Countdown

I wrote back in February about an idea I had for a year of rereading books. It raises the question: when does a year start? The first of January, like my challenge to myself to write daily? Near the beginning of December with Advent, like the liturgical year? Around the first of September, like the traditional school year? It seems to depend on whether the activity is tied to anything that falls into any of these rhythms.

The more I think about it, the more it seems to make sense to base my year of rereading on a “school year” approach. There will be some changes around then that would make it fit personally. With the beginning of the school year fast approaching, I need to have my list cued up. I jotted down several titles in February. Here’s a list (in no particular order) and some comments on each, in case you’re in need of some reading material.

A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law
Law writes a challenging book on what it means to live a holy life. It’s a good dose of challenge to break loose complacency.

The Road to Eternal Life,  William Casey
Casey is an Australian monk and arguably the best living monastic author. In this book, he examines the prologue to the Rule of Benedict, drawing lessons from it that apply to religious and secular alike.

Sacred Reading, William Casey
In this volume, Casey examines and instructs in the ancient art of lectio divinia. It is practical and challenging and a good introduction to this devotional practice.

Living in the Truth, William Casey
My first introduction to Casey was this book of reflections on the seventh chapter of the Rule of Benedict, which deals with humility.

Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Bede
A classic of both history and religion. I read this several years ago as I made my transition into the Anglican Church.

Evangelical is Not Enough, Thomas Howard
Another Canterbury trail book that it seems would be good to revisit now that I’m several years on this side. Howard is a Catholic, but his critiques of evangelicalism are worth considering even if you have no leanings toward Rome.

Spiritual Direction, Martin Thornton
This is one of the most recent reads for me on this list. Thornton does a good job of giving a practical guide to what it means to provide spiritual direction.

English Spirituality, Martin Thornton
Both a history and a call to deeper spiritual engagement. This is not a light read, but it is certainly accessible. If you want something to serve as a springboard to classical Christian authors, this would be it.

Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton
A classic that C.S. Lewis credits as a key point in his journey back to faith. I don’t remember much more than that, so I figure I should re-engage.

No Man is an Island,  Thomas Merton
I picked this up secondhand after reading Disputed Questions. Merton is often hailed as the greatest 20th century Catholic writer. He is very good at his craft and very insightful, though I’m a bit leery of his later works as he seems to have become infatuated with Eastern Religions before his death.

Pastoral Rule, Gregory the Great
Written as instruction to bishops, a great primer for what it means to provide pastoral care and spiritual direction. On my first reading, I found myself being addressed as a congregant. I hope to draw lessons as a shepherd this time through.

Proslogion, Anselm of Canterbury
Another fairly recent read. The best example of what Thornton calls the speculative-affective synthesis I have found. Profoundly theological while simultaneously thoroughly devotional. Plus, short enough to read in one sitting.

Christian Doctrine, Augustine of Hippo
Somewhat misleading title. It is really more of a handbook on preaching and teaching written by one of the greats.

Confessions, Augustine of Hippo
On any list of classic Christian literature. I haven’t read it since college. Time to revisit.

Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer, C.S. Lewis
Some great reflections on what it means to pray.

Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
Another classic that I haven’t read in decades. I noticed it referenced frequently in other stuff I was reading so I put it on the list to look at again.

Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard
Willard’s examination of the Sermon on the Mount. This was a key text when I led a study on the Sermon on the Mount a few years ago. Willard’s sharp intellect asks important questions and draws challenging conclusions.

Holy Writing, Sacred Text, John Barton
A follow-up read from The Bible Made Impossible (It was heavily footnoted in that work.) which gives a thorough look at what it means to call a book canonical and how that determination was made.

Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard
Willard’s classic look at the spiritual disciplines and the ideas and assumptions behind them.

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