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My Year with Books (2017)

Charlie Wingard

Charlie Wingard

Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson and Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City, Mississippi

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When I finish a book, I add it to my list of books read. At the end of this post are the books I completed in 2017.

The year was marked by celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Although I’ve used it as a reference and resource for lectures on the English Reformation, until now, I had never made time to read from cover to cover Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation: A History. Perhaps there’s a more comprehensive single-volume work on the Reformation, but I’m not aware of it.

Over the past several decades, a number of young and intelligent Reformed folk have left Protestantism for Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Their concern is the shallowness of Protestant worship and its lack of connection to the ancient patterns of Christian worship and doctrine. Ken Stewart’s In Search of Ancient Roots: The Christian Past and the Evangelical Identity Crisis demonstrates that Protestantism’s roots in Christian antiquity are deep. Evangelical Christians should take up and read.

I turned 60 this year. Sometimes I feel as young as ever; a distance runner, my stopwatch tells me otherwise. So, I’ve been paying much more attention to self-care, and, therefore am indebted to David Murray for his wise, theologically informed, and immensely practical Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture. Particularly helpful is his counsel on rest, recreation, and sleep. This book is now on the required reading list of my pastoral leadership course.

In 2017, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened. I have written elsewhere that it “is a must-see: expertly laid out, informative, visually unforgettable, and a testimony to the many brave heroes of our state who sacrificed and laid down their lives for freedom and justice.” This year my studies of civil rights history were enriched by reading Taylor Branch’s At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68 – the third and final volume of his magisterial history of the civil rights movement  – and Timothy B. Tyson, The Blood of Emmett Till, a compelling account of the 1955 lynching, one of the hundreds of racially-motivated lynchings that that have taken place in Mississippi since the Civil War, and as much as any single event, propelled civil rights to the forefront of our national consciousness.

Ron Klein is among the finest Christian educators I know. For those interested in the governance of Christian schools, I highly recommend his Journey to Excellence: What Boards and Heads of Christian Schools Need to Know to Get There. In my blurb for his book I wrote:  “The average Christian school board consists of volunteers who care deeply about the spiritual and educational needs of children. Unfortunately, they often lack clear understanding of their primary purpose – to hire and hold accountable heads of school to meet board established goals. I had the privilege of watching Ron Klein lead a financially struggling Christian school to stability and a renewed commitment to academic distinction. His book charts a path forward for Christian school boards seeking the wisdom of a proven leader.”

All Christians, but especially parents will find eye-opening Mary Aiken’s The Cyber Effect and Jean M. Twenge’s iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Means for the Rest of Us.

In The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis–and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance, Senator Ben Sasse offers practical advice to parents on work, reading, and study habits that will contribute to a child’s maturity.

Some books need to be read over and over again. And so I returned to J.C. Ryle’s Matthew, Sophocles’ Antigone, George Herbert’s The Temple, and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. 

Books finished in 2017:

  1. Ian W. Toll, Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942
  2. Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity
  3. Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship
  4. Timothy B. Tyson, The Blood of Emmett Till
  5. Heath Lambert, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
  6. Paul Gallico, The Snow Goose
  7. Allan Harman, Preparation for Ministry
  8. Kyle McClellan, Mea Culpa: Learning from Mistakes in the Ministry
  9. David Murray, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture
  10. William H. McRaven, Make Your Bed
  11. Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity
  12. Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing
  13. Mary Aiken, The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online
  14. Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
  15. Eugene Robinson, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America
  16. James Early Massey, The Burdensome Joy of Preaching
  17. Donald Macleod, Priorities for the Church: Rediscovering Leadership and Vision in the Church
  18. Ron Klein, Journey to Excellence: What Boards and Heads of Christian Schools Need to Know to Get There
  19. Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis–and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance
  20. Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68
  21. Guy de Maupassant, Like Death
  22. Thomas Devonshire Hawkes, Pious Pastors: Calvin’s Theology of Sanctification and the Genevan Academy
  23. Sinclair B. Ferguson, Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification
  24. Jane Harper, The Dry
  25. Justin Jones-Fosu, Why Matters Now
  26. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ
  27. Richard Baxter and W. Stuart Owen, The Ministry We Need
  28. John Owen, The Nature and Causes of Apostasy
  29. John D. Inazu, Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference.
  30. Frances DeBra Brown, An Army in Skirts: The World War II Letters of Frances DeBra
  31. David Wenham, Did St Paul Get Jesus Right?
  32. Dale Ralph Davis, True Word for Tough Times
  33. Doug Serven (general editor), Heal Us, Emmanuel: A Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church 
  34. Mark Jones, Knowing Christ
  35. Jason L. Riley, False Black Power?
  36. James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain
  37. Amy L. Wax, Race, Wrongs, and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century
  38. John B. Boles, Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty
  39. Gerard Helferich, Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912
  40. Ian D. Campbell, Opening Up Matthew’s Gospel
  41. Mark E. Ross, Let’s Study Matthew
  42. J.C. Ryle, Matthew
  43. R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew
  44. Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew
  45. Matthew Henry, An Exposition with Practical Observations of the Gospel According to St. Matthew
  46. Kathryn Stockett, The Help
  47. Shona and David Murray, Refresh
  48. Ranulph Fiennes, Fear: Our Ultimate Challenge
  49. Kenneth J. Stewart, In Search of Ancient Roots: The Christian Past and the Evangelical Identity Crisis
  50. J. Cameron Fraser, Learning from Lord Mackay: Life and Work in Two Kingdoms
  51. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
  52. John Owen, Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
  53. Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Evangelism: A Biblical Approach
  54. Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament
  55. Lily Koppel, The Astronaut Wives Club
  56. The Bible
  57. George Herbert, The Temple
  58. Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History
  59. Jean M. Twenge, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Means for the Rest of Us 
  60. Seamus Heaney (translator): The Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles’ Antigone
  61. Wilbur Ellsworth, The Power of Speaking God’s Word: How to Preach Memorable Sermons
  62. Andrew Purves, Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition

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