Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

One book I neglected to include on my summer reading log was Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. If you operate in Christian circles, I'm sure this is a book you've heard about. My (mostly positive) review was just posted at Writers Read. In all, it's a great (though not unflawed) book--an especially helpful resource to work through with someone who's new to or curious about the faith.


Summer update

My last two summers in St. Louis were dominated, in turn, by Greek and Hebrew--learning paradigms and vocabulary, translating, etc. The summer of 2006, in contrast, has mostly consisted of reading novels, chasing after our now-crawling and suddenly willful son, and lazy nights drinking/smoking in the deck or yard--sometimes accompanied by wife or dog or friends, sometimes alone, often with Mike Shannon and John Rooney in the background.

Reading list over the last six weeks or so:

A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean (Fly-fishing brothers)
Love in the Ruins, Walker Percy (Apocalyptic lapsed-catholic fantasy adventure story)
Embers, Sandor Marai (Hungarian translated into English)
The Last Best League, Jim Collins (Amateur summer Cape Cod baseball league)
Saint Maybe, Anne Tyler (Pseudo-spiritual family drama)
The Challenge of Jesus, N.T. Wright (historical context of Jesus)
Child of my Heart, Alice McDermott (Sad coming-of-age story)

All excellent books--I would recommend any of them, depending on your interests. The N.T. Wright book was especially enlightening--sort of a popular version of his Jesus and the Victory of God. Wright's arguments are compelling and helpful--he is a master of stripping away our cultural assumptions about Jesus and revealing his life, death and resurrection for the radical and climatic event in history that it was.


Believing and Belonging

The project I most invested myself in this past semester was an idependent study focusing on the importance of narrative in the Christian life. The fruit of that study was a paper (called "Believing and Belonging") studying the ways in Moses uses the narrative of the exodus in the formation of the people of Israel in the book of Deuteronomy and then positing implications for how that pattern might inform the Church's use of its own narrative of redemption.

As Christians, we live in a community that is shaped by a story, and as we mature in the faith, we discover that our own story is a simply a chapter in the one we find in the scriptures. I am firmly convinced that to live as a follower of Christ in his world is to allow his story to pattern our lives as it shapes us in our participation in the body of Christ through our communal, sacramental and gathered worship.

The paper, which also relies heavily on the insights of Michael Polanyi, can be downloaded here. (Right-click on the link and click on "save as..." to download).

Edit: Apparently the link wasn't working earlier. I believe it is up and running now. If you're still having problems, leave a comment and I'll email it to you.

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