Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer Reading 2011

Ah, summer. Leisure time not seen since Christmas, and generally in larger quantities than at year’s end. As always, I like to spend some of my summer leisure time reading. Since I have already made my way through three books, I thought I would share some highlights.

Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

I saw this play performed by Wheaton College Jukebox Theater, a student-run production company, two years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. I had mostly forgotten about it until I got home from college a few weeks ago. I went to the local library to (I shamefully admit) find a movie, and Earnest was on one of the displays of recommended fiction. Along with a movie, I checked out this play and finished it in two sittings, and now consider the time well spent.

Earnest is the lighthearted tale of two men each trying to impress a different woman, each by pretending to be someone named Ernest. The result is an amusing series of exchanges as the principles, in varying combinations, try to sort out who is who.

Being set in England, it brought me back at points to my trip to the United Kingdom last summer. I recognized some of the place names, as I had when I read Oliver Twist last summer after the trip. And who does not enjoy reading the unique British style of dialogue, with unexpected phrases, witticisms, and terms (even more prevalent because it is a play, a dialogue-based genre)? While I am far removed from the Victorian society of the play’s setting, I enjoyed the plot nonetheless, even though it was a little silly. Following from there, I thought the subtitle, “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People,” quite accurate.

Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley: Blogging for Dummies (2010)

Have you by chance noticed any changes to my blog? I have not made any extreme changes, but I have added or reorganized a few things after skimming this book. It gets into a lot of options that are above and beyond what a casual blogger like myself needs, but it was an interesting read (I would recommend a quick browse for my blogger friends) and, as I said, has led to a few changes on The Rubio Room.

Harold Best: Unceasing Worship (2003)

Harold Best is a former dean of the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College. He actually spoke in chapel this semester, and he titled his message “Unceasing Worship.” I read some excerpts from this book as part of my senior capstone last fall, and after both those readings and the later chapel message, I put this book on my summer reading list. It is a unique juxtaposition between academic and devotional writing, making it both thorough (indeed, there were times I found myself wishing Best would get to the point already) and relevant.

The book is in two parts. Part One tackles the issue of defining worship. Best begins with the observation that humans are “continuously outpouring” themselves toward something – be it Jesus Christ or some counterfeit god. God, Best notes, is also continuously outpouring, and because humans are the Imago dei, we do likewise. Lordship, according to Best, is the infinite manifestation of continuous outpouring, while worship is the finite manifestation. To me, at least, it was a completely new way of thinking about the concept. Best also looks at the connections between worship and witness, prayer, and preaching.

Part Two is a multi-faceted discussion of the role of the arts in relation to worship, as defined in Part One. Best addresses such issues as the nature of art, including its limitations, its role in corporate worship and in the world at large, and the related topics of idolatry, culture and cultural value, and quality and excellence. On each issue, Best provides a new and well thought out perspective – each discussion definitely merits a reread.


And there you have a snapshot of what I have been reading in the first two weeks of my summer. I plan to read quite a bit more, of course, and intend to post about my reading again.

What is on your reading list these days? Please share any recommendations.

This is Rubio, over and out.

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