Picking up a book to read is like getting the ball on the field. Your intent is to carry it to the end-zone and score a touch-down. Your plan is to finish the book. At least this is true for me most of the time. I do dip into books without the intention of reading them through, but - more often than I care to admit - I fumble books that I originally planned to finish. Somehow they cease to be priorities, a few weeks or even months roll by and it dawns on me I'm not going to finish this book.
Here are a few of my fumbled reads from 2005.
Perspectives Old and New: The Lutheran Paul and His Critics by Stephen Westerholm. I really wanted to finish this book. Really. It is one of the key books on the New Perspective on Paul and has been highly recommended by men that I trust for those who want to sort through the knotty problems of contemporary Pauline theology. And I made a good attempt. I got through part one, where Westerholm survey's the Pauline theology of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. I read a whole lot of the stuff on the newer perspectives (and it was tough going!) - especially the material that was most relevant to me (on N. T. Wright and other more Evangelical friendly scholars) and a good bit on the responses from more "Lutheran" Pauline scholars (although I think that is a simplistic and maybe even unhelpful label). But I didn't read Westerholm's own exposition of Pauline theology and didn't finish the book. I'm guessing I've got 150 pages left or so. The reason? I just don't have time and energy for it. The press of more urgent study for sermon preparation takes the majority of my time, and when I'm finished with that, my mental energies are like left-overs and I find myself lacking energy for serious theological study. That's when I turn to a novel or biography or something light. So, this is one book I fumbled. I had every intention of finishing it last year, but just didn't make it. I still plan to, someday. But I suspect it will be quite a while, so I'm taking it off my "Books I'm Reading" section.
Heaven's Wager - Ted Dekker. I read about six Ted Dekker novels early last year and tried to get into this one. I couldn't. I read 100 pages and was still not hooked. That spells bad news for a novelist for me, because I don't want to have to work to read for fun. So I dropped it. I still like Dekker, but this novel (an older one) gets lost in the details and suffers from stilted - even corny - dialogue. I have no intention of trying again.
Church History in Plain Language - Bruce Shelley. I just read 100 pages or so from this and think it is a great book. It's another one that I'd like to finish someday, and will probably reference from time to time. But it's just not benefiting me enough right now to keep working at it. Incidentally, it is a fairly easy book to read - it lives up to its title.
The Goldsworthy Trilogy - Graeme Goldsworthy. I got through Gospel and Kingdom in a day, and it was one of the great delights of my reading last year. The other two books in this volume - Gospel and Wisdom and The Gospel in Revelation - are still on my list. I started the latter and liked what I read, but as with some of the titles above, I really don't have time to pursue it right now. Someday, when I really want to buckle down and study the Book of Revelation, I'll take it up again. For now, other things are more important.