Deep reading is required for wise thinking and courageous action, even action against the odds. Political authoritarianism cannot work itself out in a well-educated, intellectually alert, and spiritually energized people. One line of defense against the jack boot crushing the face of humanity forever (Orwell) is the knowledge of what matters most, for time and eternity. The world was changed for Christ forever when St. Augustine heard a little child sing, “Take up and read. Take up and read.” He took up the Bible, read it, converted, and proceeded, through his life and writings, to do more to convert a pagan world into a Christian one than any one of his age.
“Take up and read.” What should we read today? I offer a short—and it is hard to keep it short—list of works that will spark the intellect, quicken the nerves, and expand the understanding for our times. Deep reading requires asesis (əˈskēsəs), at least for those whose habits are not literary. Jesus requirement for Kingdom service apply to reading as well as to everything else, “Deny yourself. Take up your cross daily, and follow me.” I divide my reading list into spiritual reality, intellectual engagement, cultural development, and political judgment. Of course, these categories overlap. I assume a regular and deep reading and study of the Bible. As C. S. Lewis said, the Bible is an education in itself.
St. Augustine, The Confessions
J. P. Moreland, Kingdom Triangle
Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality
J. P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind.
John Stott, Your Mind Matters
Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds
Os Guinness, Renaissance
Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism.
Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451.
Rod Dreher, Live Not by Lies
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto
George Orwell, 1984 and Animal Farm
George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, A World Split Apart: Commencement Address Delivered at Harvard University, June 8, 1978.
Take up and read. The fate of your soul and the fate of your world depends on it.