Favorite Books from 2005

Some Great Reads from 2005
I can’t believe how many tremendous books are being published. Add to
them the great books from the past that I’ve only recently discovered,
and sometimes I hope I can live to be 125 just so I won’t miss too
much. But even then, I would still miss so much, because there are
more excellent books waiting for us than one person could ever digest.
So – here are ten top recommendations from my little corner of the world.
First, I read several books on faith and social justice this year.
Among them, four stood out.
1. Jim Wallis, God’s Politics.
2. Jimmy Carter, Our Endangered Values
3. Rabbi Michael Lerner, The Left Hand of God (to be released in 06)
All three of these books seek to begin a dialogue after many years of
monologue by the Religious Right. I found each of them alarming and
inspiring at the same time.
4. C. K. Prahalad, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. While
this book is not religious, it makes one point very well – and I think
it maps out a plan for helping the poor that could bring together
caring Christians from the left and right.
I always try to keep some good fiction and poetry on my reading list.
Of special pleasure this year were two books:
5. Wendell Berry, The Memory of Old Jack. Tender, humane, insightful,
heart-breaking, and beautiful … I feel like a better human being
after I read Berry’s work.
6. Garrison Keillor, ed., Good Poems. Put this one beside your bed
and read a few each night. You’ll feel afresh what an amazing thing
language is.
Three works of theology were most stimulating to me this year. Both
of them came to me in manuscript form in 2005; they’ll be released in
7. Andrew Perriman, The Coming of the Son of Man. This book is the
best introduction I’m aware of to a fresh perspective on eschatology.
Many of us know that we desperately need an alternative to the “left
behind” eschatology that is so popular (and unhelpful) these days.
Here it is. Andrew takes some ideas that N. T. Wright has been
proposing for several years, ideas that Tim King’s
“transmillennialism” also engages (but not yet in a popular book), and
grapples with them in Paul as well as Jesus.
8. Pete Rollins, How (Not) to Speak of God. I expect that some of my
friends will not like this book, but I loved it. As an old English
major whose studies took him into the epistemological deep end of the
postmodern pool, I find in Pete Rollins someone who has learned to
swim without being able to touch bottom.
9. Walter Wink, The Powers That Be. This book helped me a great deal
in my work on The Secret Message of Jesus. It takes ideas from
several of Wink’s books and makes them easily – and provocatively –
On the Bible, I especially enjoyed …
10. Judith Kunst, The Burning Word: A Christian Encounter with Jewish
. This manusript (to be released in 06) brought together most
or all of what I’ve learned about helping people approach the Bible,
and much more. A special bonus – Kunst writes beautiful prose, and
she also includes some of her poetry in this book. I hope we’ll see
much more from her in the years to come.