Friday, January 23, 2015

Maybe I should start a book, read the entire thing and THEN start a new book? Nah!

I have a terribly tendency to start new books while reading others, often manifested in looking for new books from the library when I have just started to read the books I got a few days earlier. Reading lots of different books is great but not so much when you don't finish books because you have ten books started at the same time. I need to get better about that but based on my current reading habits that isn't likely to change. Right now these are some of the books I am working through....

One I should have complete fairly soon is a smaller book, The Legacy of Michael Sattler by John Howard Yoder. Sattler was one of the leading theological minds of the Radical Reformation and one of the victims of the violent state-church perversion that dominated much of Western history. Sattler is also one of the chief authors of the Schleitheim Confession and as such holds a unique place in Anabaptist history. One thing that it has also sparked in me is an interest in reading more from Wolfgang Capito, a Reformer who was uncharacteristically tolerant towards the Anabaptists and who wrote favorably about Sattler after his martyring.

Another book I am working on is Spiritual and Anabaptist writers: Documents illustrative of the Radical Reformation. This is another older work that looks at the "other" Reform movements in terms of Anabaptism, By looking at Anabaptism separately but chronologically parallel to the Spiritualist movement and what the authors terms "Evangelical Catholicism" you get a truer understanding of what the Anabaptists proper believed rather than lumping them in with everyone from that time period who is not a Roman Catholic or Magisterial Reformer.

A third book on Anabaptist thought is J.C. Wenger's Separated Unto God. This is one of the best treatments of traditional, conservative Anabaptist thought on separation and worldliness. I expect it to be a little frustrating but also very challenging. Even the introduction lays out pretty starkly the author's concern (written in the mid-20th century) for the complete disregard for any substantive discussion on being separate from the world in the broader church.

You might sense a pattern here and you would be right! I am always thankful that our local library system sits in the midst of a densely populated region of Anabaptists including not just the Amish but also a large number of Mennonites and close to Goshen College, home of many early attempts at recovering and recording Anabaptist thought. This makes available to me a lot of works that are hard to get and for free!

I am also reading some non-Anabaptist books. The first is Ron Schmid's The Untold Story of Milk: The History, Politics and Science of Nature's Perfect Food: Raw Milk from Pasture-Fed Cows. I am a big fan of raw milk and this book is a great introduction to an otherwise kind of bland topic. We take milk for granted because it is ubiquitous and cheap but it is something provided by God as an incredibly valuable food. I don't need much convincing on this topic but it is pretty interesting anyway.

Another book I just got from the library is Broken bonds : what family fragmentation means for America's future by Michael Pearlstein. I am incredibly concerned about family fragmentation and I think that it is the root cause of many of the most serious problems in our society and is the single greatest threat to the long-term prosperity of Western civilization.

Anyway that is what I am reading these days. Hopefully I will finish a few of these soon and can report back on my findings!

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