One book that shaped my imagination as a kid was __________.
One book that shaped my imagination as a kid was The Chronicles of Narnia. As an elementary student, I remember reading old mystery books like The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators or perusing Choose Your Own Adventure books that offered the chance to “make decisions” that would change the outcome of the story. None of these books were good literature, but they all got me reading. It was only when I encountered The Chronicles of Narnia as an eight-year-old that my imagination was ignited. C. S. Lewis’s creation of a world—filled with wonder and drama, countries and creatures—caused me to love and yearn for a world beyond the present. Narnia, at times, felt more real to me than my own. Or to put it another way, Narnia opened my eyes to the wonder of spiritual and physical realities present in our world. Today, in my home office behind my desk, there is a painting of a lamp post in the middle of a snowy forest, an ever-present reminder that I aspire to write in ways that ignite the imagination and sustain the heart with beauty.
One book that was pivotal in my faith journey was __________.
One book that was pivotal in my faith journey was How Now Shall We Live? by Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey. This was a paradigm-shifting book for me. It illuminated Christianity in light of competing worldviews and helped me understand the world I live in. Even when the critical thinking skills I learned from Colson led me to critique some of his own positions, I always felt indebted to him. Colson was the bridge back to Francis Schaeffer, who led me back to C.S. Lewis, who in turn led me back to G.K. Chesterton and other great Christian minds. In my theological journey, Colson served as the librarian who beckoned me to explore the riches of the Christian faith and see how Christianity encompasses all of life.
One book I’ve read lately that introduced a powerful new idea was __________.
One book I’ve read lately that introduced a powerful new idea was The Fractured Republic by Yuval Levin. This book makes an important point: Christians may no longer be as influential or involved in the mainstream institutions of society, but those same institutions no longer have as much sway. In response, Christians must not withdraw from politics but redirect their energy toward local communities. It’s a shift away from Washington, D.C. toward your neighborhood, city, and state. The goal is to re-engage our local communities and strengthen our local churches so that both become quietly subversive—strong enough to withstand the hostility from the common culture that no longer shares the same values.
If I could make any book magically become a bestseller it would be __________.
If I could make any book magically become a bestseller it would be my own book, of course! Just kidding. I’d pick Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. It’s already a classic, but I’d love to see it at the top of the sales charts, considered once again by Christians all over the world. Chesterton explores the combination of oddity and truth in our world, with an emphasis on paradox comes up again and again in his work. Chesterton says he never read a line of Christian apologetics. It was the skeptics who brought him back to orthodox theology because they all seemed to condemn Christianity for contradictory reasons. Christianity is responsible for inhuman gloom and pessimistic, while being far too optimistic and rose-colored in its vision of the future. Christianity is for weaklings who resist fighting and become like sheep, while it is also the mother of all wars. Chesterson said, “It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?” From there he has the “thunderbolt” realization that perhaps Christianity is the standard and this is why it is criticized for contradictory reasons. It is the holding together of opposing emotions, paradoxical doctrines, and “apparent accidents” that makes Christianity so thrilling. That’s what makes Orthodoxy such a thrilling book as well.