The Best Books of 2016 — #8 The Looming Tower–Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11


loomingNovember 13, 2015 around dusk here in Dothan, I had just gotten in my car around 6 PM for a drive of a little over an hour to a sectional rally when the top of the hour newscast began describing the terrorist attacks in Paris.  These attacks fell into a different category because they had been coordinated to hit several different places in Paris at the same time.  Only 10 months earlier in January, terrorists had attacked Charlie Hebdo and two days later a Jewish grocery store had been attacked as well all leaving a small number of casualties but not a large amount of injuries.  On the way home from the sectional rally, the talk radio outlets, which I hadn’t listened to for several years lured me back in, because they were blazing with opinions and reports.  I cannot remember where or how I ran across a New York Times journalist but Rukmini Callimachi entered my world that evening when I got home and started reading on the internet the accounts of the Paris attacks.  She had a Twitter feed that she was using very well and tagging a variety of articles that she had written in the past on terrorism.  I started following her on Twitter although admittedly she is very liberal in much of her ideations, I began to learn much more about terrorism and its origins.  I then contacted her via email and surprisingly she replied to me several times with book suggestions and various journal articles, some that were hers and some that were written by others.  She suggested a book that I am putting in the eighth slot of best books that I read in 2016.  The book she wrote that everyone should start with is by Lawrence Wright.

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The Best Books of 2016 — #9 From Here to Maturity – Overcoming the Juvenilization of the Church–Thomas Bergler


51aaozsymtl-_sx331_bo1204203200_In the ninth spot for the best books that I read in 2016 is a follow-up book to Thomas Bergler’s The Juvenilization of American Christianity.  This book , From Here to Maturity was written in 2014 after the initial volume was written in 2012 dealing with the immaturity of American churches.  Bergler noted that he wrote the second book as a response to the heavy load of correspondence that he received from his readers.  They understood what he was stating but they wanted to know what the remedy was to move Christians toward a higher level of spiritual maturity.  Chapter 1 is sort of rehash of the first book so that if you have not read the first one, Bergler does his best to give you the first book in a capsule form in 25 pages.  While this book is not written to apostolic Pentecostals, I do very strongly feel that there are some components that need to be taken with the seriousness of which Bergler writes.  One thing that struck me was that spiritual adolescents are drawn to religious experiences that produce emotional highs and sometimes assume that experiencing strong feelings is the same thing as spiritual authenticity.  While emotion is a part of Pentecostal worship, we dare not reduce it simply to that!  We are called to self-denial and to bearing crosses in this life!

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The Best Books of 2016 – #10 The Juvenilization of American Christianity – Thomas E. Bergler

juvenilizationReading has long been a vice of mine although it is one of those necessary vices that is important.  I looked at the books that I read this past year and found that my reading preferences have changed significantly in the last several years and that will be reflected in the books that I will countdown this month.  The book slotting in at number ten is by Thomas E. Bergler.  He is an associate professor of ministry and missions at a university in Indiana.  I heard the title of this book mentioned by a preacher whose podcast I frequently listen to and purchased it.

This book, The Juvenilizationof American Christianity, is not just a book that deals with religious issues and practice but it deals with sociological issues that are facing the church as well.  He also deals with the history of youth movements both political and religious in a way that teaches through an observation of history.  While Bergler is not Pentecostal in his moorings, he makes some observations that fits the variety of every church in America, some of which I see invading Pentecostal churches as well.

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