Lessons Unlearned and Sins Committed (Reflections on The Republic for Which it Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896)

I have been slowly reading Richard White’s entry in the Oxford History of the United States series on the decades after the Civil War, titled The Republic for Which it Stands. This book is detailed and thick and I’d be lying to say I found every section as interesting as every other. But the sections…

#1 – The Christian Imagination by Willie James Jennings (My Top Ten 2020 Reads)

This may be the most important theology book I have read in a long time. If I was to recommend one theology book to pastors and teachers to read right now, it would be this one. Jennings argues the Christian imagination is deficient and he traces the roots of this to the dawn of modernity.…

#7 – Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (My Top Ten Reads of 2020)

This book is a brilliant work of history that challenges and changes what you think you know about race and racism. While I purchased this book prior to the national protest that has erupted after the murder of George Floyd, I started reading it right while the protests were heating up. Reading this book then…

The Stories We Tell of our Past and how they Shape our Present

The below newsletter was sent out a few weeks ago to my partners in ministry; I just neglected to post it here. You can read the whole thing here: https://mailchi.mp/3d253e141eff/csfberksmay2019-4753858 When Buzz Gifted me a Manual A few years ago my boss, Buzz, CSFPA’s Executive Director, assigned the task of new staff training to me.…

#15 – A Secular Age by Charles Taylor (My 100 Favorite Books)

Taylor's enormous book begins with a question: Why was belief in God taken for granted in the West in 1500 but highly questioned, if not even non-belief taken for granted, in 2000?  What changed? In answering this question, Taylor argues that the common story does not provide a sufficient explanation.  Usually, so it goes, as…

#27 – The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman (My 100 Favorite Books)

History writing doesn't get much better than this. If I had to make a list of the places throughout human history I would least want to find myself, a few come to mind.  Standing in the surrounded Roman legions at the Battle of Cannae, waiting for Hannibal's soldiers to inevitably chop me to pieces would…

#43 – Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy (My 100 Favorite Books)

The last two books I mentioned have both contributed to my own views of how the Christian church ought to relate to the state.  More specifically, the first Christians were challenged to give their allegiance to the Lamb.  But they were tempted by all the Roman Empire had to offer, from a fantastic military to…

#51 – The Source by James Michener (My 100 Favorite Books)

This book was assigned reading for a scripture in context course I took back in seminary, where we studied the ancient near eastern culture.  The first 500 pages of this story cover the time from early human history up to the time of Jesus.  Michener is a master storyteller, as each chapter tells a different…

#52 – Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (My 100 Favorite Books)

When I learned history in school, if I recall correctly, we learned European history up until the founding of America and then shifted to American history until World War I.  Thus, we did not really learn much about Europe in the 1800s beyond the snippets we got from reading fictional stories such as A Tale…

#65 – What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe (My 100 Favorite Books)

If you like history, the Oxford History of the United States series is a must read.  I read The Glorious Cause, covering the Revolutionary War and Empire of Liberty which covered the time from 1789-1814.  My favorite book in the series is Battle Cry of Freedom, about the Civil War.  I was surprised when I…