The release date of Reimagining Apologetics is just over two months away, and I thought it would be fun to begin highlighting and giving away some important titles that influenced the writing of my own book. I’ll introduce them in this post, and the book giveaway will begin (please bear with me as I learn these new applications)!
1. Seven Brief Lessons on Magic | Paul Tyson
Weighing in at only 84 pages, Tyson’s book is inspired by and in many ways a response to Carlo Rovelli’s equally elegant Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. When I picked up Tyson’s book at a conference last November, two elements caught my eye: the presence of the word “magic” on the front cover and the blurb by Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor on the back. Upon reading the book I found myself underlining nearly every word. Although my manuscript was largely finished when I read this book, I place it here because it captures the basic question that motivated me to write: whether modern life is really as “disenchanted” as we are led to believe, or whether a deeper magic rests at the heart of the world, untouched by the narrowness of our methods.
2. The Ethics of Authenticity | Charles Taylor
Speaking of Taylor, most who are familiar with his work will know of his massive and magisterial tomes like A Secular Age or Sources of the Self. But Taylor can also make elegant arguments, and my favorite book of his – both for its clarity and for its brevity (150 pages) – is his little book about authenticity. In a world (allegedly) emptied of enchantment, the best substitute is to look within for whatever meaning we can find. The ethic of authenticity is the inner call to compose an original life, to follow your heart, to find a way of life that fits who you are and how you are wired. Taylor offers a careful analysis of this ethic, which grants the value of authenticity but wonders about the best way to reach it. This book shows up quite a bit in my first chapter, Eclipsing Enchantment.
3. The Gospel in George MacDonald| ed. Marianne Wright
It is impossible to overstate the impact of George MacDonald on my imagination, first through Lewis and Tolkien, and then through reading the man himself. MacDonald is a very unique writer, and his style is an acquired taste (like strong coffee, perhaps). Because of this, I and others who love his work have found it helpful to introduce him to others through a collection of his writings. In most writers, to extract selections comes dangerously close to doing violence to the intricacy of their stories. But MacDonald is really just telling one story, which shines through in almost every paragraph. Chapter four of my own book (Waking Things Up) is on MacDonald, and it is my favorite chapter in the book.
4. Gilead | Marilynne Robinson
This is perhaps the best known title of the five. How does a book written from the perspective of an elderly pastor in Iowa named John Ames win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2004? The answer: by the way its prose shines “like transfiguration,” opening our eyes to the splendor of ordinary life and the sheer goodness of being alive. My guess is that many of my readers will have this one their shelf, so I will simply add that the book I’m giving away has a brand new cover (seen above), to match the cover of Robinson’s greatly anticipated book Jack (which comes out in just over a month!) Robinson is the model in my chapter five, Revealing a Wider World.
5. Culture Care | Makoto Fujimura
Last but not least is Mako Fujimura’s wonderful book on cultural engagement and aesthetics. The basic thrust of the book is Fujimura’s case that Christians need to shift from a posture of “culture war” to “culture care”, the latter posture being marked by gratitude, generosity, and generativity. My own approach to apologetics is marked by this shift – one focused less on “defending” and more on “discerning” (metaphors matter!) In fact, in my final chapter (Sowing in Hope) I call my approach “the apologetics of culture care.”
If you read these books in order, you have the basic argument of my book. For more on that, click here. Although I hope it doesn’t keep you from reading what I’ve done, I do want highlight those on whose shoulders I stand.