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A lot of writers influenced my thinking in my young days. I was a Tolkein and Lewis fan in my college years and beyond and I still pull off one of their titles from time to time and give it a luxurious read. My passion for relational church came from books in the 70s from Robert Girard (Brethren Hang Loose, Brethren Hang Together and When the Vision Vanishes). I don’t know if you can still find them or not, but that last one is one of the most brutally honest books of disappointed hopes that I’ve ever read. I loved Called and Committed, by David Watson, an excellent primer on the basic of the Christian walk and how to begin a life-long relationship with the living God. I also was a Howard Snyder fan and devoured his books on church life, such as:
I am always challenged and encouraged by reading of the spiritual journeys of others. Except for parts about smoking cigars and beating our chests in the woods to prove our manhood, I’ve enjoyed the relational thinking of John Eldredge in Waking the Dead. I helped edit Darrin Hufford’s The Misunderstood God and Bo’s Cafe by the guys at Truefaced. I wouldn’t have worked on them if I didn’t love them I also enjoy the Anne Lamott’s wry observations about her spiritual journey, even if she holds to a very different political agenda than I embrace. But her insights into grace are second to none and her blatant honesty about her own struggles and pain is invigorating.
Sara and I also enjoyed the Boundaries books by Cloud and Townsend. The original work Boundaries ought to be required reading for all religious conservatives who absolutely have no appreciation for personal boundaries and how to love people without seeking to control them. If you’ve not been exposed to their thinking, let me commend it to you. Sara and I also enjoyed Boundaries in Marriage and it was great encouragement not only how we relate to each other, but others as well. This material dovetails well with Romans 13 and 14. Read it with your spouse if you’re looking for something to nurture your marriage.
On a personal level I also enjoy legal thrillers and problem-solving fiction. I also read a lot of historical biographies, especially on American presidents and European monarchies. I find the use (or mainly misuse) of power to be a fascinating study. I don’t read much Christian fiction, since I find most of it predictable and shallow. One exception of note is my brother’s novels. He worked with me on Authentic Relationships, but has three other contemporary novels about sorting out the life of Jesus in real life situations: The Lasko Interview is a murder mystery set in the backdrop of Hollywood’s television industry rings with authenticity. It also has a relational church twist. Circle of Seven, his second book, involves a national conspiracy to manipulate public opinion and it being exposed by an investigative reporter who is also a passionate believer. At every turn he is torn between following God’s leading or doing what is expedient. Finally, his Ultimate Reality Show puts the hero in a Survivor-like reality TV show with moral dilemmas to resolve. You can find out more about his work at ClayJacobsen.com.