10 July 2006

summer reading

summer reading

Despite other activities and disruptions, I have been busy trying to get through some of the backlog of books I've got in my pile to read.

Right now I'm reading both Nancy Pearcey's Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Crossway 2004) and Rudi te Velde's Aquinas on God: The 'Divine Science' of the Summa Theologiae (Ashgate 2006). While the books couldn't be more different in many respects (audience, context, style, focus, assessment of Aquinas, etc.), there are nonetheless some interesting convergences between, on one hand, Pearcey's positive project and diagnosis of evangelicalism's weaknesses, and, on the other hand, Aquinas' integrated theological vision of our knowledge of God as interpreted by te Velde.

In addition to some of the other items I've already blogged about (Jacobsen on the new urbanism, Earey on liturgy, Newbigin on ministry, etc.), recent reading has included a range of books and topics.

Esther Meek's Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People (Brazos 2003) has got to be one of the best, popular-level books on epistemology I've ever read. While Meek is more of a Polanyian than I would be, she interacts with a range of sources and has a knack for presenting epistemological puzzles in a very concrete accessible way. If my "Problems of Knowledge" course were less of a survey, I would definitely assign her text. Perhaps I'll have to rework the format of the class.

Tom Wright's Simply Christian (SPCK 2006) is a highly readable introduction to the Christian faith, well-suited I think for a contemporary inquirer or new believer. The back cover compares it postively to Lewis's Mere Christianity and the comparison is apt, with the understanding that Wright is communicating effectively to a generation of seekers who no longer share many of the cultural and philosophical assumptions that Lewis's generation had. As such Wright's book should be particularly useful with younger folks, including my students.

We recently starting supporting a child and her village in Tanzania through World Vision and, in light of that and to make things more tangible for Claire, I picked up a cookbook at the library entitled A Taste of Africa: Traditional and Modern African Cooking by Dorinda Hafner (10 Speed Press 2002). We've been enjoying Zanzibari chicken, curried spinach in coconut milk, beef stew with plantains, bannan fritters, and other wonderful and unusual dishes. Plantains, I must say, are a pretty amazing vegetable. Not only are they high yield (a plot of land that can produce 50 pounds of wheat can produce 4000 pounds of plantains), but they are also extremely versatile, adapting to either sweet (banana-like) or savory dishes (potato-like), depending ripeness and preparation.

At any rate, keep the recommendations coming on the previous post.