I haven't had a lot of time for extra reading over the past year, but I have started reading several books that are fascinating.
I love history, and this book is about the Great Depression. It's called The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes. It shows how both Hoover and Roosevelt mishandled the economic crises of the 1930s and probably prolonged the depression as a result. The book drops a lot of names that are unfamiliar, but it's a fascinating account of how the government expanded and tried to micromanage the Great Depression. If you don't like history, this probably is not the book for you, but it is an interesting story if you can get by all the people, lingo, and acronyms. I am learning a great deal about cities and towns I have visited or known about, places like Yellow Springs, OH (near Cedarville) and Greenbelt, MD (within walking distance from us), which had various roles to play in the government's schemes to lift the country out of the Depression. I am also learning more about the alphabet soup of government agencies like the WPA, the PWA, the TVA, and the RA, which were set up during the Great Depression.
Another book I've just started is The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia -- and How It Died by Philip Jenkins. This is historical account of the churches of the east and the south until the time of the Crusades. Jenkins claims that most Christians lived in Africa and Asia (not Europe) until 1200 A.D. This book documents the histories of what is often called the 'Nestorian' Church (which took the gospel all the way to China) and the churches of Nubia and Ethiopia, among other places. Most of us have never heard of these churches (with the possible exception of Ethiopia), and many believe the church was extinguished by the waves of conquering Muslims that swept across North African and Asia in the eighth century. We often assume church history concerns the church in Europe and North America and have forgotten the history of these other churches. This book will provide a corrective to that narrow perspective.
I've read sections of Alan Hirsch's book The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church for my doctoral studies, and it has piqued my interest. I want to read more, so I downloaded it onto my Kindle. As the title suggests, it's about the missional church, a phrase that has been cropping up more and more in discussions about mission in the past decade. I am teaching an introductory course on missions at the moment, and the subject of the missional church keeps arising. I want to know more about what it means.
Another book that fascinates me is Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospel by Kenneth Bailey. We Westerners often miss so much in the Bible because our culture is so different from the cultures of Bible times. Many cultures of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa are a lot closer to the cultures of Bible times, and these modern cultures can give us beautiful insights into the Bible cultures. That is what this book is about.
A final book I'm working on is Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence by David A. Livermore. As a person who wants to encourage intelligent short-term missions and also mentor people in short-term experiences, this seems like a fairly balanced work, neither too preachy nor too negative about short-term missions.
That's what I'm currently reading. A lot of my reading is tied to either my studies or my teaching. I don't have a lot of time to break out of that mold.
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