Monday, June 5, 2017

My Summer 2017 Reading List

Summer is here and that means books. I've been collecting my summer reading list and below are some of the one's I'm looking forward to devouring the most. No doubt it will change and more will be added as the summer continues.


Three days in January : Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission by Brett Baier

This book features one of my favorite 20th century presidents explored by one of my favorite national journalists that zoom in on a specific period where the historian can give all the intricate details. I've been looking forward to this one for a while.

Description:
January 1961: President Eisenhower has three days to secure the nation's future before his young successor, John F. Kennedy, takes power — a final mission by the legendary leader who planned D-Day and guided America through the darkening Cold War

Bret Baier, the Chief Political Anchor for Fox News Channel and the Anchor and Executive Editor of Special Report with Bret Baier, illuminates the extraordinary yet underappreciated presidency of Dwight Eisenhower by taking readers into Ike's last days in power. Baier masterfully casts the period between Eisenhower's now-prophetic farewell address on the evening of January 17, 1961, and Kennedy's inauguration on the afternoon of January 20 as the closing act of one of modern America's greatest leaders  during which Eisenhower urgently sought to prepare both the country and the next president for the challenges ahead.

Those three days in January 1961, Baier shows, were the culmination of a lifetime of service that took Ike from rural Kansas to West Point, to the battlefields of World War II, and finally to the Oval Office. When he left the White House, Dwight Eisenhower had done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation, in his words, "on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment."

On January 17, Eisenhower spoke to the nation in one of the most remarkable farewell speeches in U.S. history. Ike looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Seeking to ready a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the forty-three-year-old Kennedy before the inauguration.
Baier also reveals how Eisenhower's two terms changed America forever for the better — perhaps even saved the world from destruction — and demonstrates how today Ike offers us the model of principled leadership that polls say is so missing in politics. The Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II, Eisenhower only reluctantly stepped into politics. As president, Ike successfully guided the country out of a dangerous war in Korea, peacefully through the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war with the Soviets, and into one of the greatest economic booms in world history.

Five decades later, Baier's Three Days in January forever makes clear that Eisenhower, an often forgotten giant of U.S. history, still offers vital lessons for our own time and stands as a lasting example of political leadership at its most effective and honorable.


The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis--and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Senator Ben Sasse

Senator Ben Sasse is becoming one of my favorite national politicians. He certainly is unique and from what I've been able to perceive from the various interviews and speeches I've watched him give as well as the reviews I've read of this book, this volume will be no different. Most books written by politicians are worthless, but this one, I suspect, will prove to be otherwise.

Description:
In an era of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and an unprecedented election, the country's youth are in crisis. Senator Ben Sasse warns the nation about the existential threat to America's future.

Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by well-meaning but misbegotten government programs, America's youth are ill-equipped to survive in our highly-competitive global economy.
Many of the coming-of-age rituals that have defined the American experience since the Founding: learning the value of working with your hands, leaving home to start a family, becoming economically self-reliant―are being delayed or skipped altogether. The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents.

From these disparate phenomena: Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse who as president of a Midwestern college observed the trials of this generation up close, sees an existential threat to the American way of life.
In The Vanishing American Adult, Sasse diagnoses the causes of a generation that can't grow up and offers a path for raising children to become active and engaged citizens. He identifies core formative experiences that all young people should pursue: hard work to appreciate the benefits of labor, travel to understand deprivation and want, the power of reading, the importance of nurturing your body―and explains how parents can encourage them.

Our democracy depends on responsible, contributing adults to function properly―without them America falls prey to populist demagogues. A call to arms, The Vanishing American Adult will ignite a much-needed debate about the link between the way we're raising our children and the future of our country


The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher

When controversies like the one that ensued upon the publication of this work take place, I find it best in the age of the Internet to wait a little and let it die down (it won't take long). I am certainly interested in Dreher's argument and I want to hear him without all the noise. The summer will be a great time to do that.

Description:
In this controversial bestseller, Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life.

From the inside, American churches have been hollowed out by the departure of young people and by an insipid pseudo–Christianity. From the outside, they are beset by challenges to religious liberty in a rapidly secularizing culture. Keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House may have bought a brief reprieve from the state’s assault, but it will not stop the West’s slide into decadence and dissolution.

Rod Dreher argues that the way forward is actu­ally the way back—all the way to St. Benedict of Nur­sia. This sixth-century monk, horrified by the moral chaos following Rome’s fall, retreated to the forest and created a new way of life for Christians. He built enduring communities based on principles of order, hospitality, stability, and prayer. His spiritual centers of hope were strongholds of light throughout the Dark Ages, and saved not just Christianity but Western civilization.

Today, a new form of barbarism reigns. Many believers are blind to it, and their churches are too weak to resist. Politics offers little help in this spiritual crisis. What is needed is the Benedict Option, a strategy that draws on the authority of Scripture and the wisdom of the ancient church. The goal: to embrace exile from mainstream culture and construct a resilient counterculture.

The Benedict Option is both manifesto and rallying cry for Christians who, if they are not to be conquered, must learn how to fight on culture war battlefields like none the West has seen for fifteen hundred years. It's for all mere Chris­tians—Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox—who can read the signs of the times. Neither false optimism nor fatalistic despair will do. Only faith, hope, and love, embodied in a renewed church, can sustain believers in the dark age that has overtaken us. These are the days for building strong arks for the long journey across a sea of night.


C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity": a Biography by George Marsden

I have read one book in this series (it was on the Book of Mormon) and it was excellent. This volume explores one of my all-time favorite books, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Why wouldn't I want to make this a priority this summer?

Description:
Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis's eloquent and winsome defense of the Christian faith, originated as a series of BBC radio talks broadcast during the dark days of World War Two. Here is the story of the extraordinary life and afterlife of this influential and much-beloved book.

George Marsden describes how Lewis gradually went from being an atheist to a committed Anglican--famously converting to Christianity in 1931 after conversing into the night with his friends J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugh Dyson--and how Lewis delivered his wartime talks to a traumatized British nation in the midst of an all-out war for survival. Marsden recounts how versions of those talks were collected together in 1952 under the title Mere Christianity, and how the book went on to become one of the most widely read presentations of essential Christianity ever published, particularly among American evangelicals. He examines its role in the conversion experiences of such figures as Charles Colson, who read the book while facing arrest for his role in the Watergate scandal. Marsden explores its relationship with Lewis's Narnia books and other writings, and explains why Lewis's plainspoken case for Christianity continues to have its critics and ardent admirers to this day.

With uncommon clarity and grace, Marsden provides invaluable new insights into this modern spiritual classic.

This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax

One of my favorite living writers is Trevin Wax. His new book promises to be as enriching as his previous volumes. I bought it when it first came out. Now it is time to tole lege.

Description:
Uncertain. Confused. Overwhelmed.

Many Christians feel bombarded by the messages they hear and the trends they see in our rapidly changing world.

How can we resist being conformed to the pattern of this world? What will faithfulness to Christ look like in these tumultuous times? How can we be true to the gospel in a world where myths and false visions of the world so often prevail?

In This is Our Time, Trevin Wax provides snapshots of twenty-first-century American Life. in order to help Christians understand the times. By analyzing our common beliefs and practices (smartphone habits, entertainment intake, and our views of shopping, sex, marriage, politics, and life’s purpose), Trevin helps us see through the myths of society to the hope of the gospel.

As faithful witnesses to Christ, Trevin writes, we must identify the longing behind society’s most cherished myths (what is good, true, beautiful), expose the lie at the heart of these myths (what is false and damaging), and show how the gospel tells a better story – one that exposes the lie but satisfies the deeper longing.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Well, everyone else has and they all agree this is a must read. Having grown up in a rural community, this has been on my radar since its publication.
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

A Theology for the Social Gospel by Walter Rauschenbusch

This year marks the 100th anniversary of its publication. Though a heretic, Rauschenbusch remains an important 19th-20th century theologian that continues to influence liberal theology today.

Description:
The Social Gospel movement was a Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The movement applied Christian ethics to social problems, especially social justice, inequality, liquor, crime, racial tensions, slums, bad hygiene, child labor, weak labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war. Theologically, the Social Gospel leaders were overwhelmingly post-millennialist in the sense that they believed the Second Coming could not happen until humankind had rid itself of social evils by human effort. Social Gospel leaders were predominantly associated with the Progressive Movement and most were theologically liberal, although they were typically more conservative when it came to their views on social issues. Walter Rauschenbusch was one of the leaders of this important Christian movement.


11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King

I've never read a Stephen King novel. Most of them do not interest me, but this one certainly does. What would happen if you could go back in time and prevent the Kennedy assassination? Hmmm.

In Stephen King’s “most ambitious and accomplished” (NPR) and “extraordinary” (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestselling novel, time travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

Dallas, 11/22/63: Three shots ring out.

President John F. Kennedy is dead.

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

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