Here are a dozen books on Christian missions that I recommend to pastors, professors, and students. I will describe each book and then rank its level of difficulty on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult. Level 1 is the category for a book you could give to any friend or family member. Level [ Read More ]
She was the most arduous abecedary I’d ever encountered, Ms. Amelia Merritt. As my high school English teacher, she was tougher than a drill sergeant. She dressed tough and talked tough and had the kind of smoker’s voice that would make you wonder if she gargled with roofing nails. That’s why, when in the middle [ Read More ]
We should refuse to read books. I mean it. Not all books, of course, but many of them. In particular, we should refuse to read a book merely because it appears on Amazon’s “Recommended for You,” is displayed on the front table at Barnes & Noble, or is promoted by the big wigs at your [ Read More ]
It’s sad, but true. I had already graduated with a Ph.D. before I really learned to get the most out of a book. It’s not that I hadn’t read many books or hadn’t read them with serious intent. I had been a serial reader since I was a small child. I had studied books in [ Read More ]
Here are three new books (and an old one) that I am currently reading and evaluating. I recommend them to pastors, professors, students, and others who are interested in exploring the intersection between Christianity, politics, and public life. I will describe each book and then provide a brief-to-the-extreme evaluation of it. Anthony Esolen, Out of [ Read More ]
There are three types of people in our great nation. There are, first of all, those who do not read. An AP-Ipsos poll recently revealed that 25% of Americans do not read books, while other polls have put the number higher, at around 50%. It is not that these Americans cannot read or that they do not accumulate knowledge. (No country’s citizens—and I mean none—bring more depth and import to subjects such as celebrity clothes, hair and makeup, and the intricacies of the Pitt-Jolie marriage than the citizens of the USA.) It is just that their knowledge is not gained from books. Second, there are those who read but do so aimlessly, choosing on a whim what to read and when to do so. Third, there are those who plan to read and who read with a plan.
If you are the third type of reader, or if you wish to become that type of reader, this post offers five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).
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A long time ago, a pastor of mine mentioned to me the old adage that my development as a person will depend largely upon which friendships I chose to develop and which books I chose to read. He reminded me that the most important friendship was with Christ and the most important book was the Bible, but beyond that I would have to work hard to make sure that I was developing close friendships and reading helpful books. Shortly after that, I enrolled in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where the President at that time–Paige Patterson–encouraged us to acquire a library of at least 1,500 volumes if we were going to be thoughtful ministers of the gospel in a Western context.
Those words of encouragement were wise. I am profoundly grateful for their advice and, over the course of the past two decades, have developed a habit of reading. As a way of passing along their advice, from time to time I will publish lists of books that “ought” to be read. For what it is worth, here is a link to one of those lists, published as an interview with Matt Smethurst at The Gospel Coalition and entitled, “On My Shelf: Life and Books with Bruce Ashford.”
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