May 30, 2020

Announcing The iMonk Book Club

Put on your reading glasses, my fellow iMonks. We are introducing a book club here at the iMonastery.

Chaplain Mike will be taking a very well-earned sabbatical during the month of November as he completes coursework toward his ordination in the Lutheran church. I considered spending the month pondering the question, “When will Cincinnati ever get a professional football team?” Then I thought, Hey! Why not start a book club? And I found that to be the better question to ponder, so I did. And the answer that came to me was, “Why not indeed?”

We often review books here, but this will be different. Book reviews are one of us saying, “I read this book, here is what it says in a nutshell, now I recommend you read it on your own as well.” A book club is different. We will ask some questions and throw out some ideas as starters for discussion, but then the floor will be opened for you to share your thoughts.

For this to really work, you will need to read the book. And we are going to read four (Four? Four.) books in November. Yes, not all of you will be able to read all four. But how about if you try to read at least one? You are welcome to participate in the discussion even if you haven’t read the book, but it won’t be as much fun for you or the others. None of the books are overly-long or difficult to read. So there goes that excuse!

Here are the books in the order we will read them:

Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free by Tullian Tchividjian. I will lead the discussion on this one. Let me just say that, apart from just about anything by Robert Capon, this book encapsulates what the Christian life should look like more than anything I have ever read. It really is that good. I will be re-reading this for some time to come. (First week of November.)

Miracles: A Journalist Looks at Modern Day Experiences of God’s Power by Tim Stafford.  Lisa Dye will explore, with Stafford, the question: Does God still perform miracles today like Jesus did in his lifetime? Stafford is not a Charismatic preacher; rather, he is a journalist who asked this question honestly, and looks for honest answers. (Second week.)

Is God A Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan.  What do we make of God as seen in the Old Testament? How do we reconcile his committing genocide and ordering others to do the same with the God who is Love? I can’t wait to walk through this one with Craig Bubeck. He and I have talked about this off and on for ten years now. Be prepared to have the way you look at the Old Testament—indeed, all of the Bible—challenged to the roots. (Third week.)

Julian Of Norwich: A Contemplative Biography by Amy Frykholm. This will be a great way to wrap up our Book Club Month. Damaris Zehner and Martha of Ireland will look at the life of a woman who we really know almost nothing about. We’re not even sure her name was Julian. What we do know is she was the first woman to publish a book in the English language. And that her “divine revelations” of God are just as relavent today as they were in the fourteenth century. (Fourth week.)

You can purchase any or all of these books by clicking on their links on this page—that will take you straight to Amazon (where I buy almost all of my reading material these days). You can get them in printed fashion, or download them for your Kindle.

(Side note: I recently upgraded to a Kindle Fire, and am going to sell my Gen 3 Kindle. It comes with a pebble-grain leather cover and charger. I will sell it for $75 plus five bucks for shipping. All the money, minus the shipping costs, will go to iMonk. If you are interested, email me. First one gets it. You can pay through PayPal, and I’ll get it in the mail to you the next day.)

Ok. Time to get reading! Pray for Chaplain Mike to have a refreshing month away. Pray for Lisa, Craig, Damaris, Martha and me as we lead the discussions. And pray for my Cincinnati Bengals. Boy, do they need it.


  1. Great idea! Looking forward to the book discussion!

  2. I’m excited for the Copan discussion. It’s the only one of these I’ve read already, and since I’m overloaded with books this semester, this is the conversation I will be eagerly tracking!

  3. Wasn’t there some talk a few months ago about discussing “Bad Religion”? Did that end up happening?

  4. Jeff!! Wow!! I’m kind of excited. Though reading 4 books in 1 month reminds me of grad school and will give me nightmere’s tonight! 😀

    I’m reading a book by JI Packer with an evangelical friend of mine. Its called “Knowing God” and we’re banging our heads against each other!

    But the first 3 wow!! The second one…I was just talking about the problem of e genocidal God this evening. This could be helpful with that issue. I’ll have to look into that…

    BTW. I tried an evangelical chruch yesterday. Interesting is all I will say.

  5. Another Mary says

    Hooray! I’m up for it.

  6. I’ll jump in on the Glorious Ruin discussion, since I’m planning to buy that book next month anyway. I don’t consider myself a “fan” in the same way that people flock to megachurch pastors like Ed Young or Joyce Meyer, but Tullian really “gets” it.

    • I ordered Glorious Ruin this morning. I agree with Kyle – Tullian does seem to “get it”. Watched an introductory video in which he talks about the book. Quite insightful for a young man. Knew nothing about the book until the Book Club info was posted here.

  7. I just created a imonk book club list over on goodreads.

  8. A well earned break for Chaplain Mike indeed! I can barely keep up with reading as much as he writes. Perhaps if he takes a month off, I may indeed get around to actually reading a book!

  9. MelissatheRagamuffin says

    Can we read some books that aren’t new releases and I can get used for cheap?

  10. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free…I use a service where I can get books from many, many libraries in Maine delivered to the university library that I use. But, this book is nowhere in Maine in the libraries. So now I ask the library to see if they can get it somewhere in the US. If it is so new, it may be out or on hold for other people, so I don’t know if I will get the book in time or not. I have been doing well in not buying books for the past year!

  11. Jeff, does this mean we’re not going to read Mark Driscoll’s “Real Marriage?” 😛

  12. My book buying days are over. Unfortunately.
    There are no libraries anywhere near where I live either……

    If I could, I would pick the book about the “genocidal monster god”.
    I have always had lots of questions regarding him [although I think he is a mythical being], none of which were ever answered.
    Am eagerly looking forward to “listening” in to a discussion among those here who will be reading this book!

    This bookclub is a grest idea.

  13. Excellent. I’d like to add that no reading of Copan’s book is complete without Thom Stark’s magisterial response, Is God a Moral Compromiser? – available free in PDF here.

  14. Jodie Sargent says

    Im new here. So excited!!!!!