Morgan’s Top 8 Summer Reading List

Hi everyone,

I hope your summer is going well and you’re finding ways to stay cool in the midst of this incredible heat wave.

One way to definitely stay cool is to stay inside with a good book! To that end, allow me to extend to you a summer reading list. What follows is a list of books I have been reading over the past bit and would encourage you to consider if they strike your interest.

In a world full of sound bites, reading books has never been more important. Brain people will tell you that the length of content which you read is what you condition yourself to be able to understand. Short-form reading (such as this email) is fine; long-form reading, with extended thinking required (and in the case of fiction, extended empathy required) is better.

My goal is, partly, to inspire us to push past only TikToks and news articles, and to read deeply in the quest to be a better person and Christ follower!

Here goes my Top 8 Summer Reading List:

1.) Stop Taking Sides, by Adam Mabry

Adam is a friend of mine and pastor of Aletheia Church in Boston, which he planted. His church has reached hundreds of MIT and Harvard students, and he is a literal genius. This book is about how to hold truth in tension in nine different areas of Scripture (Love and Wrath; Grace and Truth, for example). You’ll learn a lot, and most of all, have a far more humble approach to church and political conversations. I loved this book.

2.) Strong as Death is Love, by Robert Alter

Dr. Alter is a Jewish professor of Hebrew literature at Cal Berkeley. His translation and commentaries have been illuminating for me–this one is his translation and commentary of Jonah, Esther, Ruth and Song of Songs. I own about six books by him; this one is shorter and particularly accessible.

3.) Dreaming in Black and White, by Brett Fuller

Pastor Brett is a key leader in our Every Nation spiritual family, the senior pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Washington, D.C., and the chaplain of the Washington Commanders NFL team. This is his effort to capture both the pain and the hope of black Americans, particularly black Christians, as told through American history, his own family, and his church. I couldn’t put it down.

4.) Embodied, by Preston Sprinkle

Dr. Sprinkle is the author of a number of books, including People to Be Loved, which looked at how to love and minister to members of the LBQTQIA+ community. Embodied takes a look at those who identify as transgender, and it’s a fascinating read. He does a good job of balancing both the pain of those working through their own personal journeys with a deeply orthodox Scriptural approach. You may not agree with all his conclusions, but it is well worth the read to be fluent in a growing cultural conversation.

5.) The God Who Plays, by Brian Edgar

This one is straight theology by a former seminary professor of mine who specializes in Trinitarian thought. Dr. Edgar looks at how the playfulness within the Trinity calls us to worship through play–as well as not take ourselves so seriously. Short and memorable.

6.) Leadership and Self-Deception, by the Arbinger Institute

This modern leadership classic is required reading for all our staff as a part of their onboarding process. Told in the form of a fictional story, it looks at how warping a wrong view of the self can be, and how seeing the self and others differently can transform both workplace, marriage and family dynamics. It’s based on Christ’s Golden Rule, and I’ve read it three times (here’s hoping it’s paying off).

7.) Talking with Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell

If you’ve never read Gladwell, you should start today. One part sociologist, one part historian, one part storyteller, he weaves together different moments in recent history to look at why we struggle to connect and understand one another. Honestly, everything he writes is unforgettable, and this one, while a little less cheery, still packs a punch–definitely for those interested in culture and history.

8.) Holy Guacamole, by Carrie Stephens

You knew I had to! For real, this is definitely my favorite Christian living book I’ve read over the past couple of years, and not just because it talks a lot about my favorite church (that would be us). Carrie is a great storyteller and humorist, and this book always helps me remember that God loves me more than I could ever know.

That’s it! I tried to spread out the categories a bit, so there’s something for everyone, unless you were looking for a great fiction read. Unfortunately for many of you, I am a science fiction and mystery reader, so I will recommend The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I just finished it (again) and it’s haunting and thought-provoking as an examination of the role of faith and love in our lives–just set against the backdrop of the future (that was your bonus book; you’re welcome).

I hope this inspires you to go buy something, learn something and feel something meaningful. We are called, after all, to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength as we love our neighbors as well.

Blessings,

Morgan



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