We have a few vacations coming up and one of my favorite things to do is decide what books to bring along. What will I be in the mood for on a particular trip (e-readers help a ton in this endeavor). I have a couple memoirs about a Mennonite I want to discuss with a friend by summer's end. There's a church leadership one about creating a church environment that attracts people in our world today - and it starts out with discipleship. Also a couple by popular bloggers about friendship and self-worth. So many books. So little time. Here are the books I've finished recently:
The Ecumenism Of Beauty (edited by Timothy Verdon)
This book inspired its own post, Is Your Church Beautiful?. I enjoyed it and learned a lot. There are essays written by leaders from various Christian traditions such as Anglican, Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic. In their articles, the writers attempt to explain the history of their tradition's relationship with art, and how art is being used in their churches today. There's a lot of common ground in our usage of art, and the more we understand one another, the more we can appreciate its usage.
Contemporary Art And The Church: A Conversation Between Two Worlds (by W. David O. Taylor and Taylor Worley)
After seeing The Ecumenism of Beauty, I thought I'd review this one about the relationship between contemporary art and the church. That's a bit different because contemporary art is new and the church is ancient. At face value, the two don't seem to have anything in common, but this book explores how each one encourages a person to express their true self. It looked at some instances where the two have partnered together on projects and it has worked. This book reads a bit more like a textbook, but there's a lot to learn from it.
We Stood Upon Stars: Finding God In Lost Places (by Roger W. Thompson)
A collection of essays written by a dad who wants his boys to experience the vast world God has created by camping in it and doing a lot of exploring. He writes about his own childhood in California (his pieces about his grandpa were my favorite), what it's been like becoming a dad, and how he balances outdoor life with being a friend and a husband. I passed this book right along to my father-in-law because I knew he'd relate. A great discussion book for a men's ministry group.
I've told you about this one already, but this is my official review. Read it! Through some great story-telling, Jerusalem shares her story about a time in her life when she thought she knew exactly what she wanted, but God knew exactly what she (and her family) needed. We've all been there. What do we do in the midst of that? As for Jerusalem and her family, they go about doing ministry. Jerusalem also did some soul-searching. I really like the design style of Jerusalem's books. In this one, as her readers have come to expect, you'll find writing, recipes, craft ideas and household tips. This book just came out this month. BONUS: I ended up with an extra copy of this book and I'm giving it away! Enter below.
I've read some of Zach's articles online, but this book really reveals his heart. He's a church guy through and through. That hasn't always been easy (that's putting it lightly) but he has become convinced when you look past the human flaws of the church as an institution, you'll see a people, a place, where Jesus does some of his finest work. In the final chapters of Zach's book, he discusses the richness he's found in ancient church practices, and discovering more about observing the church calendar. To which I cued up a version of the "Hallelujah Chorus." Zach too is a great storyteller, who has an important message to share. This book just came out this month.
Liturgy Of The Ordinary: Sacred Practices In Everyday Life (by Tish Harrison Warren)
I've saved this one for a while now because I wanted to use it as a book club selection for our Wednesday night Bible study group. I love the format of this one. There's a weaving of the elements of worship and faith with everyday activities like doing laundry, looking for lost keys, and leftovers. Life, and church, can at times seem dry and mundane. This book helps us to see God in all of it. I loved this book and can't wait to discuss it!
Freeman's: Home: The Best New Writing On Home (edited by John Freeman)
It's my first time reading these bi-annual books with essays about varying topics. When I saw this one focused in on home, I knew I'd like it. What a HUGE variety of cultures, topics, and definitions of home. A woman who visits her hometown after years away, reliving the damage the factory bi-products have caused to the people in that community. I've taken to reading anthologies one essay at a time before bedtime, and this book is excellent for that. One piece at a time gives you plenty to chew on intellectually. I especially liked the diverse offering of stories. I'll share just one quote:
That even if you make a new home, others can exist in minor keys. I have felt at home in London and in York, Maine for long stretches, and pretty much in every pool and on every cinder track I have stepped foot on, and strangely in the most remote parts of the American West which remind me of what was there before it was stolen. -John Freeman
Bread of Angels (by Tessa Afshar)
I've read all of Tessa's other Christian historical fiction books. She has a gift for taking Scripture you think you know and making it come to life. This one tells the story of Lydia. Admittedly, the author took some liberties as the story of Lydia is only a few verses in the Bible. However, doing extensive research on the cities and cultures of the day, readers always walk away feeling like it really could have happened exactly the way she told the story. At least, that's always how I feel. Shortly, after I read this book, a friend of mine went somewhere exotic and exciting, maybe Morocco? He posted this picture of a man dying wool, much like Lydia would have.
The Hideaway (by Lauren K. Denton)
Fun fiction! Sara has escaped the small Alabama beach town and is making it big in New Orleans. Other than visiting a few times a year, she doesn't have to deal with her complicated past, including an eccentric grandmother and her perpetual houseguests. Upon the death of her grandmother, that all changes, and Sara's not sure life will ever be the same again. Ladies, this is an excellent summer read!
Himself (by Jess Kidd)
From the first page, I had to keep reading this book because I didn't have any idea what was going on. Mahoney grew up an orphan in Dublin. He returns to the village where he was born, hoping to turn up some details from his past. He turns up more than he bargained for, in the forms of real ghosts (he sees dead people), small town history and people who don't much care for him or his birth mother. This is a debut for Jess Kidd and wowza, is it a page turner!
Now, to give away my copy of At Home In This life! We'll keep the giveaway open until Monday, July 3rd. Good luck!
I received a copy of Contemporary Art & The Church, Liturgy of the Ordinary, Freeman's: Home, The Hideaway and Himself from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. I received a copy of The Ecumenism of Beauty and At Home In This Life from Paraclete Press in exchange for an honest review. I received a copy of "The Light Is Winning" for being on a launch team to help promote the book. I received a copy of We Stood Upon Stars from Blogging for Books for the purpose of generating a review. The opinions expressed here are my own.