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A light Michael Gungor book review: The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse.

You know how ages ago I blindly mentioned that Michael Gungor’s new book should probably be one of the “top five” must have books?

Turns out I was right. I am cementing that comment and as such will have to loosely change my “top five” to a “top six” and come up with another blind choice book to end that post with in a non-commital fashion. But that’s a problem for later.

Firstly this, a disclaimer of biased-ness: This book resonated with me like an explosion in an aircraft hangar. This book is words to pages of feelings I have wrestled with for years. There were even moments when I said out loud: “Have you stolen this from me, Mr Gungor?” So in reading this I already liked it because I have already been internally journeying through several of the themes he writes about.

“What are those said themes, Dan?” I hear you ask.

Critique, creativity, Christians, Conservatives, crowds and consuming.

Burn-out, big-thinking, back-to-basics. All told with wonderful behnd-the-scenes back-story.

Michael writes well, though my Dad will say that this is one of those books “He can’t read because of the writing style being too conversational” at times.

He prefers things to be written the old-skool way.

He hates it when people hit the return key too often.

I like it.

But in saying that, Michael doesn’t do that too often and he mixes in some wonderful photos too for comic relief. There’s wonderful art work on chapter transitions too. This isn’t a text book of how to be the next big thing. It’s a story of the journey been and hopes for the journey ahead, it’s smattered with truths that took years and tears to find words for, and it’s loaded with ideas that will send your creative pulse racing. This book itself oozes what it’s main point is: good creative art communicating an even greater message.

That’s all I shall say because this, as the title said, is a light review. Light I shall keep it, but it’s depth you will find in this book.

Five must-haves.

I was going to title this post: “So you want to think like me?” but then I woke up to the realisation that that’s one incredibly obnoxious title. “What a dick”, I thought as I typed it out. Luckily, I caught myself and instead just wrote it here as an intro-line…

Anyway. I digress.

I wanted to note five must-have books that every Christian should engage with before they die. Let’s not include the Bible, because that’s a must-have anyway. The next five are as follows:

1. Simply Christian, N.T. Wright.

This book is the modern day equivalent of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. You should read that too, but I find I have gone to Simply Christian far more times to revisit the things that Wright frames up. Christianity 101, but probably not like you learned it in the Alpha course*.

2. Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright.

That’s the last of the Wright books, I promise. But this book quite literally saved my faith – or should I say, started my faith – when I read it a few years ago. I can honestly say that if this hadn’t been pushed into my hands by both the work of the Holy Spirit and a good friend, I probably wouldn’t be doing my job at the moment. If you find this book’s literary style a little overwhelming, just read the chapter “Here is the new there” in Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. It’s Surprised by Hope for the rest of us plebs.

3. Breakthrough, Derek Morphew.

As a Vineyard person, I’m all about the tension of the Kingdom being here, and also not yet. A great book to get your head and heart around this, is Morphew’s Breakthrough. I could have listed plenty of other options, like Gary Best’s Naturally Supernatural or things that Willard or Wimber wrote – but I find Morphew’s nicely balanced between deep yet get-able.

Here’s the truth why this one’s important: if you can become a person of the Kingdom tension, you’ll become a person OK with tension in plenty of other areas of life too.

4. No Future Without Forgiveness, Desmond Tutu.

As my friend JR put it, this isn’t a book for every Christian to read – it’s a book for every human to read. It really is that good. Team this book up with the last page of The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis for a really good time…

5. The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse: A Book for Creators, Michael Gungor.

OK, so I haven’t even read this one yet – but if it’s going to be anything like the stuff he writes on his blog and in their song lyrics, then I just know this book is going to be dynamite…

…plus, defining a fifth book of the various dozens I could have chosen was harder than I thought. So I figure noting a book I haven’t read yet was a good cop-out.

That’s it for now. Go read something!

*I would like to mention, I m a big fan of the Alpha course – I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Book recommendation – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

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I am not a good book reviewer, but I do enjoy recommending books I have enjoyed, and this one deserves recommending. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a great piece of work by Donald Miller, who you might know as the author of the best-seller Blue LIke Jazz. I read this over the last couple of weeks (including while a terribly painful flight to Christchurch where I had intense ear-pain) and finished it last night.

The jist is this: everyone’s life is a storyline, and you can choose whether you want to be living as a character in a terrible and monotonous story where the climax is purchasing a Volvo, or you can have a vibrant and exciting story full of adventure and experiencing the thrill of all that life has to offer. Miller is a terrific author. He isn’t a pastor writing his latest sermon series into a book, he is an author. It’s because of this you keep picking up the book and enjoy his own vulnerable story telling.

So, loved it, and I am sure you will to.