Tuesday, February 12, 2013

GenJ Booklist: What's the GenJ Office Reading?

After countless weeks of toil, interviews with illustrious faculty at such noble institutions as Patrick Henry College, and spending hours poring over the world's vast repositories of history, literature and philosophy (namely, Jeremiah Lorrig and Andrew Ferguson), I am pleased to announce the introduction of the Generation Joshua recommended reading list. So to kick it off, I poked around the office and asked everyone to tell me a little bit about what they were reading.

Nick Barden: Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver

Well, this book was assigned reading for my class on conservative political theory. The book tells a tale of Western decline, beginning with a debate in the middle ages between the nominalists and the realists, continuing through the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, and finally arriving at modern society. In it, Weaver argues that the majority of Western ills are due to the destruction of the moral imagination and the abandonment of absolute moral truths. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand the historical origins of modern society, its social structures, and the challenges it poses to conservative thought.

Jeremiah Lorrig: The Odyssey by Homer

Reading classics is like joining a club. It is a relatively small number of works that a large number of people have read. The Odyssey is about an epic Greek hero’s perilous journey home to his family. I am enjoying the book, but the main character’s compulsive lying is driving me crazy! I want to knock some sense into him. I would recommend the Odyssey to mature readers who would enjoy the richness of the classics and who have an interest in mythology.

Glenn Bertsch: Who Do You Think You Are by Mark Driscoll

This book is written to help Christians think about and answer the questions, "Who are you?" "What defines you?" and "What is your identity." Throughout the book, Driscoll shows that as Christians, our identity in not in ourselves or in what we do, but in Christ. I would recommend this book to any Christian, but especially anyone who struggles with finding their true identity.

Jill Roy: Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

I've enjoyed reading biographies of presidents who have had their terms cut short by assassinations. Before this I've read, Killing Lincoln, also by O'Reilly and Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. It's interesting to see the state of the nation before and after such a traumatic event.

This book tells of the history surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Not only does it follow the president's life before this historical event, but also the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. It explores how the nation’s perspective on the Vietnam War changed after the assassination. I loved reading about Oswalds back story and what drove him to kill the president. O'Reilly does a great job in this book of drawing out the similarity between Lincoln and Kennedy. I would recommend this book to someone who loves a thrilling historical narrative.

Andrew "Fergie" Ferguson: City of God by St. Augustine and Summa Theologica by St. Thomas of Aquinas

I am currently reading Augustine's City of God and selections of Aquinas's Summa Theologica for one of my undergraduate classes. City of God details the two cities, the earthly city and the heavenly city, and argues that we as Christians are citizens of a different city than the one in which we live. The Summa Theologica lays out the basis for law and how it ought to be applied in society. Both books are incredibly well written, and there is so much to gain from each. I would recommend them to high school students, or maybe the more adventurous junior high student.

Joel Grewe: The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell

The book discusses how to be a leader regardless of your title, position or rank. So far I've found the book both engaging and useful. It is insightful and applicable, and I wish I had read it sooner. I would recommend the book to anyone who aspires to leadership, or feels that God has called them to it.

Once again, check out our reading list and let us know what you think! Also, tell us what you've been reading!

Posted by Nick Barden


  1. I'm reading Conformed to His Image by Kenneth Boa.

    "I have enjoyed the privilege of being exposed to a wide variety of approaches to spiritual formation and discipleship. Particularly fascinating is how each approach was presented with a certain finality by its proponents, who claimed that their style of spirituality is the best available. Each time I discovered another set of tools, but the toolbox never seemed to be complete.
    In Conformed to His Image I want to present a synthetic and comprehensive approach to the spiritual life that will expose you to a number of beneficial facets. Each of these has value as part of a greater whole, and it is my hope that this book will stretch your thinking and encourage you to 'press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.'" (from the Preface)

    Boa has done just that, and the book is a really incredible, balanced overview of just how the Christian life is supposed to work. I'll be rereading this a lot over the next several years.

  2. Excellent! Book lists (especially ones with "classics") always get me excited (though it can be frustrating how little I have read from them).

    I am wondering, though, what you would recommend for a one (or two) volume, popular to semi-scholarly, engagingly written, accurate, Christian/conservative history of the United States. (I know that's a lot of adjectives, but I know of something like it, though lacking accuracy--Schweikart's "Patriot's History"--and am wondering if you have any other ideas.)

    I am also wondering if you can recommend an American political philosophy book written by a Christian.

    1. Ben, the best US History book that I have read is Paul Johnson's: A History of the American People. He is a English Catholic historian who is very good. My favorite parts of the book were when he talks about Reagan and his humor. The worst part is when he waxes eloquent about the architectural history of the US.

      All told he is excellent!

    2. Thank you. I looked at it on Amazon and it looks great! I see that an area library has it and look forward to reading it this summer... :)

  3. Addition:
    I've been reading a good deal of C. S. Lewis. He has an excellent writing style, a knowledge of classic literature that makes his own writing, I think, classic literature, and a down-to-earth and up-to-Heaven view of life. I have especially liked "The Abolition of Man," "The Four Loves," "The Space Trilogy," and "Surprised by Joy."

    Our family is also reading aloud "Moby Dick." I know some things have to be cut, but I am enjoying it and can tell there is much depth of symbolism (even if I can't make about what it all symbolizes). Dr. Sproul regards the book highly too. :)

    You definitely have plenty of long books on your list without "Moby Dick" though...I am encouraged by the book review a couple weeks ago to read "Les Miserables."

  4. @Ben, we're definitely big fans of C.S. Lewis around here. If you noticed, he made the list 6 different times, twice with entire series. If you've already read a lot of Lewis' works, I would recommend trying out Till We Have Faces. We considered putting it on the list, but decided not to, because we think it's essential to get some of the more basic Lewis works under your belt before going on to that one.