07 July 2005

tag! i'm it

One of these questionaire thingummies is circulating and I asked Barb to tag me since I've been feeling very uncreative the past couple of weeks and wanted something relatively easy and fun to blog.

So here goes:

How many books do I own?

Umm. This would start out with a tricky question. I've not counted each and every volume, but, all told, a rough estimate would be around 3,000. That includes a several hundred children's books, but is overwhelmingly philosophy, theology, and literature

What's the last book I bought?

I bought three books in the same recent purchase:

[a] Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (Baker Academic 2005);

[b] Daryl G. Hart, Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism in the Age of Billy Graham (Baker Academic 2004); and

[c] Robert Bruce, The Mystery of the Lord's Supper, ed. by Thomas F. Torrance (Rutherford House/Christain Focus 2005 [1958/1589]).

What's the last book I read?

I'm in the middle of reading (and should soon finish) both the Enns book and the Hart book listed above. I'm also poking my way through E. Brooks Holifield's, Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War (Yale 2003), which I read while waiting various places (doctor's office, train, meeting friends, etc.), as well as Conor Cunningham's Genealogy of Nihilism (Routledge 2003), which I read sometimes before bed.

The last book I actually completed sometime last week was a work of teen fiction by Walter Dean Myers, entitled Monster (HarperTempest 1999), written mostly in the form of a screenplay by a 16 year old African-American kid on trial for felony murder.

What are the five books that mean the most to me?

This is the most difficult question of the bunch and my views on this will likely change, but I'd list the following (in no particular order):

[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. I read sections of Calvin's Institutes while growing up, but finally plowed through the whole four books sometime late in high school. Book 4 blew me away and registered a significant disconnection between Calvin's ecclesiology and that of dominant American evangelicalism. Calvin's sacramental piety, moreover, helped deepen and expand the high regard in which the holy sacraments were held within my own Reformed Presbyterian (RPCES) tradition.

[2] Hans Urs von Balthasar, particularly Mysterium Paschale, but also large helping of his great Trilogy and other works, a theologian who, in many respects, was a sort of Roman Catholic version of Cornelius van Til. I'm not quite sure how I ran into von Balthasar, but it was likely a reference in van Til, some interaction with Barth, and via de Lubac, particularly in the context of interacting with evangelical Roman Catholics in college. Von Balthasar gave me a framework, stretching from the early Fathers and through a number of counter-modern figures, that moved me along considerably in my ability to navigate the narrative of Western thought from a theological perspective. He also drew my attention sharply to the christocentric and cruciform revelation of God as Trinity and its implicatons for philosophy and theology.

[3] Richard B. Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul's Soteriology (though the version I read was the 1978 Baker edition, entitled, The Centrality of the Resurrection). When I read this in high school, it brought a focus to my understanding of Paul and New Testament soteriology as eschatology, paving the way for my later appreciation of Ridderbos, Vos, and so on, as well as my re-reading of Calvin, particularly as understood by an interpreter such as Brian Gerrish.

[4] Georges Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest. This is still my favorite novel, which probably says more about me than Bernanos. While the book is, in many respects, melancholy, the primary message remains, "Everything is grace."

[5] John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Blackwell 1990). While a lot of other reading had prepared me for this volume in various ways (from van Til to von Balthasar), Milbank brought everything together in a way that allowed me synthesize my philosophical and theological training in a postmodern context.

It's now my turn to tag three people. Since I don't want to impose, let me know if you'd like to be tagged.