Different Kinds of Books

The 100 top selling Christian books of 2010 came out. It is an interesting list.
It triggered some thoughts in me.

When I was a pastor, I used to joke that despite your best intentions and regardless of what you learned in college, much of what comes across your desk and occupies your time is answering two questions:

  1. How do we get more people? and
  2. How do we get those people to give more money?

That may sound cynical but much of the time I was even suspicious of other young pastors who were rabid about doctrine – they were that way because it would bring in a certain type of person… often a person who tithed.

When I saw this list today, I told my wife “We read very different kinds of books than we did 10 years ago.”  It lead to an interesting discussion.

Ten years ago the books we read broke down into two basic categories:

  1. How to be a better person ( both a healthy and a passionate person)
  2. Make sure you believe the right things

That made sense to me. That was our evangelical preoccupation. It seemed good at the time… if anyone had raised an objection we would have been quite defensive or protective of those themes.

Now our choices of books seem to fall into two different categories (non-school books I mean)

  1. How to make the world a better place
  2. Seeing the world through other people’s perspectives.

This is an interesting change for me.  It has been interesting to ‘emerge’ in this sense.

A women, with brown skin, raised a Hindu, in an arid region of India has had a very different experience of being human than I have. We have something to learn from each other.

I still love learning from people who are very similar to me – it is often in the one area where we are so different that I can so clearly see what I need to learn from them – whether they have written a book or not. But it is in the person who is SO different than me where I am able to see the world (and myself) in an entirely different light.

I think to myself “I see you”.  Not for what I can get from you – not as an opportunity or as a commodity – but as a person… and that means a person of great worth.

I read 100 books this past year.  Only one of them was on the top 100 Christian book list.*  And that’s O.K.    I still have a lot to learn about being a better person and about believing the right things.  But now I find that it does not come by focusing on me but by looking to another.   It might be counter-intuitive at some level… it may just be a season… but I like it.

I like it this way.


* I had read many of the books (i.e. Purpose Driven Life) in previous years.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shawn
    Jan 13, 2011 @ 03:31:46

    I love this post. I wish more of us could focus on something outside of ourselves (at least from time to time). It is a bright day when fear and arrogance (are they the same thing, perhaps?) don’t keep us from seeking to understand another.


  2. LeadFromTheFringe
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 17:42:47

    I don’t think that all the world’s problems would be fixed if we just took time to get to know each other. I am not a liberal 🙂

    But… and this is important… I do think it would be immensely. I think that much evil is bred in ignorance. Now, admittedly, some is bred in familiarity. But as a direction – I think that other focus is superior to self focus.

    That last part probably went without saying…


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