There are many books on this list, so in order to keep my entries to a reasonable length; I’ll break it up over three entries. I’ll also include links to Amazon so you can check these out for yourself. Be forewarned – this isn’t “light reading,” but that’s the whole purpose – these books engage your whole mind and challenge you to think. I’ll begin the list by digging to the deepest levels of all – faith and eternity.
The Bible. There are many great devotionals that give you meditations on verses and sections of the Bible, and even more guides that give you intensive studies of books and subjects covered in The Bible, but have you ever actually read it from start to finish? If you’re a Christian, it’s important that you know the Bible in order to apply it to your life properly – plus, a read through gives you not only the information, but the history of Christian faith. It’s amazing what you see reading it through from start to finish. There are many versions and reading plans, many geared toward a 1 year reading plan (because that breaks it up into readings of about 15 minutes per day). Find a good study Bible in a translation that you can easily understand, and make scripture reading a part of your daily routine. (I’ve linked to the New Revised Version because that’s my favorite).
The Other Bible. I’ve been told by many people that I shouldn’t have touched this one with a ten foot pole, and no doubt I’ll come under fire for suggesting it. This book includes The Apocrypha, The Gnostic Gospels, and The Dead Sea Scrolls – basically, the stuff that didn’t make the “cut” at the Council of Nicaea for The Bible that we know and love. I don’t suggest it for “new believers,” but I think it’s a good idea for people of established faith to get an idea of the thoughts and ideas that shaped our faith and what early believers were seeing and reading. I’ll admit that The Gnostic Gospels are all kinds of crazy to me, but I don’t regret reading it because guess what – those beliefs are still alive today, albeit not widespread. (And I did wind out using some of this for Splinter). Are they true? Are they not? I think it’s obvious why they didn’t make the cut, but I think it’s also good to learn how our faith has developed since the days of Christ. If your faith is solid, then you have nothing to fear because there’s nothing in there that should jerk the rug out from under you. So give it a read – if you dare.
The Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatoria, and Paradiso) by Dante Aligheri. Tour hell, purgatory, and Heaven with Dante on Good Friday in the year 1300. This trilogy is definitely one that will shift your paradigm on the concept of eternity. On the one hand it’s not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, I believe everybody should dare to read it to understand that there are worlds beyond the one we see, and they aren’t anything like what we know. Its not easy reading, but it’s worth it. And bear in mind that Dante wrote this based on a real “vision” that he had. There’s speculation that he was in an altered state when writing it, but so was Edgar Allen Poe when he did a good bit of his writing, and we still hail it as literature. Plus, if you read the Books of Enoch and some of the revelations in The Other Bible, you’ll find interesting parallels between the texts. It makes you wonder whether it’s fiction, or something more.
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. It’s a more up to date, easier to understand view on the after life. Take a tour of purgatory with Lewis after his fictional fall from a chair to see a glimpse of “the other side” and see what it takes to navigate purgatory to catch the bus to Heaven – or miss is and wind out - exactly where? An interesting read, easier than Dante but still makes great points, and not too long, either.
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. I absolutely love this book because you get a glimpse of Christian faith from “the other side.” Demons tell of the trials and tribulations of winning souls to hell and what it takes to damn a soul. It’s enlightening with humor in some places and things that will absolutely jolt you in others. Sometimes you can learn a lot from looking through the dark side of the mirror. Another one that ponders – is it fiction, or something more?
Next time, I’ll move to living and social issues. Here’s a sneak peek at what else is on the list:
How to Forgive – When You Don’t Feel Like It (June Hunt)
Battlefield of the Mind (Joyce Meyer)
Rising Above the Level of Mediocrity (Charles Swindoll)
How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
1984 (George Orwell)
Part 3 will be just for you writers. I’m working on a list of reference books that will help you write better and get published. Stay tuned!
That’s all for today. Tune in next time for the social issues edition. And have a great week.