comments randomly throughout his writing.

Robert said...

How can we benefit from our collective reading experience? We have a lot going on and I question whether any of us is good enough to get them all in this summer. Well...I should say I am not good enough...and would love to get the best of the tomes.

just joe said...

what we do in graduate seminars is to devide 15 or 20 books among all the students and each grad student reads the boko and writes up a 2 or 3 page review or summary. Then we post all of them in an accesible place and share them. It is a way to magnify our reading power by 15 or 20 times....

just joe said...

sorry for the mispellings.

Robert said...

If we were in the same room...2 to 3 pages works. Digital chats call for something more like a summary. If we go that route, there will have to be a cut off date for offerings. Getting bogged down in reviews beyond distilled comments will discourage attention.

Here is an offering:

"Three Signs of a Miserable Job" by Patrick Lencioni.

Using fable as a vehicle, Lencioni presents a case for three factors that contribute to a deteriorating atmosphere in an organization. Anonymity, irrelevance and immeasurement make the difference. If a member has no ability to measure how they are making a difference, their motivation will lack. If they are anonymous, what does it matter? If they don't see themselves as relevant to sucessful outcomes, why be passionate? When a person has meaningful identity, a sense of important contribution and the ability to measure their efforts...the atmosphere of the the corporate effort is upgraded and everyone involved is aware of how their role matters to everyone else...and the end goals. Marketplace or is the same.

Is that enought or do we need the fable context to upack the significance?

Robert said...

We may need to agree to accept short offerings without further comment or it will lead to another thought string that could run on. I am happy to get the next review. At the end, we could comment on what we heard.

Hmm...enought is not a word...

Laurel Long said...

I am more than impressed with the list a list of books on this thread. People are thinking; this is good!!!! Following is a consolidation of reading material among us, so far. Can you imagine the collective knowledge and information this list represents????
The Story of Civilization
The Road to Serfdom
The History of Christianity
The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Modernity
The World is Flat
Surprised by Hope
The Last Word
Incarnation; The Person & Life of Christ
Love is an Orientation
Three Signs of a Miserable Job
Death by Meeting
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
The Silver Hand
Renovation of the Heart
The Great Emergence
Culture Making
In Defense of Food
Hesychia and Theology
In Defense of Food
The Mystical Theology of Eastern Church
How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
The Golden Ocean
Theology of the Book of Revelation
Unshakable Kingdom & Unchanging Person
Take some time to analyze and categorize the venues of interest represented here. Can we relegate topics (titles) to the subjects of history, sociology/culture, economics, and politics; the four mainstays of civilization and the components in which we are endeavoring to reconcile our generational experiences? After reconciling all into one consummate record could we not agreed that the Bible includes them all? Nothing ever changes because people do not, not even God's people.
I just had to evaluate, forgive me.

just joe said...

we could work on producing an annotated bibliography of this list. Bascially, all we need is a one paragraph (no more than about 200 or 300 words) describing the theme, purpose and approach of each book.

If you all want to send me an abstract (what I said above), I will be happy to complile the annotated bibliography and send them to everyone.

just joe said...

PS: you can usually take it right off the back cover or insert.

we could make it more personal by adding a 2nd paragraph telling what you got out of the book personally.

Laurel Long said...

I think an annotated bib would be even more revealing about our reading interests and preferences than just the name of authors and titles. I for one, would be willing to do so.
It may help clarify and explain more fully our approaches and contributions to discussions.
For example, if John is reading Tickle and Joseph is reading about issues on the gay community, I could take a quick look at their bibs before I respond out of nowhere from my readings by Durant and LaTourette.
Great idea jose!

Brian Emmet said...

A "lightly annotated" (i.e., fairly brief) bibliography could be a real resource for many. If every time any of us read a book, we, following Joseph's parameters, posted it to a "Covenant Thinklings Reading List" site, we would very rapidly develop a diverse and useful resource.

I'm a little concerned that it will take some ongoing management and maintenence--a list of, say, 200 titles that is simply listed in alpha order may not be of much help: I'd have to read through everything on the list to find the specific titles I might be interested in. Each of us "annotaters" might have to decide one or two main categories under which tht tile would be listed...
...or am I making this way harder than necessary? Funny, there are those who have made that scurrilous charge against me before!

Laurel Long said...

I agree Brian,
no more that two or three each, otherwise someone (Joseph) will be sidelined with trying manage all the info.
Your detractors are wrong; you are very economic in your approach to this endeavor.
Joseph, cut and paste is good but I am interested also in how a book has influenced or changed someone's mind on a certain topic.

Robert said...

Hey...I just made an attempt at a brief book summary for a test. I think you folks thought I farted. Thus, my attraction to Lencioni's treatment of anonymity as contributing to environmental morale issues:-))

John M. said...

I'm back. Good trip to Ohio with Vicki and my Mom. A little visit with my roots... Steve and Joseph, the Churches of Christ in Christian Union is celebrating it's 100th anniversary this year. They're making quite a big deal of it at camp meeting this year. Joseph, had a good talk with Butch and Letha after service one evening... Steve, you're Dad moderated the meeting Monday evening. You would have been proud of him.

Regarding the bibliography... We definitely need the second paragraph with personal comments, or we will only have what can already be found on Amazon. I often go there to get a summary of a book that I don't plan to read. If that's all we offer each other, it won't really add any additional value, unless there is some personal response from the person reading the book. Actually, I would prefer Joseph's original suggestion of a 2-3 page summary, but it would take a lot more effort, both to produce and read.

Also, the correct subtitle for "The Next Reformation" is, "Why Evangelicals Must Embrace, Post-modernity", not "Modernity".

I'm really enjoying N.T. Wright's "Surprised by Hope". "The World is Flat" is informative and stimulating, although a bit dated already, even though I'm reading the "2.0, updated version".

John M. said...

Robert, your "fart" was helpful, in getting an idea of what the book was about, but I would like to know what you got out of it and thought about it yourself. Is there any reason why any of us should read it? Your summary informed me, but didn't give me any reason to want to read it myself or any sense of why you wanted to read it or found it helpful. If the reader/reviewer digests and summarizes the high points that he/she found helpful, we could all derive the distilled benefit without reading the book(s).

David, I am interested in the two "Orthodox" books you are reading. Hope you can post your summary and thoughts...

William, I would be interested in knowing a little bit about Klosterman and in the points and insights you are gleaning from him.

That brings up another thought. If the author is not someone we are familiar with, it would be beneficial to add a bit about who they are.

just joe said...

hey Robert,

I don't want you to think that I ignored your comment, but I didn't understand the last part:
"Lencioni's treatment of anonymity as contributing to environmental morale issues:-))" ??

I am still sleepy (and possibly just a tiny, tiny bit hungover from the god-party) but I just can't get my mind around it.

Brian: I have a bibliographic database called Nota Bene. It is what the history department uses for keeping track of bibliographies, annotations, book notes and reviews. It would be relatively easy for me to organize 200 titles in it and add in the annotations and even extensive summaries or notes. In my graduate studies I already have 1,287 books and articles organized with key words, themes and disciplines and the program can automatically spit out a bibliography in any accepted format (AAA or Chicago) around any particular theme, by author, by year or by subject matter.

Send them to me and I will keep it organized and find a way to either email it to you all or post it some where on line with public access.

What I will need is author, title, date, place and publisher, along with theme, or subject matter, and an annotation. I prefer to have it in an attached Word document so I don't have to retype everthing. something like this:

Lynch, John. Spanish Colonial Administration, 1782–1810: The Intendant System in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. New York: Greenwood, 1969.

or this:

Lynch, John (1969) Spanish Colonial Administration, 1782-1810: The Intendant System in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. New York: Greenwood.

Keywords: history; Latin America; Enlightenment; 18th; Spain; economy; colonial; Bourbons

Annotation: "This carefully documented work succeeds well in its purpose of examining the practical operation of the intendencia, the very substantial reform in provincial administration set up throughout the Americas in the 1780s. The author confines his investigation to the newly created viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, but many of his observations apply to the older, more sophisticated viceroyalties as well."

I can send you some examples of annotated bibliographies by author or by year if you want to see a model.

Robert said...


Sorry I reacted. Lencioni points out three things that contribute to morale problems in a working context. Anonymity is one of them. Folks are there but not acknowleged, thus lacking any sense of value to the organization. It is that way in here. When someone goes to the effort to make a contribution and it is not noted (in this case it was me), it leaves the person feeling..."why bother." It would be better say it stinks than to treat it if it was not there.

I should have thicker skin by now...and recognize this is just part of this venue from time to time. addition to anonymity, Lencioni notes "irrelevance" and "immeasurement" as morale and passion killers.

just joe said...

hi Robert, I would never have even known you were reacting if you hadn't told me. One of the limitations of digital conversation I suppose.

Irrelevance and inmeasurability certainly killed my morale in recent years. I took the first part of a training workshop yesterday for substitute teachers (just in case I can't find a job as a bartender! ;-)

The central theme was "praise, praise, praise." The guy taught us the power of affirmation and recognition in the class room.

back to the bibliography, I sent all of you who have been participating in the conversation an invitation to view an annotated biblio that I did last fall for my comps prep. It is organized by year and is focused on the Enlightenment in Ibero America, Spain and Portugal. The so-called "Catholic Enlightenment."

I did it in a big hurry, drawing from a variety of sources and it is not complete. But you will get the idea of what we could do with a "Thinklings" annotated biblio.

The nice thing is that once I put the info in my Nota Bene managment software, I could spit out two "thinklings" biblios: one annotated by subject, and another simple one by author.

Robert said...


Sounds like a good path to take. It proposes to keep vital information before our attention while offering brief, readible summaries. Kind of a digest form of a book club. If there is room, it might be worth the poster noting why they think it is of value.

Laurel Long said...

Forgive me, I just read over again the annotated post of the book you are reading. I am going to buy it and read it. The modern "group" has its own morality and standards. We must honor them.
You were completely right to test us and this blog environment for its complimentary value to our respective lives. Otherwise, what is the purpose? We all have other things to occupy our time. However, our collective past is worth preserving if only at this digital level, which is not such a small or bad thing. It is an awesomely good thing!!!!! Believe me,I have had the pleasure of hearing myself blog on my own website, which is why I have been uninspired to write there.
I do not see you as thin skinned, but that your questions are legitimate and challenging and also reflect the worth of what you are reading. Why read if you can not talk about the content and test its value on your most intimate friends? It is necessary that we prove our conversations are valuable and contribute to the each others' spiritual and intellectual growth. Please keep challenging our carelessness.
However, that said, it is not possible to respond to every single entry and every passionate commentary. The absence of response does mean it has not affected or influenced someone, it just means we are all pressed by "LIFE," and a bit ego driven in our posts. We must allow each other that gracious kind of slack. When I feel like I am not being heard I just blog a little louder! Eventually someone will respond. If they don't, well, I am not going anywhere. I blog here because it gives continuity to the continuum of mine and Billy's spiritual journey. Bet you didn't know that! It is substantially self serving. I don't apologize, but relish the privilege. You guys are awesome!
Onward and upwards guys, let's go!

I didn't get a copy of your biblio-commentary. You said you were in a hurry, buddy, back up and send me one, pleeeease!

just joe said...

I inadvertanly used the wrong email address for you LL, sending again.

Laurel Long said...

Thanks, Joseph!!!!

Laurel Long said...

Message received, thank you very much!

John M. said...

Come on guys. We can't all acknowledge every post (like my last couple :). It would be nice, but not reality. I've felt invisible many times on here Robert. Probably because I talk too much... It's always good to get a response. But it's also true that we're being read, whether commented on or not.

Kind of like the email I sent out a week or so ago on "The Great Emergence" after I finished it, in which I gave my response to the book and asked a couple questions. I didn't post it here because we were on a different thread and I didn't want to distract, but sent it to those who either had already read or expressed an interest in the book.

No one except Laurel even acknowledged the it goes... :) I knew I should have just sent it to Joseph. If he deems it "worthy" and forwards it with a sentence or two blurb it will generate a whole string of comments and maybe turn into a brand new blog or something. Just shows you who has the clout and who doesn't!

You know, come to think of it, that happens to me in "real" life as well as virtual life. Some guys just walk into a room and have everybody's ear. I can walk into a room and make a comment or statement and everyone goes on as if nothing happened -- not even a "fart response" Robert! Oh well, some have it and some don't... :)

just joe said...


Someone wrote me and expressed that they were “intimidated” by the annotated bibliography on the Spanish Enlightenment. If any of you felt that way, I apologize. That was not my intent. I was only trying to show a possible format of what we might be able to put together in a collective effort for a “thinklings” summer reading list.

By-the-way, I wanted to mention another book that has made a deep impact on me in recent months. My friend Ed Chinn sent me a complementary copy of his first book, Footprints in the Sea. I started reading it because Ed is my friend, but I assure you that I finished reading it because the challenging ideas and perspectives within the book reached out and grabbed my attention and would not let go.

The basic question he is engaging is, why does Jesus leave? Disappear? Why would he come to our Sunday gathering on regular basis and then one Sunday just not show up? Why would he be powerfully present for months or even years in a spiritual movement and then one day get up and leave -- totally disappear?

This is a profound book for this particular moment in church history written by a brother who has walked the same paths that most of us have walked. I like the fact that Ed leaves large amounts of room for divine mystery.

Here are a couple of highlights:

“Every day of our life, God sends dazzling demonstrations of his generous attitude. He causes sunlight to spill, splash, and surge full and luxuriously across the entire earth. He orders rain to go out and water crops, increase water tables, and clean the atmosphere for everybody! Incredibly, He does it without regard for who blesses or curses their Creator. He seems to completely disregard the values or belief systems of the recipients of sunshine and rain.

Part of the reason church attendance is declining is that people are tired of the musty, squinting gaze into the dark catacombs of religion. They see more of God on mountain hikes, or sailing ventures, or visits to planetariums, in the pages of the Bible, or in literature or movies. He is everywhere in his creation! … Jesus has slipped quietly away from the crowd”
(Chinn: 141).

“Is it possible that those who were rejected by the age and squeezed into “the church” are now being pushed through the birth canal … again? Are we being squeezed into the larger and newer place of the Kingdom of God? Could it be that those who follow Christ have been in a long and narrow tunnel of “church” existence where we needed the invented light? But, now perhaps, we’re coming out into a new, larger and surpassing reality” (Chinn: 164).

The book is Footprints in the Sea: Exploring the Disappearance of Jesus, Franklin, TN, Cool River Pub, 2009. It is available on or you can get it directly from Ed on his web site:


John M. said...

Joseph, sounds like an intriguing book. I'm going to add it to my "to read" list.

John M. said...

Is anyone alive out there; or is everyone busy trying to punch out your summer reading list? My reading just took a side-track because I committed last week to paint my neighbor's house. Has anyone ever done a manual labor job that actually took a shorter time than you originally thought? When one is dealing with actual three-dimensional space and actual longitudinal time, it's amazing how things slow down compared with the interior "space" of the mind and imagination!

Robert said...

Happy 4th everyone....


John M. said...

Thanks Robert. Ditto that. Hope you all are well.