Posts Tagged my top 3
Now, for something completely different. Are the Muppets making a comeback? I hope so and it appears so. (Did they ever completely leave the scene?) Last week my friend and I stopped reading our current blogs and news websites to check out the Muppets perform Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (see below). Tonight I watched a new “Merry Christmas From the Muppets” prime time TV special.
I was one of the lucky generation to grow up watching the Muppets every week. Then I enjoyed Saturday mornings with the “Muppet Babies” cartoon. I collected Muppet Baby stuffed animals from Hardees when I was in grade school. In college we ordered pizza and stayed up watching “Menamana” video and laughing hysterically. (Don’t ask.)
Like baseball, the Muppets are one of the great American treasures we have been able to share together over the decades. The Muppets are something we can all unite around in peace time and war, a booming economy or repression, Republican or Democrat. Jim Hensen’s characters are truly all-American icons and something we’ll never outsource to China. (Or, where are these guys made again…?)
The Muppets are one more thing we should all be thankful for as Americans this Holiday season. So, who are your top 3 Muppets? Here are my top 3 Muppets with a little trivia compliments of a CNN.com’s “Surprising Stories Behind 20 of The Muppet Characters”: Read the rest of this entry »
I’m a podcast addict. I haven’t listened to my car stereo forever. My CDs are collecting dust and the songs on my iPod are far outnumbered by all of the podcast sermons, lectures, radio programs I subscribe to. While I listen to my staple sermons each week by my favorite pastors (Greg Boyd, David Johnson, John Piper, Rob Bell) on my daily 45 minute commute to work, I have a few sources I specifically turn to for cultural commentary on current events from a Christian perspective. Here are my top 3:
1. Tony Campolo’s Across the Pond Podcast. Tony brings honest straight talk on what’s in the news from his more liberal Christian viewpoint. Campolo is a seasoned prophetic voice in the church today who is well-versed on the current social and political issues facing our country and was the pastoral guide to the White House during the Clinton years. He’s my favorite liberal Christian commentator who constantly challenges my more conservative tendencies.
2. The Albert Mohler Program. On the other side of the aisle you’ll find conservative radio host and president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler. I’m finding conservative talk show hosts harder and harder to stomach these days primarily due to their demonization of those on the other side of issues. Albert Mohler clearly articulates a conservative Biblical critique of current events and cultural trends presenting challenges to the church today, and most importantly manages to do so with respect and tact. He’s always bringing interesting topics to my attention.
3. NPR Religion. I also subscribe to the NPR Religion podcast. This podcast aims to “Explore the intersection between religion and society, with stories from Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other award-winning NPR programs.” This is not from a Christian perspective. This is hit or miss with me. They do a good job of bringing awareness to much international religious news with short, bite-sized stories. For a taste a recent broadcast featured the following stories: 1) Pro-Gay-Marriage Muslim Delegate Stirs Conservatives 2) Lutherans Prep For Vote On Gay Clergy 3) Ronnie Milsap: A Life In Music, Touched By God 4) Report: Atheism On The Rise In U.S. Each story is 5-7 minutes long and if you’re not interested the next story will be there shortly.
Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett. A somewhat related podcast that brings a wonderful variety of faith-focused conversations is Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett. In their own words “Speaking of Faith is not so much about religion per se, but about drawing out compelling and challenging voices of wisdom on the most important subjects of 21st-century life; thereby creating a different kind of in-depth, revealing, illuminating dialogue than can be elicited by traditional journalistic treatments and debates. Topics range from “Einstein and the Mind of God” to “The Spirituality of Parenting” to “Diplomacy and Religion in the 21st Century.” While this doesn’t fall exactly into the “cultural commentator” category, I want to commend this program to every inquiring mind. Krista Tippett is a great journalist and interviewer.
These are not the BEST books I’ve read. There are definitely books more profound, better written, more well-known and vastly more influential. But there are books that we read at certain times in our own spiritual and intellectual journeys that just come at the perfect time to open new windows of thought, challenge previous convictions and leave a large impact. The following are 3 books that really impacted me early in my quest for knowledge of God and his world. In no particular my top 3 are:
1. How Now Shall We Live? by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey. The back cover claims that ”true Christianity goes far beyond John 3:16 — beyond private faith and personal salvation. It’s nothing less than a framework for understanding all of reality. It is a worldview.” This book was so defining and eye-opening in the early days of my pursuit of God in college. I have sweet, sweet memories of running out to my car each day on my lunch breaks the summer before my senior year of college to read. This is a monstrous book pushing 500 pages and paints a comprehensive picture of reality as seen through biblical lenses. I remember how powerful it was to see how the Christian faith colors the way we live and view all of reality — science, sex, politics, ethics, world religions, media and culture. The book seeks to offer the biblical answer to the five major worldview questions: Where did we come from? Who are we? What has gone wrong in the world? How can we fix it? How now shall we live? Even better, this book seeks to show how other worldviews try to answer these same questions but come up short. Whether or not you agree with the authors’ point of view on everything, this is a book worth wrestling with. I cannot say how much this book fueled my desire to gain a more comprehensive understanding of God and what he has accomplished in the world through his Son Jesus Christ.
2. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. There are books. And then there are what we might call literary pilgrimages that, much like an actual pilgrimage, bring you to wonderful new vistas of thought and intellectual detours that leave lasting imprints on you. I picked up Willard’s signature book my first semester of seminary studies in San Diego. I have told many people that this dense book covers enough ground to provide a whole seminary education. This 400-page pilgrimage with Willard takes the reader to many memorable places along the journey of life with God. Richard Foster writes the foreword saying the book provides the reader with “a conceptual philosophy for understanding the meaning and purpose of human existence…The breadth of the issues covered is astonishing: from the soul’s redemption and justification to discipleship and our growth in grace to death and our state in heaven.” This is a book to take slowly. One small bite at a time, chew thoroughly and digest thoughtfully. But beware: This book will not leave you unchanged. I know this is one of my favorite books because I never seem to own my own copy — I tend to gave it away. As I read the last page and closed the cover I said, “I have just glimpsed the Kingdom in all it’s fullness.”
3. Christian Origins and the Question of God by N. T. Wright. You may not recognize this title by the great bishop of Durham because it is not a title of a book but rather his ambitious, sure to be monumental projected 5 or 6 volume scholarly series. The first volume is his The New Testament and the People of God which lays out in great detail his methodology for doing NT history and a detailed sketch of the OT history and Jewish expectation during the time of the second temple and the rise of early Christianity. The second volume Jesus and the Victory of God is Wright’s scholarly contribution to the so-called third quest for the historical Jesus. Simply brilliant — though not without many controversial re-readings of Jesus in his first century context. Volume 3 is The Resurrection of the Son of God, an mind-blowing, definitive 800+ page treatment of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Enough said. The world is anxiously awaiting the arrival of volume 4, which will be Wright’s full-scale exploration of the theology of the Apostle Paul. Wright is widely recognized as one of the churches most prolific authors and well-respected churchmen. Most are more familiar with his shorter, popular writings like The Challenge of Jesus, Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope and his For Everyone commentaries on the New Testament. His writings have influenced my thought more than any other living author, and there’s no Christian writer I would recommend with more enthusiasm than bishop Tom Wright.
This Top 3 has been harder than any other to narrow down to three. I can’t help but include a list of some honorable mention runner-ups.
HONORABLE MENTION: (Again, these are books that personally impacted me.)
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder
Everything written by C. S. Lewis
The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard B. Hays
Resident Aliens by Will Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas
The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne