Below are my top 10 books I’ve read over the past year, along with a couple of my favourite passages from a handful of them. I HIGHLY recommend each of these, and am incredibly grateful for each of the people who recommended these to me. Enjoy!
“True atheism is nonsense. If there is such a thing as beautiful, such a thing as good, or even such a thing as bad, then there is a transcendent standard that determines which is which. An atheist can say that society prefers mothers to murderers, but he cannot say that this is as it should be. Tell us what is, by all means. But without God, you cannot tell us what ought to be. An atheist can tell us that he is a good person, that he has never stolen a lawn mower or murdered his wife. I believe him. What he cannot tell me is what is fundamentally wrong about lawn mower theft and wife killing. He will try, but he can’t change the fact that in his world there is no such thing as fundamental wrongness. Let the man with the biggest armies and the booming voice make the rules. Jews and gypsies and homosexuals be damned.
I don’t like that picture. I look at the world and I see beauty. I see love and loss, birth and death, joy and sorrow I see a world where color exists, and in enormous generosity we were given eyes to see it. This is a world where bread makes a smell as it’s baked, and we just happen to have noses to smell it. Color, smell, sound, taste—these are things that could have gone unnoticed; we could have been senseless in this reality, careening around like so many spattering particles. Were our noses invented first, or the smells? Our eyes, or the sights? Breasts, or desire? We have been created as recipients. I look at the stars, at the grass, at my fat-faced children, at my fingernails, and I am oppressed by gratitude. I have been given a belly so that I might hunger. I have been given hunger so that I might be fed. I look in the atheist’s mirror. I look at his faith in the nonexistence of meaning. I look at his preaching and painting. I see nothing but a shit-storm. Why would I walk through that door? Why would I live in your novel?”
2. The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out (Brennan Manning)
“Grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours, not by right, but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God…Even our fidelity is a gift. “If we but turn to God,” said Augustine, “that itself is a gift of God.” My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”
3. Death by Living: Life is Meant to be Spent (N.D Wilson)
“Watching one’s small humans age and grow up packs a serious punch. It’s like being stuck in a dream unable to speak, like being a ghost that can see but not touch, like standing on a huge grate while a storm rains oiled diamonds, like collecting feathers in a storm. Parents in love with they raids are all amnesiacs, trying to remember, trying to cherish moments, ghosts trying to hold the world. Being mortals, having a finite mind when surrounded by joy that is perpetually rolling back into the rear view is like always having something important on the tips of our tongues, something on the tips of our fingers, always slipping away, always ducking our embrace…But this should inspire melancholy; it should only tinge the sweet with the bitter. Don’t resent the moments simply because they cannot be frozen. Taste them. Savour them. Give thanks for that daily bread. Manna doesn’t keep overnight. More will come in the morning.”
4. Leaders Eat Last (Simon Sinek)
“Like the Spartans, we will have to learn that our strength will come not from the sharpness of our spears but from our willingness to offer others the protection of our shields.”
5. A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred (Brennan Manning)
“Ambition to be a star in the Body of Christ is alluring and seductive; it is also demonic, the glamorous enemy of servanthood and love.”
6. Proof: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace (Daniel Montgomery)
7. A Gospel Primer for Christians (Milton Vincent)
8. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Henri Nouwen)
9. Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims are Falling in Love with Jesus (Jerry Trousdale)
10. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (Eugene Peterson)
Happy New Year!