The “Napkin Poll” from our last Theology Pub

About once a month several of the men in our church gather at the River City Brewery for good food and drink along with a great time of sharing ideas, questions and concerns about our lives in God. It’s great fun and a good way to get acquainted with some of the men at Wheatland.

We have discussed a wide range of topics including how the Bible intersects with culture, stewardship vs. environmentalism, freedom and pre-determination, the Gospel and the Kingdom and many different political conversations too. I decided, this past week, to have every man share one book that has had a formative effect on his life. This did not have to be their one favorite but some writing that has had enough impact that it could rightly be considered somewhat “formative” in their life.

I must say that I tried to share the gist of the reasons why these books were so meaningful and I am quite certain I didn’t do a perfect job. Feel free in the comments to share your thoughts on my thoughts. Also, please have mercy on my often pitiful attempts at humor and the overabundance of parentheses. Enjoy…

Here is the list. It is rather long but I hope you’ll find some of these volumes worth your time too.

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. (When this one was mentioned there were at least two cheers from others at the table.)

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. (There were many kudos with this selection. There were only a few with us who had not read this one.)

Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy. (I must admit I was a bit surprised to hear this one mentioned but it is certainly a classic and was described as one of, if not the best, book written by one of our presidents.)

Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen. (This is a classic and thorough treatment of this subject from an evangelical perspective. This book created quite a splash when it came out in the early 80’s…and no I don’t remember it myself but heard about it.)

This Present & Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. (Here is another big splash from the 80’s. The TheoPublican that recommended these books mentioned the importance they had in helping him understand the reality of spiritual warfare. Christianity became more real for him as a result.)

Suburban Nation by Duany, Zyberk and Speck. (How big is your porch? If you have never asked yourself this question then you haven’t read this book. This book was instrumental for one of our guys in understanding how communities and community thrive in an increasingly “suburbanized” and materialistic world.)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. (Haven’t heard of this one? One tip: leave your cave. There is a reason this book is so popular and widely read. It is, in a word, useful.)

I Am 3rd by Gayle Sayres. (Yes, when this one was mentioned every man hoisted his beer in the air, started humming Brian’s Song, and cried. Afterwards one man was heard saying to another, “I love Brian Piccolo…man”)

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen. (Here is another book that received multiple kudos. I think the words I heard associated with it were, “life changing”, “important”, “the greatest”. I don’t know that we can hear the message of this little book too much or too often.)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. (I can’t remember all of the discussion related to this book but I do know one of our men really appreciated this one.)

They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edman. (This is an excellent book about missions and ministry written by one of the President’s of Wheaton College. If you know which one of us attended Wheaton you might be able to figure out who the “recommendor” was.)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. (The TheoPublican who recommended this book did so with a little bit of reservation stating that they really appreciated the first 2/3rds or so of the book before it took a turn. A good “man on pilgrimage” kind of book.)

Happiness is a Choice by Frank Minirith. (Note: the following was our only anti-recommendation. The fellow TP [TheoPublican] who shared this title did so with the question, “Really? Really. Really?)

The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. (Here is another one that received multiple cheers when it was mentioned. Lewis’s fictional works for adults are often overshadowed by his apologetics and his children’s fiction. However, these three books can help transform one’s understanding of the universe and the Christian’s place in it. The trilogy includes Out of the Silent Planet [anyone remember Kings X?], Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. ) (I am [beginning to {notice} that this] post has become a bit “parentheses happy”) ([{ !¡ }])

Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. (This one was recommended by a gentlemen whose wife placed this book in his bags when he departed for a long trip. It was helpful in guiding him to understand more clearly how God is at work in our world and inspired him to take his faith more seriously.)

In additions… (these are books mentioned by someone that had already shared their 2-3 book limit with us.) Robert Heinlen novels, any C.S. Lewis work, all Tolkien including The Hobbit, any book Paul recommends on his blog, and others that didn’t fit onto the small, smudged drink napkin. It also includes one recommendation that was so smudged that it looked like “Wegon Ships”? If one of you guys want to leave the name of that one in the comments we can all share in it.

To the gentlemen at River City I want to say thanks for indulging me in this little exercise. It is really good for us to see the ideas, thinkers and stories that shape us. May God bless as we continue to be formed into the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ.


4 thoughts on “The “Napkin Poll” from our last Theology Pub

  1. Hey Paul. Missed the Theo Pub but I’ll put my 2-cents in.

    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Read it several years ago and it blew me away. Clear and away has impacted me the way no other book has.

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