Recommended Reading, September 2021

I have badly neglected recommending any reading so far this year. I have read plenty of books – looks like 54 at the moment – but it’s definitely time for some recommendations.

Fiction

The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell

This one is apparently considered a sci-fi / fantasy classic at this point, which makes me wonder why I hadn’t read it until this year. A story that combines humans encountering alien culture with an exploration of faith and theodicy… phew. It’s a good one. Well worth a read.

The Just City – Jo Walton

The premise here: what if some Greek gods selected people from throughout history and brought them to a specific place and time to set up a community based as closely as possible on Plato’s Republic? I’ll admit that it’s been a while since I’ve read Plato, but this exploration of how Plato’s ideas might (or might not) work out in practice was quite fascinating. Oh, and what happens when the cleaning and maintenance robots become sentient?

Non-Fiction (ok, so mostly for me this means theology…)

So many options here. I’ve been participating in a twice-a-month book club this year – and it’s a new book every time, so that’s a lot of reading – which has brought me to some very insightful authors who aren’t all white guys. A couple I can recommend:

The Violence of Love – Oscar Romero

This book is a collection of excerpts from Romero’s sermons and other talks in the late 1970s. While in my earlier days I have been steered away from him as a sort of dangerous, socialist, liberation theologian, what I found was a deep love for the message of the Gospels and a heart full of God’s care and love for the poor and oppressed. It’s easy reading, and well worth it. There’s a free PDF you can legally download, too.

Latina Evangelicas: A Theological Survey from the Margins – Loida I. Martell, Zaida Maldonado Perez, Elizabeth Conde-Frazier

A short work of systematic theology by three Latina women. It kicks off in an unusual place for a systematic theology: a long discussion of the Holy Spirit. This book has an awareness of community and community interpretation of Scripture that I found particularly helpful, too.

Next Up…

I’m currently reading Father James Martin’s My Life with the Saints, which is part memoir and part introduction to a bunch of saints throughout history. If I had finished it I might have listed it up above. I’m only a third of the way through but it’s been quite enjoyable so far.

Once I get through that my to-read shelves are still burgeoning with opportunity. The Princeton University Press half-off sale didn’t help empty those shelves, either. So many books, so little time…

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