Fountains of Wisdom and Folly, or Cookin' The Books
Saturday morning and home alone. The girls have gone to the zoo this nice day (temp is 50ish). I planned to cut the grass but I cannot seem to wake the Mower from its long winter slumber. I will have to go tug on the string for 20 more minutes soon.
What to put on my blog came to my mind. Since I have not figured out how to do a side bar of "What I'm Reading" yet I decided to simply make a post regarding those fountains of wisdom and folly.
I have a daughter that is approaching the teen years (scares me to death). My wife, Pamella, read a book (and I have too after she said "You need to read this") called So You're About to be a Teenager by Dennis, Barbara, Samuel and Rebecca Rainey (Nelson 2002). The book is actually aimed at the young person about to enter this transition and covers things like what is going to happen to your body, boys, girls, pms, having a buddy list. It was a helpful book. Pamella ended up using the book as the basis of an overnight "getaway" with Rachael to have some mom and daughter talks.
I've read the Da Vinci Code and a few books that have responded in one way or another to it. One is Bart Ehrman's Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code (Oxford 2004). Erhrman is hardly what I would call a Bible thumpin fundy. He is a critical scholar with deep sympathies with the Jesus Seminar . . . and that is all the more reason I wanted to read his book. He was not engaged in apologetics for traditional orthodox Christianity. This work looks exclusively at Brown's historical "claims" about the early church.
Many folks both past and present have been disturbed by images of bloodshed in the "Old Testament" especially in the book of Joshua. With contemporary debates about Jihad and religious wars this book caught my eye: Stanley N. Gundry (editor) Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide (Zondervan 2003). I found this book to be timely and engaging as it helps Christians to wrestle with issues we often simply do not want to wrestle with . . . but must. Four scholars (C.S. Cowles, Eugene Merrill, Daniel Gard, Tremper Longman III) "debate" the "relevance" of the material in the Hebrew Bible. Does it fit with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? or is it at odds with it? My personal sympathies lie with Gard who argued for an "eschatological" continuity between the Testaments on this matter. Cowles and Merrill argue for radical to moderate discontinuity and Longman argues for "spiritual" continuity.
For the last couple of months I have been reading Jonathan Edwards, perhaps America's greatest theological mind ever. Edwards gets a very bad rap in the popular press over his "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" homily. Rarely has a man been so misrepresented in American mythology. This man was in love with the beauty of God's creation and the "supreme beauty" that of God himself. Amy Plantinga Paw has authored a major work on Edwards called The Supreme Harmony of All: The Trinitarian Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Eerdmans 2002). One of the most exciting aspects of Edwards trinitarian theology is how it impacts his view of heaven. Heaven is a "world of love" (the Trinity is Supreme Love) because God is present in holy communion with his people. Heaven is a state of infinite growth in love for God . . . God also experiences a divine increase.
I am still working my way through Mark A. Noll's America's God: From Jonathan Edward to Abraham Lincoln (Oxford 2002). This is a magnificient book pure and simple. One aspect of this book that has really spoken to me as a Stoned-Campbell Disciple of Jesus is the last section of the book called "Crises." This section explores how history and hermeneutics shape one another and how hermeneutics played a role in bringing on the Civil War! Two chapters in this section should be required reading for any disciple but especially Stoned-Campbell Disciples: "The 'Bible Alone' and a Reformed Literal Hermeneutic" (ch. 18) and "The Bible and Slavery" (ch.19).
Finally I am reading a work on another area that I love: astronomy. Owen Gingerich has written a delightful detective story about Nicolaus Copernicus called The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus (Walker 2004). Gingerich takes issue with the common historical myth that no one in Copernicus' day actually read his book because it was to "complicated." Gingerich has tracked down hundreds of copies of The Revolutions all over Europe to North America to even China. Gingerich delights in showing that vulgi opinio error (the common opinion errs). The title might be an apt description of Gingerich's own book but I think he has written wonderfully.
May you visit and enjoy these or other books, those fountains of wisdom and folly.