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Looking at God's World

My 2013 ‘Book of the Year’ is an old one

Each year I select the best book I have read that year. This year I chose one written 100 years ago and that I finished last night–The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, by James Weldon Johnson. (Newer versions have updated the title’s language to Ex-Colored.Johnson)

This is a superb book, written by one of our great African American writers. It is written as if it were a first-person, non-fiction autobiography, but it is a novel. It displays great storytelling judgment, not wasting time on details that do not help convey the story. It is a quick read but a powerful one. It deals with a reality that I didn’t even know existed and in the process explains much about race relations in the United States.

As an Anglo American, I am astonished as to why more of the great books written by African Americans are not required reading in our schools and colleges. I am becoming more and more convinced that to be truly educated in America today one must read great African American works. The European tradition is by no means the only great ethnic tradition is this amazing nation of ours.

I gave four 2013 readings Honorable Mention:

The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. DuBois

 The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James H. Cone

 Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick

 Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

 I wish I could read faster and therefore read more, but I tend to savor books. Following are the books I read or listened to in their entirety in 2013, plus how I rated them.

***** Excellent      **** Very Good     *** Good    ** OK        * Poor

BOOKS

1.  Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, by Michael J. Sandel ****

2.  Rise Up, O Judge: A Study of Justice in the Biblical World, by Enrique Nardoni ***

3.  Evil and the Justice of God, by N. T. Wright ***

4.  Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community, by Charles Marsh and John M. Perkins ****

5.  Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins, by Miguel De La Torre ****

6.  The Justice Project, edited by Brian McLaren, Elisa Padilla, and Ashley Bunting Seeber ****

7.  The Lost Priority: What Happened to the Civil Rights Movement in America?, by John Herbers ****

8.  Let Justice Roll Down: John Perkins Tells His Own Story, by John Perkins *****

9.  Real Life in Christ, by T. B. Maston ****

10. There Is a Balm in Gilead: The Cultural Roots of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Lewis V. Baldwin ****

11. The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James H. Cone *****

12. Divergent, by Veronica Roth ****

13. The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois *****

14. Six Theories of Justice: Perspectives from Philosophical and Theological Ethics, by Karen Lebacqz ****

15. The Black Christian Experience, comp. by Emmanuel L. McCall ***

16. Justice in an Unjust World: Foundations for a Christian Approach to Justice, by Karen Lebacqz ****

17. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth ***

18. The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, by James Weldon Johnson *****

AUDIO BOOKS

1.  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain *****

2.  Evil and the Justice of God, by N. T. Wright ***

3.  Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, by Rob Bell ****

4.  Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick *****

5.  The Seven Storey Mountain (abridged), by Thomas Merton *** too brief

6.  No Man Is an Island, by Thomas Merton ***

7.  Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, by Joseph Ratziner (Pope Benedict XVI) ***

8. Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life, by Robert B. Reich ****

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This entry was posted on December 31, 2013 by in Books and tagged , , .
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