Here are some highlights from my reading in 2020.
Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship, Andrew Wilson
There is significant potential for confirmation bias here. I adore the idea of Sunday gatherings which are simultaneously reverent and rejoicing, high-spirited and historical, creeds and choruses. I don’t want to have to choose between great preaching and engaging song, between sacraments and spirit, between liturgy and liveliness. All of that, please! I didn’t necessarily sign off on each and every one of Wilson’s arguments, but the overall vision for our Sunday gatherings is compelling. And, as a bonus, it’s a very well written book.
Living with the Underworld, Peter Bolt
I returned to this 2007 book from Matthias Media for a project I was working on this year. I was reminded again why I think it’s one of the best things to have ever come from the Matthias stable. Bolt’s argument that demons are ghosts deserves to be much more widely considered. Compelling.
The Unseen Realm, Michael Heiser
A hugely stimulating deep-dive into the Bible’s fundamentally supernatural worldview. One of those books that, when you’ve seen what it wants you to see, you can never unsee it.
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
The book represented something of a gap (of which there are many) in my reading of twentieth century classics. I’ve also been reading Graham Green and he’s become my preferred candidate in the all-important “twentieth century English Catholic novelists” category. But still a rich and rewarding ride.
Attending to the National Soul, Stuart Piggin and Robert D. Linder
The second volume of Piggin’s magisterial two-volume history of evangelical Christianity in Australia. Evangelical historiography will be shaped by these two volumes for generations to come. And ignoring the role of evangelical Christianity in Australia’s history in wider history writing will now require willful ignorance on the part of future secular historians.
May God raise up many more who see kingdom work in unglamourous areas as their life’s work.
Unreached: Planting Churches in Working Class and Deprived Areas, Tim Chester
A compelling look into what church-planting and Christian ministry looks like in deprived areas. May God raise up many more who see kingdom work in unglamourous areas as their life’s work.
The Art of Time Travel, Tom Griffiths.
An interesting guide to Australian history writing through studies of some of its most noteworthy practitioners at their craft. Griffiths includes historical novelists such as Eleanor Dark, well-known public historians such as Geoffrey Blainey, and poets such as Judith Wright. A rich account of the work of historians and history-writing in Australia.
May Week Was in June, Clive James
It was interesting to re-read this book after twenty years. When I first read May Week Was in June, it was an insight into 1960s Cambridge and Clive James’s formation. Re-read in 2020, it also became an insight into what the 1960s and their legacy looked like from the perspective of 1990. I ended up writing a whole essay on the experience here.)
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Sprawling, epic, immersive. There are psychological insights on every page that, had I had them, would make me consider myself a minor genius. For Steinbeck, they are but the crumbs under the table—spare-change spent on minor characters. Unbelievable.