from Lynn Japinga

Hi, everybody. In honor of the roughly one year anniversary of when we received our invitations to the seminar, I have a request for you. Last summer the seminar occurred right before I started several months of preaching at my church as a sabbatical replacement. The readings that we did were extremely helpful and made their way into my sermons in several different ways.

We're in a pastoral transition now and I'm about to start an eight month stretch of preaching and I could use some fuel! So I wonder ... if you were to put together a list of Really Important and Provocative Books about the Christian Faith, what would be on it? What would be 1-5 books that you have found most influential/interesting/creative/entertaining? And a sentence or two about why? I don't want to define this too narrowly. I would not want to exclude, say, a biography about someone who was not particularly religious and yet whose story says something profound about the human condition. The same for fiction.

The Old Testament lectionary passages, to which I usually gravitate, are almost all drawn from the prophets, especially Jeremiah. The Gospel texts are from Luke, and the Epistles cover Colossians, Philemon, Timothy and Thessalonians. But I can find the commentaries.

What do you think?


Type the rest of your post here.


Debra Rienstra said...


I'm not sure this will help you at all, but just for fun you could look at an article I wrote for the Calvin English Dept. Alumni section of our website. Many of the titles you will recognize from our book list last summer. A few might be new. Here's the URL:


Nathan said...

I can briefly point to my bookshelf and a list of sermon series starters from our CICW site.

joonna said...

I finally read If Grace is True. Loved it. Recommending it to everyone. It just helped me move my thinking from Grace as one thing to Grace as this expansive force.

I'm teaching two courses next year called Writers on Writing and The Art of Spiritual Writing, so I'm reading a lot of Beuchner--Telling Secrets is simply stunning for its honest. But Godric is still my fav for its grimy realistic protrayal of a saint.

But I'm also struck at how even the most non-religious writer becomes spiritual when he/she talks about his/her craft. Writing is a calling--those called to write sense this whether they believe in calling or not.

AEPL is hosting a summer seminar on the emotional lives of teachers with Peter Elbow. If anyone is interested let me know. I'll forward the info.

I've just begun a book that collects all of Merton's writings about writing. It's wonderful. Such a mind.

Hope this helps.