Sometimes, I know, these BookNotes blogs get a little long. I resist — it is almost a matter of principle — the popular wisdom that people just want sound bytes. I am grateful for our true fans, and appreciate those that follow the books I talk about. I think most folks want some substance and some pleasure in reading, so I do my best. We’re glad for your business, and appreciate the permission you give me to come into your inbox, iphone, or where-ever you read our Hearts & Minds BookNotes blog.
Sometimes, if I have a longer list, and it may not even be mostly new stuff, I feel like it should be placed at the website archives called “columns” for longer form reading.
I just wrote a bit of an essay ruminating on the last BookNotes blog, the one about the literature of spiritual formation, our joys and concerns, in which I mentioned a new book called Reading the Spiritual Classics, a Guide for Evangelicals recently published by IVP. In the previous post, and again in the new column, I explained that it was wisely and interestingly edited by Kyle Strobel & Jamin Goggin, and that I really think it is important — a wise resource for those who do spiritual formation, direction, or reflective reading of devotional classics.
Anyway, I did this longer reflection about it all, added a bunch of other books, and then got warmed up to do a nice, long list about spirituality. I listed some beginner’s level books for those wanting to start their spiritual journey and then a few that are maybe intermediate level, some prayer books, and then a few that are pretty demanding, but vital. Nothing on this list is goofy or odd, and nothing should be controversial or confusing. One is pretty darn creative and one or two are pretty academic. All are fantastic.
To help set up that list, I told a quick story of somebody we talked with in the shop recently. It was almost emblematic of a trend — folks are yearning not just for truth and reliable knowledge about the faith, but are searching for an encounter with the Divine. They want purpose and meaning and they want to know that God is real in their lives. As Margaret Fienberg’s fine book puts it, some want to be Wonderstruck.
To invite you to that column over at the website, here is a teaser. These are some comments about a book I mentioned that serves as a bit of a bridge book, it was a transition in my list — perhaps reminding those who of us who are interested in apologetics and offering answers, that for many folks that isn’t their most urgent desire. They aren’t so much skeptics but they are seekers. They lean towards insight and meaning and relationship. I think this book, Yearning for More is really, really good in that it is on one hand a book of apologetics, making a case that there is something true out there, so to speak, and our daily questions and experiences even seem to tell us that. I listed oodles more in the column, mostly about spiritual formation, but here’s some of what I said about this one:
….earnest conversations with such inquirers often reveal that they aren’t really skeptics, although they
might be glad to know there are intellectually sound reasons to hold
to conventional, historic orthodoxy, but, really they are seekers.
They aren’t needing answers, but insights, not apologetics but
spirituality. They are like our new friend from the other day, hungering
to deepen their grasp of spiritual things. Such folks often are keenly
aware that we all have this looming hole in our hearts. To use Buber’s
language they want an I-Thou relationship.
One book that helps us understand this, and is perfect for somebody pondering their heart’s deepest longings, is Yearning for More: What Our Longings Tell us About God and Ourselves
by Barry Morrow (IVP; $15.00.) There is hardly a book out that is just
like this, and I adore it — very highly recommended because it shows
how our daily sense of things, our yearnings, are themselves avenues
through which we can come to deeper spiritual insights. Morrow, as
Kenneth Boa writes in the foreword, “has a penchant for leveraging
culture to illuminate timeless spiritual issues.” He does more, though:
he helps us turn our longings for God into ways to enter His very
Listen to what John Wilkinson (author of the cleverly titled No Argument for God) says:
Yearning for More
uncovers the reality of God in the most unexpected places. Barry Morrow
cleverly identifies ‘signals of the transcendent’ in our hatred of
death, our desire for heaven and even the humdrum of daily living. So
often we are told to ‘go with your gut.’ Morrow takes this to a whole
Read the whole column (and learn of some fantastic, brand new books, as well as some of my favorite picks) here. You might enjoy learning about one that I even wrote the foreword to — a real joy and privilege for me. Do click on over to the archived columns.
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