Have you ever been in a book club? I guess the closest I’ve come was in my high school and college English classes, which are sort of mandatory book clubs…but there were no snacks and most of the time I didn’t do the reading, so I guess that doesn’t count.
Anyway, I’ve always liked the idea of gathering a group of people who are looking at the same material but processing it in different ways to share their insights. Maybe I’ll join an in-person book club someday, but for now I thought I’d try and create one here on the blog, just for the next few months.
My plan is to continue my once-a-week (usually on Thursdays) posting schedule and cover one chapter a week. I’ll use the post to summarize the basic content of the chapter, share some brief commentary on the insights I’ve gleaned, and pose some questions.
If nothing else, I’m sure this exercise will help me better retain what I’m reading, but I’d love to try and foster a book club environment with some community interaction. So even if you don’t actually pick up the book and read it with me, I’d absolutely welcome your thoughts as we go.
For the book, I’ve chosen Tim Keller’s Making Sense of God. If you’ve never heard of him, Keller started a church in the heart of New York City in 1989. Over the years he’s become a NYT bestselling author, prominent pastor, and speaker. He’s incredibly well-read and intelligent and articulates his thoughts – be it on paper or in public speaking, in a very calm, logical, and insightful way.
Since I obviously haven’t yet read Making Sense of God, I’m not sure how to best state what the book is about with complete accuracy. But based on Keller’s recent talk at one of Google’s offices (which you can watch HERE), it seems to be essentially centered around the assertion that everyone, religious or non-religious, has a set of views about life and the universe that govern how we think and live. But how exactly do we arrive at those ideas? Keller argues that there are assumptions, chains of logic, and leaps of faith that BOTH the religious and the non-religious use to piece together their beliefs. Of course, as a Christian author, he will in the end attempt to make the case that Christianity is no more “illogical” than any other worldview, but really, figuring out what you believe and how exactly you’ve come to those beliefs is a worthwhile endeavor for everyone, Christian or not.
Therefore I would invite anyone to participate in this series regardless of what you believe. If you are a Christian, it may help you better think through and articulate your views. If you are not a Christian or not religious in any way, it also may help you think through what you believe and why, and you may even learn some new things about what a major world religion like Christianity teaches.
Below are the chapter titles of the book. It should give you a general idea of where we’re headed. As I said, I’ll devote at least one post a week to each of these. Other than the preface and epilogue, which are even shorter, each chapter is only about 20 pages. Knowing Keller, even one chapter a week will provide more than enough food for thought.
- Preface The Faith of the Secular
- Chapter 1 Isn’t Religion Going Away?
- Chapter 2 Isn’t Religion Based on Faith and Secularism on Evidence?
- Chapter 3 A Meaning That Suffering Can’t Take From You
- Chapter 4 A Satisfaction That Is Not Based on Circumstances
- Chapter 5 Why Can’t I Be Free to Live As I See Fit, As Long As I Don’t Harm Anyone?
- Chapter 6 The Problem of Self
- Chapter 7 An Identity That Doesn’t Crush You or Exclude Others
- Chapter 8 A Hope That Can Face Anything
- Chapter 9 The Problem of Morals
- Chapter 10 A Justice That Does Not Create New Oppressors
- Chapter 11 Is It Reasonable to Believe in God?
- Chapter 12 Is It Reasonable to Believe in Christianity?
- Epilogue Only In God
If you want to read the book with me, you can buy it anywhere you normally buy books and the audiobook is available numerous places as well. If you’re lucky, it might even be at your local library. It looks like the County of Los Angeles Overdrive has both ebook and audiobook copies, but there’s a waitlist for both as of today. Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts as we go, even if you don’t read the book.
I’m excited to start this little project and I’m sure it will be a challenging and thought-provoking journey. We’ll dig in next week with the book’s preface. (Edit: You can find an index of all the posts in this series HERE.) Until then!