James Hampton's Summer Reading List

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While reading is a year-long discipline for any academic, I find that my summer reading tends toward more non-academic books, though not entirely. With that as a precursor, here are five books I’m reading or have read this summer.

Fun Reading

The Spirit Well (the third book in the Bright Empires series) by Stephen Lawhead (Thomas Nelson). I’m a huge fan of fantasy/adventure type books, and a fan of Lawhead in particular. This series of his has fascinated me, both for it’s interweaving of historical fiction, religious imagery and ideas, and an underlying theme that everything is about the struggle between good and evil and that we all play a role in the final outcome.

The Inferno by Dan Brown (Doubleday). Brown is best known for his works The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, both of which revolve around a Harvard symbologist named Robert Langdon who utilizes his problem solving skills and ability to read past history to solve complex problems. The Inferno is the 4th book in this series about Langdon. I like the author’s ability to utilize history, art, codes, and symbols to derive clues that help him solve the problem he is asked to solve. It’s pure escapist literature, but fun nonetheless.

100 Things Reds Fan Should Know and Do Before They Die by Joel Luckhaupt (Triumph Books). I was born just miles from Crosley Field where the Cincinnati Reds played in the 1960’s and have them in my blood. Growing up, I had the privilege of going to games at Riverfront Stadium during the 1970’s and watching the Big Red Machine perform their magic. I thought I knew a lot about the Reds, but Luckhaupt’s book is full of interesting pieces of information of which I was unaware. It is divided into 100 short (2-3 page) chapters, which makes it great for picking up when I have just a few minutes to spare.

Academic Reading

Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K. A. Smith (Baker). This is a book I’ve read pieces of over the last couple of years, but finally decided that I needed to read it straight through. I find Smith’s analysis of contemporary culture insightful, but more importantly gravitate to his understanding of the cultural liturgies we tend to follow and the impact they have on us. A provocative work that would benefit all pastors.

Being as Communion by John Zizioulas (St Vladimirs Seminary Press).  I’m writing a book that attempts to create a practical theology of staff ministry based on the perichoresis of the Trinity. As such, I find that Zizioulas’ book has been helpful to better understand the concept of person as historically defined by theology and therefore extrapolating to how staff members should treat one another as persons.

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James Hampton is Professor of Youth Ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary. He formerly served as the chair of the Association of Youth Ministry Educators, a professional organization for those who teach youth ministry at the graduate or undergraduate level. He is an editor for the Journal of Youth and Theology. James and his wife, Carolyn, have two children.

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