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Best Books of 2021

What good is reading all the books I have, if I don’t publish an end-of-year list applauding my absolute favorites?

Tyler’s Top Five

Dominion by Tom Holland

Holland’s sweeping history of Christianity - stretching back to its Jewish roots and marching right up to our present moment - is remarkably thorough, beautifully written, and gloriously complex. What he describes is nothing short of a revolution - the reality that our conceptions of love and justice and mercy and fairness and peace trace their roots to one small group that followed one solitary person.

“In a city famed for its wealth, Paul proclaimed that it was the ‘low and despised in the world, mere nothings’, who ranked first. Among a people who had always celebrated the agon, the contest to be the best, he announced that God had chosen the foolish to shame the wise, and the weak to shame the strong. In a world that took for granted the hierarchy of human chattels and their owners, he insisted that the distinctions between slave and free, now that Christ himself had suffered the death of a slave, were of no more account than those between Greek and Jew.”

A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards

How do you know what’s in your heart? You watch what comes out when you’re crushed. Edward’s classic dramatized retelling of Old Testament family conflict highlights the importance of trust, patience, gentleness and radical acceptance.

“Better he kill me than I learn his ways. Better he kill me than I become as he is. I shall not practice the ways that cause kings to go mad. I will not throw spears, nor will I allow hatred to grow in my heart. I will not avenge. I will not destroy the Lord’s anointed. Not now. Not ever!”

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

The funniest book I read all year, Rowley’s The Guncle tackles significant themes with lighthearted repartee that causes readers to laugh, think, and reflect on what matters most in life.

“There are two tragedies in life: one is not getting what you want, the other is getting it.”

“He never wanted other people to see the sadness. He was so afraid people wouldn’t laugh if everyone knew how twisted he looked on the inside… But he wasn’t living, he was hiding. From people. From friends. From family. From love. From work. From art. From contributing. From everything that mattered.”

The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez

Lopez’s TONY Award-winning play speaks of the hurts, hopes, and hearts of generations of gay men. It’s tender monologues, witty jokes, and heartbreaking lessons make it a real standout.

“Eric had spent his life refusing to make waves because he knew that it was in them that the weakest swimmers drowned.”

Heavy Burdens by Bridget Eileen Rivera

I’ve respected Bridget for years - as a writer, a thinker, as a person. With a heart as big as her brain as big as her courage, she writes a book that’s inspiring, convicting, provocative and tender - all at once. I only hope this book gains the consideration it deserves.

“Protestant Christianity is a Christianity that is deeply in love with sex. Although many conservative evangelicals commonly view sexual liberation as contradicting their beliefs, the sexual revolution of the twentieth century, far from being a rebellion against Christianity, was in fact a very natural evolution of the basic premises developed by Christians five hundred years prior… The result is a worldview… that promises heterosexual Christians everything they could possibly desire out of sex, as long as it takes place within the context of heterosexual marriage. Marriage can be defined apart from the sacraments. It can be defined apart from procreation. It can even be defined apart from a lifelong, one-flesh union, as even remarriage is okay. But it can’t be defined apart from the sexual needs and desires of everyday Christians who happen to be straight.”

Honorable Mention

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

The Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark A. Noll

The Boy Who Cried Abba by Brennan Manning


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