Thinking Out Loud

November 29, 2018

Book Review: Not Dressed for the Occasion

As more and more people are diagnosed with ADHD, and the internet erodes the attention span of the rest of us, I would expect books which offer smaller bites are an ideal reading retreat in a distracted world. Mart DeHaan did this a decade ago with Been Thinking About, but for the most part, if you want a quick read on your lunch break or before falling asleep, most of what’s out there is either fictional short stories or collections of news stories involving emergency responders performing heroic acts.

What if there were simply a collection of articles which — not unlike the blog you’re reading now — offered some thought-provoking insights into a somewhat random collection of topics? What if, in your own busyness you could consider a faith-focused subject with a three or four minute investment?

Not Dressed for the Occasion by Ron Harris (with Christine Winter) is one such book.

The 71 articles are gathered here in a form the author says, “has no beginning and no end.” You can jump in anywhere and read as many or as few as time permits. The articles are somewhat devotional in nature — think something 3 to 5 times longer than Our Daily Bread, The Upper Room or if you’re in the UK, Every Day With Jesus — which allows more space to anchor the reading in more than one scripture text reference. Each piece is clearly written from a pastor’s heart.

But the articles are also topical. Ron leads a congregation about 40 minutes east of Toronto and there are frequent references to current Canadian current news stories and organizations, though he has also ministered in England and South Africa. Although his church is Charismatic, I would argue that the writing gives the book a much broader appeal, as do citations of everyone from Tim Keller to Rick Joyner, along with the use of a wide variety of Bible translations.

Collections of this nature are also very suitable for older readers, though the publisher has inexplicably chosen to set the book in one of the smallest fonts of any Christian book I own, other than some Bibles. The book can also be used as springboard for topical discussions in a less formal small group setting.

Not Dressed for the Occasion is published by Word Alive Press and available throughout the U.S. and Canada through Anchor Distributing. (9781486616763, paperback, $17.99 US/Can.) The book is one of only a few in the Christian market belonging to a rather unique genre and I would argue it thereby fills a need.

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September 1, 2016

People Who Consistently Crank Out Great Writing

Top Christian blogs

We did this back in March of 2014 with an article title Substance Consistently and I’ve been wanting to update that for some time.

  • Ed Cyzewski – If the about page leads off with the author’s identity as a freelance writer, you know the writing is going to be above par. The blog is subtitled Contemplative and it will make you think.
  • Stephen AltroggeThe Blazing Center is home to Steven, Mark Altrogge and Barnabas Piper. Although we aren’t from the same theological tribe, I really enjoy the variety of articles here; they tackle subjects I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
  • Scott McCown – We’ve gone back seven times for material at Scott’s blog, The Morning Drive, to use at our own C201 blog. He’s a Church of Christ pastor in Alabama. (The state, not the band.)
  • Jackson Ferrell – Another C201 connection, this one is recent. At Chocolate Book a Bible passage is paired with a chocolate flavor of the day. It’s a win-win! Jackson is a graphic artist who writes with straight-shooting honesty and transparency.
  • Micael Grenholm – This Swedish writer’s blog, Holy Spirit Activism, brings both a charismatic/pentecostal perspective and a European perspective to matters of faith. 
  • Lorne Anderson –  A longtime friend, Lorne had just started up Random Thoughts when we did our 2014 list, but dived into blogging with abandon and posts every day. Some items are more Canadian in substance, and not everything is faith-centered, but this has become a must-read for me, and when I miss, I play catch-up.
  • name withheld – The author of Wintery Knight has a fairly good apologetic for keeping his blog anonymous owing to some high level position he holds. (The blog’s subtitle indicates the theme is faith in the public square.) The intrigue just keeps it all the more interesting.
  • Aaron Wilkinson – Yes, he’s my son, but he’s writing some interesting stuff at this, his second blog, Voice of One Whispering, aka Voxus Surrantis which reflect his varied interests and unique perspective.
  • Clarke Dixon – Clarke is my source for Wednesday articles at C201. His Sunday’s Shrunk Sermon is a posting of his sermon notes from his Baptist church in Ontario, Canada. I always learn something new.
  • Scot McKnight – When Jesus Creed got left off the original list, I added it a few hours later, but it’s one from that list I still check regularly and wish I had time to read it all, as there are often several daily items to chose from.
  • Greg Boyd – Also one of two here from the original list, I am a rabid fan of Re-Knew. You don’t have to convert to open theology or pacifism to be a reader, either.

The Missing Link: Although it’s easy to find, I chose not to link to the 2014 article. My tastes have changed considerably. These are some people on the top of my computer bookmarks I wanted to share today. 

The Many Missing Links: I know what you’re thinking, Where are the Women? I tried to address this before the list first appeared, but decided I didn’t want to simply include some token female writers, but want to take more time to develop a list because I do, in fact, read several women writers. We dealt with this challenge four years ago with this link-packed article.

By the way, although he’s busy doing eBooks and podcasts right now and didn’t meet our 30-day litmus test, Skye Jethani is one of my favorite thinkers and is possibly one of Evangelicalism’s best kept secrets. Here’s one from earlier in the summer which never made the link list: Are Christian Tattoos The New Circumcision? Sample: “Because the absence of a foreskin carried so much meaning in the ancient world, in a real way it was the prototype religious/consumer brand—an external mark of one’s identity; a visible symbol that provoked feelings of national and religious pride in the imaginations of God’s people.” Branding. I never thought of it that way.

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