Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Recommended Reading

My good friend and theologian superior, Andy Guffey, after enumerating a number of recommended texts on his blog charged some friends with the same task. As I thought of which books I would want on my list I remember that a good friend from high school had requested five books to read and I offered the following titles:

The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Walden by Henry David Thoreau

These now anachronistic suggestions all have a teenage flare for the dramatic - and I must add - secular. Now in seminary my reading list has changed much. Some of these books I have had for years, others I have just read in recent weeks. I shall limit myself to the top five.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I was given the Little Prince as a graduation present. While backpacking Europe I used the book as a devotional, reading a page a day. As with C.S., Saint-Exupéry was able to distill the importance of Christianity into simplicity. Simply a story of a little prince who loved a rose, and cared for a sheep.

The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser
My first theology book. I read it during my first volunteer year while serving in East St. Louis. It sparked my desire to know God. Rolheiser talks of 'Christian essentials' and the need for serious Catholic Christian reflection of contemporary life which is often at the whim and want of modern, secular culture.

Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis
The first science fiction series to be considered properly as Literature. The three books, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, The Hideous Strength comprise the history of the Christian creation, fall and redemption. This series is allegory at its best and most beautiful, though it often if forgotten among the other C.S. Lewis classics.

The Goodness of God by D. Stephen Long
After reading this book I knew I wanted to enter seminary and study under Dr. Long. It was the first time I began to understand that theologies could, in fact, be 'systematic'. After reading the book I found to my surprise that the testimonial on the back cover none other than my undergraduate advisor at DePaul University, Dr. Michael Budde.

Resurrection and the Moral Order by Oliver O'Donovan
Oddly, this is the only book that made my list that I have read while in seminary. Resurrection, much like Long's Goodness of God was a systematic exposition of an Augustinian Evangelical. His interest in rescuing foundational principles, while still not falling into Natural Law is helpful, and his insistence on the vindication, but not full redemption of creation is insightful.

I must mention that after reviewing the list, it is as much an anthology of my faith journey as anything else. Thanks go to Siobhan O'Donoghue for introducing me to both Rolheiser and Saint-Exupéry, Audrey Krumbach and Phil Erwin who placed Dr. Long's book in my hand, and finally my current advisor, Dr. Waters, for imperialistically requiring me to read O'Donovan.

3 comments:

Emily Williams said...

Guffey, darling. Guffey. :)

Anonymous said...

My five favorite books were:
Conan #6
Superman #119
Sgt. Rock #1-15
and
War and Peace (Tolstoy 1869)
I know that’s more than five—I realize that.

Seth said...

I figure it's only fair that I offer my updated list. Chances are I haven't thought about it as much as you, since my field's reading doesn't have a lot to offer non-experts. My list isn't entirely secular, but it's not your kind of non-secular.

How to Solve It (George Polya)
Celtic Gods and Heroes (Marie-Louise Sjoestedt)
Red Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson)
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (Paul Reps)
How to Survive Anywhere (Christopher Nyerges)

I haven't gotten my hands on a copy yet, but I hear _Daimonic Reality_ is pretty awesome, too, and would be more in your domain than most of the above.