Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Reading List

I love getting a nice new stack of books at Christmas to carry me through the long winter ahead. Here are the books that are now at the top of my reading list.

Daniel Kahneman is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. The book (which was on my "wish list to Santa") takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind, seeking to explain the two ways we think: System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and logical. We need both! Kahneman engages the reader in reflecting on the strengths and limitations of each. 

I love Lutherans and I love Garrison Keillor. This book was a gift from a parishioner. Many people assume that Keillor was and is a Lutheran; in fact he was raised (as he points out in the preface) in the Sanctified Brethren sect. (I have been told he now worships with Episcopalians) In any case, he tells great stories about the Lutherans and I assume some of them are true. I have always been a big fan of Pastor Ingqvist. The book is comprised of 28 stories, including ones I know already (e.g. "Gospel Birds") and others like "Church Organist," "The True Meaning of Christmas," and "Potato Salad."

Hathy gave me this book, also on my "wish list" this Christmas. For my money, Volf (who teaches at Yale) is the single most creative theologian in the Church today. This book seeks points of intersection and overlap between Christianity and Islam. As he writes in the introduction: "A deep chasm of misunderstanding, dislike, and even hatred separates many Christians and Muslims today. Christian responses to Allah - understood here as the God of the Qur'an - will either widen that chasm or help bridge it." Volf seeks to bridge it. (Me too!)

 Another parishioner gave me this book by my very favorite Biblical scholar. (I make a distinction between theologians and Biblical scholars which is why I can say Volf is the most creative theologian in the Church today. Hands down, Brueggemann is the most creative Biblical scholar!) This is classic Brueggemann; anyone who knows his work in the past decade at least will recognize his thesis, the contestation between narratives. On the one hand there is the dominant narrative of our time, a narrative that promotes self-sufficiency, militarism, and consumerism. On the other, the Church offers the Biblical narrative that posits a God who is gracious, uncompromising, and real. What is required of a prophetic preacher? The practice of prophetic imagination!

My brother gave me this book, signed by Monsignor Esseff, a Roman priest of Lebanese descent who is a popular retreat speaker for people in recovery. I have read the first chapter and expect to see echoes both of my own vocation and my roots in northeast Pennsylvania.

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