Monday, November 28, 2011

Ten Books that Changed The Way I Think...(the first five)

     Not long ago I read a post that someone did about the ten books that had the greatest influence on the author of the blog, and that blog got me thinking.  While those of us who love reading all have favorite books, it seems that a category such as "books that changed the way I think" is extremely important.  
     Here is a very brief synopsis of the ten books that changed that way I think.  Those who know me may actually use this list as ten books they will never read, but I hope in this blog to give a word of gratitude to ten books that are now a part of my internal landscape.  
     We often do not think about the space that we inhabit, but Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture by Witold Rybczynski changed all that for me.  After reading this book, I started seeing malls, contemporary church buildings, houses, and parks in very different ways.  I also started seeing how space effects those who inhabit that space.
     Most Christians are introduced to hermeneutics at some point.  I can remember being told about a literary approach to the Sacred Scriptures to emphasize the literary qualities of the Bible.  Since the majority of God's Word is either narrative or poetry, it came to make tremendous sense to me that this approach had grand value.  The book that changed the way I think about this is Leland Ryken's Words of Delight: A Literary Approach to the Bible.  This way of reading the Bible enhanced not only my love of Holy Writ, it also helped me see the aesthetic richness that was present.
     For a number of years I would read anything by Jacques Ellul I could get may hands on, but the book by Ellul that changed the way I think about money is Jacques Ellul's Money and Power.  Combining a unique blend of sociological and theological analysis to the reality of money is brilliant.  Ellul enabled me to see beyond economic theories and ideologues to the fact that in our culture money has sacred import.  The insights into the nature and meaning of money are numerous, but possibly none as provocative as the assertion that the only way to prove that money does not have a sacred hold on you is to give it away.
     Neil Postman's Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology is not as well known as his Amusing Ourselves to Death, but it should be because this work covers more territory.  Postman asks questions and offers insights into the nature and workings of technology that few others consider.  He challenges the false view that technology is "neutral" by exploring the fact of that all tools have an "ideological bias" and this bias erases all neutrality.  There are other apprehensions into the truth of the ways and whys of technology and a number of warnings.
     Popular culture is the air that most of us breath, and we rarely consider what we take into our lungs.  The best book that I have ever read about popular culture is the one by Christian thinker, Ken Myers.  His All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture is so rich with insightful analysis into the workings of popular culture any summary is a gross understatement.  One point is clear from this book.  Christians are frequently overly concerned about ideas when all the time they ignore the ways that the culture they inhabit daily shapes their ideas, values, and worldview in the most subtle of ways.  Consider how it is that a popular culture that insists that faster is better may cripple the cultivation of patience in the life of the Christian.
     More later.....