Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

Spring Reading

Given the easy accessibility of downloading books to my Kindle, I tend to have too many in the queue. Summer cannot get here soon enough to catch up on some needed reading.

Here is my short list for anyone interested in looking for ideas—

David Brooks-The Road to Character. I want to read this slowly, given the columns he writes for the NY Times, and given the loss of character in our culture. We have a tendency to promote and advertise ourselves, mastering the skills for success—but give little encouragement to humility, sympathy, and honest self-confrontation, which are necessary for building character. Hopefully this book will serve to build and strengthen what he calls the necessary “inner cohesion.”

Jonathan Edwards-The Religious Affections. I read this week of a pastoral theologian who made it his recent discipline to read this through three times, and it profoundly changed his life. So many have been influenced by Edwards, one of the greatest North American pastors, that it is time I give attention to his thinking.

John Robison-Switched On. I was alerted to this by an article in the NY Times. My son is thirty years old, and he lives with Asperger’s, so I tend to notice when other Aspies describe their journey. This is written by a man who has lived with the same make-up as Nate (btw, Nate is currently in South Africa with OM having some amazing experiences). Like Nate, Robison knows that there is this tendency to miss social ques, to be somewhat detached, speaking with precision and detail about the things that interest him (and maybe only him!). Asperger’s describes someone who is different, but not defective. The book is about Robison’s willingness to submit to an experiment to rewire his brain and change his emotional intelligence.

Timothy Keller, Preaching. I may be retiring from pastoral ministry, but hopefully not from preaching. And anything Keller writes is good.

Andy Crouch-Strong and Weak. Typically with Crouch, I begin, then move on, then come back. I am 54% through a book that is seeking to answer two questions—What are we meant to be? (we’re meant to thrive—not survive); Why are we so far from what we’re meant to be? (we have forgotten the paradox, that flourishing comes from being both strong and weak).

Mark Molesky, The Gulf of Fire. Maybe I will get back to this. I began in January, but I grew weary of the carnage. The destruction of Lisbon by an earthquake the equivalent of 32,000 Hiroshima bombs!) changed the course of Europe, shocking western civilization and shaking faith to its core. It became one of the defining events of the European Enlightenment.

Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans. Before I head back to Turkey, I have to read this. So much of the explanation for the present Mideast mess goes back to this period. (btw, in the interest of being self-serving–there is a great study tour in May of 2017 that will explore Paul’s journeys and early church history, while traveling, in part, by boat on the Mediterranean. (Write me for details if interested – jjohnson@westernseminary.edu).

Too many others remain in the bullpen—The Emperor of All Maladies, Meachum’s Thomas Jefferson, Percy’s The Movegoer, Mission at Nuremberg, The Wise Men, and Johnstown Flood.

Speaking of reading, if you not read the latest Time magazine cover story on pornography, you have to read this. I read it last Saturday after preaching and getting the mail, and it stopped me in my tracks. At least read Rod Dresher’s blogpost—“The Porn Catastrophe” and Denny Burk’s “The Darkness of Porn and the Hope of the Gospel,” posts reflecting on this article. It is a  wakeup call to naïve parents who are not paying attention to the accessibility and destructive force of pornography, allowing unfiltered access through technologies purchased without thinking.

Finally, I am about finished with Russell Moore’s Onward. I love this book! It’s all about what it means to be the church in the world and the necessity of engaging culture in the right way. It is a powerful reminder that our end goal is not a Christian America (listen up politicians and foolish evangelicals who mindlessly go after power over values!). Our end goal is the kingdom of Christ.

And then there is this amazing book coming out at the end of the year—Under an Open Heaven, in time for winter reading. (More shameless self-serving).

Leave a Reply