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NEW AT IMMANUEL…. Godbooks: Immanuel Reads and Reviews

Categories: Bible,Blog,Church,Events

A “Godbook” can be any book you think a member of Immanuel might enjoy, or learn from and grow spiritually that is about God, Jesus, the church, religion, spirituality, or just life. Below, we have archived all of the current reviews by Immanuelites. Click here to add a review of your own. Click here to search the Immanuel library And click here for recent blogposts related to Godbooks selections: Summer Reading 202, Big Questions, Recommendations from Our Pastors.

 

Books About the Bible

  • Hebrews: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching by Thomas Long Recommended by the Immanuel Men’s Bible Study. Long eloquently brings out details about Hebrews that we never would have seen, and explains why Hebrews is a very important book in the Bible. Rating: 10/10.
  • Journey Through the Psalms by Denise Dombkowski Hopkins Recommended by Billy Kluttz. In this book, Dr. Hopkins, one of my favorite seminary professors, offers a wonderful survey of this book of the Bible. She considers the psalms both collectively, individually, and thematically (such as praise, lament, wisdom and other psalm genres). She draws considerable attention to the use of lament psalms in ancient Israel’s liturgical life, as well as our discomfort with lament today. Through her study, she weaves a powerful vision of faith as active trust, doubt, anger, sadness, and presence. Rating: 8/10.
  • Preaching Mark in Two Voices by Brian Blount and Gary Charles Recommended by Immanuel’s Men’s Bible Study. Blount and Charles bring the Gospel of Mark to life through responsive commentary, each offering a unique perspective. Blount was Immanuel’s Theologian in Residence in 2016. Rating: 10/10. 
  • Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the Culture of NOW by Walter Brueggemann Recommended by Pastor Katie. Rating: 10/10. As one description says, “Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society.”  Sabbath is central to my life of faith, and it took years of intentional formation for me to personally discover the spiritual impact of honoring a true, weekly Sabbath day. I encourage everyone to take the leap into regular Sabbath practice, especially within our hustle and bustle culture, and that can begin with the grounding offered in this book! 

Books About Call

  • A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer. Recommended by Steve P. Rating: 9/10. Parker Palmer has been widely read within Immanuel, and for good reason.  This book was used by the Call class I was in years ago and it was a wonderful resource for our exploration of call, and dealing with life’s challenges.  Palmer is very honest about his struggles, and what he shares is enormously helpful.

Books About Discipleship

  • Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating: 8/10. Beautifully written book on how to bring our relationship with food and eating in line with our spiritual beliefs. It is written with women in mind, but I think all genders could find it helpful.

Books About Jesus

  • Jesus Before the Gospels by Bart Erhman Recommended by D. McCune. This is a fascinating book; the first half is more about memory than the gospels. From what Ehrman writes about memory – and he cites numerous studies and research to make his case – you can see why he believes that it is important to read the gospels in the context of the time they were written. To quote from the book, “As we have repeatedly seen, memory is not just about what happened in the past; it is also about the present of those who are remembering the past.” Rating: 8/10.
  • Preaching Mark in Two Voices by Brian Blount and Gary Charles Recommended by Immanuel’s Men’s Bible Study. Blount and Charles bring the Gospel of Mark to life through responsive commentary, each offering a unique perspective. Blount was Immanuel’s Theologian in Residence in 2016. Rating: 10/10. 
  • Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the Culture of NOW by Walter Brueggemann Recommended by Pastor Katie. Rating: 10/10. As one description says, “Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society.”  Sabbath is central to my life of faith, and it took years of intentional formation for me to personally discover the spiritual impact of honoring a true, weekly Sabbath day. I encourage everyone to take the leap into regular Sabbath practice, especially within our hustle and bustle culture, and that can begin with the grounding offered in this book! 

Books About Love

  • Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating 10/10. A family drama, set in Baltimore.  It chronicles the life of a young man who makes a terrible mistake and then spends his life trying to atone.
  • Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating: 8/10. Beautifully written book on how to bring our relationship with food and eating in line with our spiritual beliefs. It is written with women in mind, but I think all genders could find it helpful.

Books About Physical and Mental Health

  • A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer. Recommended by Steve P. Rating: 9/10. Parker Palmer has been widely read within Immanuel, and for good reason.  This book was used by the Call class I was in years ago and it was a wonderful resource for our exploration of call, and dealing with life’s challenges.  Palmer is very honest about his struggles, and what he shares is enormously helpful.

Books About Presbyterianism

  • Calvin for Armchair Theologians by Christopher Elwood Recommended by Pastor Katie. Rating: 10/10. I can’t describe this book better than Carter Lindberg, Professor of Church History at Boston University School of Theology: “To paraphrase Tertullian, what do Dr. Suess, Dale Carnegie, Bruce Springsteen, and Thomas Jefferson have to do with John Calvin? In Elwood’s deft and lively account of Calvin’s life and theology, they are the humorous means of communicating the relevance of Calvin. The title nonetheless is too modest, for the book will be of interest to all theologians of any age, regardless of their chairs.”

Books About Society and Ethics

  • Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the Culture of NOW by Walter Brueggemann Recommended by Pastor Katie. Rating: 10/10. As one description says, “Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society.”  Sabbath is central to my life of faith, and it took years of intentional formation for me to personally discover the spiritual impact of honoring a true, weekly Sabbath day. I encourage everyone to take the leap into regular Sabbath practice, especially within our hustle and bustle culture, and that can begin with the grounding offered in this book! 

Books About Spirituality

  • A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer. Recommended by Steve P. Rating: 9/10. Parker Palmer has been widely read within Immanuel, and for good reason.  This book was used by the Call class I was in years ago and it was a wonderful resource for our exploration of call, and dealing with life’s challenges.  Palmer is very honest about his struggles, and what he shares is enormously helpful.
  • Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr Recommended by Pastor Aaron. Rating: 10/10. Father Richard Rohr lays out what he calls “a roadside assistance program” for growing spirituality amidst life’s inevitable failures and losses. In fact, he maintains that the heartbreaks and disappointments of life are actually stepping stones to the spiritual joys that can come with the second-half of life. As one who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, I found this particularly relevant.
  • Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the Culture of NOW by Walter Brueggemann Recommended by Pastor Katie. Rating: 10/10. As one description says, “Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society.”  Sabbath is central to my life of faith, and it took years of intentional formation for me to personally discover the spiritual impact of honoring a true, weekly Sabbath day. I encourage everyone to take the leap into regular Sabbath practice, especially within our hustle and bustle culture, and that can begin with the grounding offered in this book! 
  • Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating 10/10. A family drama, set in Baltimore.  It chronicles the life of a young man who makes a terrible mistake and then spends his life trying to atone.
  • To Soften the Blow by Lynnie Vessels Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating: 9/10. The true saga of how a Kentucky woman dealt with and healed from a childhood riddled with domestic abuse and family wounds.
  • When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions Recommended by Pastor Aaron. Rating: 10/10. The author of The Secret Life of Bees speaks of how we can move from various false selves to our true self through the practice of spiritual disciplines. One of my very favorite books on spiritual growth.
  • Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABCs and Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary by Frederick Buechner. Recommended by Pastor Aaron. Rating 10/10. These are two wonderful books filled with reflections from a Presbyterian novelist and pastor on the meaning and implications of various common theological and spiritual terms. When I’m trying to bring a word to life in preaching or teaching, I often look to find them in Buechner’s books.

Books About Suffering

  • A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer. Recommended by Steve P. Rating: 9/10. Parker Palmer has been widely read within Immanuel, and for good reason.  This book was used by the Call class I was in years ago and it was a wonderful resource for our exploration of call, and dealing with life’s challenges.  Palmer is very honest about his struggles, and what he shares is enormously helpful.
  • God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating 8/10. Beautiful saga of a young Indian woman and her family.
  • Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating 10/10. A family drama, set in Baltimore.  It chronicles the life of a young man who makes a terrible mistake and then spends his life trying to atone.
  • To Soften the Blow by Lynnie Vessels Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating: 9/10. The true saga of how a Kentucky woman dealt with and healed from a childhood riddled with domestic abuse and family wounds.

Fiction Books

  • God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating 8/10. Beautiful saga of a young Indian woman and her family.
  • Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating 10/10. A family drama, set in Baltimore.  It chronicles the life of a young man who makes a terrible mistake and then spends his life trying to atone.
  • The Samari’s Garden by Gail Tslikiama. Recommended by Carol Barton. Rating: 9/10. Quiet but compelling story about what’s important in life.  Beautifully written.
  • To Soften the Blow by Lynnie Vessels Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating: 9/10. The true saga of how a Kentucky woman dealt with and healed from a childhood riddled with domestic abuse and family wounds.
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Recommended by That Guy Who Lights The Candle. Rating: 10/10. I recommend “Wonder” because it has been very moving to me and I think it will give you a different perspective.

History Books

  • Abraham Lincoln by Carl Sandburg Recommended by Eric Simpson: “If ever there was a timewhen God was at work in the World in terrible and beautiful ways, this was it.” Rating: 8/10.

Interfaith and World Religion Books

Self-Help Books

  • A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer. Recommended by Steve P. Rating: 9/10. Parker Palmer has been widely read within Immanuel, and for good reason.  This book was used by the Call class I was in years ago and it was a wonderful resource for our exploration of call, and dealing with life’s challenges.  Palmer is very honest about his struggles, and what he shares is enormously helpful.
  • If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face? by Alan Alda Recommended by anonymous: “Premise — To effectively listen, we must be open to being changed by what we hear.” Rating: 9/10.
  • Sabbath as Resistance: Saying NO to the Culture of NOW by Walter Brueggemann Recommended by Pastor Katie. Rating: 10/10. As one description says, “Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society.”  Sabbath is central to my life of faith, and it took years of intentional formation for me to personally discover the spiritual impact of honoring a true, weekly Sabbath day. I encourage everyone to take the leap into regular Sabbath practice, especially within our hustle and bustle culture, and that can begin with the grounding offered in this book! 
  • Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman Recommended by D. McCune: “The second half of this book gives a hopeful view, or least possibility, of where we are in this century and how, as a society, we might get to a better place. (The first half is about the technology that’s moving us along at an accelerating pace that’s hard to keep up with – the second, and to me, more interesting part is how to live with so much change.)” Rating: 7/10.
  • Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating: 8/10. Beautifully written book on how to bring our relationship with food and eating in line with our spiritual beliefs. It is written with women in mind, but I think all genders could find it helpful.

Summer Reading Books

  • Abraham Lincoln by Carl Sandburg Recommended by Eric Simpson: “If ever there was a timewhen God was at work in the World in terrible and beautiful ways, this was it.” Rating: 8/10.
  • God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating 8/10. Beautiful saga of a young Indian woman and her family.
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance Recommended by Cheryl Lindstrom: “An important read to understand our current political culture.” Rating: 10/10.
  • If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face? by Alan Alda Recommended by anonymous: “Premise — To effectively listen, we must be open to being changed by what we hear.” Rating: 9/10.
  • Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating 10/10. A family drama, set in Baltimore.  It chronicles the life of a young man who makes a terrible mistake and then spends his life trying to atone.
  • Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman Recommended by D. McCune: “The second half of this book gives a hopeful view, or least possibility, of where we are in this century and how, as a society, we might get to a better place. (The first half is about the technology that’s moving us along at an accelerating pace that’s hard to keep up with – the second, and to me, more interesting part is how to live with so much change.)” Rating: 7/10.
  • To Soften the Blow by Lynnie Vessels Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating: 9/10. The true saga of how a Kentucky woman dealt with and healed from a childhood riddled with domestic abuse and family wounds.
  • Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth Recommended by Pastor Susan. Rating: 8/10. Beautifully written book on how to bring our relationship with food and eating in line with our spiritual beliefs. It is written with women in mind, but I think all genders could find it helpful.

 

Author: Russ Carlton