My 2017 Reading List: March


by John Ellis

It is with great shame and my head hung low[1] that I confess to having only read twelve books this month. A full month of thirty-one days, mind you. I mean, in the “partial” month of February I managed to read eighteen books. I blame the paltry number of books I read this past month on the fact that I spent almost a whole week traveling and guest-lecturing. If I lose to my daughter in the Daddy VS Daughter Reading Challenge, the blame falls squarely and solely on the shoulders of my friend who “forced” me to travel that week.[2]

I’m kidding, of course; I’m incredibly grateful that my friend invited me into his classroom and entrusted me with the privilege of teaching his students. It was a very edifying experience, and I hope to write about it. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I am way off the needed pace in order to reach my goal of reading 200 books in 2017. I haven’t given up hope that I can still reach my goal, though. Catching my daughter is another thing altogether, as evidenced by the numbers below. Hopefully, you’ll find some new reading material amongst the twelve books that I read during the month of March.

Update on the Daddy VS Daughter Reading Challenge: Daddy – 30 books. Daughter – 62 books.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Wolf Hollow is a young adult book; I didn’t know that before I bought it. I’m thankful that I was unaware, because if I had known, I wouldn’t have bought it and would’ve missed out on an excellent book. Upon its release last year, Wolk’s first novel immediately drew positive comparisons to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. While the comparisons are apt, I was too absorbed in Wolf Hollow to think much about the comparison while reading it.

Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Christology by Mark Jones

Including the word “Introduction” in the title does this book a disservice. An excellent and easily digestible summation of Christology, this is a book that all followers of Jesus should place on their “to read” list.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

It’s been fourteen years since I first and last read Mere Christianity. I don’t know why I haven’t read it again until now because the Holy Spirit used C.S. Lewis’ book in such a mighty way in my soul and life. As I reread it the second time, I tried to put myself in the mindset of John Ellis from fourteen years ago – the John Ellis who was still clinging tightly to atheism although his fingers were quickly slipping off of the rung of worldview certainty. And, my word, Mere Christianity made quick mincemeat of my assumed worldview of John Ellis from fourteen years ago. Less than ten pages into the book, and I remembered why Mere Christianity was so effective in destroying the last gasps of atheism in my soul.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

I’m not the biggest fan of Hemingway, but I do enjoy occasionally reading the erstwhile don of American letters. So, it wasn’t a chore to reread The Sun Also Rises.

The Pattern of Christian Truth: A Study of the Relations between Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Early Church by H.E.W. Turner

One of the accusations against Christianity is that the core codified tenants of our faith were mostly (if not completely) unknown to the first Christians. The argument claims that what we in the 21st century call “orthodoxy” was merely the spoils of theological wars between competing churches and church leaders that occurred throughout the first several hundred years of Church history. Walter Bauer is the name most associated with this challenge to claims of orthodoxy within Christianity. Or, rather, many people today know Walter Bauer’s work through Bart Erhman; the author and purported Biblical “scholar” behind books like Misquoting Jesus and Jesus, Interrupted. Except, here’s the thing, Bauer (Erhman) has been roundly refuted multiple times over, spanning several generations. Sadly, the champions of the theological integrity of the Bride of Christ have not made the same-inroads into the popular conscience as have charlatans like Bart Erhman.

Admittedly, much of the arguments supporting truth are not as easily reduced into pithy, bite-sized, faux intelligentsia as are the arguments promoting dishonesty. The Pattern of Christian Truth is not necessarily the easiest book to read, and does require more than an elementary level of understanding of things like Church history, metaphysics, and systematic theology. That being said, this is an important topic and followers of King Jesus should not allow the denseness and complexity of the apologetic for Christian orthodoxy to prevent them from interacting with it. While I do highly recommend Dr. Turner’s book which is a compilation of lectures that he delivered in 1954 for the esteemed Bampton Lecture series, I would be remiss if I didn’t point readers to the book which introduced me to the rich and valuable defense of the Christian faith gifted to the Church by Dr. Turner. The Heresy of Orthodoxy by Andreas J Kostenberger and Michael J. Kruger is a little more accessible than is Dr. Turner’s book, while still being an important and valuable addition to the Christian apologetic for orthodoxy. Reading the book by Kostenberger and Kruger is what introduced me to Turner’s magnificent treatise on the subject. So, while, by no means, am I intending to dissuade anyone from reading The Pattern of Christian Truth, I do believe that many would find it profitable to read The Heresy of Orthodoxy first.

How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil by D.A. Carson

D.A. Carson’s now classic treatise on suffering is a book that Christians (and non-Christians, too, for that matter) should read before major suffering occurs. Make no mistake, unless King Jesus returns first, all humans will suffer greatly.

Modern Art and the Death of a Culture by H.R. Rookmaaker

To be honest, this is a difficult book for me to distill into a brief summation. For me, it’s been very thought provoking and has helped me pull together some thoughts/ideas that I’ve been mulling over for a while. Along with the guest teaching mentioned above, Modern Art and the Death of Culture has also collated in my mind much of the theatre theory I was working through at the end of my career. I would love to be able to write about all that in more depth some time soon. We’ll see.

Lies We Believe About God by William Paul Young

I reviewed this blasphemous book here.

ESV Readers Bible

Of course I didn’t read the entire ESV Readers Bible in one month. I began reading it in December and finished this past month (as a reminder, I’m listing the books in the month I finish them, not the month I begin them). My goal is to read the Bible from cover to cover at least three times this year.

The Jazz of Physics by Stephon Alexander

Physicist Stephon Alexander’s love and exploration of physics is fueled by his love and exploration of jazz. The Jazz of Physics is a fascinating book that ignited my imagination and made we wish that I had put more effort into Physics while I was growing up.

John Quincy Adams by Robert V. Remini

I’m not really sure why, but John Quincy Adams has always been one of my favorite presidents. Which is odd, considering that many historians consider him one of our country’s biggest failures as a president. Robert V. Remini’s biography of our sixth president caused me to like JQA even more, although the book gives a pretty rough (and fair) treatment of one our most intelligent and principled yet ineffective presidents.

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

It’s been at least six years since I last read A Doll’s House, and the elapsed time served to help me thrill once again at one of the greatest plays ever written. Prior to my last reading, I had read Ibsen’s masterpiece[3] many times over. To the point, I think, where my interaction with the play had become mundane and predictable. I knew every nook and cranny and every character nuance. I mean, I used to teach the play. This time, however, my dusty memory was a fraction slower than my eyes on the page, and the beautiful story was once again fresh for me. I am now looking forward to rereading Ibsen’s entire catalogue.

[1] I now have the song “Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro?” stuck in my head.

[2] He knows who he is. Besides, it’s pretty obvious that I was going to lose anyway.

[3] He had several masterpieces.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s