Wild Tides and Prudent Politics - What I've Been Reading
Piranesi - Susanna Clarke
This is one of those trips into fiction that leaves me wondering why I don’t read it more often. Piranesi is a beautiful book from the writing to the design, and the way it’s crafted reveals part of the deeper struggle at the heart of the book. The story opens in the “house” without any explanation or background, just the narrator, Piranesi, and “The Other.” Within the opening pages though, you can tell that something is lurking beyond the exquisitely organized layout of halls and vestibules, beyond the calculating empiricism of the narrator. The wild tides bring with them a glimpse into the darker aspects of the “house,” the nature of uncertainty, and into human nature. This is one to read and think about. I read it in a couple of days but I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
How Dante Can Save Your Life - Rod Dreher
I’ve been on a major Rod Dreher kick. Before the last few months, I’d only known Dreher through following him Twitter and the Benedict Option, both of which I recommend. After I saw someone post a link to his Substack I signed up for the free version and then continued on to the paid daily subscription when he opened that option. Shortly after I read Live Not By Lies, which was a very good book, especially as a sequel to the Benedict Option. This book, though, is the best of the three.
I wish I could write as well as Dreher, especially about my own life. He calls this book a “self-help” book, and I think that’s accurate because it will challenge you to venture into the deeper recesses of your heart, to face up to shame you’ve been carrying around, and motivate you to take charge of your own life. But it’s also a deeply spiritual book. Dreher reflects on coming to faith, finding Dante, and moving back to his hometown to be near his family. Read this one slowly and prayerfully.
Leadership in War - Andrew Roberts
Yes, I’ve raved about this book before, but the paperback just came out so I figured it was worth another go. Roberts is one of the finest historians of our time. If you haven’t read Churchill: Walking with Destiny, stop reading this and go read it! The thousand pages are worth it. If that’s a little daunting, though, and it is for all of us, then this might be the next best thing. Roberts takes nine figures from recent history, some well-known like Napoleon, Churchill, Stalin, and Hitler, and others you may not know much about, Thatcher, Nelson, and George Marshall, and he looks at what made them successful leaders. These 20-30 page biographies are the perfect vignettes through which to think about leadership, resolve, courage, humor, and all of the other common and not-so-common facets of leadership.
Next up for Andrew Roberts is a full-length biography of King George III - America’s last king - expected close to the end of the year.
The Person of Christ - Stephen Wellum
Crossway has begun publishing this new series called “Short Studies in Systematic Theology” and it is excellent. If you’re looking to grow in your knowledge of theology, this is a great place to start. These volumes introduce the major questions of doctrines, the debates, and the key issues without descending into the scholarly weeds. At about 150-200 pages, these books are just right for the topics they cover. Look out for forthcoming volumes in this series.
“Vindicating a Prudent Politics within the GOP” - Law & Liberty
This isn’t a book, but it certainly should be. Over at Law & Liberty, the editors have commissioned a symposium on prudent politics. How do we return to a virtuous and moral political outlook focused on character and the common good? Now that’s a question I want to know the answer to. The essays included range in their focus and scope but all revolve around the virtue of prudence. I think Hankins and Mahoney, especially, do some very important thinking about how conservatives should position themselves politically and morally over the next four years. The whole series is worth reading.
Lead - Paul Tripp
I just started this one but I wish I’d found it sooner. In seminary, I read Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling about the unique joys and dangers of pastoral ministry. Since that time, Tripp has watched the numerous high-profile burnouts, firings, and moral failures in evangelicalism and struggled to come to grips with all of it. Of course, there have been plenty of good analyses of what went wrong in the individual cases, but what has gone wrong systemically? This book addresses the culture of leadership within the church and deals with issues like how to maintain accountability, spiritual depth, and how to stay Christian in Christian leadership. I hope and pray this book is a blessing for the church. I’m already learning a lot.
Cole Feix is the founder and president of So We Speak