Thursday, August 26, 2010

Piles and Piles of Reading

I'll probably be sporadic for a while yet. I am working my way through a pile of material for chapter one of my thesis. So far I've completed a pile of books and articles that deal with boundaries around the term evangelical. I think it was McGrath who said that those who give you tight definitions of evangelicalism usually have an ax to grind. But there are certain contours of evangelicalism that are helpful to recognize, especially for me when I am trying to say that the theology I'm developing is in some way an evangelical theology. Something important for me to be able to say about my work.

The nice find in this was George Rawlyk's (editor) collection of essays by many big hitters called Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experience. Not only does it help set out the differences (as well as similarities) between the American and Canadian evangelical experience, it helped me understand some of my own orientations being a Canadian.

To finish up that section I have found a copy (used) of Harvey Cox's Fire from Heaven. I should really just tear through it but it is delicious to read. I also have Stackhouse's Evangelical Futures on the way - this is my third try at procuring a copy of that book! For the record Stackhouse's article "Who Whom?" in Aspects was really good.

The last two nights I transferred my copious notes (from the margins of these books - I write in the books I own, I know horror of horrors!) to Nota Bene. I have a bunch of longer notes in my journal to transfer yet, but the process of revisiting the material is helpful for my brain.

The next pile of books has to do with evangelicals engaged in projects of social transformation, critiquing evangelical social engagement or discussing the relationships between evangelicals and culture. Everything from Gushee to McLaren! This is the section with some of the least academic books in it - but those will probably not take long to read. I weeded it out quite a bit before starting as I tend to read a lot of these 'practical' type books anyway. I hope I can find a few gems amidst the rubble.


Casper said...

I agree Cox's Fire from Heaven is a delight. It is probably the best outside view of a charismatic worldview I have come across.

On my blog I recently posted a piece on Clark Pinnock's death. I seem to remember reading (i forget where) that there is a higher approval of open theology and such revisionist approaches within canadian evangelicalism, do you think this is the case?

One of Freedom said...

I'll check out that piece. Yes and no. For those who are strongly rooted in American revivalist and fundemantalist traditions there is still a theological rigidity that is sometimes less than helpful. But most of my conversations happen in contexts where conversation is valued above polemics. So in those circles theologies like Open Theism are not quickly dismissed, but they are not quickly accepted either. They inhabit the conversation as possibilities that we can learn from. I continue to be surprised by the variety of influences that Canadian ministers draw from.