books, political theology

A Not-So-Theological Book List for Political Theology

Daniel asked about a book list of ethics and politics works of the not-so-theological variety for those in political theology. I take this to be a book list both about people who at least are not theologians and/or works that may not even consider the place of theology. It covers political theory, continental philosophy, and a few other subjects, but it certainly is not exhaustive — in fact it may really be a poor introduction to people and writings I think are important to know and work with or against. If you’ve got any books to add, please do.

Niccolò Machiavelli: The Prince

Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan: With Selected Variants from the Latin Edition of 1668, The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic, and Man and Citizen: De Homine and De Cive

GWF Hegel (specifically these editions): Phenomenology of Spirit, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion One-Volume Edition, The Lectures of 1827, and Lectures on the Philosophy of World History

John Locke: Two Treatises of Government and Political Essays

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: ‘The Social Contract’ and Other Later Political Writings

Karl Marx: just start with The Marx-Engels Reader (Second Edition) — it has Marx’s important essays on Hegel and Feuerbach, among other writings. Of course there is Capital starting with Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (Penguin Classics)

Friedrich Nietzsche: Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Will to Power (Volumes I and II), and Beyond Good and Evil

John Rawls: A Theory of Justice: Original Edition, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, and A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: With “On My Religion”

Carl Schmitt: The Concept of the Political, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, Political Theology II: The Myth of the Closure of any Political Theology, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes: Meaning and Failure of a Political Symbol, Roman Catholicism and Political Form, Legality and Legitimacy, and of course Constitutional Theory

An edited volume by Chantal Mouffe on Carl Schmitt: The Challenge of Carl Schmitt

Walter Benjamin, aka anti-Schmitt: Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, an excellent commentary by Michael Löwy Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin’s “On the Concept of History”, and of course, if you have the time and the interest, The Arcades Project

Michel Foucault: Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction, and The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language are all well known, and certainly worth reading, but I find more interesting and helpful his lectures at the College de France: Security, Territory, Population, The Birth of Biopolitics, The Government of Self and Others

Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, On Revolution, The Human Condition (2nd Edition), On Violence, and The Origins of Totalitarianism

Giorgio Agamben: Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, State of Exception, Means Without End: Notes on Politics, and his commentary on Romans, The Time That Remains

Alain Badiou: Being and Event, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, and Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil

Slavoj Žižek: The Parallax View, The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? with Milbank and Davis, and The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity

The publication of Harink’s Paul and Philosophers conference that I was at some years back: Paul, Philosophy, and the Theopolitical Vision: Critical Engagements with Agamben, Badiou, Zizek and Others

Jean Baudrillard: Simulacra and Simulation

Jacob Taubes: From Cult to Culture: Fragments Toward a Critique of Historical Reason, The Political Theology of Paul, and Occidental Eschatology

Sheldon Wolin: Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought

Gillian Rose: The Broken Middle: Out of Our Ancient Society and Hegel Contra Sociology

Chantal Mouffe: Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics with Ernesto Laclau, The Democratic Paradox, On the Political, and The Return of the Political

David Harvey: A Brief History of Neoliberalism, The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism, and A Companion to Marx’s Capital

Thomas Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri:
Empire

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books, political theology

A Short Book List on Political Theology

I just gave a paper at Calvin’s Religion and Politics Symposium. There I was asked about books on political theology by a political science phd student. I thought this list might do well on the internet too, so here is a short list that I believe would introduce well, but certainly not exhaust, political theology for someone in political science.

Important Introductions:
Editors William Cavanaugh and Peter Scott’s The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology

Michael Kirwan’s Political Theology: An Introduction

Gary Dorrien’s Social Ethics in the Making: Interpreting an American Tradition and Economy, Difference, Empire: Social Ethics for Social Justice

And here are more books for further reading if you’re interested:

Systematicians, Ethicists, and Political Theologians:
John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus

Stanley Hauerwas and Rom Cole’s Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations between a Radical Democrat and a Christian and Stanley Hauerwas’s Naming the Silences

William Cavanaugh’s Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church, The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict, and Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ

Delores S. Williams’s Sisters in the Wilderness

Oliver O’Donovan’s The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology

Traci C. West’s Disruptive Christian Ethics

Jon Sobrino’s No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays

Graham Ward’s The Politics of Discipleship: Becoming Postmaterial Citizens and Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice

James Cone’s God of the Oppressed

Lee Griffith’s The War on Terrorism and the Terror of God

Editors Creston Davis, John Milbank, and Slavoj Zizek’s Theology and the Political: The New Debate

Oscar Romero’s Voice of the Voiceless: The Four Pastoral Letters and Other Statements

Joerg Rieger, Jun Mo Sung, and Nestor Miguez’s Beyond the Spirit of Empire

Charles Curran’s Catholic Social Teaching, 1891-Present: A Historical, Theological, and Ethical Analysis

Biblical Studies:
Richard Bauckham’s The Bible in Politics: How to Read the Bible Politically

J. G. McConville’s God and Earthly Power: An Old Testament Political Theology

Walter Brueggemann’s Journey to the Common Good

Theology, Philosophy, and the History of Thought:
Editors Cole and Smith’s The Legitimacy of the Middle Ages: On the Unwritten History of Theory

Louis Dupré’s Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture

Michael Gillespie’s The Theological Origins of Modernity

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books, political theology

A Must-Read Introduction to Political Theology

In the past few years, I have made a point to keep track of introductory books primarily because, from time to time, people ask about books to read. And with future prospects for teaching, I pay even more attention to introductory books — particularly on topics that seem to rather misunderstood, like political theology.

Now, I’ve noticed a few different trends in how to introduce a subject. One way is to do something like a reader. The famous Blackwell Companion to Political Theology edited by Peter Scott and William Cavanaugh follows this route and function at times like a reference volume. There are obvious perks to this method: each chapter is written by a specialist and highly informative concerning its focus — be it person, topic, or movement. However, at times, such an introduction sometimes seems to miss conveying that a conversation is at hand and how different schools of thought interact, build off each other, etc. Also, introductions like Blackwell’s are very long, and for some, can be difficult to read through period, much less feel like one has a grip on the scholarly conversation. Simply put, the point of an introduction is to get the big picture and encyclopedic introductions do not always meet this need.

Now, there is another way: something like an informed conversation-lecture. This kind of introduction is incredibly difficult to do well: one must balance space, intellectual depth, readability — all the while conveying accurately the complex and multiple conversations, concerns, and stories. Until recently, I had felt that the contemporary discussion in political theology lacked such a volume. That is until I ran into Michael Kirwan’s Political Theology: An Introduction released last year.

Kirwan has written an excellent book. I have considered going back through his book to outline it here and list those who are given a voice, so as to show you how much ground he really covers, but this has proved more difficult that it appears. Crucial to writing such an excellent book is interweaving a multiplicity of voices, and this he does so from page one. To do him justice in summary, I simply do not have the time — he has covered much ground — and nor do I think I could faithfully convey the tone of the book. The way he engages material reminded me of the better conversations I have with professors in their offices: I had the feeling that I was in Kirwan’s office listening to him explain the field. His engagement with material was as if he pulling books from his shelves, showed me his worn copy, and talked about what was inside, all the while gesturing to books he already mentioned now piled on his desk, or ones we would get to still on the shelves.

Any teacher looking to touch on political theology should include this book in their class. Anyone looking for a reading list -– who they should read next or at least be aware of — should read this book. And just as important, those looking for why to read someone included in the book should read this book as well. As Kirwan makes connections between thinkers, he invariably provides answers to “Why” questions: primarily “Why should I care about so-and-so when I am concerned with this other conversation?” So not only does this book simply broaden one’s horizons, but challenges the reader to stretch themselves in the future — to read someone who initially seemed beyond their interests. This everyone needs, no matter how old they are.

I do not believe that the Blackwell Companion removes the need for Kirwan’s book, and vice versa. These two books together would set the interested reader on a strong path. But people already know about Blackwell’s Companion. So the conclusion here? Go read Kirwan’s book. You will not be disappointed.

If I were Kirwan’s Jesuit superior, I would lock him in an office all day long and order him to write many more introductions like this. This, among many other reasons, is probably why I am not his Jesuit superior. The University of London is lucky to have him.

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books, William Cavanaugh

New Cavanaugh Book Soon

Mike over at Catholic Anarchy has alerted his readers to a new Cavanaugh book coming out in August from Oxford University Press. It is titled The Myth of Religous Violence Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. Amazon gives the following description:

The idea that religion has a dangerous tendency to promote violence is part of the conventional wisdom of Western societies, and it underlies many of our institutions and policies, from limits on the public role of religion to efforts to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East. William T. Cavanaugh challenges this conventional wisdom by examining how the twin categories of religion and the secular are constructed. A growing body of scholarly work explores how the category ‘religion’ has been constructed in the modern West and in colonial contexts according to specific configurations of political power. Cavanaugh draws on this scholarship to examine how timeless and transcultural categories of ‘religion and ‘the secular’ are used in arguments that religion causes violence. He argues three points: 1) There is no transhistorical and transcultural essence of religion. What counts as religious or secular in any given context is a function of political configurations of power; 2) Such a transhistorical and transcultural concept of religion as non-rational and prone to violence is one of the foundational legitimating myths of Western society; 3) This myth can be and is used to legitimate neo-colonial violence against non-Western others, particularly the Muslim world.

I’m eagerly looking forward to it.

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books, liberation, political theology

Bodies, Correlation, and Introducing Liberation Theology

This post, an introduction to Liberation theology, has been churning in me for weeks, ever since I saw The Incredible Hulk in theatres and knowing how misunderstood liberation theology is on the popular level (and sometimes even on the academic level as well). Admittedly, the Hulk movie was first and foremost a commodity by Hollywood, as Wood correctly surmises. However, I could not, and cannot still, get past the correlation between movies like The Hulk and Hellboy and Liberation theology; the Hulk’s body struck me half way through the film. In fact, because there is such a strong and specific correlation, I began to wonder if movies like The Hulk and Hellboy could do something that science fiction and fantasy has done for years — use a different story to talk about something very real. I’m one of those people who must, and I mean must analyze what they watch, and generally I do it out loud, much to the frustration of those around me. I was able to keep my mouth shut for the movie, thankfully, so instead, it has become a blog post. So, below, I’ll attempt to note some very specific parallels between their different bodies than ours, our experience of the film, and liberation theology.

Quite simply and obviously, the Hulk and Hellboy have very different bodies than us. Now let that sentence sit. Believe it or not, it is pregnant with meaning, just as pregnant with meaning as the sentence, “In this culture, Britney Spears is famous.” To rush past this observation about flesh is to short circuit Hellboy’s and the Hulk’s existence. To rush would do injustice to the trouble and pain it takes for them to live because others find their body revolting or something to be feared.

In its most basic essence, this is generally what liberation theology seeks to deal with: a creation of God that lives a suffering existence because of other creations of God, albeit, perverted creations. Oppression is the word. Oppressed and oppressor are the names. The relationship it seeks to address is oppressive, abusive, perverted. Hellboy, near the end of Hellboy 1, summarizes the conflict between his body and the fear people have of it, saying to the female protagonist that Hellboy has feelings for, “I wish I could change this” while gesturing to his face. And earlier in the movie, in fact in Hellboy’s introduction to the audience, it is mentioned that Hellboy files his horns down to fit in. Hellboy has learned to feel ashamed of his own body. I dare to venture that Hellboy was told this — the vault that encapsulates his room certainly sends a signal. Likewise the Hulk is rejected because of who he is. His body itself is considered dangerous, and therefore potential for the army, but it must be controlled. However, the Hulk is not allowed to control it on his own will, rather it is the army that seeks to control him — not only is the Hulk’s body an enemy when not in shackles, but his very effort to do right is rejected.

This fear, control, and oppression has happened and it still happens in our story. Liberation theology seeks to address this. Liberation theology seeks to help the oppressed, telling them that their humanity, that their body, is valued and loved by the one who created them. The oppressed are not abnormal, nor should they ought to feel ashamed of who they are. While responsibility is necessary for the oppressed, they are oppressed because there is an oppressor who seeks to determine their value and significance in a harmful way — an oppressive way. The oppressed cannot and ought not be blamed for the actions of the oppressor. The oppressed therefore need not stand for the abuse. They can be liberated from their circumstances and it is God who knows their suffering as well, after all, Jesus was crucified. Jesus was tortured. Jesus was lynched.

However, Liberation theology is not one sided. It seeks to attend to both parties because it focuses on a relationship. Like the oppressed, the oppressor must be liberated from their oppressive ways. The oppressors are doing harm to themselves as they do harm to creation. They have been perverted so as to come to a point that oppresses other aspects of God’s creation. The oppressors need help, they need liberation. In The Hulk and Hellboy one can see this as well, although each story treats the antagonists, or antagonist to become a protagonist, differently.

Lastly, Liberation theology does not see a clean cut between oppressor and oppressed. Instead, Liberation theology seeks to address reality, that no victim or victimizer are only all good or all bad. Rather, there is the mix of both in each, but nevertheless, Liberation theology recognizes that while individuals may have a complex mixture of good and bad within, social evils like racism, sexism, etc. are somewhat cut and dry, but which everyone is guilty of, at the very least on the basis that our society is racist, sexist, etc. and we are a part of that society.

Hopefully this served as a helpful, although small, introduction to liberation theology. I think I left room for the reader to watch the movies, if they care to, or continue on in their life reflecting on the implications of liberation theology.

As for those who may want to read deeper, here is a short book list of important books by Liberation theologians:

James Cone, God of the Oppressed (or his shorter and more accessible, but very, very good for grasping Cone quickly, Risks of Faith)
Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation
Leonardo Boff and Clodovis Boff, Introducing Liberation Theology
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk
Delores Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness
Ada, Maria Isasi-Diaz, En La Lucha
Robert E. Goss, Queering Christ
Larry L. Rasmussen, Earth Community, Earth Ethics

In other nearly unrelated news, I can’t wait for Hellboy 2. I absolutely love, love, love Guillermo Del Toro’s use of colors and wide shots.

Oh, and Wood has another great post on what I consider to be a near worthless movie series, Star Wars. Yeah, you read it right.

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books

Aaaaaand Scene.

Ha! The semester is over for me, as of… ten minutes ago. One word I would use to describe it? Ugh. Academically I’m doing good, but still, sometimes a semester is just kinda lame, then again, it might have something to do with Ph.D. applications and personal circumstances going to hell. Anyways, I’m done. Woo hoo!

Now for Christmas break, I’m planning on reading these books:

For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann
The Violence of Love: The Pastoral Wisdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero Translated by James R. Brockman, S.J.
Romero: A Life by James R. Brockman
State of Exception by Giorgio Agamben, trans. by Kevin Attell
Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty by Carl Schmitt, trans. by George Schwab
The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World by Elaine Scarry
Eschatology and Hope by Anthony Kelly
Christian Critics: Religion and the Impasse in Modern American Social Thought by Eugene McCarraher

Any suggestions?

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books

More books for the curious and brave lay person from the “theologically” inclined

Edit: If you, the reader, have any suggestions for something fairly theological, but still half way accessible, by all means leave your suggestions.

I wrote a book list for a friend of mine awhile back. It turns out that he wants a little more theology and that Cavanaugh’s Theopolitical Imagination is really giving him a lot to chew on. The argument is simple, but the implications are vast.

Anyways, I figured if one was curious and willing enough to brave some theological language, I recommend these following books for those who’s world has been turned upside down by Cavanaugh. The thing is, while his book tears down one’s relationship to the world, it doesn’t build up much of an idea of the church beyond the metaphor about the body of Christ, hence some of the books I’m recommending to now begin the constructive task of imagining what Christianity should look like.

Torture and Eucharist. This is if you really want to give Cavanaugh a shot, and I think you would if Theopolitical Imagination really did do a number on you. Cavanaugh spends more time in Torture and Eucharist on the church, mainly because the book is bigger, still its good times. And it’ll keep you busy; its not so much harder to read, just bigger.

If you want something to screw your head around farther than you thought it could go, try Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope and The Crucified God. He writes… well, there is a specific name for it, but its basically a flow of thought style. He is repeats himself in a spiral like way, reviewing and expounding on points multiple times. The language might be a stretch but if you can work up to it, it’ll blow your mind. Certainly he isn’t perfect, or even the best to voice what he does, but its still, importantly, rather accessible. It’ll give you the future back instead of leaving it all to those dispensationalists with the left behind series. Moltmann will realign how the church should orient itself with a Christological dialectic – a suffering Christ and hopeful, resurrected Christ. Welcome towards moving to a real eschatology, just don’t stop with Moltmann.

Griffith on Terror will continue to work with Cavanaugh on how messed up the nation-state is.

God is Not will also continue that sort of thing, but cover more topics than just nationalism and so you’ll see more implications of what it means to be about the church.

Hauerwas’ A Community of Character will help one envision what relationships in the church ought to look like.

Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, while unfinished will just keep the themes already established moving.

Those books are quite a bit bigger than the stuff I previously recommended. Also some are more language intense, but they’re all worth it. I also have a bit of a solution for the harder books to follow, theological dictionaries: Essential Theological Terms, Handbook of Theological Terms, and Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms all work fairly well. Choose your poison, or drink from each one if you want. I own all three and they helped a great deal when I “started.”

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books

Summer Reading: Done and Done

The summer is nearly done, so I figured I’d post the list of my summer readings. There is still time left, and I plan on at least, starting and finishing Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok before class starts (and if it has been anything like the previous Potok books, I’ll do that in a day – delicious I tell you).

My summer readings (2007):

Not for Class:
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
The Promise by Chaim Potok
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (this isn’t worth a rereading for all sorts of reasons)
The Book of Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Class: Theology and Torture
Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory by Bruce Morrill
Guantánamo: What the World Should Know by Michael Ratner and Ellen Ray
Myths America Lives By by Richard T. Hughes
On Christian Theology by Rowan Williams
The School of Americas: Military Training and Political Violence in the Americas by Lesley Gill
The War on Terrorism and the Terror of God by Lee Griffith
Torture and Eucharist by William Cavanaugh
The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World by Miroslav Volf

Class: Roger Haight’s Christology
Dynamics of Theology
Jesus Symbol of God
The Future of Christology

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books, Chaim Potok

The Promise

I finished this morning The Promise, sequel to The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. I also began it last night as well. I pulled an all nighter, reading through the novel in one sitting – I haven’t done that in years. Call it a problem, after all my sleep schedule is rather screwy now, but it was delightful. Kinda like eating the forbidden chocolate cake, for those who love that kind of sweet (I’m not actually a big sugar fan, believe it or not, but I think the analogy is apt).

Anyways, the sequel lived up to its older sibling. It seemed to embody what a sequel is supposed to be: the continuation of the story that doesn’t even give the reader pause. Some themes were revisited in varying amounts, others were new, but it was the same growing people.

I’m also a fan of The Chosen and The Promise for the academic life. The protagonist does theology, but it isn’t Christian theology, and yet because of the link between Judaism and Christianity, they feel some what like kin. I love the familiarity and the difference.

But more than that, I’m tremendously attracted to the lessons for academics, most specifically towards the lesson on empathy. This is not some run-of-the-mill “we saw a car wreck and feel sad,” or even, “look at this economically depressed group of people and see how they survive in solidarity,” but rather, this is empathy on a divine scale that transcends what some call empathy (which is really pity for ones they perceive as less fortunate) to a true revolution in one’s being and how they relate to those relationally closest, as well as those far.

Danny at the end of The Chosen leaves his environment with an extremely sensitive heart – a tzaddick’s heart for the world – and in The Promise we see this academic who takes in the mentally distressed boy and, at the same time, comes to marry the boy’s cousin because she sees and experiences the depth of a tzaddick’s heart – a heart that breaks for everyone, those both near and far. Danny’s heart is proven to be a tzaddick’s heart by the close people around him – those are the true judges of the state of someone’s heart – as Reuven says near the end, Danny would never hurt you, unless its for your good. Not his good.

I think I’ll read this book again, much like I return to The Chosen over and over again. Its nearly, if not actually, scripture.

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books, Bram Stoker, Brent Laytham, Christopher Moore, Dorothy L. Sayers, James Cone, Kallistos Ware, Leo Tolstoy, Neil Postman, Richard Hughes, Roland Bainton, Rosemary Radford Ruether, William Cavanaugh

A book list for Lay people from the more “theologically” inclined

A friend of mine some weeks ago asked me for a book list. In fact, he said, “Just give me a list, I don’t care whats on it, I just need to start reading again.” Well, I didn’t take him too literally, but I did come up with a book list for the lay person. These books are generally rather readable and well written, but more importantly, could be interesting instead of boring theology.

1. Risks of Faith by James Cone. This book is from a prof here at Union and is actually my go-to book for exposing someone to black theology or maybe even liberation theology in general. Its very readable, and spans Cone’s career as it is a selection of essays, but the text also hits at what Cone is known for, starting “Black Liberation” theology. The work will get you/or keep you thinking on race, gender, poverty – you know, the important things.

2. Myths America Lives By by Richard T. Hughes. While at times I do have some criticisms about the work on certain points (and I may or may not agree entirely with his conclusion, hint, probably not), this book is very readable and hits at the general heart of what the hell really is going on with what we believe as American Christians. Once thats all sorted out, we can finally address if we really should be believing any/some/all the myths.

3. Theopolitical Imagination by William T. Cavanaugh. This book is short and expensive (read here, the publisher is being a jerk), but damn worth it if you can keep up. I would recommend Torture and Eucharist by Cavanaugh, but thats denser and bigger. Theopolitical Imagination may be one of the biggest stretches in terms of reading accessibility on the list, but in this case, that shouldn’t matter – struggle through this book five times if you have to (though I don’t see it being nearly that hard to understand, I think most people could understand it well enough with one reading and some discussion) – just read the damn book. It changed me in such a fashion that my whole theological world-view will never be the same. Ever.

4. God Is Not: Religious, Nice, One of Us, An American, A Capitalist edited by Brent Laytham. This collection has a good spread of essays on negative theology (negative theology is saying what we know God not to be) which in this case strikes at the very nature of what we assume God to be, and sometimes, we assume wrongly. Hence this book.

5. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. Possibly one of the funniest books I’ve ever read and I would often times find my self laughing out loud quite often, but also at times is incredibly well researched, in fact if I were teaching a Gospels class or intro to New Testament, I would use excerpts from this book.

6. Dracula by Bram Stroker. The book is riveting and I love the style, but also it is incredibly mature in how it deals with corruption and death. Rather astute I think. One of the most interesting things of note is what happens when a vampire dies – they sigh in peace, in fact, its not a horrible death at all. The vampires are finally allowed to rest and the evil is purged – they become people again in a very real sense. Perhaps we should look at our enemies like this – that there are people underneath all that evil, except we don’t need to use the violence. I used to not be a vampire fan, and I’m still not really, but this book I really like and it seems to have all sorts of theological ideas.

7. Anything by Dorthy L. Sayers, particularly the Lord Peter Wimsy Stories, they’re good mysteries.

8. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton. This work is one of the definitive biographies on Luther by a very respected historian, but it is also incredibly readable and personal. In fact, any good reformation class in college that I’ve seen uses this book as one of the major texts. Its just that good.

9. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman. Brilliant, just brilliant and it was written in 1984…ish.

10. The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy. Something to get ya thinking about pacifism, it certainly did me, and it should also be noted that this book had a large impact on Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi. You know, some of the real, successful people.

11. The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware. Here is a well written introduction to Eastern Orthodox Theology, well, some of Eastern Orthodox Theology. I’m not sure they’re quite as unified as they say they are. Nevertheless, Ware puts forth clearly certain Eastern Orthodox views that I found rather valuable during my freshman year in college.

12. Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology by Rosemary Radford Ruether. If you want to put your toe into feminist theology, this would be one of the works to start with. Apparently it is also still one of, if not the only, feminist systematic theology text written (this means that the book deals with the typical categories of theology – the nature of the text, method, language, humanity, Christ, evil, eschatology and a few others that are brought up by feminists). Even if you don’t agree with a large majority of feminism, or are even someone who reacts to feminism negatively, if you haven’t read this book, you can shut up or give this book your open mind. Why? Because this is one of the biggest voices for the past 20 years and this is one of the texts for theological feminism.

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books, meme

do memes ever stop?

I found a book meme that I kinda like and its nice to have a little something in the blog until I post on Volf later.

1. One book that changed your life:
Theopolitical Imagination by William Cavanaugh. Its always the small things that change our worlds.

2. One book you’ve read more than once:
The Chosen by Chaim Potok.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

4. One book that made you laugh:
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. This is hands down the funniest book I’ve ever read.

5. One book that made you cry:
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

6. One book you wish had been written:
Those other stories that the author of the Gospel of John alludes to.

7. One book you wish had never been written:
So many choices! There was a debate between Grudem and Eldredge, but then John Piper’s Desiring God won out.

8. Book(s) you’re currently reading:
Dynamics of Theology by Roger Haight and Anamnesis as Dangerous Memory by Bruce Morrill.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf. I’ve been putting if off for years, well that and Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday by Alan Lewis.

10. Now tag five people:

No. If you’ve been meaning to update your blog, here is your opportunity. If you don’t have a blog, and want to respond, leave a comment (Yes, I ripped this last one off from Chris).

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