The Six Pack 2011 Edition

Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger

So I am a little biased. I have never seen the movie with Billy Bob Thornton (and may never will – not a big Billy Bob fan). But my wife and I got hooked on the incredible T.V. series based off the movie. The movie, however, was based off a book. The book is based off a real life Texas team that the author followed around for a year. Many situations that happened in the book actually find their way into the T.V. series (albeit in revised and nuanced ways). The book had sports, passion, unbelievable events that made it, at times, read like fiction. A searing look into high school sports (and the biggest sport of them all – especially in Texas) and how lives are affected in all sorts of ways by winning or losing and the impact it can have on families and communities. An incredible read.

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright

To say that I am an N.T. Wright fan would be an overwhelming understatement. His books constantly challenge, prick, prod, and force one to some theological soul-searching. I may not always walk away agreeing with him but I never walk away angry over his positions, how he has presented them, or feeling cheated by taking my time to read his thoughts and insights. In this book, Wright takes on the common (mis)conception that “heaven is the point” of that the New Testament writers speak about. His contention is that if we see “heaven as the main point” we are missing out on the true thrust of New Testament theology which doesn’t invite us to be overly concerned with “life after death” but calls us to anticipate “life after life after death” and how the latter perspective will ultimately affect us in the present and allow us, individually and as the catholic church, to be a better witness in and to the world.

Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship by N.T. Wright

The second Wright book on my 6 pack. But, deservedly so. Each chapter, or meditation, either deals with a NT testament letter/gospel (the whole flow of the book) and how they can inform our lives today; or, they (the chapters) deal with 6 major NT themes. His treatment of resurrection; heaven and hell and new life are particularly good.

Hurry Down Sunshine: a memoir by Michael Greenberg

I don’t remember how I even stumbled onto this book ( I think, maybe, I just saw it at our local library and thought it looked interesting). It tells the real life story and journey of a family and their bi-polar daughter. It is sad, insightful, bitter and painfully honest. It only got just over a 3 1/4 stars over at Goodreads but, in my opinion, was a story worth reading. There are no happy endings or tidy answers. A great book.

Touch: Pressing Against the Wounds of a Broken World by Rudy Rasmus

I could have substituted this book with any one of about 3 books, but at the end of the day it was this pastors passion to make a difference to “the least of these” in his community (and community of faith). It was truly inspiring to see where he came from to where God took him and the type of ministry he had to people who had hit rock bottom. It also tells the reason why he loves the unlovely and touches the untouchables. A great book that inspires, refreshes, and gives a glimpse of how to reach out in the name of Christ with practical expressions of love, grace, forgiveness…..touch.

Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance by Alexander Zaitchik

An engaging book that tackles the most troubling conservative figure today. We know that O’Reilly lives in his own spin zone; that Hannity is a blowhard; that Rose and Quinn are angry and contradictory; and that Rush is completely arrogant and wants others to buy into him being the smartest guy in the room….Beck, on the other hand, wants people to believe in his humble goofiness and humor and yet remains the most off-the-wall, bizarre, and completely self-righteous radio personality (is it fair even to call him a political commentator?) out there. This book systematically shows Beck in all his zaniness (read: craziness) and the fact that he is a walking contradiction taking things (and ideas) out of context and trying to pass off his hyper-insane conspiracy theories as reality.

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