Lenten Reading 2006
The books on my Lenten Reading short list include two books by Elaine Pagels, THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS (1979) and BEYOND BELIEF: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2003.) Also suggested were GOLDEN MOUTH: The Story of John Chrysostom—Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop (1995), FATHER JOE: The Man Who Saved My Soul (2004), and LIFE TOGETHER: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community (1954), by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Unfortunately, I don’t own any of these books and the library isn’t forthcoming with those I have requested.
So I have looked at some of the books I do own. I have two books by Hans Kung, but ON BEING A CHRISTIAN (1974) is 720 pages long, and DOES GOD EXIST? An Answer for Today (1978) is 838 pages. I also considered MORAL MAN AND IMMORAL SOCIETY: A Study of Ethics and Politics (1932) by Reinhold Niebuhr, which is short, but exceedingly dense. I know Lenten Reading isn’t supposed to be light going, but flagellation went out with the Spanish Inquisition.
I looked briefly at THE CHRISTIANS AS THE ROMANS SAW THEM (1984) by Robert L Wilkin, CHRISTIANIZING THE ROMAN EMPIRE (AD 100-400) (1984) by Ramsay MacMullen, and THE FIRST URBAN CHRISTIANS: The Social world of the Apostle Paul (1983) by Wayne A Meeks. Those I put in Box 101 with PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS to be read, perhaps together, another year.
Wilhelm suggested a book by his late friend, Jim Kittelson, LUTHER THE REFORMER: The Story of the Man and His Career (1986.) That was very tempting.
Finally, I found JESUS THROUGH THE CENTURIES: His Place in the history of Culture (1985) by Jaroslav Pelikan and MERE MORALITY: What God Expects of Ordinary People (1983) by Lewis B Smedes.
After a lot of thought I’ve decided to read both the Pelikan and Smedes books. One is a history of Christian doctrine and the other is a guide to ethics. They have about 400 pages between them, and divided into the 40 days of Lent that is 10 pages a day, which seems about right.