6 Books I Read in July

New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

This book was a book I read with a highlighter in one hand, and it may have been easier to highlight the passages that weren’t meaningful. Merton’s classic work challenges Western assumptions about what it means to follow Jesus and calls our inner selves into deeper waters of personal spirituality. Merton is a master of thought and language. This book isn’t for everyone, but it is beautiful and meaningful and inspiring.



Die Trying by Lee Childs

Damsel in distress. Malevolent militia mean. Jack Reacher. Guns. Plot twists. Spies. Intrigue. It’s like eating a whole bowl of popcorn at the movies (remember when we went to movies?). You don’t need all that…you totally get the point after about two hands’ full. But dang, it’s good. So you just keep eating.



The Big Sort by Bill Bishop

My favorite read of the month, this book lays out a very basic argument:

For the past 50 years in America, we have sorted ourselves out into like-minded groups. We live near people who agree with us, befriend those who agree with us, and go to church with those who agree with us. This has led to a polarizing political culture which is tearing us apart. It has left millions and millions of people in an “exhausted majority” and not knowing where to go next. This book is sociological, comprehensive, and fascinating. Though ten years old now, it has aged well and it’s arguments are only more true. I totally recommend it.



Christian Extremism by Ajai Lall and Josh Howard

I know Dr. Lall and Josh personally and have travelled to visit them twice in India. Their book is their ministry on paper — a bold call for matching the enemies of God’s zealous behavior with equally zealous fervor for Jesus. They tell stories of believers in India who are doing just that, and whose lives stand as a testimony to us all. We are an army that “marches on its knees,” they say — something I believe the American church would do well to imitate.



Compassion & Conviction by Justin Gibony, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler

This book, published by Intervarsity Press on behalf of The And Campaign, outlines the spirit of and the content of a new third way of doing politics as a Christian. Valuing prayer and action, human dignity and justice, etc., the authors buck the tired and polarizing trend of picking an extreme side and defending it with full-throated conviction. This book is for anyone who, like me, considers themselves part of the “exhausted majority.”



Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy

The final installment in his famed Borderland Trilogy, McCarthy re-introduces John Grady Cole (the protagonist in the set’s first story) and Billy Parham (the star of the second). The pair, each having suffered major losses in their first stories, work together and bond together on a journey that they share. Classic McCarthy — stunningly written and beautifully tragic.