Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

Summer Reads

I get a certain amount of my inspiration on Monday (what pastor doesn’t need inspiration on Monday?) from reading Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback. Today he gave his list of books he is working through this summer. They include:

  • Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain – the story of a group of soldiers returning from Iraq to do a patriotic tour, and how some of their hopes and dreams were crushed
  • Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala – the story of loss after the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka
  • Sutton, J.R. Moehringer – the story of America’s most famous bank robber
  • Others include The Racketeer (Grisham) and Overbooked (Becker)

Not a bad list. Here are the books I am currently working through:

The Day of Battle, Rick Atkinson – This is the second in Atkinson’s trilogy, recounting battles in WWII. This book focuses on the war in Sicily and Italy. Having recently toured parts of Rome and parts south, I decided to read the account of the allies and their battle with the Germans. Atkinson is a great writer, and so far, he underscores the brutality and ugliness of war. This is what strikes me most—man’s utter depravity when wars occur. There are great stories of heroism and honor, but they are eclipsed by the many stories of man’s inhumanity.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg – A very helpful book but I am stuck in chapter 8. I have developed a bad habit of adding books to my reading, and so it has fallen in the standings. As the following list indicates, I am in some very bad reading habits at the moment.

The Soul of Prayer, P.T. Forsyth – Eugene Peterson, in his annotated list of books that have impacted his life, refers to this as one of the most important books on prayer. As he puts it, Forsyth is a “no-nonsense writer and pastor who goes for the jugular.” Maybe this is why it is taking me a long time to finish. I can’t go past a page without getting stopped in my tracks, for I have found prayer to be one of the toughest of the spiritual disciplines. He keeps hitting me where I am weak.

Decisive, Chip Heath and Dan Heath – I love this book, so far. The writers have completely exposed my flawed decision making, describing four villains that work to cause us to make bad decisions. Each villain has hijacked my decision making at one time or another. I am just beginning the part of the book that will guide me to take them on. But I am trying to decide if I should focus on another book at the moment. Decisions, decisions.

The Permanent Revolution, Alan Hirsch – I am almost finished (wow, this is amazing). I have been thinking about Hirsch and Frost’s APEST model of church leadership for a long time. While mentioned in several of their books, this book gives the best biblical and theological rationale for a new way of doing church leadership, a leadership composed of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers. (see my critique of this model in Papers I Have Written).

Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller – On the radar for later this summer.

Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power, Jon Meacham – I am just into this fascinating account of a man who, so far, both amazes and disappoints me. I have just finished the first section on Beginnings. The Revolutionary comes next. Hoping to complete in August.

7 Men, Eric Metaxas – In a weak moment, I read an interview, in which Metaxas explores real manhood, looking at seven men, beginning with George Washington and ending with Charles Colson. After reading Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer, I am vulnerable to reading anything he writes.

Knowing God, Dallas Willard – This is set aside for those mornings up aIone in August when I get up early, the Bible in one hand, and this one in the other.

Abraham Kuyper, James Bratt – Having lived in The Netherlands for nearly seven years, I have been waiting for the definitive biography on Kuyper. Just starting.

John Wesley’s Teachings, Thomas Oden – Few have impacted me as a pastoral theologian as has Thomas Oden. While not in my tradition, I am finding Wesley has much to teach me about how to be a pastor. And Oden adds the comments that bring me back to the historic foundations I have often missed.

Now if I can just avoid another review of books in some publication, as well as stay out of conversations where someone says—“You have to read this book.” It will also help my financial situation.

PS – Thanks to those of you who have prayed for me during this pancreas episode in my life. More biopsies and tests, but so far so good. No cancer! The pain has diminished, and I attribute that to your faithfulness. Thank you! The doctors are still trying to get me to confess to being a closet alcoholic, as the pancreas reflects something of this effect.

  • Candace Lazzaro
    2:01 AM, 13 June 2013

    Oh, sigh. My Summer list is a bit lighter. I guess I’ll have to go back to reading the Sermons of Jonathan Edwards and finished Poppy Smith’s Abraham Book so I can at least say this list inspired me to read something a bit more weighty and holy. The Wesley book sounds interesting and "Knowing God" has been on my to read list for a while. Candace

  • Eric Vogt
    11:29 PM, 1 July 2013

    Metaxas’ book on Bonhoeffer made a huge impact on me as well, and I believe it’s so practical today. I will pick up Metaxas’ next book as soon as I can!

Leave a Reply