I need help from Christians who like reading

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GlottalGreekGeek
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I need help from Christians who like reading

Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:14 am

I'm participating in a secret santa this year. For those who don't know what a secret santa is, we all put our names in a box, and we each pulled a name out of a box. We have to get a present for the person whose name we pulled. At the holiday party, all the presents are put in one place. As the person receives and opens the present, he/she has to guess who gave it to them. There are three guesses.

I pulled out Sarah's name (there are enough Sarahs in the world that I don't think her name is identifying information). I know that she is Christian, and she likes reading a lot of books about Christianity. I know she recently read the C.S. Lewis books. I am NOT going to give her Mounce's Biblical Greek book, or any Greek book, because she knows that I know some Greek and it would be too easy for her to guess. However, I think it might be good to give her some book about Christianity because she knows I'm not Christian, so I don't think she'd guess me in her guesses (especially since she's sort of formed a Christian reading club with other people at this party, so she would probably guess those people first).

So, in a nutshell, what's a really good book for a Christian to read? (besides the bible, since I think she already has a copy).

I've noticed that most of the Christian books she reads were written after 1950 (except the Bible, which is considerably older). So I think I have a better chance of getting something she hasn't read if I get an older book. But I want it to be a REALLY GOOD BOOK. So if the best choice seems to be something which was written after 1950, I might consider it. Also, the organizer of the secret santa wants everybody to get presents of approximately equal monetary value, so he put a restriction of $5-15 on how valuable the gift can be (though hopefully all gifts will be priceless). So it has to be a book which is in print and available as a paperback.

I've got an alternate idea of what I would get her if I can't find the right Christian book, but I think that, if I can get a really good Christian book, it would be the best thing I can get her.

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Post by vir litterarum » Thu Nov 29, 2007 4:05 am

Left Behind. LOL. Just kidding.

I would suggest The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. Although written by a Catholic author, It is still enjoyable even for the Protestant and is considered great literature even by those who are not Christians.

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Post by Kopio » Thu Nov 29, 2007 4:44 pm

Hmmm....well, I would wonder how heavy of reading she likes? Theological stuff?? Christian fiction? I haven't run across a lot of Christian fiction that I am really fond of. However, Stephen Lawhead is a pretty decent Christian author. There is his Song of Albion series that is pretty good, as well as his Pendragon Cycle. He has one sci-fi series (only two boos that are now available as one volume) that I like called the Empyrion Series.

If it's non-fiction she likes, Lewis is always a good bet. His Perelandria series is a lesser known sci-fi series, it is very Jules Verne-ish in nature, but it is a wonderful read. His Screwtape Letters are also delightful....it's about a young lower level imp, writing to his Uncle Screwtape, who is a senior tempter in Hell. The book is all about how to best tempt man and keep them from a relationship with God...it's a hoot! For non-fiction titles by Lewis, everyone has Mere Christianity, so don't get that one. God in the Dock is a good, fairly recent compilation of letters by Lewis. His Surprised by Joy is also an excellent semi-biographical book. If she is more of a movie watcher Shadowlands, starring Anthony Hopkins as Lewis is moving, touching, and a fairly accurate portayal of the life and death of a woman he married out of convenience but was deeply in love with....it's a tear jerker though....Anthony Hopkins is in exquisite form.

I hope that is enough for now....if you can give me a little more specific reading interests for her I can probably give you some more titles.

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Post by Kasper » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:33 pm

Perhaps a dumb idea, but how about Milton' Paradise Lost, or something like Dante's Divine Comedy? Certainly pre-1950, although perhaps not quite the genre you have in mind.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by klewlis » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:38 pm

I agree that it depends on what *type* of book you think she'd like...

One of my favourites (if she is into theology) is Chesterton's "Orthodoxy". I think everyone in the world (religious or not) should read it.

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Post by vir litterarum » Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:09 am

Milton was NOT a Christian, nor is Paradise Lost a Christian poem.

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Post by Kasper » Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:57 am

vir litterarum wrote:Milton was NOT a Christian, nor is Paradise Lost a Christian poem.
:lol: i think that is a debate for another thread.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:49 am

Well, I know she's read Mere Christianity, and I'm pretty sure she's at least heard of the other C.S. Lewis books, so I'm not going to get anything by him.

I'm looking towards non-fiction. For example, there's a book which she reads a little from every day called "The Purpose Driven Life". I don't think she wants a scholarly deconstruction of the bible. I guess I'm looking for something which would be spiritual inspirational, whatever that means, but is more practical than theoretical.

On the other hand, it might be better to give her something a little different from what she would buy herself. Of all of the suggestions so far, "Orthodoxy" seems to be the closest to what I'm looking for. Could someone tell me more about this book?

My alternative gift would be giving a couple of books by some of my favorite fiction writers, and perhaps that would all and all be a better gift, since it's something which I connect to personally. I would give her a book about theatre, something of mutual interest to both of us, but she sees me reading books about theater all the time, so like giving her something related to Greek it seems too obvious a gift (I think I've even discussed with her what theater books are my favorites - this was before the secret santa thing was determined). However, I haven't been reading much fiction lately, so she doesn't know what fiction I read, which is why I think I can get away with giving her some of that stuff.

Thanks for all the input so far!

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Post by Arvid » Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:20 am

Kasper wrote:
vir litterarum wrote:Milton was NOT a Christian, nor is Paradise Lost a Christian poem.
:lol: i think that is a debate for another thread.
Indeed! I would love to hear a theory in which Milton was not a Christian, and Paradise Lost is not a Christian poem. I think what vir litterarum means is that Milton was not a Catholic, and Paradise Lost is not a Catholic poem.

I know a lot of us here are sci-fi fans; it's not pre-1950, but have you thought of A Case of Conscience by James Blish? It's one of the only specifically Christian sci-fi novels I know of, and a Christian would probably leave it with a totally different feeling than the blind, foaming-mouthed anger that I did. (If you haven't read it, a priest comes to the conclusion that a newly-discovered alien civilization must be a creation of the devil because they've managed to establish a perfectly just, harmonious society without the benefit of Christian revelation, so he performs an exorcism against them. At the very same time, the visiting human expedition manages to destroy the entire planet with a chain reaction fusion explosion. Cause and effect? You decide.)
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Post by mingshey » Fri Nov 30, 2007 6:45 am

Before I converted out of Christianity, I used to enjoy Uchimura Kanzo(内?鑑三)'s biographical essays like "How I became a Christian:out of my diary." He was a Japanese who was one of the first converts to Christianity. He learned Theology and English from American missionary whose name I do not remember. His books are rather short and do not need a big brain to read. :)

Look here for the list of his non-Japanese Books.
http://www-lib.icu.ac.jp/Uchimura/u-2-2.htm

His books are rare. But if you are lucky you might be able to find it at a used books dealer. Or you could just browse amazon by his name and pick one that looks fit.

[edit]
Here's an exerpt from "How I became ..." :
http://www.geocities.com/uioeastasia2002/uchimura.htm

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Post by Bert » Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:41 am

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:...and I'm pretty sure she's at least heard of the other C.S. Lewis books, so I'm not going to get anything by him.
Well... you are making it tough. Between $5-15. It has to be a REALLY GOOD BOOK. (This makes good sense. No squabbles there.) but now it should be a book she has not heard of before.

How about "The Gospel according to Jesus" by John F. MacArthur, Jr.
$10.19 at Amazon. It is between $5-15 and it is a REALLY GOOD BOOK but I don't know if she has heard of it.

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Post by vir litterarum » Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:42 am

Milton did not accept the existence of the Trinity. Doesn't that define him as not being a Christian?

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Post by Arvid » Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:12 am

vir litterarum wrote:Milton did not accept the existence of the Trinity. Doesn't that define him as not being a Christian?
Neither did Isaac Newton, as far as that goes. I suppose if you belong to a Trinitarian denomination that defines them as not being Christian; and yet the Arians, the Monophysites, the Nestorians, and the Unitarians of today are all called Christian sects in every reference I've ever seen on the subject.
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Post by vir litterarum » Sat Dec 01, 2007 5:41 am

Now we must define the word "Christian." Suffice it to say that there is considerable disagreement over the issue of Milton's religion (See The Militant Miltonist; or, the Retreat from Humanism by M.K Starkman or Milton and the English Mind by F.E. Hutchinson).

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Post by Arvid » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:15 am

I don't really want to continue this thread-jacking any further, but seriously--there's a Unitarian Church right down the block here. Should I walk in there and tell them they're not Christians? Who shall I say has decreed this?

I've read a lot about all the different sects and "heresies" that have been murdering each other for the last 2000 years, and sure, they all anathematize each other as the Devil's Spawn and minions of the Antichrist, but historians are only willing to admit that two of them, the Cathars and the Bogomils, might in fact not have been Christians, but survivals of some Persian dualist sect that had adopted some Christian terminology. As far as I'm concerned, as a devout atheist, anybody who calls themselves a Christian is a Christian.
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Post by vir litterarum » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:31 am

And, as an atheist, you consider yourself a reliable source on Christianity?

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Post by Kopio » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:41 am

Arvid wrote:I don't really want to continue this thread-jacking any further, but seriously--there's a Unitarian Church right down the block here. Should I walk in there and tell them they're not Christians? Who shall I say has decreed this?
I'll go with the Sunday School answer and say.........Jesus? :)
Arvid wrote:I've read a lot about all the different sects and "heresies" that have been murdering each other for the last 2000 years, and sure, they all anathematize each other as the Devil's Spawn and minions of the Antichrist, but historians are only willing to admit that two of them, the Cathars and the Bogomils, might in fact not have been Christians, but survivals of some Persian dualist sect that had adopted some Christian terminology. As far as I'm concerned, as a devout atheist, anybody who calls themselves a Christian is a Christian.
First off....Isn't devout Atheist a bit of an oxymoron? Maybe not. I just enver thought of my Atheist friends as devout. As far as anathematizing and calling people Devil's spawn and all that....I try and refrain from that unless I actually see horns and smell smoke!

On a more serious note. I think perhaps the best authorities as to what is truly Christian and what is not lies within the Church fathers, many of who could trace their spiritual genealogy directly to the apostles. If one is a good student of the Fathers two things become paramount in early orthodox theological formation 1) The Trinity and 2) The deity of Christ. These two things became the touchstones of orthodoxy in the early church. If we hold up those same benchmarks against groups like Unitarians, Arians (both ancient and modern), Nestorians, and Sabellianism (which is definitely alive and well today), they fall beyond the pale of what the fathers would call orthodox Christianity. I myself would concur with the Fathers. However, I refuse to throw rocks at Unitarians, or call their names, although I do have a funny joke or two about them (as well as about baptists, methodists, and others).

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Post by Kopio » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:43 am

Oh yes....and back to the thread....I would suggest Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality. It is an outstanding read by a solid Christian philosopher (no oxymoron jabs please Arvid!) and it has been an instrumental devotional book in my spiritual development. It is moderately heavy reading, but not too bad. If she can read Lewis, she can read Schaeffer.

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Post by Arvid » Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:34 am

Kopio wrote:On a more serious note. I think perhaps the best authorities as to what is truly Christian and what is not lies within the Church fathers, many of who could trace their spiritual genealogy directly to the apostles. If one is a good student of the Fathers two things become paramount in early orthodox theological formation 1) The Trinity and 2) The deity of Christ. These two things became the touchstones of orthodoxy in the early church. If we hold up those same benchmarks against groups like Unitarians, Arians (both ancient and modern), Nestorians, and Sabellianism (which is definitely alive and well today), they fall beyond the pale of what the fathers would call orthodox Christianity. I myself would concur with the Fathers. However, I refuse to throw rocks at Unitarians, or call their names, although I do have a funny joke or two about them (as well as about baptists, methodists, and others).
OK, I give up! Obviously I'm not going to win here. All I can tell you is that in any book I've ever read by a General Historian (i.e., not a religious tract,) I've never seen the Arians, Nestorians, Monopysites, etc., referred to as anything but "Christian." Perhaps, as you say, they were not "Orthodox," but "Christian" is used as a much more inclusive term. In my opinion, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and if you ask it: "Are you a duck?" and it says: "I'm a duck!" then it's a duck.
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Post by Chris Weimer » Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:25 am

The problem lies in the indistinguished way some use the term Christian. Historians call Arians Christians because they are closely affiliated with each other, and the Arians called themselves Christians. The only way to exclude Arians as Christians, even if they are heretical, is holding the a priori assumption that Christians are X. If you start with no assumptions and work only from evidence, you don't get that. You group according to categories. And while what is commonly labeled "orthodox" and "proto-orthodox" (different enough as they are) are distinguished yet grouped with Arians, Marcionites, and other Christians, since they all focus on Christ. Likewise, if you go back early enough, those Christians are better off categorized with Jews. But this is from the historical-critical aspect. Other people hold on to their faith without evidence.

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Post by Chris Weimer » Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:28 am

vir litterarum wrote:And, as an atheist, you consider yourself a reliable source on Christianity?
I was a Christian for many years before I was an atheist, and even now I study the religion from a scholarly perspective. What one holds as faith has no bearing on the reliability of one's scholarship pertaining to that faith. It's insulting of you to say that atheists cannot be reliable on Christianity because they're atheist. In that same vein, you cannot be reliable on matters of ancient Rome since you are not an ancient Roman. All scholars who study Rome should therefore give up their profession. :roll:

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Post by vir litterarum » Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:39 am

It most certainly is not insulting. I have a personal relationship with God; therefore, I can say with full confidence that I know infinitely more about Christianity than any objective scholar studying it. Do not presume that you have just as relliable a capacity to judge a faith externally as someone who is intimately involved in it. And I will freely admit that I cannot understand Roman religion as an ancient Roman did, but any honest scholar would admit as much. Don't presume just because you are an atheist that everyone else believes that Christianity is just some other field to study. I believe I have a relationship with God and Jesus Christ, whether you share that belief or not, and therefore I know more about true Christianity than any atheist ever could.

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Post by Chris Weimer » Sat Dec 01, 2007 3:46 pm

And you think I didn't have a personal relationship? That is, until I realized that it was no more real than a child's imaginary friend, or Santa Claus. Christianity is just another field of study. You may participate, but that doesn't mean jack squat.

Such pompous arrogance as well.

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Post by vir litterarum » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:45 pm

That stance is fine for you. But just realize that someone who still adheres to the faith is going to believe that he has a much more intimate and real knowledge of it than someone who does not.

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Post by Kopio » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:48 pm

I think the difference is subjective and objective knowledge. I certainly respect Chris' knowledge on the subject of Christianity. As well as William's, who I know for a fact could talk circles around me when it comes to early Christianity and yet he is an Atheist. Some of the greatests biblical scholars have not been Christian. I look at someone like Robert Funk, one of the greatest modern greek grammarians, and he was very far from what I would consider orthodox Christian. He was a Jesus Seminar guy for Pete's sake. Not many evangelicals get along with the Jesus Seminar folks.

That being said, there is a difference from knowledge about and experience. But once again, this is objective versus subjective knowledge.

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:05 pm

I looked into the "True Spirituality" book, and it looks very cool. The idea behind the book seems interesting enough that I might want to read some of it. I think that's what I'm going to get. I am quite ignorant of Christianity both objectively (well, at least compared to most of the people here) and subjectively. Thanks everybody.

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Post by Arvid » Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:11 pm

Wow. Really? ?μοουσιον vs. ?μοιουσιον, in this day and age? That little iota, that "jot and tittle" that has sent so many to the stake, still branding some as "not Christians," and therefore "beyond the pale?" I'm speechless.

And...GlottalGreekGeek, I'm glad someone suggested something to help you out, amidst all this carping. I hope it works out.
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sun Dec 02, 2007 1:23 am

That "True Spirituality" book is not easy to find. I looked at three bookstores today. Not just any three bookstores - one was a mega used bookstore, and another was a bookstore dedicated to spirituality, and they both had large sections dedicated to Christianity.

I checked online, and there's a Borders near here which carries it, so I think that's my best option (I only order books online if I have no alternative).

Meanwhile, I learned a lot about the covers of "Christianity" books today.

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Post by Kopio » Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:49 am

GGG...you're looking in the wrong spots....try a Christian bookstore...they might just have it in stock. Surely you have those in California? :P

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:00 am

Not necessarily in Mountain View, and there's a limit to the distance I'll go over this. Borders is fine for me.

EDIT : I checked. The closest Christian bookstore is in San Jose, which is much further away than Borders (and it's easy to get lost in San Jo). I will be visiting San Francisco, and there are one or two there, but I have other things I need to do that weekend. I think it's going to be Borders.

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Post by klewlis » Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:39 pm

GGG: sorry that I didn't answer your question sooner.

Orthodoxy is loosely Chesterton's spiritual autobiography, although it contains much more than that. He was a brilliant author and a fascinating theologian. I guarantee that if your friend likes Lewis, she'll like Chesterton.

here's one of my favourite excerpts:
Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.
(ok some might find that a little odd out of context... but what I love about Chesterton is not only his brilliant use of the language, but his unique way of looking at things.)


In the beginning of the book he explains that he was raised into Orthodox Christianity, and then decided to go off and find something new:
For if this book is a joke it is a joke against me. I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before. If there is an element of farce in what follows, the farce is at my own expense; for this book explains how I fancied I was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found I was the last. It recounts my elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious. No one can think my case more ludicrous than I think it myself; no reader can accuse me here of trying to make a fool of him: I am the fool of this story, and no rebel shall hurl me from my throne. I freely confess all the idiotic ambitions of the end of the nineteenth century. I did, like all other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age. Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth. And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it. I did strain my voice with a painfully juvenile exaggeration in uttering my truths. And I was punished in the fittest and funniest way, for I have kept my truths: but I have discovered, not that they were not truths, but simply that they were not mine. When I fancied that I stood alone I was really in the ridiculous position of being backed up by all Christendom. It may be, Heaven forgive me, that I did try to be original; but I only succeeded in inventing all by myself an inferior copy of the existing traditions of civilized religion. The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.

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Post by Turendil » Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:10 am

My two cents. I would get her Fear and Trembling by Soren Keirkegaard. Reason being 1 Kierkegaard's serves as a good introduction into existentialism from the theistic perspective. 2 He deals primarily with Christian issues and is a lot more fun to read than the stuff she's reading now. 3 many modern day Pentecostals have no institutional memory of anything that comes before C.S. Lewis.

If that doesn't strike then I would try God's Smuggler which is an interesting Christian let's smuggle bibles into Russia story courtesy of the cold war. You also might want to try something that gives her an insight into the basic history of the church that won't offend her sensibilities but might serve as a springboard for other questions. In this regard I would try Kenneth Scott Latourette.
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:28 am

Re:Turendil

While I do want to give her something stimulating, I don't really want to restructure her beliefs. One of the reasons I asked about this is that, since I am not a Christian myself, I can't be sure of what stirs a Christian (of course not all Christians are alike, and not all Christians are moved by the same books). And I don't want to approach this with the attitude that her beliefs need correcting.

However, I still appreciate your input, and thanks for the two cents!

Re: klewlis

I think I will also give her Orthodoxy, but in a different form, namely, this one

http://www.ccel.org/c/chesterton/orthod ... odoxy.html

However, I'm going to wait until after the holiday party, since it would tip off that I've been looking at Christian books for her.

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Post by klewlis » Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:19 pm

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:Re:Turendil

While I do want to give her something stimulating, I don't really want to restructure her beliefs. One of the reasons I asked about this is that, since I am not a Christian myself, I can't be sure of what stirs a Christian (of course not all Christians are alike, and not all Christians are moved by the same books). And I don't want to approach this with the attitude that her beliefs need correcting.

However, I still appreciate your input, and thanks for the two cents!

Re: klewlis

I think I will also give her Orthodoxy, but in a different form, namely, this one

http://www.ccel.org/c/chesterton/orthod ... odoxy.html

However, I'm going to wait until after the holiday party, since it would tip off that I've been looking at Christian books for her.

oh sweet. It's been so long since I've been to ccel... I didn't know they were offering all those other formats.

Personally, I hate reading books on screen or printed out... but maybe that's just me. :P

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Post by Kyneto Valesio » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:01 am

Well just a thought. What about the Imitation of Christ, which was big best seller, so to speak of the middle ages. Boethius's Consolation of Philosphy is also interesting because although he is clearly christian the book has a pagan feel to it .. especially when wisdom mystically appears like a pagan goddess.

Rule of St. Benedict ? If these have already been given - I kind of skimmed through the other suggestions.

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Post by Turendil » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:35 am

none of the book suggestions I gave you would challenge or re-structure her beliefs. That wouldn't be right. They are all theistic centered. However they are the types of books that can be read multiple times and the more one reads them the more inclined one is to seek out other references.
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Post by Kopio » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:38 am

The Imitation of Christ is a good reccomend for a classical Christian work. However, if I had to go with a classic it would have to be St. Augustine's Confessions, far and away my favorite book by an Father. He's very philosophical too which makes it at times deep weeds.

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Post by klewlis » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:53 am

Kopio wrote:The Imitation of Christ is a good reccomend for a classical Christian work. However, if I had to go with a classic it would have to be St. Augustine's Confessions, far and away my favorite book by an Father. He's very philosophical too which makes it at times deep weeds.

I liked *parts* of Confessions... but found much of it to be rather dry. Loved Imitation of Christ.

And if we're going the "classics" route, Grace Abounding by John Bunyan is another good one...

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Post by Kopio » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:57 am

klewlis wrote:And if we're going the "classics" route, Grace Abounding by John Bunyan is another good one...
Or the always classic Pilgrims Progress....but only in the original...don't get a modern paraphrase of it, it's like reading adapted Shakespeare.

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