Weekly Miscellany | What We're Reading

In each issue, we give you a peek into what we're reading now. Scroll down to peruse our past recommendations.

Andy is using the extra time afforded by Alastair's guest issue to ... catch up on the Three Things backlog. In other news, Andy's lecture on the imagery of Genesis in Psalms is online, he is preparing to launch a new game on Kickstarter: Werewolf in the Dark, and he is also dipping back into Rilke's delightful Letters to a Young Poet—a luminous collection of advice on writing and life.

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Issue 19

Andy's reading perpetually breaks down into two categories: fantasy and Christian non-fiction and he is currently reading great books in both. Robin Hobb's sprawling Realm of the Elderlings series is sensitive, poignant, wise, and riveting. On the theology side, Richard Hays' Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul has less action (and fewer dragons) but is helping to answer some questions about why Paul seemed to use the Old Testament in such an original way. Between books, Andy is working on a lecture for L'Abri on the images of Genesis as they appear in the book of Psalms. Watch the L'Abri podcast next week for a recording.

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Issue 18

Andy read a good commentary on Genesis by Jack Collins in preparation for an upcoming lecture on Genesis imagery in the Psalms. Check out the English L'Abri podcast for that and other lectures such as one on the Enneagram, one on seeing Jesus in every part of the Bible, or one on T. S. Eliot's masterpiece, The Four Quartets.

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Issue 17

Andy has been battling through colds, fever, and flu in what he has come to call "the Winter of our discontent." Ahh... life with a one-year-old. The upside is that all the laying around in bed has afforded him lots of time to read. He has been delving into John Walton's two "lost world" books: The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate and The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate. He has never said, "Huh" and "Wow" more while reading a book. (Plus, if you bought both books and took your lady out to dinner you would still have spent less than Phillip's book pick this week).

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Issue 16

In preparation for an upcoming lecture on the way the core images of Genesis 1-2 appear in the Psalms, Andy is reading James B. Jordan's delightful book Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World (also available as a free .pdf). Jordan's book takes an in-depth look at the way Scripture handles and develops a symbolic vocabulary. So far, it is delivering on the title.

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Issue 15

Andy regularly plays a little game here at L'Abri we call "newspaper snowball fight" in our big, old Manor. It is exactly what it sounds like. The game has evolved over the years, but recently an enemy team has created a dominant new strategy that, as yet, has proved insurmountable. Andy has turned to Team of Teams, the story of the battle against Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the tactics of the Roman conquest of Gaul in Michael Grant's Caesar for insight. Enemies beware.

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Issue 14

Since becoming a father, Andy has noticed an interesting trend around his middle which he has dubbed "dad fat." It is the result of a seemingly inexorable, belt-enlarging cocktail of lack of sleep, lack of time, and emotional food coping. Luckily, Andy moonlights as a game designer and has created a game in which his friends can challenge each other to do things like exercise and read books. His first challenge was to read Lesslie Newbigin's Proper Confidence, which he heartily recommends.

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Issue 13

After a visit to the Eagle and Child in Oxford, Andy is immersing himself in the lives and minds of the Inklings, the literary group that has reminded so many that life is more real with a little fantasy. He is reading C. S. Lewis' Miracles, and J. R. R. Tolkien's masterpiece of fantasy, The Silmarillion. He has also picked up Carpenter's biography of Tolkien and of the Inklings to fill in some much-needed context.

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Issue 12

Andy is enjoying the salubrious effects of a good space opera with Pierce Brown 's Red Rising Trilogy. It makes for a better read (listen, in this case) at while he is up with a sleepless baby at four a.m. than his other current reading project, The Temple and the Church's Mission by G. K. Beale.

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Issue 11

Andy took advantage of Phillip's visit to England to gather the executive board (he and Phillip) for in the first Three Things Summit (he and Phillip getting coffee). They came away with lots of ideas for 2019. He is also immersing himself in the Psalter's palette of images with Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor. (Thanks to The Bible Project for the recommendation).

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Issue 10

Andy is searching for what it means to search for your "true self." He is reading Charles Taylor's The Ethics of Authenticity, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, and Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr. He'll keep you posted if he finds out what a true self is (or if he, in fact, finds his own).

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Issue 9

Andy is wandering the post-apocalyptic landscape of The Stand, Stephen King's classic "story of dark Christianity" (as King calls it in the introduction). He is pairing it with the less-terrifying and surprisingly delightful, How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World by Robert Joustra and Alissa Wilkinson.

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Issue 8

Andy is continuing his deep dive into the Enneagram (as a five would...) with The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. It is folksier and less technical than Rohr and Huertz. A friend (perhaps worried I'm diving a little too deep) recommended The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of the Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing. It's in the mail.

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Issue 7

Andy is eating C. S. Lewis's letters in "Yours Jack" like candy.

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Issue 6

Andy is trying to keep non-comestibles out of his 10-month-old's mouth and is trying to use books to become a better parent (Janet Lansbury's No Bad Kids and John Gottman's Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child).

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Issue 5

Andy is doing some "professional development" with The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk's brilliant text on trauma therapy, and preparing for an upcoming lecture with Chris Heuertz's The Sacred Enneagram.

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Issue 4

Andy is brushing up on his scriptural intertextuality with Peter Leithart's A House For My Name, Richard Hays's Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, and is brushing up on his outdoor survival skills with Andy Weir's The Martian.

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Issue 3

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Phillip was more than pleased earlier this month when two of his favorite musical artists released albums in the same week: Over the Rhine with Love and Revelation, and Andrew Bird with My Finest Work Yet. He's also deeply enjoyed revisiting his favorite Wendell Berry essay "Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms" lately and eagerly awaits the arrival of What I Stand On: The Collected Essays of Wendell Berry 1969-2017, a belated Christmas present.

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Phillip's firstborn daughter Nora entered the world last week. In these joyful, hazy first few days, he's greatly enjoyed reading Leif Enger's Virgil Wander aloud to Christa and baby, an experience that varyingly results in profound laughter and tears. He also has an essay about curry, commitment, and his potential as a bodybuilder up at The Rabbit Room.

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Phillip recently did some teaching on commitment phobia with the help of the philosopher D.C. Schindler whose book Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty is simultaneously blowing his mind and tearing it to shreds. He's also enjoying the BBC's new production of Les Misérables and thrilled to bits by the lack of singing. Keep those songs on the stage, please.

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Due to the cocktail of impending fatherhood and a five-week class he's been teaching at church, Phillip has been distracted from the noble task of newsletter curation. But not forever! Two highlights from the last month: watching Alfonso Cuarón's sublime Roma, once on the small screen and again on the big screen (thank you, Belcourt Theatre!); and reading Revelation with Peter Leithart's spellbinding and grievously expensive commentary (thank you, interlibrary loan!).

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As the great unknown of fatherhood presses in on him, Phillip has enjoyed retreating into his mind to think about "the diabolical character of modern liberty." Back in the real world, in an attempt to organize a superabundant amount of baby apparel, he was surprised to learn that children's clothing is a matter of seasonal timing. Something tells him that he has much more to learn. He also found out that French babies tend to sleep through the night by three months. A man can dream.

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On the cusp of each new change in life, Phillip enters a small crisis in wondering what exactly it means to be a man. As fatherhood approaches, he's turned to Robert Bly's classic Iron John: A Book About Men. He'd be tempted to dismiss much of it as poetic psychobabble if the book didn't so consistently make him laugh with recognition and reach for tissues. He's also following his wife's lead and reading Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.

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While riding in the car on their Christmas road trip, Phillip started reading Russell Moore's The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home aloud to Christa in the car. This proved a struggle due to both laughter and tears. It's a beautiful book that pulls no punches. He's also burning through his birthday present to himself: Alan Jacobs' The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in the Age of Crisis, a book about C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Jacques Maritain, and Simone Weil writing near the end of World War II.

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Phillip can't get this little article by Peter Leithart called "The Angels of Advent" out of his mind. The Bible really is the Book of all books. He also never thought he'd be interested in antitrust law, but has now been convinced by Tim Wu that Facebook, Amazon, and Google need to be broken up ASAP for the good of humankind. Not that he can do anything about it.

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Phillip is attempting to make "the perfect boeuf bourguignon" this weekend – for twenty. As such, he has little mental energy to continue reading James Davison Hunter and Paul Nedelisky's new Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality. Perhaps he should finish Adam Roberts' The Thing Itself instead, a rare delve into science fiction (sorry, Andy).

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Phillip just returned from a short holiday in England where he and Christa explored Cornwall. He was also giddy at the chance to watch Mission Impossible: Fallout again on the flight to England and to finally finish Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion on the flight home.

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Phillip is laughing aloud to Brian Phillips' essay collection Impossible Owls. In researching a passage in Revelation for work this week, he was also brought back into contact with Richard Bauckham's explosive little book The Theology of the Book of Revelation (mysteriously and wondrously available as a free .pdf).

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Phillip is trying to determine what he actually thinks about all this Supreme Court nonsense. More to come (maybe), but Ross Douthat and David French have been helpful. He's also reading Tim Keller's lovely new book on Jonah, that most misunderstood Old Testament prophet.

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Phillip doesn't love strangers nearly enough, a realization he's had while listening to John Mark Comer's teaching series on hospitality entitled "Eating & Drinking". He's also alternately baffled and delighted by Christian Wiman's new memoir He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art.

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Phillip is gearing up to babysit three boys under ten next week. With a baby on the way this March, next week will be a good rehearsal – and also a reason to return to Dan Segal's Parenting from the Inside Out.

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Phillip returned yesterday from a Labor Day journey to Michigan where he and Christa started listening to Michael Pollan's ultra-intriguing new book on LSD and magic mushrooms called How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. Don't worry: they were just listening.

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Phillip is reading ex-Googler James Williams' Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy (available as a free .pdf) and finishing Dorothy Day's autobiographical memoir The Long Loneliness.

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Phillip's attention is being captured by The Attention Merchants, Tim Wu's eerie history of advertising. He's also feasting on Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels and thinking about what a life of faith looks like in a distracted world via Alan Noble's Disruptive Witness.