Since starting a personal blog a couple years ago I have included a list of books read each year. This year I have not included a list of books because of the self-inflicted work load in completing four doctoral level seminars in 2018. It was a rough year academically as the demands of ministry do not slow down because a paper is due. But all my assignments were submitted on time and now I have two months off before my next seminar. Which my wife and I are looking forward to having some extra time as we are planning our fishing excursions, building book shelves in my study (pic), and putting up a fence as we adopted two Siberian Husky pups in January. They are crazy beasts, but we love them.
Instead of listing every book read in 2018, I am listing some books from my studies that impacted me the most along with a short explanation. But first are my thoughts on the new Christian Standard Bible (CSB) that I read last year during my quiet times. Overall, I enjoyed the CSB and have recommended it to new Christians. It is a very readable translation and appreciate the labors involved by those to produce the CSB. And while I enjoyed reading the CSB in 2018, I do not plan to have it replace the ESV that has become my primary translation for personal reading and study. But if I were to rank my preferred translations of Scripture it would be the ESV, NASB, and then the CSB as I favor formal equivalence or dynamic equivalence.
As for the list of books that had the greatest impact on me last year, and in no particular order, are;
- A Journey To Hope: Healing the Traumatized Spirit by Michael and Kathy Langston. This book is a personal journey of the Langston’s as Michael, Navy Chaplain during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I highly recommend this book as the Langston’s share very telling stories of their struggles as husband and wife along with the stigmas associated with PTSD. Their work also contains additional references that are important to understanding combat trauma. For example, they cite Dr. Charles Hoge’s work in Once A Warrior Always A Warrior by providing a table of thirty-one combat skills and the responses in combat and at home. The table alone is worth the price of the book because it is very informative. This book is a must if you are interested in the study of PTSD.
- On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Before deploying to Iraq my unit invited Lt. Col. Grossman to speak about his research, or killology. The book is revealing in the demands of war to have a more lethal force and the steps involved to achieve that. The revised and updated version also tackles the topic of our culture of violence today and the influence of Hollywood and video games has on our youth. The same principles used to prepare soldiers for combat are seen in how youth are being desensitized to violence from entertainment that prizes violent movies and first-person shooter games.
- Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness by Matthew S. Stanford. This book touches on the integration debate that many Christians find themselves in when it comes to counseling today. But that is another topic for another day. This is a very technical book while remaining very readable. Stanford explores mental and neurological disorders with biblical examples. But what I appreciated about Stanford’s work in this book is that he is an advocate for the Church’s involvement with other professionals in the care of those suffering from mental illness. He notes how the average local church, or average community of churches in an area, are not equipped to help those suffering from mental illness. And because my doctoral studies are examining the local churches response to military families struggling with combat trauma, I can attest that there is a gap when it comes to churches capable and intentionally working with those suffering from combat trauma. What is sad is that the counseling community recognizes the importance of faith in post-traumatic growth and yet have little to no confidence in local churches being able to care for those that are suffering.
- Last one…Philosophy and Education: An Introduction in Christian Perspective by George R. Knight. This book was on the required reading list from my last seminar. It covers philosophic issues in education, traditional and modern philosophies, and a Christian approach to philosophy and education. Christian education also touches on the integration debate because all topics, e.g., math, art, humanity, science, etc, must be understood in a proper relationship with Scripture. For example, Scripture does not speak about brain functions, but does speak about the mind. How then does learning about the brain, as made by God, help us develop educational approaches that contribute to Paul’s call for Christians to renew their minds in Romans 12:2? At the same time, can we recognize postmodern impulses that distort or ignore what is real, what is true, and what is valued as Christians.
While there are other books that could be added to this list for 2018, these are the ones that I have often cited or recommended in my studies and discussions.