Thursday, December 01, 2016

What I'm Into (November 2016 Edition)

Wait, November is over already and December is here? How did that happen? What is that saying, that the days are long but the years are short? It does seem that way at times...

Books completed in November:
(Favorites are highlighted.)
  • The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster (11/4/2016)
  • UnClobber by Colby Martin (11/5/2016)
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (11/8/2016)
  • The Wind People by Marion Zimmer Bradley (11/11/2016)
  • Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans (11/16/2016)
  • The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (11/17/2016)
  • Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World by Dennis P. Hollinger (11/17/2016)
  • Doctor Who: Touched By An Angel by Jonathan Morris (11/18/2016)
  • The Fringe by Orson Scott Card (11/18/2016)
  • The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (11/21/2016)
  • Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted by Richard Beck (11/21/2016)
  • Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill (11/21/2016)
  • Infinity Ring Book 1: A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner (11/28/2016)
  • The Rover by Drew Magary (11/28/2016)
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham (11/30/2016)

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life!!!!!!!!!! 
I went to a viewing party with friends and this was our spread for dinner in  honor of the Gilmore Girls:

Other shows I am watching:

Me and my brother =)

My uncle and my brother, playing Pandemic. Fun game!

What I'm Into

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Ten Authors I am Thankful for

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics and info on how to participate, click here!

1. C. S. Lewis - I could go on and on about all the ways Lewis has influenced me for the better. I have written briefly about how reading the works of C. S. Lewis "baptized my imagination", to steal Lewis's own phrase.

2. N. T. Wright - What Saint Paul Really Said was the first book I read by Wright, way back in 2004 in Dr. Stepp's Biblical Theology class. Several years later I read Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, which was paradigm shifting. I wrote a bit about that here. I'm currently in the middle of reading his latest book, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion.
3. Peter Enns - I just re-read The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins for my paper on how to read/interpret Genesis 1-2. I would like to re-read Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament and The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It. I also enjoyed The Sin of Certainty, which was just published last spring.

4. Madeleine L'Engle - Reading her words is like a breath of fresh air. I love the Wrinkle in Time series as well as Walking on Water. And I just bought copies of her Genesis trilogy to read.
5. Greg Boyd - Benefit of the Doubt was great, as was Is God to Blame? and Letters from a Skeptic. I still want to get through some of his longer texts (God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict and Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy) I'm also really looking forward to his new book: The Crucifixion of the Warrior God
6. Rachel Held Evans - I feel like Rachel is a kindred spirit. I love all three of her books (Evolving in Monkey Town, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Searching for Sunday) and look forward to reading future books she writes.

7. Sarah Bessey - I loved Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts! (I can't wait to read what's next from her!)

8. Charlie W. Starr - My English professor/mentor from college, he has been a major encouragement to me in my own studies of English and C. S. Lewis. I love King Lesserlight's Crown: A Children's Story for Grownups, Too and of course Light: C. S. Lewis's First and Final Short Story. I also have found his book on wrestling with God to be quite helpful at different times in my life: Honest to God: Wrestling Your Way to Intimacy with the Creator. I'm excited about the books he has in the works also.

9. Brennan Manning - I love everything I have read by Brennan. His writing exudes the grace and love of God. A few of my favorites are: The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, Abba's Child, and All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir.

10. J. R. R. Tolkien - Without Tolkien's influence on Lewis, Lewis may not have become a Christian! So there's that, not to mention the masterpiece that is The Lord of the Rings!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Top Ten Books on My To Read List

Top Ten Books on My To Read List

1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I heard about this one from Sarah Bessey and I was intrigued. Multiverse? Alternate Realities? Yes please!

Description from Goodreads:
“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable--something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

2. Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles #1) by Colin Meloy
My friend Dana personally recommended this one to me and compared it to Narnia, so I have to give it a try.

3. Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz #1) by Brandon Sanderson
I heard about this one through a recommendation on my Audible account and it looks like fun.

4. A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1) by James Dashner
I love time travel stories, what can I say?

5. The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2) by Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan plus Norse Mythology, sounds like fun.

6. Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read and Live the Bible Well by Glenn R. Paauw
I remember Rachel Held Evans recommending this one on Twitter a couple of times and so I thought I'd check it out.

7. Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today by Adam Hamilton
Another twitter recommendation but I can't remember who recommended it to me.

8. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion by N.T. Wright
I basically want to read everything N. T. Wright has written... and that is quite a lot...

9. Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted by Richard Beck
I listened to a podcast from the Deconstructionists featuring Richard Beck and I think that's when I decided I wanted to read this one.

10. Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture by Kenton L. Sparks 
I may have heard about this one from Rob Bell? I can't remember for sure.

                   For future Top Ten Tuesday topics and info on how to participate, click here!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What I'm Into (September-October 2016)

Time got away from me last month and I never posted my "What I'm Into" post, so I'm just combining the two months into this post.

Books completed in September:

  • The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (9/2/2016)
  • Heirs of Grace by Tim Pratt (9/6/2016) - This was a fun fantasy book. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
  • Impossible Dreams by Tim Pratt (9/6/2016) - Fun short story.
  • The Legend of Sam Miracle (Outlaws of Time #1) by N.D. Wilson (9/8/2016)
  • 2BR02B by Kurt Vonnegut (9/15/2016)
  • The Defenders by Philip K. Dick (9/15/2016)
  • The Songs Of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke (9/15/2016)
  • The Pastor as Moral Guide by Rebekah Miles (9/21/2016)
  • A Tale of Mist and Shadow by M.R. Laver  (9/30/2016)
  • Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science by Mike McHargue (9/30/2016) - I really enjoyed this spiritual memoir. I may not have quite the science brain that Mike McHargue does, but I've dealt with my own fair share of doubts along the journey so I found it helpful and refreshing to hear his own journey.

Books completed in October:

  • Salvage by Orson Scott Card (10/10/2016)
  • Jesus Wants to Save Christians: Learning to Read a Dangerous Book by Rob Bell (10/10/2016)
  • Time Enough at Last by Lyn Venable (10/21/2016)
  • Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies by J.K. Rowling (10/22/2016)
  • The Portion of the Poor by M. Douglas Meeks, Ed. (10/24/2016)
  • Changing Our Mind by David P. Gushee (10/28/2016)
  • Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally by Marcus J. Borg (10/30/2016)

These are the 4 podcasts I've been listening to the most lately:

4. Pangea sermons by Kurt Willems - There's a great series on the politics of Jesus (spoiler alert, Jesus is not a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent, etc...)

Other podcasts I'm behind on include The Liturgists Podcast, All About Jack: A C. S. Lewis Podcast, Jonathan Martin's podcast. And I just added a couple of others I'd like to check out...


I finally caught up on Arrow! I started watching season 1 on Netflix back in August I think and I finished season 4 a couple of weeks ago. So now I can watch season 5 as they air on TV. But I miss the old team...

In addition to Arrow, I have three other superhero shows I watch: Supergirl, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow.

As for new shows, I'm watching Designated Survivor (Jack Bauer for President! Ok, so Kiefer Sutherland isn't really Jack Bauer, and his character on the new show is quite the opposite of Jack Bauer, but still...)

I just watched the first two episodes of Timeless. They were okay. I mean it's a show about time travel so I should like it.

So many people were raving about This is Us that I started watching that too.


At the beginning of October, the Neyhart family gathered at the Etna Green Church of Christ to honor my Grandpa Neyhart for his many years of service to the church. And it was a surprised for him. Here are some pictures from that day:
I think he was a bit confused to see his KY family there =)

HT to my Uncle Tom Lemler for a great picture of Grandpa!

My dad and his siblings reenacted a photo from their childhood on the porch of the parsonage:

Later in the month I was babysitting my cousin's boys:

A photo posted by Jennifer Neyhart (@jenniferneyhart) on

And then last night my cousin's kids were the cutest little trick-or-treaters ever!

What I'm Into

Friday, September 02, 2016

My Comfort Books

This post is completely inspired by this post by Sarah on Thoroughly Alive.

Like Sarah, when I feel like the world is going mad and I am struggling to see much good in it at all, I tend to turn to my books. But not just any book. Usually what I want in those moments is something to pull me into a world of wonder and fantasy or science fiction. Something to remind me that there is still good in the world.

And here, I will simply quote Sarah, who also quotes Tolkien:
"My best beloved stories are the ones in whose vision of the world I can dwell as in a shelter. I love books that allow me to see the beauty of the world afresh through their words, whose narrated worlds reaffirm the possibility in my own. Tolkien made quick, scornful work of the critics who accused readers of fantasy or fiction of ‘escapism’. The critics, huffed Tolkien, confuse ‘the escape of the prisoner with the flight of the deserter’. We read fantastical tales and imagined worlds not to escape reality, but to discover it afresh. When our capacity to see and wonder has been diminished by exhaustion, grief, or boredom, a fairy tale (or any good novel in my opinion) puts us in an imagined world where we realize anew ‘the potency of words, and the wonder of things such as stone, and wood, and iron; tree and grass; house and fire; bread and wine.’ (From the essay ‘On Fairy-Stories’.) Tolkien’s word for it was Recovery. Recovery of vision, of wonder, of hope. And the books I read for comfort are the ones whose worlds help me to win back my own sense of wonder and with it, my will to create, to love, to work once more in my own circle of days."
So here are some of the first books, or, well, series of books, that spring to my mind when I think of comfort books:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (no surprise there, right?)

  • A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of the series by Madeline L’Engle


  • The Cosmic Trilogy/Ransom Trilogy by C. S. Lewis

  • The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

These are all books I find myself returning to time and time again like old friends.

What are your comfort books?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What I'm Into (August 2016 Edition)


Currently Reading:
  • Lord Willing?: Wrestling with God's Role in My Child's Death by Jessica Kelley
  • A Tale of Mist and Shadow by M. R. Laver
  • Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science by Mike McHargue
  • The Heart of Light: A Tale of Solomon Star by Charlie W. Starr
  • The Chapel of the Thorn: A Dramatic Poem by Charles Williams 
Finished in August:
  • Rise of The Circle (Meta #3) by Tom Reynolds (8/2/2016)
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (8/5/2016)
  • Reading for the Common Good by C. Christopher Smith (8/8/2016)
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown (8/23/2016)
  • Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer (8/25/2016)
  • How to Be Evangelical without Being Conservative by Roger E. Olson (8/29/2016)
  • Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest by Jennifer Crusie (8/31/2016)

I've been re-watching Gilmore Girls to prepare for November 25th when the new episodes air on Netflix! I've also been watching a lot of The Big Bang Theory re-runs on TV because they always make me laugh.

I've really been enjoying "The Paulcast" by Kurt Willems.
I also really enjoyed the 4 part series on God from Pete Rollins on the RobCast.
I need to catch up on The Liturgists Podcast and The Deconstructionists Podcast.

I went to Chicago for work again at the beginning of the month but I didn't take any pictures apparently. My department did a team building exercise at one of those "breakout/escape" rooms where you have to solve puzzles and riddles and things in order to find keys and get out of the room you are in and that was pretty fun.

The night before I left for Chicago, I went to see Beauty and the Beast at The Derby Dinner Playhouse with my family. It was an early birthday present for my mom.

What I'm Into

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book Review: Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish by C. Christopher Smith

Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish by C. Christopher Smith

Paperback, 179 pages
Published June 12th 2016 by IVP Books

Description from Goodreads: We have been created to live and work in community. But all too often we see ourselves primarily as individuals and run the risk of working at cross-purposes with the organizations we serve. Living faithfully in a neighborhood involves two interwoven threads: learning and action. In this book C. Christopher Smith, coauthor of Slow Church, looks at the local church as an organization in which both learning and action lie at the heart of its identity. He explores the practice of reading and, in his words, "how we can read together in ways that drive us deeper into action." Smith continues, "Church can no longer simply be an experience to be passively consumed; rather, we are called into the participatory life of a community. Reading is a vital practice for helping our churches navigate this shift." Discover how books can help your churches and neighborhoods bring flourishing to the world. 

Summary: Reading for the Common Good explores how reading in community, specifically the church community, creates a learning community and shared social imagination which results in clearer congregational identity, sense of mission, and wider engagement with the neighborhood, environment, economics, and politics.

Smith lays out his thesis at the beginning of the book:
“In this book, we will view the local church as a sort of learning organization, in which both learning and action lie at the heart of its identity. We will explore the practice of reading—perhaps the most important component of learning in the twenty-first century—and consider how we can read together in ways that drive us deeper into action” (12).
Smith encourages us to enlarge our vision of reading, noting that we are formed by the books we read. While we start with the Bible, we expand out from there, reading broadly across “theology, history, urban theory, ecology, agriculture, poetry, child development, economics, fiction and more" (15).  Smith’s vision for reading goes beyond the individual to his congregation and community.

You can get a sense of the book’s trajectory from the chapter titles, listed below:

Introduction: The Local Church as Learning Organization
1. Slow Reading in Accelerating Times
2. Shaping the Social Imagination
3. Reading and Our Congregational Identity
4. Discerning our Call
5. Reading with Our Neighbors
6. Deepening Our Roots in Our Neighborhoods
7. Hope for Our Interconnected Creation
8. Toward Faithful Engagement in Economics and Politics
9. Becoming a Reading Congregation
Epilogue: Revive Us Again
Reading Lists
List 1: Recommended Reading for Going Deeper
List 2: Englewood Christian Church Reading List


  • Well written
  • Some good ideas (I especially like the idea of the way books read us and form us.)
  • Great annotated bibliography at the end of the book. 


  • Seems a little thin on the question of how to get our church to be a reading church. (Though Chapter 9 attempts to address this question.)
  • The question the subtitle of the book sets itself up to answer is “How do books help our churches and neighborhoods flourish?” While Smith does set out to answer this question, I found myself wanting more practical and concrete answers. It all felt rather abstract at times.
  • Sometimes Smith’s ideas seem a bit too, well, ideal. Even though he talks about his own church and community, it just doesn’t seem like his ideas would work as well in other places.  

Reading for the Common Good Purchase Links: Paperback ($11.24), Kindle Edition ($10.68)

I received an e-copy of this book from IVP through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.