For someone who likes fiction, reads quite a bit of fiction, and really prefers fiction to non-fiction, something rather interesting has happened in the past year. Other than some favorite authors, I’ve quit reading fiction.
It’s not that I don’t still enjoy it, I do! Currently I’m reading a fiction short story and a full length novel I got as an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy for those who don’t know though I think most of my friends knew what it meant long before I did) and am working on reviews of them as I read.
I always tried to balance my “readers diet” with a good dose of non-fiction. Biblical Archaeology and Biblical Sociology are two of my perennial favorites. Histories of Israel, Ireland, Germany, and the United States have captured my imagination too. I got heavily interested in Apologetics starting three years ago, but I’ve always been fascinated by it. It has a practical application too, and one that I’ve needed recently.
I enjoy reading autobiographies, and real life adventures too, but always for as long as I can remember, I have gone to the fiction section before the non-fiction section in a bookstore or library.
Until this year. 2011-2012, has been the year of the non-fiction book for me. I can count on one hand, the fiction books that I have read. I don’t know if it’s a change in tastes, or if something else is going on, but I just can not get into a fiction book.
What I am getting into, is triads. It goes like this.
I read one book on a subject, like the nature of worship. I enjoy it, I glean ideas out of it, and then the next book that attracts my attention, is also on worship. And then usually but not always, I read a third book on the subject. They aren’t necessarily connected and they don’t often agree with one another. They all do, however, revolve around the same subject.
Right now, I’m reading the three books pictures above. In and of themselves, they really aren’t alike.
Divine Commodity is a beautiful book (this is the second time I’m reading through it) that weaves pieces of Vincent Van Goghs’ life throughout a poignant and rather convicting look at the commercialism of Christianity. Vincent Van Gogh was a “holy discontent” not willing to swallow down the prefabricated relationship that the Church had meted out for its followers of his time. He was passionately in love with Christ, and at the same time, thoroughly upset with the religiosity of the Church that bought and sold his Jesus. Vincent had issues, he really did, but after reading this book, I felt closer to him than to some of the people I sat next to in my church.
Strange the way that like recognizes like. It is a book that haunted me when I finished it the first time.
Prodigal God is about the overwhelming, self-emptying, lavish way that God redeems us. It is not connected to Divine Commodity in subject, other than to make this ‘commercial Christianity’ ring like a faulty bell. It has helped me to see that somehow here in the 21st century, especially in the United States, we’ve gotten badly off course. We aren’t running around like mini prodigals, spending everything we have to see our neighbors and family members saved. This is another book (I’m not done with it yet) that seems to have gotten under my skin. I’m not learning anything new, but I feel like I’m hearing it for the first time. Or maybe the same thing I heard in Divine Commodity, only louder this time. I don’t know.
Why Jesus? Looks at Christ against the neo paganism and buffet-style religiousness happening in the West. I love Ravi Zacharius’ books, I think there’s only one or two I haven’t read. I love the Eastern way of thinking he has, and how he can poke holes in the secular humanism of the west to show what’s really underneath. He can also talk circles around the new age gurus that are peddling old eastern mysticism as the ‘brand new and improved spiritualism’ of the West. He talks in the book about the beguiling that is going on, the lukewarmness, the apathy that has slipped into the bloodstream of the Church in the west. Like a man who bangs pots and pans together to rouse the people overcome by the smoke in their house, and tells them to “Get out, get out before it is too late and the flames have consumed you” Ravi is sharpening the Biblical, Historical Christ in the minds of those that read this book. More than that, he is challenging them, now that they are awake and can really see Him, to do something about how they were living before.
Somehow, these three books are fitting together, dovetailing inside my soul. I’m not exactly sure how, or what they’re going to build inside of me. I know this, reading non-fiction has never been this much fun.
What about you? Do you have a triad of interlocking books you are reading too? Or are you a dodecahedron kinda reader? Let me know in the comments.