Vicar Writes

Vicar Writes


14 March 2020 | Vicar Writes

There are some Christians - clergy and bishops included - who would observe Lent by going through a book. Just one good book and to read it entirely during the 40-day Season of Lent (sans the 6 Sundays in Lent). This also make sense in this Covid19 season. 

Reading a good book can be very enriching. It takes some discipline and thus, finding a book which you derive some delight in reading will be helpful. If your working hours are hard and long, you may have to do with half an hour of reading just before bedtime and doubling that time during weekends. If you focus and stay on just one good book, you will be surprised how much you can gain from it. 

What kind of book should you read? Being a pastor, you would expect me to recommend a good Christian one and I will. Every person’s reading habits will be different and we all have different topics which we are more familiar with. For some, a book like Eugene Petersen’s classic, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction would be a helpful read whereas others will find too heavy. Almost any book by John Stott would be a good read. Some new to the Christian faith may find Stott’s Basic Christianity helpful. Those who grew up reading good literature may prefer to wander in the world of C.S. Lewis. His list is rich and wonderful such as Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, The Great Divorce and Surprised by Joy

We have some good local Christian writers though it can be challenging to get a hand on those due to weak local distribution channels. We do try to carry some titles at our Welcome Centre. 

As for current authors, Timothy Keller’s works are very accessible for the modern reader. The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren is unique or the beautifully written Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas, which tells the story of courageous William Wilberforce and the abolishment of slavery. Those seeking to know deeper about Anglican faith, history and distinctive will find Anglicanism by Stephen Spencer helpful. For some “hardcore” reading, On the Thirty Nine Articles by Oliver O’ Donovan will satisfy. I have been going through The Medieval Church by Carl A. Volz, filling in the gaps not covered by my Church History classes in theological college. And of course, knowing our own history is important and Joseph Thambiah’s History of Anglicanism in Singapore 1819-2019: The Bicentenary of Divine Providence, which is now available on Kindle and very affordable. 

What about “secular” books? Bill Bryson’s The Body would be fascinating whereas the needful Orientalism by Edward Said will need a few seasons of Lent to read through at my pace.

For daily devotional readings, there is of course the Lent Devotional 2020, Follow Him by Bible Society. I am deeply enriched by the writings of Henri Nouwen, i.e The Way of the Heart or Raniero Cantalamessa’s Life in Christ, which has stayed with me for many years now. 

Do pick your read in Lent and be blessed.

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