Reading Goals for 2013

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I like putting these booklists together each year. They’re not writ in stone – I generally tweak them as the year goes on – but they do give me an idea of what to shoot for. So without further adieu, here’s a sample of my reading list for 2013:

The_Brothers_KaramazovLES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo
THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
MOBY DICK by Hermann Melville
OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck
ONE FLEW OVEW THE CUCKOO’S NEST by Ken Kesey
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES by John Kennedy Tool
CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
THE CALL OF CTHULHU AND OTHER DARK TALES by H.P. Lovecraft
AnathemTHE YELLOW BIRDS by Kevin Powers
CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER by Tom Franklin
HOME by Marilynne Robinson
DANDELION WINE by Ray Bradbury
MYSTIC RIVER by Dennis Lehane
CHILDREN OF MEN by P.D. James
ANATHEM by Neal Stephenson
NEUROMANCER by William Gibson
THE DARKTOWER SERIES by Stephen King
WOOL by Hugh Howey
OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi
CORALINE by Neil Gaiman
200px-Ctl2CONSIDER THE LOBSTER AND OTHER ESSAYS by David Foster Wallace
LIBERAL FASCISM by Jonah Goldberg
JOHN CALVIN edited by Burk Parsons
UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand
THE GRAY MATTER by Dr. David Levy
ACCOMPANIED BY ANGELS by Lucy Shaw
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS by Shel Silverstein
HAVING DECIDED TO STAY by Bryana Johnson
117981746INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION by John Calvin
BONDAGE OF THE WILL by Martin Luther
THE GOD WHO IS THERE by Francis Schaeffer
IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES by Richard Weaver
THE FEMINIST MISTAKE by Mary Kassian
GOD IN THE DOCK by C.S. Lewis
THE CHRISTIAN IMAGINATION by Leland Ryken
PREACHING AND PREACHERS by D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones
THE CROSS AND CHRISTIAN MINISTRY by D.A. Carson
WHY WE LOVE THE CHURCH by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
UNPACKING FORGIVENESS by Chris Brauns
THE HOLE IN OUR HOLINESS by Kevin DeYoung
FATHER HUNGER by Douglas Wilson
FUTURE MEN by Douglas Wilson
GOD’S WISDOM IN PROVERBS by Dan Phillips
A SHOT OF FAITH (TO THE HEAD) by Mitch Stokes
THE CREEDAL IMPERATIVE by Carl Trueman
TOTAL TRUTH by Nancy Pearcey
HOLLYWOOD WORLDVIEWS by Brian Godawa
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So Familiar

“Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire said that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end: first, a mounting love of show and luxury (that is, affluence); second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor (this could be among countries in the family of nations as well as in a single nation); third, an obsession with sex; fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity; fifth, an increased desire to live off the state. It all sounds so familiar. We have come a long way since our first chapter, and we are back in Rome.”

– Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (p. 227)

Of Twitter-Ingrates and Getting Dressed for Christmas

While thumbing through my Twitter feed earlier today, I saw this:


So I did. And the tweets I ended up reading reminded me of a line from King Lear: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is To have a thankless child!” A few examples will suffice:

I’m yelling **** CHRISTMAS cause I only got 4 gifts under the tree.

I’m not even that excited for Christmas cuz I’m not getting an Xbox 360.

Only got an iPad 2 god mum I wanted a ****** iPhone 5 **** sake

And my mom went directly against me. she asked me if I wanted the black or white iPad. I said white, of course. tell me why mine is black..?

Well I guess I didnt get my much wanted iphone. **** my **** life and every ******* thing it.

Got That 60″ I Been Asking For, New PS3, & Like 4 Bills! No iPhone 5 Tho…

There’s something darkly funny about all this griping, and I’m tempted to make a crack about the fuzzy-wuzzy sentimentalists who think the Christmas season magically brings out the best in us. For now, however, I shall refrain. The point of this post lies elsewhere.

There’s this thing called the R.C. Sproul Jr. Principal of Hermeneutics, and the principal is this: “Whenever you see someone doing something really stupid in the Bible, do not say to yourself, ‘How can they be so stupid?’ Instead say to yourself, ‘How am I stupid, just like them?’”

This situation is different – I’m “studying” Twitter, not the Bible – but the basic idea still applies. So instead of adopting a self-righteous stance and giving these Twitter-Ingrates a condescending eye-roll, I should consider: how am I an ingrate, just like them?

I may not fill my Twitter feed with whining, railing, or blue language. I may not blog about how disappointing it was not to get that coveted iPhone (or what have you). I may not use Facebook as a way to vent my wrath against the cold and heartless universe.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not griping deep down inside.

In his book God Rest Ye Merry, Douglas Wilson observes that people are often trapped by “the expectations game” during the holidays:

Because everyone around you assumes that the day is going to be ‘really good,’ ‘special,’ or ‘fantastic,’ and is constantly telling you to have a ‘merry’ one, it is easy to assume that having a merry Christmas is an actual possession of yours, and if not a possession, at least a birthright. Consequently, the tendency is to sketch out in your mind what you would like that possession to be like. But it turns out, metaphorically speaking, that you get socks instead of the shotgun, or cookware instead of pearls, and the expectation lost is a set-up for real disappointment. This is one of the why holidays can be such an emotional roller coaster ride for so many, and Christmas is no exception.

Now take a look at Colossians 3:12-17, where Paul tells us,

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Says Wilson,

The text obviously deals with how we as Christians are to live all the time, and not just during the holidays. But the holidays are nothing other than what we normally do, ramped up to the next level. And so as we prepare our hearts for this celebration, ramp this up as well. Problems arise when we exert ourselves physically, emotionally, financially, and so on, and we don’t exert ourselves here. Think of this as getting dressed for the season – here, put this on. What should you put on? Tender mercies, kindness, humility of mind, meekness and patience (v. 12). That is holiday garb. When you are clothed this way, what are you dressed for? Snow pants are for going out in the snow, right? What is this clothing for? It is getting dressed for forbearance and forgiveness (v. 13). You are all dressed up and therefore ready to drop a quarrel, and to forgive  as you were forgiven (v. 13). But that is not enough – you need to put on another layer. Over everything else, put on charity, which is the perfect coat, the perfection coat (v. 14). When you have done that, what are you ready for? You are ready for peace with others, and that peace is saturated with gratitude (v. 15). You are also ready for some music, and particularly the music of grace and gratitude (vv. 15-16). And then, to crown all else, you are dress for everything – whatever you do, whether in word or deed, you can do it in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to the Father (v. 17).

Christmas as War

“We do not just prepare for a Christmas full of delightful sentiment, family time, and happy nostalgia – although all these things are acknowledged and embraced by us. We celebrate Christmas, and everything that follows, as an act of war. War? What about peace on earth, good will toward men? Jesus also said that He did not come to bring peace on earth, but rather a sword. How may this be reconciled? Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but the peace He brings is not the peace of dithering diplomats, who like nothing better than to talk, talk, talk. Our Lord Jesus does bring peace, but He does so as a conquering king. He brings peace through superior firepower. That firepower is not carnal, but it is potent, and the principalities and powers (those that are left) tremble at the might wielded by a faithful Christian church, uncontaminated by idols, worshiping God in the spirit of holiness.

And so we are preparing to say to one another, “Merry Christmas!” And we sing to one another about the inauspicious beginning of Christ’s conquest – “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.” But we also see, with the eye of faith, the end of the process – “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” And so in Christmas, we turn to the principalities and powers (those that are left), conduct our celebrations, and all God’s people say, “Take that.”

– Douglas Wilson, God Rest Ye Merry (pp. 116-117)