What I’m reading: May 2005

It seems such a folly to have spent so much to collect books only to let them yellow. (Not that I’ve stopped. Just won a 1799 collection of William Vidler’s works on eBay.)

Time to blog a tad less and read a tad more. Here’s what I’ve pulled from the shelf.

  • David J. Bosch. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. 1993.
  • William R. Estep. 1996. The Anabaptist Story: An Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism. Third edition.
  • Rowan Williams. 2001. Arius: Heresy and Tradition. Revised edition.

So what are you reading? Comment please.

Categorized as Theology

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I’m reading

    (1) Poe’s ARTHUR GORDON PYM OF NANTUCKET (one of his lesser known works, this one is a story of being lost at sea)

    (2) Gulley & Mullholland’s IF GOD IS LOVE (which mostly focuses on how to live out a grace-filled life — so far very good for a popular book on religion)

    (3) Dorris Grumbach’s THE PRESENCE OF ABSENCE; ON EPIPHANY AND PRAYER (a very honest look at one woman’s journey from secularism, through the experience of God, and into a struggle with illness, chronic pain, prayer, and contemplation)

    Sometime soon (after I finnish one of the 3 above) I hope to start reading Rabbi Chaim Stern’s DAY BY DAY; REFLECTIONS ON THEMES FROM THE TORAH. It’s a week by week, and day by day, reflection on the weekly selections from the annual cycle of Torah scroll readings. I’m also reserving for my Summer reading the Westar Institute’s multi-authored volume THE HISTORICAL JESUS GOES TO CHURCH.

  2. I recently read vol. 1 and 2 of Gary Dorrien’s THE MAKING OF AMERICAN LIBERAL THEOLOGY. I love Dorrien, but was greatly disappointed that he left universalism out almost entirely. I also thought that his discussion of Reinhold Niebuhr could have been greatly condensed.

  3. 1.) Salted With Fire | ed. Scott W. Alexander
    2.) The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approah | Christof Koch
    3.) The New Religous Humanists | Gregory Wolfe

    My summer, after I finish the above, will then be spent on various philosophy of religion reads and backyard BBQ’s.

  4. Hey, nice to know that Im not the only person who reads more than one book at a time! Some of the books I read are NOT religious books, and it so happens I am reading one of those in this stack:

    Little Lulu: Lulu Goes Shopping (2004) late 1940s reprints from the Little Lulu comic book – stories written and laid out by John Stanley.
    Stanley is a genius – although this doesnt reprint his best Lulu stories.

    The Carolina Back County On the Eve of the Revolution – by Charles Woodmason (1951) This is the standard work on South Carolina backcountry religion in the pre-revolutionary area; consisting of the journals of an Anglician minister among the theiving Presbyterians, ignorant Methodists, and libelist Quakers. (hey, he called them as he saw them!) He does have nice things to say about the SC Dunkers – obviously not knowing that a mere 30 years later, this church would become Universalists- and I suspect he didnt know they had connections with the Ephrata Commune. As I read it straight through (yes, i read the index first), I hope to plot his travels on a current and a 1825 map (I have no 1770s map ) to find where various congregations are.

    The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (2002 translation) Since I am still reading the introduction, I dont have too many comments – other than i do need to increase my knowledge of gnostic Christianity.

    The Brethren In Colonial America (1967) Donald Durnbaugh – chapter nine is “Brethren and Universalists” . to understand southern Universalism – you have to understand the German Baptist Brethren (Dunkers). I recently discovered that Rev Lowe from kentucky (mentioned in the Larger Hope as founding the first Universalist Church west of the Alleghanies) was part of the migration of the Church of the Brethren from the Carolinas to Kentucky…… This book is the standard on Colonial Brethren…..

    I also have some Universalist ministers biographies and autobiographies to read and to re-read

  5. The Bosch was a required read for my missology class in seminary, and so I haven’t opened it since about 1996. Reading the Estep first, and thought I’d get to the Williams next since Adam (Unity) asked about it.

    I’ve gotten to reading books like files download. Start one, get a few chapters in, start the second, get a few chapters in, read more of the first, start the third . . .

    Since I really only read on the bus to and from work, I’m just now getting settled in to the first. It was you that lead me to reprise the book on the Anabaptists, fwiw.

  6. close by at all times for me right now
    Saturday by Ian McEwan
    Transforming Liberalism: the theology of James Luther Adams by Kim Beach
    and The heart of christianity by marcus borg

    what universalist shop is going to be lucky enough to get your collection someday?

  7. “A History of the Evangelical and Reformed Church” While most folks know the history of the Congregationalist side of the UCC through a common Puritan, New England heritage with the Unitarians, the Evangelical and Reformed Church is lesser-known.

    “New Religions: A Guide” edited by Christopher Partridge. Grateful that the Unitarian Universalist Association did not make the list of cults, New Age movements and other new religions in this one. Sometimes someone asks the minister about a group in town. It’s useful to discover that there are religious movements even more “out there” than one’s own

    “Franklin Delano Roosevelt:Champion of Freedom” by Conrad Black. Though he portrays FDR as an opportunist demagogue and the master of the political lie, Black’s biography is probably one of the most accurate depictions of political adventure that I’ve ever read. No one after reading this book could probably view politicians and FDR the same. Had he claimed to invent the internet, FDR would have been believed. Fascinating.

    Light spring reading and only remotely dealing with historical theology.

  8. Larry, I read the E&R history, too. I think they’re terribly interesting, but then again I think Universalist history is more interesting than Unitarian history and that seems to raise eyebrows. Better liturgy, too. Plus some of my ancestors were “R.”

  9. Years ago I had a conversation with an elderly, retired UCC clergyman who began his career in the E&R before the merger. His take on the historical merger was that it would have been better if the E&R had merged with the Universalists and the Congregationalists had merged with the Unitarians. His opinion was based upon denominational attitudes and ecclesiatical polities rather than pure theology–though that might have been closer. Heaven knows the UCC merger is still with them and they are not as “united” as their name implies.

    Just looking at the resolutions for the UCC General Synod reveals a denomination going in very different directions. Of course, there’s a healthines to debate and different points of view and that is something that the UUA often forgets in its politically liberal orthodoxy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.