Books to recommend?

Good readers: I’ve been working on my 2010 resolutions for about three weeks now — it’s a lot easier to accomplish your goals in thirteen and a half months than twelve. And besides: I can hardly remember what I intended for 2009 at this point.

I’m a slow reader, but even so I would like to get twenty substantial books under my belt. I’m reading Emanuel Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell now.

What would you recommend? It needn’t be theological, but should be something that lets me look at something in a new or deeper way. Please note in the comments.

11 Replies to “Books to recommend?”

  1. I am a slower reader than you are, I’m sure. 😉

    A book I read this fall that I found absolutely fascinating but a hard slog was On Liturgical Theology, copyright 1984, 179 pp. + notes. It’s written by Fr. Aidan Kavanagh, OSB, who was a monk of the Archabbey of St. Meinrad in southern Indiana and Professor of Liturgics at the Yale Divinity School. I posted a few blog responses as I was reading. Probably only interesting to you, if at all, because I quoted one full paragraph in each of four blog entries, allowing a glimpse into the style and substance of the author. For me, the biggest point of interest was the author’s distinction between primary and secondary theology and the locus of each.

    I’m reading almost exclusively for my classes at Meadville now, and that’s a completely different bag of tricks. I’ll be interested to see what other suggestions you get or your list once you finalize it…

  2. I just lent Noah Kunin at Sunlight my copy of Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed. One of my favorites, both from a character perspective and a sociological perspective. LeGuin is a treasure.

  3. Scott, if you are reading “Heaven and Hell” by Swedenborg, you may enjoy my book, “There is an Answer: Living in the Post-Apocalyptic World (2008). It’s about Swedenborg. It was honored as a “Finalist” in the “New Age: Non-Fiction” category
    of the National Best Books 2009 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. http://www.candacefrazee.com

  4. Have you read “Saving Paradise” by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Parker? A sweeping look at the history of Christianity through a particular paradigm of ongoing conflict between Christians who focused on the living Christ and those who focused on the dead Jesus. It can be read as a sequel of sorts to John Dominic Crossan’s “God & Empire.” I couldn’t put it down.can

  5. I’ve found the following creative reading this season: THE SHACK by William Paul Young (Well, at least it’s universalist) FOOD FOR THE GODS: VEGETARIANISM IN THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS by Rynn Berry (I skipped a few sections of this.) QUESTIONING THE WAR ON TERROR: A PRIMER FOR OBAMA VOTERS by Kevin Barrett

    John Simcox

  6. BTW, having read Kavanagh’s On Liturgical Theology with such interest, I have added to my theological reading list of (very) non-UU-topics three volumes by Lutheran theologian Gordon W. Lathrop of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, where he is Charles A. Schieren Professor of Liturgy, Emeritus:

    Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology (1993),
    …..structured in three sections titled:
    ……….”Patterns – Secondary Liturgical Theology;”
    ……….”Holy Things – Primary Liturgical Theology;”
    ……….”Applications – Pastoral Liturgical Theology.”

    Holy People: A Liturgical Ecclesiology (1999),
    …..structured in three sections titled:
    ……….”A People – Church in Liturgical Perspective;”
    ……….”One People – Liturgy and Church Unity;”
    ……….”Holy People – Liturgical Assemblies and Earth’s Peoples.”

    Holy Ground: A Liturgical Cosmology (2003),
    …..structured in three sections titled:
    ……….”Cosmos – Liturgical Worldmaking;”
    ……….”Maps – Liturgical Ethics;”
    ……….”One is Holy – Liturgical Poetics.”

    With seminary reading to do, it may be quite a while before I can delve into these, but they are waiting for me on my shelf, looking all the more mysterious and fascinating for the wait…

  7. Scott – For fiction I would second the earlier recommendation of Ursula LeGuine’s “The Dispossessed”.

    I can highly recommend Swedenborg’s “Charity; The Practice of Neighborliness”. It is short, more readable than “Heaven and Hell”, and has a certain pragmatic spirituality that I think should be better appreciated. I read it every Advent, but it would also be good at Lent.

    In theological reading I would also recommend Doris Grumbach’s “The Pressence of Absence” which wrestles profoundly with experiences of God’s pressence and absence. I’ve been re-reading this book every Lent for the past 8 years. It also has the advantage of consisting of short, pithy chapters that are easy to bite off in many short reads.

  8. Memoirs:
    A Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine, by Steven Rinella (2005) – a hunter’s path to self-realization, or something like that…
    Join Me!, by Danny Wallace (2004) – hilarious! and at least a little inspiring.

    Novel:
    People of the Book, by Geralding Brooks (2008) – I loved it, my older brother hated it…

    Theology:
    Heaven on earth: reflections on the theology of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, by Faitel Levin (2002) – fascinating examination of the way Genesis / Kaballah / Hassidic / Lubavitch / and the Rebbe’s individual modulations on creation mythology affect the faith and daily practice of his followers.

  9. I’ll tout Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom . As a liberal social-psychology professor, he asks a really urgent question: “What do different cultural/religious traditions say about how we should become happy? Can we say anything rigorous about those claims? And can we apply them?”

    His answer rocked me. I’m right now re-reading the book, mining it for a sermon in January.

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