What I Did on My Summer Break

If you want every blog to be about theologizing, exegeting, and theorizing, feel free to skip this one. If nothing else, the members of my church like to hear what I did with my summer break.

In addition to the blog posts on race (boy, did those take more time than I bargained for), I had two main projects over my summer study leave.

I finished my part for The Biggest Story Storybook Bible. I’m teaming up with the talented Don Clark again to expand on The Biggest Story. This new book will have 104 stories (400 to 500 words each), with 52 from each Testament. I turned in a draft of the writing. Don is about halfway through the illustrating. Crossway plans to publish the book in fall 2021.

I also submitted my manuscript for Men and Women in the Church: A Short, Biblical, Practical Introduction. Think: Complementarianism 101 without an axe to grind. I’m also working with Crossway on this book, due out in spring 2021.

More immediately, I planned out my preaching schedule for the rest of the year: Genesis in the morning (we’ll get through the first 11 chapters, I think) and 2 Peter in the evening. After being out quite a bit over the summer, Lord willing, I’ll be preaching almost every Sunday (usually AM and PM) through December.

I never get through as many books as I hope during the summer, but I did manage to finish several (I think Collin Hansen read 16 books!).

The Fire Is Upon Us by Nicholas Buccola analyzes the famous Cambridge debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr., using Baldwin and Buckley as a window into the race debate in America. Buccola is a self-proclaimed former conservative who matured (as he puts it) beyond his earlier views, so his interpretation decidedly favors Baldwin over Buckley. I’ve read most of Shelby Steele’s books over the years, but I hadn’t read The Content of Our Character. I think it may be his best. Steele is unflinchingly honest and unusually insightful about race in America.

Moving from race to gender: Bavinck’s book on The Christian Family is excellent. Just keep in mind, Bavinck’s cultural views on women (though not his theological views) grew more accommodating to changes in society. Calvin’s three sermons on Men, Women, and Order in the Church is a quick, worthwhile read. From a different angle, you might try Harvey Mansfield’s book on Manlinessa secular and learned defense of the possible virtues of manliness (he points out vices as well).

Joel Beeke and Greg Salazaar have edited a nice introduction to the life and thought of William Perkins: Architect of Puritanism. Few of us know as much about Perkins as we should.

The biggest book I started and completed over the summer was Amity Shlaes’s Great Society: A New History. Part politics, part economics, and part cultural history—Shlaes covers the key ideas and personalities behind the programs meant to alleviate poverty in America. The book ends in 1976 with the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, a metaphor for Shlaes’s largely negative assessment of what the Great Society accomplished.

More beach reading: Albertus and Christina: The Van Raalte Family, Home and Roots, edited by Elton Bruins, et. al. Actually, a fascinating book about the legacy of the man (and his wife) who founded Hope College and Holland, Michigan.

Finally, each year I try to read through a big and/or old theology book. This January, I started with Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology, which I finished over the weekend. I think I’ll tackle Ursinus’s Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism next.

Yes, I did fun things too (like reading and writing aren’t fun!). We went to Michigan for a week to see family and friends. I took my boys to cross country practice early in the morning and got in lots of running miles as a result. We spent time in the pool as a family (even mom once in a while!) and watched some of the best cinematic masterpieces of all time: What About Bob?, The Sandlot, and both Paul Blart movies. The Mrs. and I watched Mr. Jones, an amazing story, based on true events, about the Welsh journalist who exposed the hypocrisy of Walter Duranty (whose New York Times Pulitzer Prize has never been revoked) and helped the world see what was really happening with Stalin’s man-made famine in Ukraine (note: I was told ahead of time to skip the 25:00-30:00 minute mark in the movie; there is a lewd party scene that is not essential to following the plot).

I hope your summer was fun and fruitful. Back to (regular) work for me.