The Denison Forum Podcast Episode 31: Our favorite books—how many does Dr. Denison read each week?

Monday, August 15, 2022

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The Denison Forum Podcast Episode 31: Our favorite books—how many does Dr. Denison read each week?

July 11, 2022 - Dr. Jim Denison

Summary:

Dr. Jim Denison and Dr. Mark Turman continue their summer favorites series by discussing their favorite vacation spots, favorite books, and the way Dr. Jim Denison reads.

Show notes: Dr. Jim Denison and Dr. Mark Turman begin by reflecting on their favorite vacation spots (1:43). They then discuss their favorite books, how Mere Christianity impacted Dr. Denison, and about C.S. Lewis’ life (5:00). They also discuss Dr. Denison’s reading habits, which includes reading or skimming about five books a week (25:45).

Resources and further reading:

About the hosts 

Jim Denison, Ph.D., is an author, speaker, and the CEO of Denison Ministries, which is transforming 6.8 million lives through meaningful digital content. 

Dr. Mark Turman is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church. 

Transcript 

Transcribed by otter.ai 

Mark Turman  00:08

This is the Denison Forum Podcast. I’m Dr. Mark Turman, Executive Director of Denison forum sitting down again with Dr. Jim Denison, who is CEO of Denison ministries and cultural apologist and cultural commentator for Denison forum. Good to see you, Jim. How are you?

Jim Denison  00:22

I’m doing well today. How are you, my friend?

Mark Turman  00:23

Doing great back in the middle of summer we’re going to continue our summer series. Again, just remind you, and this is really on you not on me, I have no problem with any of these, but we want these to be helpful and encouraging, inspiring, and equipping. Okay. We want to be personal and the most important one, we want to be brief, brief, brief.

Jim Denison  00:44

Let me write this down. I don’t know why that’s going to be a problem.

Mark Turman  00:46

Did you ever hear about the story of the preacher in Waco is where I heard this years ago with a watch? Who was known for his 15-minute sermon.

Jim Denison  00:53

Oh, no, I didn’t know that was one. Okay, so this is obviously fictitious.

Mark Turman  00:58

Well, at least not a Baptist preacher. But he was known supposedly for his 15 minute sermons. And surprisingly, some of the people in his congregation didn’t appreciate his 15 minute sermons, they wanted them to be even shorten in those days, the pastor would would greet people as they went out the door after Sunday morning services. And one of his lady stopped and said, I think you should say more. And he simply said to her, I can preach more in 15 minutes than you can live all week long. There you go. I guess that works. And they’ll probably come back and bring that back to us. Next time. You and I are preaching somewhere, perhaps. So we’re talking about summer favorites. And so where is your favorite place to go in the summer?

Jim Denison  01:43

Hmm. Only one, if I had only choose one, I have by God’s grace and my wife’s very good stewardship of airline miles enabled us to be able to go to Hawaii a few times over the years. And in the summer, it’s a little crowded out there, that sort of thing. But it’s so tranquil. It’s just remarkably peaceful and is therefore the places we’d like to go out there a really good thing, but if I only had to pick one, it would be and I’ve only been there one time. So if I could teleport myself over there, I’d do it every summer, I had a privilege some years ago, being in Europe over a summer thing. And we went to a little village in Switzerland called Grinda. Vault Grinda. Vault is where the Swiss reformation came finally, to its conclusion where they had the final battle of it, they actually have the stained glass window of old rigs of Zwingli, who was the leader of the Swiss reformation, back in the day. And that’s just I’ve never seen any place as magical as that. Just the tranquility of it, the serenity of it, the beauty of those hills and, and mountains and all of that. And so I guess if I could pick one place, actually, I have pictures of a grain of salt on my wall, where I can look at it and look forward to the day I get back. So what about you? 

Mark Turman  02:49

Well, being raised in Texas my whole life. In Texas summer, when it comes to the end of July 1 part of August, anywhere but Texas is a good place to be yes, it is anywhere. We’re known for triple-digit heat, actually probably going to have some of that here in the next couple of days. And my wife would tell you that her favorite season of the year is not summer, it’s fall, which by the way, what’s your favorite, you have a favorite season, I would probably be in the spring category. My wife loves the fall I think she loves when finally two cooler temperatures come and colors start to change that type of thing. But she and I are both now in this stage of our life, we’re looking for somewhere to go that is cooler when we get to the really intense part of summer around here. But during the summer, really just about any time of year, but particularly in the summer, any good lake at sunset is the place I’d like to be. That’s just about the happiest place. I know. We corded on the lake when we were teenagers, and some of my best and happiest memories are on lakes. And so any sunset on a lake is a good place as far as I’m concerned.

Jim Denison  04:09

Hard to do badly with that, right.

Mark Turman  04:11

So some of the best places we found. We love going to Colorado, especially in the summer. We love to snow ski but now have come to the place where we love and prefer Colorado in the summer as opposed to the winter. Because it’s hard to beat being in an environment where the temperature might be 50 degrees in the morning as opposed to 85 degrees in the morning. The first of August and so we’ve had the opportunity to do that a couple of times, Breckenridge and a couple of other places. And so that’s where we would prefer to be at least in that part of the summer. So for today, Jim, I wanted to help people with this idea. I can imagine people planning their vacations. A lot of people go to the beach or they go to the mountains. They spend time at this pool. All, as you mentioned, I had the same kind of experience growing up in East Texas where school got out, you’re super excited that we had a neighborhood swimming pool, where we’re basically all the neighborhood kids would gather, the pool was open from 10 to noon, then close for two hours and then opened up again at two o’clock and stayed open till six. And we basically lived at that swimming pool all summer long. And so we had great experiences, but I just didn’t envision some of our audience thinking I need to read something. What would be good for me to pick up what would be interesting, and what would be spiritually enriching for me to read. And so I thought we would talk about some of our all-time favorite books. So give me a few criteria. You are very much an avid, avid voracious reader, obviously, very few people probably read as much as you do. But what books have really anchored you to the point where you would say, okay, that famous kind of story if you were on a desert island or a deserted island, and you could only have three or four books other than the Bible? What might those books be? and why? And then maybe if we have time, we’ll come around to What are you reading right now, that has really captured your attention. That’s kind of new, fresh and intriguing. If we have time for that we’ll come around. So since I know that you’re lightyears ahead of me on this one, I’m going first. So one of those books for me would be a book by John Stott, the Anglican pastor and minister. Basically, anything that John RW Stott writes with, and as put in print would be at the top of my list. But his seminal work, the cross of Christ is at the top of my list as one of the all-time favorite books. It is not in any stretch of the imagination, an easy read, or a light read. But if you really want to understand what the cross is all about what Jesus went through and how it impacts us as believers, that would be one of my first books at the top of my list.

Jim Denison  07:21

Well, if I were to move in that context, my first thought absolutely would be Mere Christianity for me by CS Lewis, I came to faith out of a family that did not have any kind of spiritual life at all, and had on my dad’s questions, if there’s a God, why is that water science and faith, evil and suffering all of that, and became Christian at the age of 15, but still had all these questions and doubts and thought there was something wrong with me that I was the kid wondering, well, how do we know Jesus is the only way? And what about other world religions and science and faith, evil and suffering all of that? Someone gave me a copy of Lewis’s Mere Christianity when I was in high school. first time I’d ever seen anyone deal with faith intellectually.

Mark Turman  07:57

So that was the very first CS Lewis book. 

Jim Denison  08:00

That’s exactly right. I didn’t know there was a CS Lewis and never heard of CS Lewis had no idea what the background was there. And I still have it out there on my shelf. It’s got a rubber band around it because you’re going through so much. Yeah, cost $1.95. In those days, you can see it up on the cover. First time I’d ever seen anyone deal with faith intellectually. I’ve probably read through it 15 times. He is Lewis has been next to obviously next to biblical figures. The most important figure in my life has been CS Lewis, I’ve read pretty much everything in print that he wrote, or that had been written about him on some significant level. Anyway, over the years, I’ve done lectures on his life, I’ve taken a number of groups over to the kilns over in England where he asked before he lived outside of Oxford there. I’ve hiked around where he hiked out in that area back there, that sort of thing. So he’s been such an important influence in my life, but CS Lewis, Mere Christianity where he felt dealt with faith intellectually, maybe understand that, in fact, that was something God sometimes did was to speak to people in that way to wire them in that way. And from then till now, it’s been really, I guess, next to Scripture, the most formative book in my life.

Mark Turman  09:05

Well, I heard you know, I was reading some of your articles for more than a decade and in regular references to not only CS Lewis but also to that book. I was surprised to learn when I got more acquainted with that book that it actually was based on a series of lectures that he did or a series not really of lectures, but of radio presentations, right during World War Two, and that they were put out on the BBC, I think, usually on Sunday night, and not particularly long. No,

Jim Denison  09:35

they weren’t at all. And in fact, as they were made into three books, initially, they were his lectures. He was a well-known Oxford Don, Professor of medieval renaissance and Medieval and Renaissance literature. His own story coming out of atheism, to theism, and then eventually to Christianity is what made him really something of interest to people but he was a layman lifelong layman was never ordained and so he could speak as a layman to layman so it was in World War Are two, we don’t understand in America, the degree to which during World War Two, England’s future is very much in question. I mean their lives individually because of the bombing raids and all that for a protracted period of time. That’s right, we think of World War Two is 41 to 45. For them, it’s 39, to 45. And they have I mean, the living memory of what it was like to know that the Germans at any point could cross the channel, you know, the invasion, they assumed the inevitability of the invasion, there were preparations for how they would fight the Germans in their streets. That’s the kind of existential threat that they saw this being Churchill really at those in those days kind of alone, standing up against Hitler and his advanced across Europe. And so, at that point in time, BBC is really, we don’t have anything like it today, by far, the preeminent Radio Network, and today, when television is certainly not what it is now. And this is how everybody’s communicating. So they asked this Oxford Don, this well-known literature professor, to offer words of hope, to explain the faith to us, where is God in these days? Why would God allow this? How can we relate to God? How can we, how can God be relevant in our lives in such a time as this, and that’s what Lewis set out to do, was to explain and define he used a phrase from Richard Baxter called Mere Christianity. And the wonderful metaphor he has in the introduction is he wants to, he wants to lead you into the house, into the great room of the house, the hallway. Now there are rooms all across the house, and there might be the Anglican room over here might be the Catholic room over there might be the Baptist room over there, that’s for you. That’s not for him, as you point us which one of those go into exactly. He’s wanting to invite you into the house, he’s wanting you to live in the home itself. He’s wanting you to understand what that means, how that works, what that looks like, and why you want to trust this for yourself. So this Mere Christianity, that was the purpose of his radio talks was really his point here. And over time that became published, and released in three different books in the UK. And they got combined into a single book that we call Mere Christianity today.

Mark Turman  12:01

And it’s still having such a profound impact.

Jim Denison  12:05

Much, much more so now than perhaps ever before. Right, Lewis died the same day that JFK was assassinated. And that’s why his death really didn’t get that much attention. He was 65. When he passed away, he had been on the cover of Time, he was certainly a well-known figure, but much more so now than even in his lifetime. I would say, the Lewis industry, as you would call it continues apace, with the publication of letters, republication of work, that sort of thing. It’s really an industry unto itself.

Mark Turman  12:31

And there’s been a movie recently made, really coming off of a stage play that Max McLean has done has been shown the place of seeing them play here in the Dallas area, but you can also see it off Broadway. And I’ve seen it in New York City. And then the movie made him out of that very powerful and very, very influential. So who would be what would be the second most profound book.

Jim Denison  12:58

Henri Nouwen Out of Solitude, it’s a very small book. It’s something that I encountered at a silent retreat in 1997 at a Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta called Ignatius house, where I had a profound experience with the Lord where I came to realize long story really, but I came to realize that I might have said that I loved God, but I wasn’t in love with God. Through this two-day silent retreat, a Holy Spirit spoke directly to me, couldn’t remember the last time I prayed except just to be with God couldn’t remember the last time I read scripture, that it wasn’t preparing a sermon or a Bible study or checking off a box for a quiet time. couldn’t remember the last time I told God, I loved him. And it was in those two days, that God began moving in my heart and drawing me into an intimacy with Him I’d never known before. Well, there was a little bookstore on the campus, it’s much bigger. Now I stay there. Whenever I go to Atlanta, I go back to Ignatius house and stay it’s one of my favorite places in the world. But I was in this what was in those days a trailer that they turned into a bookstore. I’d heard of Henry now and that never read anything by him. And they had this very little slender volume called out of solitude, that Mark I was just drawn to. It was like I was just directed to buy that and to sit down and read just three small talks that he gave that were turned into this book. But it was exactly what I needed at that moment. And it was now in saying that if Jesus would say, I can do nothing by myself, all I do is what the father’s doing in my life and through my life. How much more is that true for me? If Jesus had an unconditional relationship with his father, where his self-worth was not based on what he did, but in who he was? How much more did I need that. So Father now and who very much comes out of a psychology background and what he did lecture at Yale and at Harvard and Notre DOM. I spent the last years of his life ministering to physically and mentally challenged people and an incredible story, one of the great minds of the 20th century. But it was this book’s call to a relationship with God based on gratitude and grace, not on performance, but in gratitude for God’s love that was really transformative for me. I just reread it recently again, and so it’s just a slender volume but habits so recommended by Henry Got one entitled out of solitude, I would say next to Louis that would be the most formative for so that

Mark Turman  15:04

that book sounds like a book that would try to describe or does describe what it is like to have what the Bible calls oneness or deep intimacy with God, what Jesus prayed for in John 17. What the Bible teaches marriage is a picture of. But I heard somebody say recently and tell me if this is in line with the book that Jesus experienced, even though Jesus was never married and never sexually active, active, he experienced deep intimacy, first with God as his father kept using this language that people were really just astounded by, and in some cases, greatly offended by this. I and my Father are one right. I just don’t I’m for that they know. Yeah. And this that I read it just this morning that they were enraged that he made these claims, and they said, He’s making himself equal with God, or one with God. But is it but that’s what now is driving it? Is this, this deep, profound kind of oneness or intimacy with God that is available to us.

Jim Denison  16:15

That’s right, and especially in solitude, that’s why this book was meaning so much to me during this two-day silent retreat was because now its point is that we discovered the oneness that we have with God, especially when we’re alone with God, that it’s really hard, at least it is for me, and it was for now and to experience that oneness we have with God on an existential level, when I’m surrounded by people, when I’m surrounded by the demands of the culture in the world around me. And so just as Jesus needed these times to be alone with his father, if he did, how much more do I write, and yet, that’s what we’re made for. We’re made for that intimacy with God. Pascal said that our hearts are restless until they rest in Him Agustin said that Augustine rather, and Pascal said, there’s this God-shaped emptiness in us and, and so we’re made for this oneness with God that Adam and Eve knew in the Garden of Eden that we’ve so lost in our fallenness. And so this regular time alone, you know, back to John Stott, as you mentioned before, he had this rhythm of an hour a day, a day, a week and a week a year, just being alone with God, just trying to find the solitude where he could experience the kind of unity with the Lord. That is exactly why we were made. And that’s what the books about are calling us into that relationship.

Mark Turman  17:21

Yeah, sounds fantastic. My second one would be from one of our popular authors today, many people know the name Philip Yancey, and have been blessed by his work. He has a new book out a memoir about his life called where the light fell. I haven’t read that one yet. But years ago, just after I started pastoring, in the Dallas area, somebody recommended me to the book he wrote called Disappointment With God. And I remember, one of the stories opening stories of this book is about a young man that Yancey came into contact with who had become a Christian and actually gone into ministry, and then experienced some profound disappointment, and had walked away from ministry and essentially had walked away from his faith because of this profound disappointment. And that in some ways, was the foundation of the book. And I began just, this is one of the criteria of choosing favorite books is what you mentioned a minute ago. How many? Is it a book you’ve ever read more than once, as you said, about Mere Christianity, maybe 15 different times? Have you read it more than once? Have you recommended it to somebody else? And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put the book disappointment with God in somebody’s hands. They came to see me they sat down in my office, they described something that had really devastated not only their life, but devastated their faith. They couldn’t understand where God was in the midst of this story. How God could let something like this happen in their experience. And they, as Louis and others have written a lot about, what do you do when you’re disappointed and you find yourself disappointed with God? Not just with life, but it ultimately comes back to God, how did you let this happen? To me, you could have stopped it in obviously, the problem of pain and suffering and those kinds of things. It really actually grew out of one of the first Christian books I ever read. When I was a young believer, a teenager, went to youth camp for the first time with my church didn’t even know what youth camp was back in those days. And we had a Bible teacher from Atlanta, a guy by the name of Dan Kahan, who came in and did our youth camp. And at that time, he was the chaplain for the Atlanta Falcons. And you’ll remember the name Steve Park kowski course, and Dan Kahan was in a discipling relationship with Bart kowski as he actually wrote a quarterback with falcons. Right, actually wrote a book out of that relationship called “Intercepted By Christ.” And one of the chapters in that book is called disappointments are his appointments. And so, Yancey just kind of carried that idea in a much deeper and further way about how we work our way through that in living and vibrant faith. And it’s been a book that I’ve not only recommended, but I’ve come back to that disappointment is real, we all have struggles with expectations. When I sit down and talk to married couples, I talked to them about realistic expectations of each other, because marriage will expose that in a very real way, we all have some expectations that we probably don’t even know we have until we enter into this relationship. And we start to play tug of war with each other about what we thought was gonna happen versus what does happen. And we don’t even know we have those expectations. I think we have that same thing with God, we expect certain things. And then when it doesn’t turn out that way, we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we have unspoken expectations, in marriage, and in other relationships. Sometimes we have just absolutely sinful expectations that are based on wrong desire and in selfishness that need to be exposed by the Holy Spirit and repented of. And so what you can experience in a relationship like with marriage, you can also experience that in your relationship with God. And figuring out what to do in a healthy and biblical way. When you find yourself disillusioned with faith and with God is a very, very important part of the journey of faith. And that book has been really, really helpful for me. 

Jim Denison  21:48

And is for all of us, isn’t it because we’re always going to be there Jesus Christ from the cost My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Is there for us to understand. You can pray that if Jesus can pray, you can pray. The book that was coming to my mind as you were saying, is John Claypool’s small book “Tracks of the Fellow Struggler.” When my father died in 1979. Someone gave that to me, and it was the only book that helped its sermons by John Claypool, around the diagnosis of their daughter, Laura Lou with leukemia, and then eventually her death. And then he and his wife and their family on the other side of it, and, as was always the case with Claypool, it is so profoundly transparent. He was a confessional preacher back when people weren’t doing that he was really a pioneer, in the belief that my story can be your story too. And by telling my story in a very genuine, very transparent way, God might use my story in a way that could help your story. Buettner is known for that as well. There are others but Claypool, especially in Baptist life, was one of the few people really thinking and working on those terms. So I still have that as well. I’ve given it away to probably 100 people over the years. tracks of a fellow struggler. It’s a small volume, but it’s again, I think, deeply profound in that space.

Mark Turman  22:52

A third one for me would be book kind of in a really different vein. And you know, I’ve talked about this book before, but it’s a book called Factfulness by a guy named Hans Rosling. This is not a spiritual book, or anything like that, per se, although I think there are lots of biblical underpinnings but what Rosling does in this book is exposes about 10 different human instincts that we have a love the subtitle of the book, 10 reasons why we are wrong about the world and things are better then you think they are. That we have things like negativity bias. And we have certain instincts that cause us to think in ways that cause us to see the world not as it really is, but usually in a more dire or negative kind of way. So if you’re looking for hope, this is a great book. This was a book that was recommended by Bill Gates, it was a couple of years ago. In Time Magazine, he said this was one of the most important books he had ever read. And you can find Rosling’s lectures on YouTube and just he was the guy, a world-renowned scientist who died of cancer a couple of years ago, died, actually, before he finished the last chapter or two of this book is his children finished the book for him, but was called in in one of those health situations where we thought the world was going to be in a pandemic, from Ebola, Ebola, and was called into that situation and just had that kind of credential. And so he studied World Health and related issues on a global basis, oftentimes consulted with the World Bank and with other World Health Organization, World Health Organization, that type of thing. So it’s a completely different kind of book. But one that I think is even in a very broken, confused, divided world On a very hope-filled book, I actually taught the book in a Bible study at my church. And what I did is I tried to go find scriptural basis in principle for a lot of the things that he was talking about in this book. Because it just struck me that deeply. So got a few months left, we promised we’d be brief, we did promise that it’s summertime, and people need to get back into water, they need more sunscreen, it goes to the Top Gun, Maverick, gotta go see top guns, maybe they need some watermelon. It’s one of the great, you know, I don’t know why watermelon is associated only with summer, but it’s one of our favorite memories and God’s best ideas want to get the best ideas, something fresh new that you’ve come across that you’re reading that you would want to mention.

Jim Denison  25:45

Well, I just downloaded and I’m just getting ready to start at Thomas Kidd new biography of of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Kidd, a phenomenal historian. He’s at Baylor University, his book on the Great Awakening is really the standard in the space. And so he’s trying to help us grapple with the mind and theology of Thomas Jefferson, trying to help us understand the paradox of who this person is. Jefferson has my whole life. And my favorite president, obviously, Abraham Lincoln, I would say it’s the most important of all of our presidents and then George Washington. And I am in no sense, wanting to defend all the horrific parts of Thomas Jefferson. I’m not for a moment saying that. But having been to Monticello, having read his life, I’ve read six or seven biographies of him. I’m just fascinated by his mind, and the degree to which he was so influential in the creation of our nation and all the ideas that were in his heart that are really at the heart of our, of our democracy to this day. And so been fascinated by his life and his story and Noah’s story pretty well. But I’m excited about the way kid is putting together his theological worldview. On a level other people haven’t done that kid again as an historian, but he’s writing out of his own faith perspective and writing from Baylor and therefore a bit of a biblical worldview around that. And so I’m excited about that. It’s just brand new out, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he tries to unpack the miracle, and the mystery and the enigma and the horrific pneus. That is the story of Thomas Jefferson.

Mark Turman  27:03

So brings a question whether you do this during different seasons of the year or not that do you try to read in certain categories? I know you’ve mentioned to me in the past, you read novels at that time always reading a novel, at least one going? One right now. So how many different categories do you usually find yourself reading in? 

Jim Denison  27:23

That’s a good question. I’m reading Jack cars latest novel, this latest John, James Reese right now, which is just nothing but fun to read. I mean, I read all of those I’ve read all dispenser series, I’ve got nine or 10 Different novel readers that authors that I read, I’m just always interested in that genre, as well as kind of an escape as it were. used. There was a day when I would try to read history on Monday theology on Tuesday, spirituality on Wednesday, that sort of thing. And I wasn’t able to find that to work very well. And so really, I just, this may sound a little statistic, but I’ve really just asked the Lord to direct my mind. What is it I need to see what is the need to be reading? What is it that’s out there that I need to pay attention to? I get Christianity today’s book recommendations every week. And I find that to be helpful. In terms. That’s where I saw the Thomas kid biography, for instance, and downloaded it, I get recommendations from Christian century, little more on the left side of the Christian world. And I found those to be good kind of pathway to some of the things I wanted to read. But really, I just look to see what’s really kind of piquing my interest, I always try to read around what I’m writing relative to a daily article. And so if I know I’m writing on a particular theme, and I have time to read something that would perhaps pour into that, then I’ll try to do that as well. I’ve learned over the years to read books, probably differently than a lot of people do, I guess. Mortimer Adler’s book, how to read a book was really helpful to me back in the day, and really was the place where he disabused. And for me the notion that I haven’t read a book unless I’ve read every word of it and underlined every word I liked, you know, you go to a book for a reason, you interrogate a book, like you and I are talking right now. And you have specific questions you want us to talk about. And so you’re guiding our discussion. And there’s a lot we could talk about, we’re not, because we’re coming to the things that for today, we wanted to read, go to a book with the same idea is the point, go with it, no, go to it. Knowing the questions you’re asking, you know what you want to read from it or learn from it really more than read. And then you can do a book in an hour. You can do a book in two hours or three hours. If that’s how you come to the book. There are some books that you really want to read every word, you want to experience the book you want to, to, on some level be formed by that book, but a lot of my reading, I’m coming to the book for specific things I want to learn from yet things I want to know from it. Andy crouches, new book is really helpful to me, something that I found to be helpful because of an article I was writing the other day. It’s titled The life we’re looking for. And what he wants to do is explained how technology has changed our culture and what we need to do about it. Well, I was in Israel, I needed to make a day trip over to Ben Gurion airport to pick some things up and come back As the guy that was on the trip with me and I got a cab went over, by the time we gotten over to Ben Gurion Airport and back, I’d finished the book. I read it in an hour, because I knew what I was going to the book for. I read your questions for what my questions were what I wanted the book to help me do what I was already planning to write the next day. And so I could go through it, I could find quotes, I could find the basic argument of the book. Now, it’s a wonderful book, and crouch is a marvelous writer. And I’m sure if I spent a week on it, I would be glad I did. But on this particular occasion, in an hour, I got from it, what I needed for what I was using it for. So I’ll probably read five books a week, but I’ll read them like that. I’ll go to them for what I need from them for what I’m looking for from them. I’m reading rereading Kidd’s book on the Great Awakening right now. And I’ll be finished with it later today. Because I know what I want out of it, that’s going to help me with what I’m going,

Mark Turman  30:48

Which is more of a research mode. That’s right, right. Like when you go to an encyclopedia, you don’t read the whole idea, you’re going to get certain things and you’ve learned how to look for those things and Where to Find Them versus based on chapter titles and those kinds of things, you know how to go and find those pieces that you’re looking for. Whereas when you come to something like a novel that is for enjoyment, and escape, you really do just want to immerse yourself in from an imagination standpoint into the story, right? Very different than almost like you were in a movie theater. But that’s right, but the screen is in your mind, which is actually the most that’s why people always say, Oh, the book is so much better than the movie, right? Because your imagination and your ability to envision in your mind what the story is where we talk about our grandkids, and yes, perfect grandkids are perfect grandkids, especially our granddaughters. So you mentioned CS Lewis, at the beginning, my daughter shared with me that her daughter, now four years old, has made her way twice, through an audio version of the Chronicles of Narnia, there you go Lion, the Witch in the wardrobe. And so we got to have a conversation about that with her a couple of days ago, and her ability to recall that. But they are intentionally engaging her imagination, they could show her the movie. And she would love that she would she’s watched movies before, but they are letting her listen to the movie and letting the images be created by her imagination. Which is why people will always say, Oh, the book is so much better than the movie, right? But either way, it’s always a great experience to engage it and like said, you come to a novel, you come to that with different questions than you would if you were reading some of these other types of material. 

Jim Denison  32:37

That’s right, I love to read poetry, I have a poem a day, kind of an email thing that I subscribe to. And if it’s a poem, then you’re every word is important. I mean, this is an artist who’s painting with words. And so you’re wanting to pay attention to that on a completely different level, than if it’s an encyclopedia, as it were, when we’re done here in a little while, where you and I are headed to lunch, I just got back from Israel, they don’t do a lot of Tex Mex in Israel. Unfortunately, one of the few things they don’t do well in Israel, so I’m hoping we’re going to Tex Mex. And so we’re going to go there, and I’m going to order enchiladas doesn’t mean that I couldn’t also get the he does or couldn’t get everything else. But there’s one thing I’m going there for. And it’s going to make it pretty simple when they bring us the menus because I know what it is I want what’s the same way with a book, if it’s that kind of a book, if you’re reading it, because you need data because you need information. That’s a different experience than something else. And so I would encourage people listening to us to look at books in a variety of different ways, put them in the various categories in which they belong, and experience them that way. And understand that the same Holy Spirit who inspired a book, I mean, God wrote a book. He is an author, he has written a book uses the literature of the day to help us to understand that book, and even more to communicate that book. And that’s why understanding the culture so we can engage the culture is I think, so important. I’m always paying attention to New York Times bestsellers and trying to read those, because if it’s best selling, that’s for a reason.

Mark Turman  33:58

If a movie is really really popular, that’s telling us something about the minds and hearts and lives of the people that are going to see that movie.

Jim Denison  34:07

Top Gun Maverick that I saw the other day, it’s perhaps going to be Tom Cruise’s most successful movie of all time. They’re saying financially, it’s a terrific just experience to get it’s a thrill ride, you know, on a screen to begin with. But the story itself, is something that for a such a time as this, when we’re coming out of pandemic, hopefully coming out of pandemic when we’re dealing with all the challenges and issues and crises of life, to see the good guys win. You know, there’s something that’s really encouraging, I think, to all of us. And so it tells us a lot I think about the culture, when we see what the culture is attracted to.

Mark Turman  34:39

And we all love a good story. We all have a good story. Well, one of our goals at Denison forum and Denison Ministries is to help be a filter and an interpreter for you to help you get to to good material that will strengthen edify encourage you and we hope that this does that as well. And not only do we make recommendations for various books and podcasts and resources through Denison Forum, we do that in our other ministries as well Christian parenting. We do that in first 15, our devotional resource and we do that in our foundations Bible study. You can find good resources there. You can find good recommendations there for other things that you can read or listened to, or even watch. We hope that you’ll check all of that out and let us know how we can be a help to you this summer and always.

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