Should Christians be environmentalists? Yes. The Church in the West has always done a great job of presenting the Gospel of forgiveness. However, this has often come at the expense of the Gospel that transforms, not only humanity but all of God’s creation. Sandra L. Richter addresses these issues with rich biblical theology as she brings to light what the Bible has to say about the environment, and the Christians place in caring for it. Richter’s book is a must-read for anyone who takes climate change seriously, and who reads Genesis 1-2 and wants to live out humanity’s vocation with rich theological nuance.
2. Reading While Black by Esau McCaulley
Theology throughout church history (especially within the past five hundred years) has been dominated by white western males. Even as I look upon my bookshelf, or as I scroll through my resources on Logos, I’m hard-pressed to find any resources that I haven’t deliberately gone out and purchased that weren’t from someone who was a different ethnicity from me (apart from the early church fathers of course). Insight, wisdom, and meaning is dynamic and can take on various forms depending on one’s cultural lens. Even from within our borders, growing up as an upper-middle classed white male on the Coast can elicit different interpretations from God’s Word, rather than a marginalised lower classed black or aboriginal child living in the West. Esau McCaulley’s book wonderfully demonstrates how a black (African-American) reading of the Bible is an invaluable tradition for the wider church to tap into as it tackles some of the biggest social concerns of our day. Another must-read for anyone wanting to meaningfully engage with the problem of racism and inclusivism in our modern-day.
3. From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race by J. Daniel Hays
It can be incredibly easy to forget that you are not the main character of the biblical story. In fact, the protagonist is God; everyone else is either the damsel in distress or the villain taking them captive and corrupting the world around (this includes you). Furthermore, despite the focus of the Bible on the nation of Israel, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, the Bible is concerned about every tribe and nation, not just American or Australia. An oldy (2003) but a goldi, Daniel J, Hayes takes a deep dive into a biblical theology of race and ethnicity as he traces these themes throughout the biblical narrative. His book makes us pause and contemplate our place in redemptive history as we come to terms with our identity and shared humanity in the family of God. Read this book if you care what the Bible has to say about race.
4. Untangling Emotions by J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith
As someone who wrestles with depression and the occasional spout of anxiety, this book could not have come at a better time. Emotions are messy, complicated, and often hard to make sense of. J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith helped me to come to terms with my emotions and realise that they’re something to embrace rather than suppress or run away from. Humans are crazy, and if you’re even half as crazy as me (or more), then read this book and start putting together the puzzle that is you.
Rumi was a 13th-century Sufi mystic, theologian and scholar that has been recognised as one of the greatest poets in history. Despite not being Christian, Rumi has had a profound impact on me this past year in my battle with depression and the world around me. Rumi has a unique way of expressing the inexpressible. Or, as T. S. Elliot once said, “poetry is a raid on the inarticulate.” Here is one particular poem that spoke to me this past year:
I was going to tell you my story
but waves of pain drowned my voice.
I tried to utter a word but my thoughts
became fragile and shattered like glass.
Even the largest ship can capsize
in the stormy sea of love,
let alone my feeble boat,
which shattered to pieces leaving me nothing
but a strip of wood to hold on to.
Small and helpless, rising to heaven
on one wave of love and falling with the next,
I don’t even know if I am or I am not.
When I think I am, I find myself worthless,
when I think I am not, I find my value.
Like my thoughts, I die and rise again each day
so how can i doubt the resurrection?
Tired of hunting for love in this world,
at last, I surrender in the valley of love
and become free.
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī