I love books. I have a lot of them. Most I’ve read, but I’ll be honest, I’m one of those people who buys a used book, knowing full well that I probably won’t get around to it for a while. But of the many I’ve read, I want to touch on 5 of them that impacted me in a big way. I think they’ll impact you as well, if they haven’t yet already.
I. The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbott
This was the first book post-deconstruction book I read that really shook me to my core. At the time, I was questioning the doctrine of eternal torment, and had all but settled on the doctrine of universal reconciliation. This book cemented that view for me. Talbott is a philosopher who also takes pride in putting forth solid biblical exegesis. But first and foremost, he is philosophical. And I appreciate that. For him, it’s not just “what the Bible says.” It has to make philosophical sense, and for my money, his book is the crème de la crème in terms of a philosophical case for universal reconciliation.
II. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning by René Girard
Whereas Talbott’s book tackled the philosophical issues that helped lead to my deconstruction, Girard’s tackled the anthropological. In I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Girard puts forth an understanding of human behavior that ends up leading to the various forms of myth-making found in our Bibles and elsewhere. He also points out how in the gospels this myth-making gets “reversed” in many ways. This book, then, is for anyone who wants to understand why God is too-often depicted as violent and vengeful, but in reality is not.
III. Pure by Linda Kay Klein
For anyone who has suffered through purity culture, this book is for you. Primarily, purity culture harms women, but it also harms men. I recommend this book to both men and women (as well as anyone who is neither of these two). I recommend it to men because it’s important to understand how, in spite of the fact that purity culture harms women on a whole deeper level, it has also caused us to have insecurities as well as huge blind spots in how we see the world. The writing in this book is top notch, and I believe it will help unpack a lot of things that you’ve either felt or are feeling.
IV. Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is one of those writers who can appeal to anyone. He is scholarly on the one hand, but has such a simple way of writing that he can be understood by anyone willing to pay attention. The problem, which can probably be deduced by the title, is that Christians typically don’t find value with anything outside of their four-walled box of a faith tradition. This book takes a hand grenade to that box, in the best of ways of course. But I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the intersection between Christianity and Buddhism.
V. The Triumph of Love by Eric Reitan
I’m gonna give a shout-out to my friend Eric Reitan on this one. I read his book well after I took a fully-affirming stance on LGBTQ-marriage. But what Reitan does in this book is puts forth a brilliant philosophical case that has helped me in how I articulate things for others. Not that anyone in the LGBTQ-community needs to defend themselves, but if one should choose to, Reitan has offered us some amazing ammunition for the cause. Deeply philosophical, but easy to read at the same time. My kind of combination!
No doubt, there are a ton of other books that I could add to this list. But 5 is enough for now. I hope you pick at least one of them up. I think you’ll be happy that you did.
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