all the words: 2018
I. Love. Books. I love books. I love reading. I love learning. I love getting lost in a story. It’s been a forever love of mine since I first learned to read, but one that I had forgotten about in the last few years. Life got busy and work and responsibilities took over and I spent a long time not reading anything besides articles found on Facebook. However 2018 brought a lot of change and questions for me and along the way I rediscovered my love of reading.
When I decided that I wanted to start writing and blogging, I set myself an initial goal of 2 blog posts a month, and what better way to knock out half of that than with a review of the books I read? Here you’re getting a recap of everything I read in 2018, and in the future there will be monthly posts reviewing all the books I read the previous month.
In the past couple of years, conversations have begun in my church regarding the role and use of instruments other than organ or piano in the worship services. Part of my journey this year has been to explore how instruments have been used in the Bible and historically in the church. Culture Care however, explores more generally the role of the arts in the church and how artists can often have a difficult time finding their place among the church.
Fujimura describes how we, both as individuals and as the church, should be supporting beauty and art. God in creating the world created beauty. So many variations of animals, trees, food. Many even seem to serve no practical purpose. Rather, the variations suggest that God wants us to enjoy and cultivate beauty. Fujimura has much wisdom and knowledge to share on this, coming out of a lifetime of working in the arts.
While I wouldn’t say that Fujimura offers a lot of practical ways of doing this, he certainly does give readers a lot to think about and ponder, leaving the way open for individuals to figure out their own version of culture care for themselves.
In Total Truth Nancy Pearcey takes readers on an in-depth look at worldview, culture, and religion. Throughout the whole book it is evident that Pearcey really knows her stuff. She dissects how Christians have adopted culture into their faith and often judge the Bible through a worldly standpoint. This book is a guide to tearing apart the web between secularism and Christianity that has been woven into our worldview.
I would argue that every Christian needs to read this book. In this day and age we are surrounded by so many beliefs, whether in school, on social media, among friends and family, at work, everywhere. Now more than ever we need to be equipped to see what the world is saying, and not only to be able to identify it, but also to be able to counter it.
I grew up in the Reformed faith, and as often happens in that case, growing up in a specific way means that you usually end up taking a lot for granted. I read this to get a clearer idea of where the Reformed faith comes from and what it holds to. Overall it was a good summary of Reformed Christian beliefs and a good starting point for anyone with questions about the Reformed faith.
This book is truly the sequel to Total Truth. While you could read this one as its own work, you will have a solid background if you read Total Truth first. Here Pearcey fleshes out how to determine a false worldview, identify the idol of it, and shows how to bring it to its logical conclusion. The result is that, in looking for truth anywhere other than the word of God, we are forced into illogical conclusions and fallacies. The reality is that no belief system is more complete or logical than Christianity. Pearcey’s books offer a formidable tool to Christians in the defense of their faith in both the private and public arenas.
Imagine by Steve Turner
Steve Turner objects the idea that Christians should not be a part of the arts. The arts are included in God’s cultural mandate for Christians, and rather than fear or avoid them, we should instead be contributing well thought out and executed art. Art and media in all forms are arguably the most influential mediums in our current culture. As Christians, we are to redeem the culture, not hide away from it. God is the greatest artist, and we are created in His image. He calls us to live for him in all aspects and avenues of life. Turner offers a hopeful and well thought out vision for Christians in the arts.
Keith and Kristyn Getty are modern Christian hymn-writers. Their songs encourage a deep and sound theology and understanding of God. In 2017, along with publishing this book, they started their Getty Music Worship Conference. Both the book and the conference are an effort towards encouraging Christians and congregations to become singing Christians and congregations again. This book explores what the Bible has to say about singing and music in the Bible. I believe this is a valuable resource for pastors, church leaders, musicians, and congregants to approach conversations about the place of music and song in the worship service.
Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer
These days Christians tend to not know what to do with the arts. Music, dance, painting, these are all viewed as somewhat foreign to most Christians. Those who find themselves drawn to and working in an artistic field often have a hard time explaining what they do. The predominant view is if you are a Christian in the arts, you should compose Christian music, write Christian books, create Christian art. This is not the calling of many artists though. God says nothing about our work having to specifically Christian. Rather, we are called to live and work in such a way that people will know we are Christian by our actions. Schaeffer thoughtfully approaches this subject through a biblical lens, identifying that Christians don’t have to produce explicitly Christian things. Our art needs to be an expression of our worldview, but it does not need to spell out our worldview.
A wonderful little book from Bob Kauflin regarding the heart of worship. Worship ultimately is not about raising our hands and singing at the top of our lungs. It is not about showing up to church every week. It is not making sure you do your daily Bible readings, devotions, prayers, journaling, whatever it is that you do. Worship is a state of our heart. There is no one specific action that is worship. Rather, our entire lives, everything we do, say, and think, are to be acts of worship to God. This book gives a good look at the heart of worship and how we can, and should, align our lifestyles to be worship.
Most of you probably know who Jordan Peterson is. If you don’t, you’re probably living under a rock and should do some Googling! This book was both refreshing and frustrating. Refreshing because it reassured me that there are people in liberal positions that still hold on to common sense. Frustrating because (besides being a little too long-winded) as a Christian reader, Peterson often comes short of stating and supporting a biblical truth. His interpretations of the Bible are also rather questionable. Overall I enjoyed this book, but as Christians, we need to be reading from a biblical point of view, and learn from the overall principles, rather than adopt secular methods.
I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. Obviously the title is meant to make a statement, and it definitely roped me in. Bessey does a great job of exploring the ways that women have been marginalized by the church. This is an invitation to all women to step up and explore what the Bible really has to say about women. Women have been given a beautiful calling by God, one of strength and leadership and grace, not one of subordination to men. Men and women are called to make a team together, not to vie for a position of authority. God bestowed equal power to men and women, He called us all to the same tasks. I highly recommend this all Christian women struggling to make sense of their role in the church.
This book by Rachel Hollis has been hyped up to the heavens. Honestly, it was a fun read, but not super insightful or intelligent. It you’re looking for a fluffy, feel-good read, this would be it. But if you’re looking for substance and truth, this is not the book for you. The whole book is essentially a “girl power pep talk” with a little bit of Jesus thrown into the mix. We can give people all the self-help and pep talks we can think of but if we don’t give them the gospel, then we have done them a disservice. (For more on this, check out Phylicia Masonheimer’s highlight “GIRL TALK” on Instagram.)
In 2018 I did Hannah Brencher’s Year of the Book course. (See my resources page for links.) In that course, perhaps one of the things that struck me the most was when Hannah was speaking about reading fiction purely for enjoyment. She reminded us that sometimes we just need to stop the self-editing and just get lost in a story. The Clockmaker’s Daughter was the first fiction book I had read in probably a year. Learning and knowledge in reading non-fiction books is a good thing, but sometimes you can learn just as much, or more, from fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Kate Morton has a way of weaving so many stories together without making the reader confused. I highly recommend this newest book by Kate Morton to anyone who loves romance and a good mystery.
This book was a repeat read for me. I had read it years ago, but Kate Morton’s writing has always stuck with me, so I took the opportunity over the Christmas holidays to travel back to Riverton. As Morton always does, she creates a thrilling story of love, mystery, and tragedy. A lesson hidden into this book is that the lies we tell, even seemingly small lies, can have far greater consequences that we can ever imagine.
13 books for 2018. Not even close to what I used to read in a year, but there is significantly more non-fiction in this list than in previous years, and I’m pretty pleased about that. For 2019 I have a soft goal of 60 books, and hopefully that will be a good mix of fiction and non-fiction.
I would love to know what books you have been loving, so please comment below with some of your current and favourite reads. Suggestions for my list are always welcome too!