Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A pair of book recommendations

Normally I would only recommend books or music to specific people who(m?) I know would enjoy them, but I have two book recommendations that I think just about anyone who might come across this blog would enjoy.

1. What Americans Really Believe, by Rodney Stark. I haven't actually read this one yet -- only skimmed it -- but it looks really interesting. It's based on results from the Baylor Religion Survey, but written in a very lay-friendly manner. Many of the chapters bust myths. For instance, the survey found that megachurches actually offer more intimate community than small congregations do. Who knew? I've written much more on the Survey and the book here, but I think it's a nice, fairly light, entertaining read.

2. Red Letter Christians, by Tony Campolo. I got to hear Tony Campolo speak on campus last week, and my memory of him as one of the best speakers I've ever heard was reaffirmed. In this book (which I just finished), he tackles a bunch of issues and viewpoints generally more emphasized by "liberals" (as opposed to the religious right). He makes the point that Christians need to realize that, as my friend Mike loves to say, Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. 

For instance, Campolo says the Bible certainly emphasizes the sanctity of life, but notes that that issue doesn't stop at birth -- that the idea not only applies to abortion, but other issues regarding poverty. My big nitpick is that in the book, he seems to assume that the Church can't solve issues regarding poverty, because we don't/won't give enough, and so the government must tackle those for us. He tempered that in the speech I heard, urging Christians to help more in addition to supporting programs for those less fortunate.

I don't necessarily agree with everything he writes in the book, but he certainly made me re-examine my thoughts (and what the Bible has to say) on a lot of issues, and I think the same would apply for just about anyone I know reading this. So check it out!

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