Sunday, August 10, 2008

Off the Bookshelf

I finished Mover of Men and Mountains, the Autobiography of R.G. Le Tourneau. This venerable autobiography of a Christian "industrialist", born in 1888, is full of muscular insights into business innovation, risk-taking, and prayer. Le Tourneau did not have much time for theological refinements; he took the basics and ran with them, and the book is a healthy reminder of the basic requirements of the Christian life. One can buy the paper-back for less than $8, and I ordered a handful for my friends.

I am into the Chronological Bible each day, and we are moving through the prophets, just now coming to the end of Jeremiah. It has been instructive to read Le Tourneau as I read through this part of the Bible. On the national level, the prophets associate faithfulness to God with the prosperity of the nation; on the individual level, Le Tourneau associates his successes and failures often with whether he did or did not consult with the Lord about difficult situations before moving to a solution. I think sometimes in our rejection of the "health and wealth" Gospel, we tend to throw the baby out with the bath water: for why should the Lord bless us when we move away from our relationship with him by neglecting our prayer life or behaving poorly? On the other hand, didn't Jesus promise us that when we ask he will give? Is it really that simple, I wonder? I think it pretty much is.

I am continuing to read McCullough's biography of John Adams. It's so very good and so easy to read. But not much about the religious aspects of the people and events McCullough narrates.

Next off the bookshelf is Tim Stafford's, Shaking the System: What I learned from the Great American Reform Movements, a gift he sent to us via his daughter Katie during her recent visit. I have read the first 30 or so pages and would already recommend it. Tim Stafford and I are contemporaries, he grew up and received a great education on the West Coast and I on the East, both of us were raised Christians, both married Southern women, and raised with our respective wives each a daughter two sons. I have visited with him only once, years ago, and then at the Van Brocklins' home in Montreat with a number of people, so I have had no real conversations with him to compare notes, but I do have this fine book to read about the mechanism of social change. I look forward to continuing to read his book.

Micheal P. Schutt's Redeeming Law: Christian Calling and the Legal Profession, has been on my bookshelf for a year, sent to me by friends at the Christian Legal Society. I have finally picked it up because Ken Myers interviewed Schutt on a recent issue of Mars Hill Audio to which I am listening on my morning walks. I have read the first few pages, and it's definitely a keeper. I will be going back and forth between Schutt and Stafford over the next few weeks, I'm sure.

Still haven't got back to the Pitt biography or to Keller's The Reason for God, but I got into them deeply enough to resolve to finish them, and I will.

In reporting all this, I have to confess to uneasiness that all of this reading puts my internet skills at risk. I have found that books terribly displace internet surfing time, and that worries me.

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