I thought that I’d take a minute and share a few of my favorite books from this summer (not that these books were released this summer, just that I was able to read them this summer). Here’s my top three:
Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters, by Tim Keller (Dutton, 2009). The human heart is an idol factory, argues Keller (invoking Calvin). Often times idols are truly good things that we seek to fashion into god-things. Interlacing biblical stories and contemporary culture with stinging insight, Keller unpacks the power of idols such as money, sex, and power in our society and our personal lives. He masterfully draws us back to the gospel, however, demonstrating how only Christ can truly fulfill these deepest longings. Keller’s examination of idolatry also includes a short comparison of “surface idols” and “deep idols” – a three page (pp. 64-66) summary that alone is worth the price of admission. A great read on several levels. A+
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins (Harper Collins, 2001). Good is the enemy of great. Great organizations are not characterized by charismatic leaders, product trends, or media hype. Rather, great organizations are doggedly disciplined around what Collins terms a “hedgehog concept” – the singular intersection of what an organization is passionate about, what an organization can be best in the world at, and the economic engine of an organization. Once an organization understands its “hedgehog concept,” greatness means discipline: disciplined leadership making disciplined decisions in the context of its “hedgehog concept” – resulting in a disciplined culture. This sort of determination isn’t the result of training, but of recruiting. The “who” of an organization must take priority over its “what” – or as Collins says “who first, then what.” Good to Great is an engaging and thoroughly interesting read. Although the research is in the context of the business world, it is readily applicable both individually and in other organizational contexts. A+
The Smell of Sin: And the Fresh Air of Grace, by Don Everts (Intervarsity, 2003). Sin stinks. Really! But we often see sin more casually. Maybe we imagine it like a giant carnival. True, there are some weird carnies to avoid, but you can also have time of your life! Or maybe we imagine sin like breaking some dusty old rule in the classroom of life. Yeah, so, I’m passing notes and throwing paper airplanes, but what’s the big deal? Well, despite our perceptions, Jesus uses some very powerful – even grotesque – images when talking about the seriousness of sin: a 2×4 splitting your face, sawing off body parts, plucking out your eye. Everts walks his readers through some of Jesus’ descriptions of sin, reminding us of the thick stench that sin leaves behind. B
Read anything good recently? Any recommendations?