Davenant Staff Summer Reading List 2023

Brad Littlejohn, President

This summer, I’ve committed to review four books, amidst a fair bit of teaching and travel, so those four books will probably make up the bulk of my reading. The first is Mark David Hall’s Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land: How Christianity Has Advanced Freedom and Equality for All Americans. The subtitle there gives you a good idea of what to expect. Hall has established himself the past few years as perhaps the leading Christian scholar of the American Founding and has done sterling work rebutting the myth of America’s “secular” or “Enlightenment” Founding; in this book, he broadens his counter-polemic, pushing back against regnant narratives that Christianity has been a force for oppression and discrimination throughout American history and demonstrating that the opposite is more generally the case. I’ll also be reading Sohrab Ahmari’s new book Tyranny, Inc., which promises to be an excellent new contribution to the rising awareness among Christians and conservatives that big business is most decidedly not our friend. The third book, which I’ll review for Ad Fontes, is in my historical wheelhouse: Reformation Anglicanism: Essays on Edwardian Evangelicalism. Too many Anglicans today continue to operate under the delusion that their church is half-Protestant, half-Catholic; renewed attention to the Church of England’s roots in the reign of Edward VI will offer a salutary corrective. The final review is a blast from the past: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Togethera classic of 20th century Protestant ethics and spirituality that remains very relevant today to conversations about Christian community in an age of isolation and alienation. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read the book, so when 9Marks asked me to read and review it for their readers, I jumped at the opportunity. Keep an eye on my Twitter (@WBLittlejohn) over the coming months if you’d like to see the reviews as they come out!

Colin Redemer, Vice-President

Midway through my life’s journey I am reading Parva Naturalia. This text explores the uncharted wilderness of the mind in which lies an elusive, profound realm where sensory experiences weave a dappled matrix of impressions. I, like a bear in a honey pot, am immersing myself in this world of sensory cognition, spending my summer plumbing its depths. My reading, a calculated foray into the understanding of perception, is no hootenanny. I am grappling with memes of exquisite power, echoing the wisdom of Aristotle: “The soul never thinks without an image.” From the dissection of dreams to the critique of technology’s encroachment on grand politics, readings that hinge on the pivotal role of perception touch both the high and the low. Each page is a milestone in the expedition for verity.

Perception, acting as humanity’s window to the world, defines our reality and shapes our interactions. Amid the cybernetic pandemonium that clouds our understanding of reality, the books on perception provide a clear lens to view our rapidly changing landscape. My summer study, then, is not merely a pastime—it’s an intellectual treasure hunt. Drawing inspiration from Aristotle then my summer reading delves into the intersection of perception and our interpretations of reality. It’s not just about shooting the breeze; this journey serves a higher purpose. I’m trying to finish my dissertation. 

Also I’ve been working on a review of Human, Forever by James Poulos.

Mark Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief, The Davenant Press

Leading a team that is often tasked with the development of some next-to-impossible goals for new product development, I plan on reading Safi Bahcall’s, Loonshots: Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries for inspiration. I am also endeavoring to improve comms amongst the Davenant press editorial staff this summer (beginning with myself, of course). To aid me in this undertaking, I’ll be reading Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide for Getting the Right Things Done

Rhys Laverty, Senior Editor, Ad Fontes

With a philosophy paper to write for my Davenant Hall M.Litt degree, I’ll be digging into Seth Bernadete’s The Being of the Beautiful, his translation and commentary on Plato’s trilogy of the Theatetus, the Sophist, and the Statesman, alongside Pierre Hadot’s Philosophy as a Way of Life, hoping to put the two into some kind of conversation. I’ll also be revisiting C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra for an exciting upcoming Davenant project which people will hear more about in the coming months. We have a newborn due on the 1st of July, and I used bottle feed and burping time with our last child to finally read Wuthering Heights, so I’m hoping to crack Jane Eyre this time around. I’ve also earmarked Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as holiday reading, but we’ll see how that goes on our first family holiday with three kids…

Tim Jacobs, Teaching Fellow

I’m reading The Trinity: On the Nature and Mystery of the One God by Thomas Joseph White, O.P., in order to deepen my understanding of the doctrine of God in connection with Thomistic thought and the history of trinitarian disputes. I intend to read The Roots of Reformed Moral Theology by Bruce Baugus in my ongoing research in reformed virtue ethics. I’ll also be reading historic sources in preparation for my upcoming Hilary 2024 class on Stoicism and Epicureanism. As for fiction, I’m finishing up a reread of The Lord of the Rings to cap off a year of Tolkien, having reread The HobbitSilmarillion, Unfinished TalesChildren of HurinBeren and Luthien, Fall of Gondolin, and Fall of NumenorI’m also reading Christian publisher Enclave’s bestselling fantasy book Dust: Heirs of Neverland and sequel Shadow by Kara Swanson. I’ll likely pick up something by Brandon Sanderson as well.

Dale Stenberg, Teaching Fellow

I’m reading A Mathematicians Apology by G.H. Hardy, The Intellectual Life: It’s Spirit, Conditions, and Methods by A.G. Sertillanges, and Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor by Avon Balthasar. For the lighter side of things, I’ve been reading through the fairy tales of George MacDonald

Michael Hughes, Carolinas Regional Teaching Fellow

I’m going to be doing some reading on the broader topic of rootedness/rootlessness in both fiction and nonfiction. This will include revisiting some Wendell Berry essays and likely at least one of his novels, reading The Need for Roots by Simone Weil, C.S. Lewis’ Pilgrim’s Regress, and various other works TBD as I chase rabbits down the various holes of history. I am additionally completing Rhythm of War (the final book in The Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson, reading the new work by Eugene Vodolazkin A History of the Island with a friend, finishing C.S. Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy with my wife, and continuing through the tome A History of Wales by John Davies.

Michael Riggins, Books & Arts Editor, Ad Fontes Journal

Currently I’m doing a deep dive into the tradition of spiritual exercises. For this, I’m making my way through Pierre Hadot’s Philosophy as a Way of Life, as well as Matthew Sharpe and Michael Ure’s excellent book of the same name, Philosophy as a Way of Life: History, Dimensions, Directions, an overview of the tradition of spiritual exercises that Hadot is working in. Alongside these, I’m doing a slow reading of Plotinus’s Enneads, trying to get as far as I can, in order to prepare for a reading group on Stephen R. L. Clark’s Plotinus: Myth, Metaphor, and Philosophical Practices that I will be involved in this fall. On the lighter side, I’m hoping to read James Runcie’s novel, The Great Passion, a historical novel about a young boy given a position as an apprentice to the great composer J.S. Bach.

Joshua Shaw, Davenant House Summer Residential Fellow

For personal edification I have been on a Schlatter kick – I read his New Testament Theology in the spring (vols. 1-2) and his Das Christliche Dogma this summer (unfortunately not translated!). I’ll also be slowly working through his mammoth Corinthians commentary for the class next spring. For the Alexandrian Theology class this fall I’ll be reading some classic scholarship by Biggs, Westcott and others – as well as a slow read-through of Vol. 4 of Philo’s Opera Omnia (starts with De Abrahamo). On the lighter side I’m reading the classics by Edith Hamilton on Greece, Rome, and mythology, which I have somehow managed to avoid till now – a true pleasure ro read.


Related Articles

Join our Community
Subscribe to receive access to our members-only articles as well as 4 annual print publications.
Share This