What I’m reading this week:
1. This article from one of my favorite think-tanks, Cardus. The author describes perfectly my journey in understanding prayer and the necessity of viewing prayer as a practice that molds us. If you only read one thing this week, let it be this.
“After decades of authentic self-expression before God, I ran into the limit of where my words could take me.”
2. The Iliad by Homer. This is what I’m listening to on my commutes! It’s a way to find my zen in the middle of Houston traffic. Though I read this back in high school, coming to it again after studying and teaching literature is incredibly rewarding and rich. I highly recommended the audiobook read by Sir Derek Jacobi, translated by Robert Fagles. After listening to just the first five minutes, you’ll understand why this is considered one of the greatest works of literature ever written.
3. The Democratization of American Christianity by Nathan Hatch. Two weeks ago, I mentioned Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. Pearcey was inspired in part by Hatch, especially in her history of evangelical Christianity. This book is incredibly helpful in not only understanding how the American church came to be the way it is today, but also how the entire American culture was shaped by the Great Awakenings.
4. Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson. T.S. Eliot claimed that Tennyson had the best understanding of the English language since John Milton wrote Paradise Lost. And now, after finishing Idylls of the King, I agree. Tennyson’s Arthurian epic molds the ancient myths of Arthur into a Victorian re-telling. I still can’t get over these lines:
Last, as by some one deathbed after wail
Of suffering, silence follows, or thro’ death
Or deathlike swoon, thus over all that shore,
Save for some whisper of the seething seas,
A dead hush fell; but when that dolorous day
Grew drearier toward twilight falling, came
A bitter wind, clear from the North, and blew
The mist aside, and with that wind the tide
Rose, and the pale King glanced across the field
Of battle: but no man was moving there;
Nor any cry of Christian heard thereon,
Nor yet of any heathen; only the wan wave
Brake in among dead faces, to and fro
Swaying the helpless hands, and up and down
Tumbling the hollow helmets of the fallen,
And shiver’d brands that once had fought with Rome,
And rolling far along the gloomy shores
The voice of days of old and days to be.
Idylls of the King, “The Passing of Arthur,” l. 118-135