Reading Posts

Looking Both Ways

I was invited to contribute a chapter to a recent book called Looking Both Ways: At the Intersection of the Academy and the Church. The book was made in honor of one of the best college professors I’ve ever had named Dr. Joe Grana. Dr. Grana’s work and influence on others would be impossible to measure as they have affected so many people in profound ways, myself completely included. He recently retired after fifty years in ministry and education and this book was a chance for us to honor him.

The book explores a variety of ways the church and the university can overlap together. I wrote a chapter on rethinking the idea of ordination and shared some of the insights we figured out from my time in Oregon. Although I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book yet, I suspect I’m the only contributing author that mentions Lady Gaga and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Here’s a teaser quote from my chapter:


The Angry Chef

My threshold for risk in attempting a new book is pretty high. If any part of it catches my attention I’m in. Especially when I’m in a physical bookstore like Powell’s in Portland and they have books on sale. Oftentimes this leads me to books I will quickly forget about. But sometimes you find a gem.

Such was the scenario that recently caused me to buy a book called The Angry Chef by Anthony Warner (see: Amazon link). One of the negative side-effects of reading a lot is that it gets harder for books to impress you. I’ve often heard of the ideas in them before. But it also means I’m truly grateful when a book blows me away and exceeds my expectations. This was the case with reading Warner’s book.

Anthony Warner is a chef who likes food and science and takes issue with much of the way we think about food today. He especially takes issue with the diets that popularize the ways in which we eat or don’t eat food. Personally, I’ve spent much of this year changing the way I eat and work out and I want to understand both better. Warner’s book is a gift in this regard.

I think his argument can be succinctly summarized in this quote: “The more you learn about diet the less interesting the final message is. Eat everything in moderation and move around more. That may not be the most interesting hot take on eating, but dang if it’s not a good perspective to live by.

2021 Reading List – 1/4

2021 Reading List – 1/4

It’s 2021 baby! We’re just about a fourth of the way through the new year and the world feels like it’s starting to come back to life. It finally feels as if more people are getting the vaccine than are getting Covid and we can start figuring out how to exist together again.

Here are the books I’ve read since January of 2021 with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher.

In addition to this list, you might also check out:

Click on any of the titles below to get to a link to buy it. (Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from


Jesus and John Wayne

After hearing tons of people talk about Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s book Jesus and John Wayne, I now fully appreciate what the hype is all about. She manages to articulate decades of development of the Church in America. Her journalistic abilities are impressive and she’s clearly done her homework.

Essentially, she explores how Donald Trump came to be dominantly supported (and empowered) by Christian voters. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t an anomaly. I would strongly recommend this book to every Christian, especially every Christian guy.

Here are a few quotes to give you a taste:


The Life Written by Himself

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from

I had the chance to read an early copy of an upcoming update to an old book. It’s called The Life Written by Himself by a Russian Archpriest named Avvakum Petrov. The book comes out at the end of May but you can preorder it now (see: Amazon link).

This book certainly isn’t for everyone. That’s to be expected from the fact that it shares the thoughts of a 17th-century priest who lived in poverty and persecution in Russia. Yet the older I get, the more I realize how much we stand to gain from reading really old books.

The updated intro itself is worth the book as it offers a fascinating historical setup to Avvakum’s life and times. Avvakum stood up against a version of Christianity that joined itself together with the government of Russia to gain power and influence. This is something the church in America would benefit to reflect on as well. Beyond this, there are two reasons you might find to appreciate this book.

The first reason—and the best takeaway from this book—is its perspective on the nature of suffering, especially for a Christ-follower. Despite the difference in culture and times, I was incredibly moved by his account. Avvakum is tortured in numerous ways throughout his lifetime and is eventually killed for his faith. Yet he lives with boldness in the face of suffering.


The Introvert’s Edge to Networking

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from

I had the chance to read Matthew Pollard’s second book, The Introvert’s Edge to Networking. The book comes out in a few weeks and follows up his previous book called The Introvert’s Edge. As you’re probably picking up, these books are written by an introvert for those of us who are introverted.

In case this term is unfamiliar to you, I’d generally define introverts as people who draw energy from being alone and spend energy from being with people. By contrast, extroverts draw energy from being with people and spend energy being alone. Most of us enjoy being with people and being alone, but the defining characteristic is how it affects your energy levels.

Like his first book, this one is loaded with practical insights for how to leverage the best of your wiring. By far, the most helpful insight for me from this book was to prepare an answer to one of the most common questions asked when we meet new people: “What do you do for a living?”