Proclamation and Theology (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2005)

I found this book very helpful. Willimon is writing from a different place theologically, but his observations here were very shrewd and biblically grounded. A lot of good food for preachers here.


The Checklist Manifesto (New York: Picador, 2009)

This book has a very fine analysis of how to achieve excellence in the midst of complex systems. The complexity of a masterful violin performance is very different from the complexity of building a skyscraper. With the latter, no one person can be the “master builder,” monitoring performance at every level. What is necessary is to monitor the communications of those who are involved and hence, checklists. A good, straightforward read.


Envy (Indianopolis: Liberty Fund, 1969)

Meticulous, careful, learned. I had long thought I needed to read this classic, and am glad I finally did. A mix of psychology, sociology, politics, anthropology, this book is dense but worth it. For pastors, there are a number of takeaway gems.

Mission Drift

Mission Drift (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2014)

A good rehearsal of the basic principles necessary to keep organizations from going the way of all flesh. The New St. Andrews board reads a book together in between each of our quarterly board meetings, and this was the one on tap. It contained some really good ideas. A great read if you serve on any boards at all. You might want to say, “Well, that goes without saying.” But it doesn’t.

Creed Pres

The Creed of Presbyterians (NL: Fredonia Books, 1901)

I enjoyed this very much. It is a bit too rah-rah in places, and I read an early version of it (1901), written before the author was bedazzled by Barth. At the same time, it was heartening to be reminded yet again how much good Calvinists have introduced into the world.


Toasts (New York: Crown Publishers, 1981)

I enjoy reading collections of sayings and quotes, and just finished this book of toasts by Paul Dickson. It was enjoyable, and as always I picked up a few things. Here are a few favorites.

“May we have more and more friends, and need them less and less”

“Here’s champagne to our real friends and real pain to our sham friends”

“Good luck till we are tired of it.”

There was a short section on curses, and a great Yiddish one was “May the greatest doctors in the world know of your case.”

The End of Sacrifice

The End of Sacrifice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009)

This was a very fine and scholarly treatment of one of the great events in the history of the world — the cessation of public sacrifices under Constantine. Or, rather it is about the background to this event, which would be the currents of faith and thought that made such an event possible.

On Writing (New York: SimonandSchuster, 2000)

I have never read a novel by Stephen King, and I don’t plan on it. That kind of thing just isn’t my bag. But I will read virtually anything on the craft of writing, and this was a good one. I really enjoyed it, and learned a few important things.

Stephen King