THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH by Frank Viola.
Viola rearranges the events and letters of the NT to tell the story in chronological order. The reasons behind each NT epistle is brought to a new light (sometimes it's easy to forget that they were letters, after all.) I'm sure that I'll be using this book for a while whenever I want to study a specific book of the NT in more detail. It's a relatively easy-to-read book, and I recommend it for anyone who's wanted to study the NT's story as a whole.
THE MYTH OF A CHRISTIAN NATION by Gregory Boyd
Wow. Unfortunately, most of the time we (myself included) tend to read books that only reinforce our deeply-entrenched views of the world. I am glad to say that this book did not fall into that particular category. It kicked my butt from the start, and it continued to do so long after the back cover was closed.
Boyd's book discusses the idea that we (meaning the Church) frequently speak of the need to "bring America back to God." According to Boyd and his arguments, this can never be possible because the "kingdom of God" and the "kingdom of the world" will never be able to reconcile either in principle or in practice.
I don't feel that I could ever do this book justice by trying to describe it. All I can say is that it has continued to stick with me three months after I read it, and I recommend it to anyone who feels that the Church is not designed for political power (anyone care to talk about the Middle Ages?)
A word of warning: you won't feel comfortable signing a "patriotic" hymn in church ever again after reading this book. I speak from experience.
UNDER THE OVERPASS by Mike Yankowski
What an inspiring story. A college student from the 'burbs decides to see if his faith is real and if the Church is really doing anything to help the poor. He and another guy spend five months in five different U.S. cities as homeless men in every sense of the word. They take only a backpack, sleeping bag, Bible, journal, and guitar with them. They play guitars on the sidewalk to get money to eat. They sleep wherever they can, mostly out-of-doors or . . . you guessed it . . . under an overpass.
The really exciting part of the story (if such a word can actually be used) is the fact that they do encounter people along the way who are literally referred to as "Jesus" among the homeless community because of their love and compassion for those whom society has long forgotten. They meet strangers who bring pizza and soda into the middle of a city park for anyone who wishes to come and eat. They meet various "professionals" who live out their Christian faith by buy lunch for these two strange-looking young men.
The heartbreaking part of the story is the fact that they also encounter "Christians" who do nothing to help them. The worst story, I think, is the one where they spend Saturday night sleeping on the steps of a church. When they awake on Sunday morning, they discover that a couple of dozen people have walked right by them into the Sunday morning service without stopping to offer any kind of love to them!
"I'm sorry. I don't have time to help you right now. It's time for my scheduled hour of worshipping God."
This book reads really fast but will stay with you for a while.
So, in a nutshell:
A good book for rethinking the story of the New Testament.
A good book for rethinking the church's quest for political power and for examining an individual's heart concerning their own desire for authority.
A good book for rethinking an individual's attitude to the homeless in the U.S..
Currently listening to I AM THE BLUES by Willie Dixon.
Recently watched 28 WEEKS LATER.
Getting ready to read THE NEW MONASTICISM by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.