"Confessions of a Reformission Rev." by Mark Driscoll
Wow, this book was incredible. I couldn't put it down. It's the story of Mars Hill church in Seattle (www.marshillchurch.org), and is one of those books I can't stop recommending to everyone I know. Including you. This is church-on-purpose like none other. Not only that, but Driscoll is just flat out hilarious at times. I had a couple of those laugh-so-hard-you-can't-tell-anyone-why-you're-laughing kind of things. My kids actually asked me if I was OK. An oxygen tank would have been nice, I think. All in all, its a story of how a church happened. It wasn't/isn't easy, and Driscoll makes sure we know that. He's certainly not afraid to barbeque a sacred cow or two. Which is one of the reasons I liked it so much. His previous book, The Radical Reformission, is also a terrific book.
"The DaVinci Code" by Dan Brown
Frankly, I enjoyed the book. And managed to escape with my faith in tact! Come on, its fiction. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next! Funny how a few weeks after the movie premiered, is anyone still ranting and raving about it? I found it to be a fun yarn, and wasn't at all offended or threatened by what to me was obviously fiction. Plus, I like to use the word "yarn."
"The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne
Along with a few other radicals, (subtitle of the book is "Living as an Ordinary Radical), Claiborne and friends founded The Simple Way, a community in the inner city of Philadelphia. Claiborne spent some time with Mother Theresa, and is one of those who went to 'find his own Calcutta,' so to speak. So they're doing it, its radical, and its extremely interesting and attractive. This was a different read, but well worth it. Oh, and he also went to Iraq and just went around ministering to people. God is definitely working through these folks, and you'll be challenged if you read the book. I can recommend it (not sure I can recommend just getting on a plane and going to Iraq!)
"Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith" by Rob Bell
I'm not one to call a book an "important" book, but I feel like this one is. It's actually my second time through it, this time with a highlighter. He makes me think, as he has many others who have commented about the book. It's just full of thought-provoking stuff that helps me see things a little differently than my conservative, evangelical, fundamental upbringing. Many things to quote, and some might lose emphasis if out of context, but here is one section...
"I think that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live. This isn't irrational or primitive or blind faith. It is merely being honest that we all are living a "way."
- I'm convinced being generous is a better way to live.
- I'm convinced forgiving people and not carrying around bitterness is a better way to live.
- I'm convinced having compassion is a better way to live.
- I'm convinced pursuing peace in every situation is a better way to live.
- I'm convinced listening to the wisdom of others is a better way to live.
- I'm convinced being honest with people is a better way to live.
Anyway, its a read that I think is important - too much worth quoting. His point above is that we all are following a "way." The way of Jesus is just a better way. Period (uh, not necessarily the way of Jesus that's described by many on the fundamental right-wing...)