Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Two Favorite Books This Year (So Far)

I wanted to share these two books with you all, not only because I left a lot of highligher ink in them both, but because I've found myself thinking about When Helping Hurts and Notes from the Tild-A-Whirl weeks after reading them. While I would recommend both of these books to everyone, I would put an added endorsement for When Helping Hurts to anyone involved in or even giving to missions and poverty alleviation.

In the span of one paragraph, N.D. Wilson made me break out in goosebumps then made me laugh and cry at the same time. His writing in Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl from Thomas Nelson Publishers evokes emotion like the best fiction, scratches the brain like the best philosophy, and stirs a love for Creator and creation like the best theology.

His bursts of thought are not always clear-cut and linear, rather they seem to be confusing and unrelated at times. As his ideas shape the chapters, however, and the chapters form the book, a step back reveals a beautiful piece of work.

And this, I think, was no accident. Wilson's premise is that the universe we live in is a work of art and the masterpiece of The Artist. It is a drama, a play, and God is the Author. And so, just as his writing style reflects, there are surprises, twists, and turns. It doesn't progress in an uneventful, gradual incline.

The best dramas have real tragedies, the best paintings have both shadow and light. Thus it makes sense that the best of all possible worlds made by an Artist/Author will have real tragedies, both shadow and light.

N.D. Wilson writes like Donald Miller on uppers and caffeine. He writes like someone with ADD who has sat through too many college-level courses on philosophy and art appreciation. He writes like I imagine Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club) would if he found Jesus and switched to non-fiction.

My favorite book of the year, hands down.

You can read the entire thing online for free at Google Books. However, that's kind of like choosing to look at a Rembrandt on the Internet rather than having one to hang on your wall. Yes, I thought that highly of this book, but that's just me. You have fun with your pixels.

When Helping Hurts came at a very opportune time as my pastor and I am currently discussing the missions giving of our small church. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert's offering seemed more biblical and practical and less depressing and disheartening than other books I've read recently on poverty alleviation and social justice. Anyone struggling with the idea of social justice and how a Christian best addresses such issues would do well to read this book.

My review has been brief because Kevin DeYoung has already written a very in-depth and helpful summary of When Helping Hurts in three parts following the three parts of the book (I've had to reference these a couple times now as I have loaned my copy out): part 1 : part 2 : part 3

Again, I cannot say enough good things about these two books, and if you read them and want to disagree with me, I'd be happy to throw down.

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