Got Books?

Got Books?

My Brother, David Cooper used to refer to me as a “Bookworm” (probably still does) :):) We grew up poor, and did not have a TV until after I left home in 1967, so I entertained myself in reading books, as I still do… Even today, I pretty much choose to read, and learn from experience what I would like to know, since most schools and colleges do not teach such things as I choose to learn, one of the subjects:, peacemaking, for instance…. At the request of Alina Coryell, our servant-leader for Circles of Peace for the upcoming year, I wrote the following… I imagine a drastically edited and shortened version will appear somewhere on our new web site… You get to see the whole thing:):)


I have a mental note in my mind to send you five of my favorite books… I know you asked this, but I cannot find the email right now…

Anyway, here is a stab at it… I have so many favorite books, but I will give some reasons for liking each book below the info for it…

1.) The Holy Bible, Reprint of the Edition of 1611, exact facsimile – copy #134 of 250, Oxford University Press, 1985.

(I found out about this book in England at an Oxford Press bookstore while Wink and I were in Oxford… It is a rare book, and I view the original 1611 English text as a foundational point for Christianity throughout the Western world.) (A couple of the books are among my favorites because of their rarity… I have always liked rare books, and worked at the Rare Book Library when I attended Samford University.)

2.) In the Grip of Grace, You can’t fall beyond His Love, Max Lucado, Word Publishing, 1996.

(Although raised Roman Catholic, part of my journey in life was being a member of the Worldwide Church of God, pretty much a cult, but a “good” one in that nothing was really off the wall that much except legalism being taught, like literally observing the 10 commandments, keeping the Sabbath, and Old Covenant Worship days, food rules, etc. as well as being strictly observant of the New Testament rules also… Oh, and Hierarchy, ruling over, instead of serving under :(:( Oh, Tithing, too, all three of them, according to the Bible, not just one, :(:( Many of these things are in the Spirit of Romans 14 personal choices, but they should be personal choices, not legalistically enforced… Also, believing that it is possible to lose one’s salvation, as some mainstream Christian organizations believe today…. Although I knew the Dictionary definition of Grace, and began coming out of legalism around 1994, along with understanding the New Covenant was a separate Covenant, not an addition to the Old, it was not until reading this book that I began to understand in my inner being the Spiritual meaning of Grace.) (Thus this is a favorite because of the Spiritual formation I received from the Holy Spirit while reading it, and speaking of it.)

3.) Martyr’s Mirror, by Thieleman J. vanBrahught, Herald Press, first published, 1837.

(This is a very large book, probably more than a thousand pages, chronicling the suffering of the AnaBaptists in the Middle Ages, being persecuted by mainline Christians of their day for their radical beliefs in Adult Baptism, refusal to give their Allegiance to nationalities, believing only God was deserving of their allegiance, and their radical belief in nonviolence. These people are viewed by the Amish and the Mennonites as their ancestors…. The book has woodcut pictures of the AnaBaptists being impaled on stakes run up through their genital areas, lit on fire, their heads cut off and put on stakes, chronicles of their being herded into barns, the doors locked, and the barn set on fire, men, women, and children, of their being drowned by being thrown off boats with their hands and feet tied together to punish them for their beliefs in adult baptism, Children first, so the parents could watch, women next so the husbands could watch, men next so their pastors could watch, then the Pastors last. All of this by fellow “Christians”) (I think we need to come to a better understanding of suffering as Christians, in the Western world, where we believe suffering is a sign of being out of favor with God, where as in actuality this is at times is pretty much the opposite of our calling to complete what is lacking in Christ through our suffering….)

4.) The Myth of a Christian Nation, by Greg Boyd, Zondervan press, 2005.

(This book was recommended to me by a pastor friend in the old Worldwide Church of God, now Grace Communion International, Bob Miller, who observed in our dialogue that my ideas and concern for the Kingdom of God meshed with the author, whom I had not heard of until then, Greg Boyd. Since reading this book, I have become a big fan of Greg Boyd, and if there is anyone whom I think like, it would be him, with Shane Claiborne coming in line somewhere afterwards. This is the book we first read in our book club…. It highlights the Christocentric, Cruciform, idea that the Kingdom of God is advanced by serving under others, not ruling over others, and exposes the error of the common belief that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation, or exists today as a Christian Nation.)

5.) The War of the Lamb, the ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking, John Howard Yoder, Brazos Press, 2004.

(This book is a scholarly treatise, a compilation of essays John Howard Yoder, a preeminent leader in the Peace and Nonviolence movement of the 20th Century, intended to be put in book form before he died…. His papers were arranged by others… John Howard Yoder is of Mennonite roots, and a true scholar, having been educated at the University of Basel, in Switzerland…. He was a Pacifist, and taught at one time at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic School… His most well known book was The Politics of Jesus… He was known for his use of the term “Constantinism”, referring to the change of the early Christian Church into an ally of the State, then in the form of the Roman Empire, Ca. 320 AD when the Emperor Constantine and the Roman Catholic Church first developed political-religious cooperative ventures….((participating in war, for instance)) The War of the Lamb discussed extensively the Just war Theory and its relationship to non violence and the ethics of Just Peacemaker, a subject it seems we as Christians should be very concerned about, since it seems Jesus has asked us to be Peacemakers, even though mainstream Christianity seems to offer only lip service to the idea…, along with actual resistance….) (As an addendum to mentioning John Howard Yoder as a preeminent Christian ethicist, I feel regret, that as with many other prominent men, Yoder apparently suffered from his own personal ethical problems, ((as do we all)) which were reviewed and disciplined by the Mennonite organization, thus giving credence to the importance of being connected to an accountable body of believers for everyone involved Spiritual welfare. Just reading books, studying the Bible, doing research on the internet, going to school, is not enough, Being connected to a body of believers is crucial, ((and sometimes Cruciform)) even for bookworms:):))

I am realizing this a lot more than you probably had in mind for our new web site, but you can cut it down… Since I have written it, I think I will share it on my blog site to give those who read it some kind of idea about where I am coming from….



About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

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