It’s back-to-school time, and despite all the chaos this year imposed on us by the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s a good time to remember that as disciples of Jesus our schooling never ends.
We are always learning and being formed by our choices and by circumstances thrust upon us. Regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, what are the practices that help keep us focused on the compassionate and just way of Jesus? These 40 recent books on discipleship and formation (published within the last three years or so) help us to wrestle with this question that lies at the heart of our Christian identity. Not all of these books will be relevant to every reader, but hopefully you will find one or two good books here to read or re-read as you (and the sisters and brothers of your church) press deeper in the coming year into the abundant life of Christ.
[ TOP 10 – Part 1 ] [ Top 10 – Part 2 ] [ Slowing Down ] [ Prayer ] [ Formed Together in Church ] [ Renewing Our Minds ] [ Other Practices ] [ Staying Focused ]
Page 2: TOP 10 – Part 2
(In Alphabetical Order by Author’s Last Name)
Joy Unspeakable focuses on the aspects of the Black church that point beyond particular congregational gatherings toward a mystical and communal spirituality not within the exclusive domain of any denomination. This mystical aspect of the black church is deeply implicated in the well-being of African American people but is not the focus of their intentional reflection. Moreover, its traditions are deeply ensconced within the historical memory of the wider society and can be found in Coltrane’s riffs, Malcolm’s exhortations, the social activism of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. The research in this book-through oral histories, church records, and written accounts–details not only ways in which contemplative experience is built into African American collective worship but also the legacy of African monasticism, a history of spiritual exemplars, and unique meditative worship practices.
Willie James Jennings
According to Jennings, Acts is like Genesis, revealing a God who is moving over the land, “putting into place a holy repetition that speaks of the willingness of God to invade our every day and our every moment.” He reminds us that Acts took place in a time of Empire, when the people were caught between diaspora Israel and the Empire of Rome. The spirit of God intervened, offering new life to both. Jennings shows that Acts teaches how people of faith can yield to the Spirit to overcome the divisions of our present world.
Reading poetry is a formative practice that forces us to slow down and pay exquisite attention to every word and phrase. Mary Oliver’s poetry in particular stirs our imaginations to recognize the abundant gifts of God that surround us at any given moment.
This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best. Within these pages, she provides us with an extraordinary and invaluable collection of her passionate, perceptive, and much-treasured observations of the natural world.
Looking through the lens of the biblical narrative of Esther, McNeil challenges Christian reconcilers to recognize the particular pain in our world so they can work together to repair what is broken while maintaining a deep hope in God’s ongoing work for justice. This book provides education and prophetic inspiration for every person who wants to take reconciliation seriously.
Becoming Brave offers a distinctly Christian framework for addressing systemic injustice. It challenges Christians to be everyday activists who become brave enough to break the silence and work with others to dismantle systems of injustice and inequality.
The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life
The Way of Silence draws heavily on Buddhist teachings to cultivate the practice of “deep” listening: turning away from noise and distraction, paying attention, and embracing quiet. The Way of Silence embraces paradox: absence versus presence in silence. Dynamic tranquility. The all-oneness of aloneness. Humbly, trusting in God, you’ll practice emptying your mind in order to receive wisdom, insight, and understanding. You’ll learn to listen deeply, with a trusting heart—and you’ll joyously discover a new, interior freedom that will make you feel more vibrant, and more fully alive.