Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christian Reading

The intellectual historian Peter Gay appended bibliographical essays to many of his books. These are commentaries on both primary and secondary sources for his writing. Professor Gay is an elegant writer and thoughtful reader. I envy his ability to write terrific reflections on his reading.
A few years ago, the evangelical Eugene Peterson wrote a book recommending a list of books for Christians to read. He did a good job. Reading him, I began to think about books I would recommend to other Christians. I wanted to move beyond the usual suggestions of C. S. Lewis or even Dostoevsky.

As a Protestant often too content with our history of bible centralism, I am tempted to begin with books about the Bible, with a discussion about translations, or with sermons or works on exposition. But other ways intrigue me. Although beginning recommendations for Christian reading might not begin anywhere as in a caucus race into which reading works on philosophy might begin, many entry places seem open for reading from a Christian point-of-view. One might pick from excellent Christian fiction, historical accounts, or biographical works. Church architecture or accounts about liturgy open other doors.

Some scholarly works have broad appeal. Some popular works touch and voice depths of Christian experience. I like reading works that explore in detail aspects of Christian worship, history, theology, witness, and other aspects of our experience. Some works are on the outside boundaries of Christian life. They reflect the fact our society is shaped by Christianity. Others emerge from within particular expressions of Christian communities and tradition. I also like works that come from other religious traditions, even though I read them as a Christian.

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In this my personal Christian blog, I hope to be discursive and now and then critical. What I write here is tentative and tensive. I post thoughts, feelings, and observations somewhat randomly and often in immediate response to current events and posts on other blogs.

"Serendipitous Creativity" from Gordon Kaufman

"I suggested that what we today should regard as God is the ongoing creativity in the universe - the bringing (or coming) into being of what is genuinely new, something transformative; …

"In some respects and some degrees this creativity is apparently happening continuously, in and through the processes or activities or events around us and within us(…) is a profound mystery to us humans(…) But on the whole, as we look back on the long and often painful developments that slowly brought human life and our complex human worlds into being, we cannot but regard this creativity as serendipitous …

"I want to stress that this serendipitous creativity - God! - to which we should be responsive is not the private possession of any of the many particular religious faiths or systems …

"This profound mystery of creativity is manifest in and through the overall human bio-historical evolution and development everywhere on the planet; and it continues to show itself throughout the entire human project, no matter what may be the particular religious and or cultural beliefs."

Gordon Kaufman, Mennonite Life, December 2005 vol. 60 no. 4

Melville is a rational man who

"Melville is a rational man who wants God to exist. He wants Him to exist for the same reasons we all do: to be our rescuer and appreciator, to act as a confidant in our moments of crisis and to give us reassurance that, over the horizon of our deaths, we will survive." (John Updike)

And that is a problem for me.

Fragmented Notions

Fragmented Notions
Copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

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