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These are a few books that I simply have not had time to devote an entire post to but felt like they were worth calling attention to: Brave New World, Radical, Crazy Love, and Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World is a profound work of fiction. Published in 1931, Huxley’s work is about the world in the year 2540. It’s a world state of genetic engineering, no more marriage or parents, and complete sterilization of culture apart from sensual pleasure and drugs.

Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.

This is a must read book. You could very easily make the argument that this is not the future but now. Think about the pervasiveness of abortion, pornography, and the numbness of America. Think about the dominance of comfort and the slow dissolving of marriage. Huxley even wrote a nonfiction follow up in 1952 expressing his fear that “Brave New World” was becoming a reality much more quickly than he thought. I ache for Huxley and the despair of his atheistic worldview but also for how a key flaw of Brave New World is his lack of understanding of the gospel. Huxley ultimately sees Christianity as ascetism and God as a killjoy even when acknowledging the numbness he has to settle for. One of the promises of the gospel is God showing us the riches of his grace in his kindness for all of eternity. That doesn’t sound like asceticism to me.

Radical by David Platt

Too long have we been waiting for one another to begin! The time for waiting is past!… Should such men as we fear? Before the whole world, aye, before the sleepy, lukewarm, faithless, namby-pamby Christian world, we will dare to trust our God,… and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts.

This is a solid book worth reading if your struggle in the Christian life is not guilt or having a “should” mentality. Platt can very subtly slide into a “radical = justification” worldview that I trust is not his full motivation but is too assumed in his writings here. I agree with 99% of what he says, my fear is the motivation this book can slide to. Our justification is in Jesus not in what our lives amount to. We can be worried about the ramifications of that kind of grace but Jesus wasn’t. People who seem to “waste” their lives for him are praised and shown to have the kind of love that Jesus desires and gives. However, again I say, Platt is very solid. The last 2 chapters are worth the cost of the book.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Crazy Love is actually similar to Radical except that it is much more injected with Chan simply spilling his guts and appealing to you by the love of God to understand the life that Jesus has for you and has called you to. Chan, like Platt, hammers Jesus’ words but is very careful to not simply give you a recipe. What strikes me about both Crazy Love and Radical is their similar appeals to not forget the poor. These men are broken over the neglected poor and needy and it shakes me a bit in a good way.

But the fact is that nothing should concern us more than our relationship with God; it’s about eternity, and nothing compares with that. God is not someone who can be tacked on to our lives.

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema by Tony Watkins

Reading this book was practically a guilty pleasure for me. Watkins basically makes arguments for a number of reasons that I write about movies, media, and culture.

Nevertheless, underpinning them [Films] all is this deeply instinctive longing for shalom. We need to recognize how echoes of this yearning crop up in films, and to help others come to a fuller understanding of what the human heart needs above all.

When it comes to the gospel, I think Watkins gets it. But he also understands what inherent to the art of film and works to help you see how it all comes together – valuing the creativity and beauty but not missing the worldview and the need for Jesus. Watkins’ writing is very accessible. If watching movies is a part of your regular weekly media regimen, add this book to your reading list.

If I had to pick one…

Out of these four books, Brave New World probably impacted me the most. I love fiction. Beauty illustrates core truth and gets to the heart quicker than a mere direction or instruction. That’s what good writing does. Brave New World illuminated our culture a bit more for me, helped me understand the offer of the Gospel and suffering better, and convicts me of how much I can seek numbness and not Jesus. I doubt that is what the atheist Huxley had in mind when he wrote it!

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