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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Book Meme

I suppose it was inevitable that I would get picked for this book meme going around. Lo and behold, I have been tagged by the Jollyblogger.

1. How many books have I owned?

Probably a few hundred. I've seen people claiming thousands of books - where in the world do you people keep these books??? I've certainly read thousands of books but I have no desire to keep them all - hang on, that's a complete lie. I do desire, no I lust, to own thousands of books. But I have neither the money or the space to do so.

2. What was the last book you bought.

The last book I bought was Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One by Thomas Sowell. It doesn't take much reading of my blog to know how much I like Sowell. The genius of Thomas Sowell is that he takes fairly complicated concepts and makes them very understandable. As the title implies, Sowell uses many real world examples to highlight various economic principles. His sections on medical care and risk in business are particularly timely in our current political climate that thrives on populist demogoguery.

3. The last book that you've read.

I'm going to cheat and mention three books, mostly because I'm one of those who read multiple books at a time.

I don't read nearly enough fiction as I am always reading something on economics or politics. But last week I decided to read one of Umberto Eco's books that I hadn't read yet, Baudolino . Eco is a master storyteller as evidenced by The Name of the Rose and my favorite, Foucault's Pendulum. Baudolino continues the trend of a historically-based novel chock full of Medieval names and places. Some people complain about the clutter of information, but it is that very thing that makes me love Eco's books.

I'm wrapping up The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll. Dr. Noll gives an outstanding account of the rise of anti-intellectualism in the evangelical community over the past 200 years. Noll's central critique is "The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." Fortunately we have seen improvement in this area over the past decade as Noll mentioned in an interview last fall.

I am a big fan of David Brooks, a conservative who avoids partisan rhetoric. I was already a fan of Brook's Bobos in Paradise when his new book, On Paradise Drive came out. As someone who has studied demographics and consumer behaviors for almost 10 years, I can attest that Brooks is right on in his assessments of American culture. Perhaps Brooks' most endearing quality is his unyielding optimism about America. Too many cultural commentators have brought a doom-and-gloom pessimism to their critique of America.

4. 5 books that have meant a lot to you.

The Lord of the Rings
is the first book that comes to mind. I first read LOTR in 2nd grade. And I have read it a minimum of one time a year since then. I haven't kept exact count but I imagine it is close to 50 times. LOTR is the rare book that can bring me to tears. Even though LOTR is not an allegory, it is hard to miss the clear Christian influence on Tolkien's writing.

Basic Economics was the first Thomas Sowell book I ever read. It still may be the best. I have often commented to friends that short of the Bible, this book contains more truth than any other book I have read. I thought I knew about economics before I read this book but I didn't. Dr. Sowell does a great job in this book destroying common myths about economics.

Francis Schaeffer has had the greatest influence on my theology. I read The Francis Schaeffer Trilogy about 10 years ago and still reference it often. I'm not crazy about calling someone a prophet, but if anyone could claim the title in the past 50 years, it would be Schaeffer. While Schaeffer can often overgeneralize ideas, he does a fabulous job describing a Christian worldview, how we should live "in the world but not of the world", and most importantly, how to show love and respect to those around us.

In my estimation, Lesslie Newbigin is the heir apparent to Francis Schaeffer. Proper Confidence is perhaps my favorite of his books. Newbigin wrote extensively about how Christians should interact with the world. I do find it strange that many involved in Emergent have misinterpreted Newbigin. Newbigin talked a lot about how to communicate with a postmodern culture, but insisted that we maintain a Christian worldview.

Dominion by Matthew Scully is a fairly new book that I have read and has had quite the impact upon me. Scully is a conservative Christian who has written this book about how we should humanely treat animals. He rejects the language of "animal rights" yet insists that Christians should do more to be proper stewards of animals. This book had such an impact upon me that I have now only buy meat from animals that were treated humanely. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is for a guy from the South who considers himself more of a carnivore than an omnivore.

5. Tag five people that haven't played yet.
Expat Teacher, 4BoyDad, Radical Centrist, Stan Guthrie, and Lauren Winner. You're it!

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