I've been reading two books lately that are shifting my life perspective.
The first one is Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Pathway to Joy. I heard about it in Ireland, bought it right away, and couldn't make myself work through it. Back in December I called a friend in Rochester and asked if she wanted to read it with me. We've talked and prayed together once a week since then (except when my busy-ness or flakiness gets in the way).
Much of modern American Christianity centers around an idea that if God loves me, life circumstances will work out nicely. Obviously, no loving God would ever let his child suffer. Shattered Dreams contends that God's definition of fulfillment, growth and love involves letting lesser dreams (health, prosperity, easy relationships) shatter in order to create a hunger in us for the greater dream of His presence and reality. The author claims that God really does satisfy our longings, but as long as we are content with smaller things, we'll never know that. It's been HARD to wrestle with the author's ideas and my own places of disappointment with God's methods. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting glimpses of Bigness, of Joy and of ways that Who He Is are completely amazing. It's making the Bible come alive in a most satisfactory way. With the American Christian perspective of the Happy Life, the Bible doesn't work. It's too full of things that seem cruel or confusing. But with an understanding of God's relentless passion, it starts to make sense and humble me with it's beauty and integrity.
I guess technically, that means the Bible is the second book, but I've also been reading Velvet Elvis during my work commute. (I figured that busting out a book called Shattered Dreams on the train might make people nervous I would go postal...) The layout of the book was off-putting to the designer in me.
He likes to have one sentence paragraphs.
The whole book is in quick snippets that can get a bit aggravating.
Yet he goes into cool random facts about Jewish culture, rabbis, and how Jesus as a Jewish rabbi was addressing all the current hot topics. For instance a rabbi's interpretation for how to apply the law, or Torah, was called a yoke. A disciple would try to take on a rabbi's yoke, to live by those teachings. So when Jesus says, "take my yoke, it's easy and light" he wasn't talking about an oxen analogy. That one has dovetailed into the other in how the Bible holds together. He also blows apart Happy Christianity and talks about having real Hope instead.
What have been your life-altering books? Previously for me they were mostly novels like Narnia, or Francine Rivers books, I'm feeling all grown up reading non-fiction and letting it change me.