As part of my blogging rhythm each year, here is the 14th annual posting of my top reads for 2022. The list is in no particular order.
Trauma in the Pews by Janyne McConnaughey. With my own interest to gain a greater understanding of trauma, and particularly as it relates to people who are in the deconstruction and/or de-conversion stage of their faith, this book was of high interest to me. In particular, McConnaughey looks at how trauma can impede upon our spiritual growth. Those who struggle to engage certain practices like prayer, meditation, and silence may not be doing so because they are obstinate and defiant, but rather because they have experienced trauma that may connect to varying spiritual exercises. For example, silence in the home growing up may have been due to the controlling behavior of a parent – “Keep your mouth shut and do as I say, or else!” Thus, practicing silence now, in order to listen to God, can trigger frightening, traumatic memories from the person’s childhood. With that, part of spiritual growth may include psychological healing to open opportunities to practice historic spiritual exercises.
The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr. Over the years, I’ve made quite clear here at my blog that I am 100% for women in leadership. And, so, I was keen to pick up a copy of Barr’s fairly recent work (2021). What I find of interest is that, for starters, Barr is a professor of history at Baylor University. So she is able to offer not just biblical insights, but historical as well, especially as it relates to evangelicalism. But, of greater significance is that her husband is a Southern Baptist pastor. To speak out for women as leaders is not typically found amongst Baptists. In this work, Barr primarily lays out how we came to the idea of “biblical womanhood” throughout history. It’s an intriguing read.
Bully Pulpit by Michael Kruger. Connected to my interest in understanding religious trauma, Kruger’s new release was one that caught my attention. Many know of Chuck DeGroat’s When Narcissism Comes to Church, which I will at some point read myself. In that vein, Kruger offers keen insights on how spiritual abuse takes place within the local church, particularly through those with a lead/senior pastor role. In all, Kruger lays out his insights in hopes of helping identify abuse within the church and how to preemptively stop it in the future.
The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut. Over the past 5 years, I have gone through my own learning process of the Enneagram and have also taught it to others – within the framework of college courses, training workshops, and individuals. Chestnut’s book has been the most intense tome I’ve worked through. In particular, she does really well in helping understand the subtypes – self-preservation, sexual (or one-to-one), and social, and how they relate to each of the Enneatypes. It’s been a fascinating resource, especially as I continue to consider how the Enneagram can help as we engage our own spiritual growth.
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. This truly is a wonderful masterpiece in understanding how to embrace brokenness as part of life. Voskamp’s work is deep and devotional, sharing out of her own experiences of loss, pain, and devastation.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. One of my favorite Christmas stories of all time, this year I decided to read the account rather than watch it. I was surprised to find little snippets in the book not found in any film versions, which I suppose one should expect. But probably the most shocking thing of all is the Bob Cratchit is not mentioned by name until halfway through the book. He’s there, in the beginning, working at Scrooge’s firm. But he is not named. That happens only once the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to the Cratchit household on Christmas Day. What a classic masterpiece.
The Mystery of Iniquity by Daniel Taylor. This is the fourth and final volume in the Jon Mote Mystery series. I have read all four, dating back to the original novel Death Comes for the Deconstructionist. While the four novels each contain a mystery to be solved by Jon Mote, the main character, what is ultimately being told is the story of a disillusioned man who has lost his faith, his marriage, and much of any aspiration for life. The four-novel cycle is a slow recovery of Mote’s life that has been ravaged by both physical and spiritual abuse. I appreciated how the author landed the proverbial plane in his final work. The story did not end nicely packaged with a bow on top. Matter of fact, the story ends with both elements of beauty . . . and pain. But that is exactly what makes it connect to real life.
On another note, I am happy to say that I have made solid progress on my own book about women in leadership. I’ve written about 17,000 words (80 pages). So, that’s probably 60% completed. The working title is A Different Voice Cries Out from the Wilderness. Who knows when it will be out there (I still need to shop it around to publishers).
So, there you go. My list of top reads for 2022. If interested, below are the links to my top reads from the previous thirteen years.