Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The BOB Awards

Here are this year's BOB Awards -- the best books I read in 2007. (And yes, the judge's decisions are final):

The Tears of a Clown Award goes to Ron Power's Mark Twain: a life -- it was funny. It was sad. And it left me wondering what Twain would have been like if he'd fulfilled his lifelong dream and become a Baptist preacher.

The Guilty Pleasures Award goes to all seven volumes of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, which I knocked off in a month thanks to a bad head cold. And maybe it's the cough syrup talking here, but how could anyone read her books and come away thinking that magic is a good thing? It doesn't make you smart, happy, wealthy, or popular -- and while the wizards and witches of Rowling's books may have plumbed the mysteries of time and space, not a single, solitary one of them seem to have heard of Lasik eye surgery (or even contact lenses).

The "Aha! So That's What's Wrong!" Award goes to J. Stewart Black and Hal Gregersen's thin, little book, Leading Strategic Change. Read it, and you'll never view a pastors' meeting in the same way again.

The Best Biblical Commentary for Pastors Who Are Doing a Long Preaching Series on the Book of Acts Award goes to . . . whoa! It's a four-way tie!
  1. John Stott's The Message of Acts in the Bible Speaks Today series is great for background and structure.
  2. William Willimon's Acts in the Interpretation series shows you what a great preacher can do if he's not bound too closely by the text.
  3. Jaroslav Pelikan's Acts in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible is the go-to book for patristics.
  4. And while nobody is going to give Ajith Fernando a prize for profundity, his commentary on Acts in the NIV Application Commentary series comes from the perspective of someone who actually does the kind of stuff this book talks about.
The "Definitely Need to Read This Book Again" Award goes to Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. Read it the first time, and it's an alternate-history science-fiction novel about a Jewish homeland in Alaska. Read it again, and it's a bitter commentary on the State of Israel's relations with Palestinians and the USA. Read it another time, and it retells the story of Christ's life in a whole new way.

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