Books become best friends ushering us into places we would never have gone to have experiences we could never have imagined with people we might never have known. And by default we become best friends with their creators, as well. Therefore, “many of my best friends are dead,” is a lament often heard.
I worked in a Christian book store for a number of years and saw firsthand the rise and fall of fads and trends in spiritual thought and teaching. The number of personalities ready to hold forth on special niche topics–I suppose I could be considered one of them–can be overwhelming, staggering, tiring.
The friends I’d like to introduce you to, though, are not trendy. Instead, they are understated, unsung heroes–those reliable characters present at every celebration, every significant life event, who are rarely the center of attention, but without whom nothing much of consequence would happen.
- They populate the sidelines.
- You have to coax them into the spotlight.
- Those you finally get around to when you’ve “made the rounds” and tired of small talk, quick anecdotes and the latest gossip.
- Folks who don’t seem to need attention.
- The ones who simply offer their quiet, stabilizing presence when you’re ready for intimate conversations of substance.
So today I’d like you to meet some of my best friends–some of them dead. They appear in no particular order, though I suppose there may be a sort of progression implied. One day there will be a separate page, not just a post, dedicated to honoring my best friends (aka Recommended Reading) which, by its nature, will always be incomplete. But until I get around to sorting through just what each means to me and why, here they are.
I understand if you’re still busy circulating among the enticing, titillating trends of the day. They have their place at the ball. But if, like me, you’re tired of the noise and long for a place to rest, to be heard and understood, helped on your way, you may just find some of these to be your people, as well.
Trendy (NOT!) Reading I Recommend
Inside Out – Larry Crabb
Spirit of the Disciplines – Dallas Willard
Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster
Face to Face, Vol I, II – Kenneth Boa
Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church – Phillip Yancey
Divine Conspiracy – Dallas Willard
Renovation of the Heart, Study Guide – Jan Johnson
Longing For More – Ruth Haley Barton
Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Lay Servants – Publ: Upper Room, Various authors
Something More – Catherine Marshall
Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman – Anne Ortlund
Intimacy with the Almighty – Chuck Swindoll
Telling the Truth; Wishful Thinking – Frederick Buechner
Abba’s Child – Brennan Manning
Traveling Mercies – Anne Lamott
Shaped by the Word – Robert Mulholland
Spiritual Traditions for the Contemporary Church – Maas, O’Donnell
The Attentive Life – Leighton Ford
He Speaks Softly – Bob Benson
The Cloister Walk – Kathleen Norris
The Shaping of a Life: A Spiritual Landscape – Phyllis Tickle
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction – Eugene Peterson
Return of the Prodigal Son – Henri Nouwen
Orthodoxy – G. K. Chesterton
Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
Clinging – Emilie Griffin
Surrender to Love – David Benner
Poverty of Spirit – Johannes Baptist Metz
Prayer – Richard Foster
Simply Christian – N.T. Wright
And you? Care to share your must-reads?