Life Canon

I've come across this idea a few times recently, and I think it's interesting: that is, that each of us have a group of books/documents/movies/etc. which we use as a foundation in our attempt to shape our lives and define our meaning. I saw that Aaron at therivermerchant had posted on his, and I thought I'd give it a go. He lays down several ground rules, the most significant of which, I think, is that these can't be sacred texts, bibles, etc.

I was suprised at how quickly these popped to mind and how undeniably canonical they are for me. Here are my top 10, submitted in no particular order for your voyeuristic pleasure:

1 and 2) Jurgen Moltmann's Crucified God and Theology of Hope (Two of a three part series which hugely informs my vision of God. Studied these for a year for my thesis.)

3) Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov (I always feel a little pretentious mentioning how much I like this book, but it hugely shapes my thinking on evil, suffering and religion. Spent my senior year of college trying to slog through it.)

4) David Sedaris' Naked (Defines the sense of humor that I want to emulate. Read it in two days on a rainy trip to Bellingham, WA.)

5) Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America (Defines the way I feel about my midwestern home. Read it almost entirely in one sitting in a cold and ugly apartment in New Zealand after buying it for a friend on her birthday.)

6) David Quammen's Song of the Dodo (Transformed the way I think about science and the natural world, and was the original seed of my environmentalism and pragmatic, pseudo-naturalist Christianity. Read it while working in a hotel in Louisville, getting mad when customers would interrupt.)

7) Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel (Finally convinced me that my fundamentalist Christian meta-narrative was scereeewwwed up. Read it primarily while waiting in line to give plasma during my senior year of college. As good a place to lose faith as any, I suppose.)

8) Mark Twain's Roughing It (Re-convinced me that being an American isn't all bad after coming home from New Zealand. Read it in a depressed period in Seattle while working in a warehouse.)

9) U2's Joshua Tree (The music that defined my adolescence, and I refound the shape of my faith in it years later. Still my favorite album, and the only one that I would call canonical.)

10) Albert Schweitzer's Out of My Life and Thought (My first non-evangelical theological Canonical text, sent me on the trajectory that I'm still following. Read it in in a small apartmen in Louisville during the year after marriage when I was trying to figure out who I was post-Asbury College.)


Shayne Mathis said…
If you like David Sedaris you should check out Augusten Burroughs: He's another sardonic gay dude that has no formal education and writes funny books. He's everything I aspire to be...except for the "gay dude" part.
Unknown said…
I saw "Running with Scissors..."