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Years ago (in 1940, to be exact), Mortimer Adler wrote a classic book with a title that seemed like a joke: How to Read a Book. But the book wasn’t a joke, for the simple reason that most people—most literate people—really don’t know what to do with a book.

To be clear, I (Chris) am not talking about people who hate to read—though I do find such people rather suspicious. No, I’m talking about people who read, perhaps even read a lot. They may know how to pass their eyes over all the words, how to understand the basics of what they’re reading, how to distinguish a beautiful passage from a dud. But once the book is closed, it becomes memorabilia. The wisdom of those magical pages remains forever between those two covers, never fully making its way into the mind and heart of the reader.

Haven’t you felt that frustration? You look at one of your books and think, Yeah, I read that a couple years ago, and remember it was pretty interesting. But what was it about, exactly? And what made it interesting? Short of reading the entire book again (which you aren’t eager to do), you don’t have a clear way of recalling the best gems. And it really doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read if you can’t remember what’s in any of them.

Think of it like this: remember Oregon Trail? Other than constantly having my oxen drown while fording a river, my biggest frustration in that game was always carrying meat back to the camp. Sure, I just shot a 1,000-pound buffalo, but apparently I can only carry 100 pounds of it back to my camp. What a waste.

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Every year, the SBC annual meeting produces a number of “moments” that stick in people’s minds. Depending on the tone and content of those moments, it can make you proud to be a Southern Baptist…or, sometimes, feel affirmed in your decision not to be one. This year, for most who attended the convention, the former seems to be the case.

Three of the biggest moments from this year’s convention all point together toward a hopeful future for the SBC. If you were there (or watching online), you probably heard about these. If not, here’s your refresher.

1. Discussing a resolution on the Confederate flag, Pastor James Merritt proposes an amendment to strengthen the resolution. “All the Confederate flags in all the world are not worth one soul of any race.”

2. Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, defends religious liberty for all (and he means all). “Sometimes we have to deal with questions that are really complicated. Sometimes we have really hard decisions to make. This isn’t one of those things.”

3. After two different votes for SBC president, and headed toward a contentious third vote, I announce my decision to withdraw my nomination:

Be sure to check out the interviews immediately following my announcement. Steve Gaines, as the new SBC president, held a brief press conference (here), and I was able to meet up with Baptist 21 (here).


If you’re looking for some summer reading (and you should be), here is my list of books I’ve read in the last 6 months that I would recommend. And “you’re welcome” for all the bad books I endured this year that I can now leave off this list.

These are not in order of preference, just random.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin. A classic, compelling book on the character and leadership of one of American history’s greatest heroes. Rarely have I been as inspired as when I finished the last few chapters of this book. I felt like I needed to read them standing up. Awesome. I was greatly disappointed at how sparsely Goodwin treated Lincoln’s growing faith in his last years and how it shaped almost all that he said and did. A glaring omission.

A Wind in the House of Islam, David Garrison. A book about the incredible ways God is moving all over the Muslim world. More Muslims have come to faith in Christ in the past few decades than in all the 1000+ previous years combined. As the old preacher says, “If this book don’t light your fire, your wood is wet.”

An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir. Think Hunger Games for adults, but without the goofy plot. Pretty good insight into totalitarian rule and human nature. You won’t be able to put it down.

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