Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Annie Dillard’s “The Abundance”

Annie Dillard stopped writing. An NPR story told me. And as I read The Abundance I wondered what Dillard, the writer who stopped writing, wanted to tell me.

Dillard is among a gifted few who notice things so well, who can describe what she notices too. As I read, I too then noticed (I thought) that I was reading a memoir, a slow unfolding of life story, years unfolding like we unfold tablecloths.

Maybe this is what Dillard was telling me: life is lived when you notice the details. Attend to the moment and play out other moments by describing your experience. Turn it all into flowing story, eager, page-flipping story. But not too eager. While we’re excited by the unfolding cloth, we’re also nudged by Dillard to pay attention. Be excited, but not impatient. Dillard’s kind see things because they wait around that extra moment. Most of us wander away just a second before. Then we hear Dillard yell, “Oh look!” We turn. It’s gone.

Attend, my friend. Attend. Stick around for that extra moment. You’re about to see something.

Leading Small Groups in the Way of Jesus by M. Scott Boren (A Book Review)

M. Scott Boren has written another helpful, thought provoking book on disciple making. I appreciate his simple, though meaningful, approach to small group life.

LEADING SMALL GROUPS IN THE WAY OF JESUS is a next-steps book for current small group participants. It answers, “What’s supposed to happen with groups?” and, “How do we actually share a meaningful life together, listening to and practicing the Way of Jesus?” Boren writes several insights and practices, things I resonate with and have even practiced a little. It feels great to read and resonate with something he’s been practicing.

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Disciple Formation and *Raw Spirituality* by Tom Smith (a Book Review)

Raw Spirituality is written by Tom Smith, a South African minister whose heart has been formed to truly care about discipleship in the Christian community. He’s seen “discipleship” used as a sales pitch and drives us away from that in his book. He’s given us a good story on discipleship here and the end-of-chapter questions set us into a conversation with the author.

The book is Continue reading

Seasons and Ted Kooser’s *The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book* (A Book Review)

The Wheeling Year has been a study in writing the seasons. But, before writing comes noticing and with noticing comes a metaphor. This is Kooser’s gift and it’s a gift he’s sharing with me in these pages.

The gift doesn’t transfer exactly. I don’t see things like Kooser and may never see them his way. But I feel my eyes opening. Mr. Kooser is showing me how to see. He’s teaching me by sight how to become alive and call out the life that flourishes right where I am.

This is profound spirituality and Kooser is a gentle, soft-spoken prophet of God. “If you have ears, listen. If you have eyes, see.”

Living in Christ’s Presence by Dallas Willard (Book Reaction)

(Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God)

Whose voice can help us pay better attention to Jesus and the restoration that Jesus brings? I think Dallas Willard sits well on the list.

I’ve been an appreciative reader of Willard for a few years now and had the privilege to meet him at an event in Wichita, KS. There in passing, he held the door for me and in slight hallway conversation I saw a thin glimpse of this man being in his core what his writings try to bring about in others.

As others have said, there is something about Dallas Willard that is truly alive and there’s something about his writing that connects the words of Jesus even more firmly to the disciple.

Living In Christ’s Presence is an overview book, a glimpse of Continue reading

Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen (A Book Reaction)

I read Nouwen like I listened to the stories of my grandparents: I want to carry the family likeness. I want to receive these stories, these words, into the depths of my being and live from that source.

Each day’s reading in *Bread for the Journey* is a short letter of sorts, a little note to live by. They’re small reminders that say, “Don’t forget who you are and the family who is with you.”

The daily sections are short and easy to read; they’re a wonderful way to start the day. In my case, I read them beside Scripture and prayer and let Henri’s words weave the life of Scripture and prayer together. For me, it’s like I’m watching my grandfather live the spiritual life and speak about it right beside me, every morning. I read Scripture and then hear his voice, his thoughts before dawn.