Reading List: January 2020

It’s a new year with new books to read. Somewhat surprising to me are two books that are political in Confident Pluralism and Win Bigly. Part of that reason may be in preparation for the upcoming elections and my own concern regarding the extreme polarization that we see on the news and in our communities. The third book, Your Future Self Will Thank You, is a book on spiritual formation through the development of self-control.

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Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Differences (John D. Inazu): 

The United States was founded on the idea of pluralism. There is no state religion and so forth. The idea is to make room for a plurality of beliefs and ideologies, even those we disagree with (and who disagree with us), in order to make the best society possible. In recent years, as America has become more polarized politically, our foundation in plurality is eroding. Inazu walks through parts of the Bill of Rights and makes his case for a confident pluralism that makes space for other people, over beliefs, and other points of view in order to keep our country strong.

The book was really interesting and has some great content. It also has a lot of case law and deciphering of the Bill of Rights that, well helpful, can really slow the read down.

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Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter (Scott Adams)

I listened to this book over the course of a day on a trip to Pennsylvania and back. It was highly entertaining as Adams examines the persuasive skills of Donald Trump during his Presidential campaign. Adams gives Trump far more credit than I have in regards to strategy and persuasion. However, from Adams’ perspective, there may be more to the words and strategy of Trump’s than meets the eye.

What I found interesting about the book is that Adams is a trained hypnotist and an expert at the art of persuasion. He shares different tips and tricks about how to leverage persuasion. Then, throughout the book, you see Adams using the same tips and tricks that he alluded to. For example, Adams talks about how important it is for someone to believe that you are an expert in order to be persuaded (i.e. Trump stating that he knows far more about some subject than anyone who has lived). Adams routinely reminds the reader that he is skilled and trained in the area of persuasion in order to persuade the reader that Adams has expertise here. It got to be rather circular with that.

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Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science (Drew Dyck)

This book really falls into the category of Spiritual Formation. Drew makes the case that self-control, which the Apostle Paul list as one of the fruit of the Spirit, is central to our spiritual formation. Self-control allows us to be loving when we want to lash out. Self-control helps us to turn away from lust. Self-control helps us to create new habits (keystone habits) that God uses to transform our lives.

While there are no silver bullets here (because they don’t exist), Drew does a great job of helping the reader understand the intersection of the Biblical, the scientific, and the real-life struggle of self-control. Most helpful was his discussion about “cues” and “rewards” for understanding our failures at self-control and how to reward positive new habits.

What have you been reading this month?

About Steve LaMotte

Husband of Andrea and father of four amazing children. Pastor at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford, Delaware.
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