Book Tag II

Okay, here we go…

Imagine that a local philanthropist is hosting an event for local high school students and has asked you to pick out five to ten books to hand out as door prizes. At least one book should be funny and at least one book should provide some history of Western Civilization and at least one book should have some regional connection. The philanthropist doesn’t like foul language (but will allow some four-letter words in context, such as expressed during battle by soldiers). Otherwise things are pretty wide open. What do you pick?

1. Funny: A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving. The last book at which I laughed out loud.

2. Regional (doesn’t every book have some sort of regional connection?): Complete Stories (“A Good Man is Hard to Find” is at the top of the list), Flannery O’Connor (the American South). She always gets to the heart of sin and salvation through the disturbing and the shocking.

3. Western Civ.: I suppose this is kind of cheating, since I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m going with Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law, J. Budziszewski. I think any arguments in the Public Square for legislation or public policy have to be based on Natural Law. Here’s a good one I have finished: The Domestication of Transcendence, William Placher. Among other things, a good argument against using theodicies.

4. While others probably already have included this one, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis. Helpful for general arguments on behalf of Christianity. Otherwise, The Weight of Glory, or Miracles.

5. More literature: The End of the Affair, Graham Greene. One of the most powerful literary arguments on the power of baptism that I’ve read (the movie with Julianne Moore screwed it up).

6. Lutheranism: Here We Stand, Hermann Sasse. As clear and straightforward as it gets.

7. Sanctification: The Quest for Holiness, Adolf Koeberle. If everyone would read this book, we could be free of the Purpose-Driven Life/Church for good.

8. The Ninety-Five Theses and The Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther. What ignited (set Ablaze?) the Reformation; and the book Luther considered his best work. This is a major piece of the history of Western Civilization.

9. Just another favorite of mine: Selected Stories, Andre Dubus (“A Father’s Story” is how I was introduced to him, after a review of his work in First Things, following his death.)



10 thoughts on “Book Tag II

  1. I have just started reading (about a hundred pages or so) Whitaker Chambers’ autobiography Witness (written in 1952). I had always assumed that the “witness” referred to Chambers’ turning in Alger Hiss and the other Communists with whom he was formerly associated. But Chambers has another dimension to “witness,” namely witness to God. He finally comes to the realization that in the great struggle between Good and Evil, between Man and God, between Freedom and Communism, the nation that rejects God will soon cease to exist. If you substitute “secular humanist,” “liberal,” “rationalist,” or any of the other names for those who reject God, for the word “communist” in his book, the book retains its timelessness. And it is very well written. Probably one of the best books I’ve read in the last ten years.


  2. I mean that whole American/evangelical understanding of Sanctification that is based on measuring how much I’ve done for Christ.


  3. Amen to Koeberle and Heidelberg.

    (Q: How does one “witness” for God or Christ without ever having seen the risen Lord and without making such a “witness” nothing but an expression of subjective feelings? It’s a common conundrum, but it’s hard to be a witness to something I didn’t witness.)

  4. I think we bear witness to what Christ has done. This is not primarily the testimony of miracles or healings, but a testimony to the fact that Christ is the one who saves, purely by grace. You have witnessed His work in your life through His Word and Sacraments, and even if you can’t point to a powerful experience of it (in the sense of a conversion “experience”), you bear witness that it is true, and He is Truth.
    Bearing witness may be subjective, in that we are bearing witness to what God has done in our lives, but it is wholly objective (at least for Lutherans) in that God is the one who has worked our salvation.


  5. Othniel,

    I will quote Chambers himself: “A witness, in the sense that I am using the word, is a man whose life and faith are so completely one that when the challenge comes to step out and testify for his faith, he does so, disregarding all risks, accepting all consequences.”


  6. Re: Andre Dubus

    So funny to me as a conservative Lutheran, prowling around, to find Andre Dubus mentioned here. He was my short story professor at Bradford Junior College, 1968-1970. He was a wonderful teacher and an inspiration. I think of him often, and fondly.

  7. Thanks for visiting, Aili. Ever since I read that review in First Things, I’ve read everything by him that I could get my hands on.


  8. I know I’m late to this party but I hope you do more postings on good reading for high schoolers bc I am buying everything for my daughter. Anything else to add please! Are those Michael obrien books good for high school age? You rec’d them on twitters

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