I offer three books for your consideration, two biographies of famous Methodists and one search for meaning that I think will connect with many.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David Blight (Simon and Schuster, 2018) was recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History, and is one of the best biographies I have read. It tells the story of the most famous African-American in 19th century America, from the terrors of his days as a slave through his rise to become a leading abolitionist, including his Christian faith rooted in deep reservoirs of biblical narratives and nurtured in the context of Methodist and African Methodist congregations. I highly recommend this book for those who like great history.  

The Spiritual Mandela: Faith and Religion in the Life of Nelson Mandela by Dennis Cruywagen (Imagine, 2018) tells the story of Nelson Mandela, focusing especially on how his faith, rooted in a strong Methodist identity, shaped him and strengthened him through his journey from young advocate to political activist to prisoner to President. Both of these books should give Methodist readers something to feel proud of, as we ponder the influence this movement has had through the generations.

The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life  by David Brooks (Random House, 2019) is the latest of the author’s sharing of his journey to find meaning and purpose in life. The journey he describes is one from a secular, self-centered, success-focused mindset to a recognition that getting to the top of that mountain still leaves one’s soul with a profound sense that something is still missing. Thus begins the journey of the second mountain, a spiritual, self-giving, moral-focused mindset that can bring deep satisfaction and joy. This book can offer much grist for the homiletical mill, as well as small group reflection for the kind of folks who would be our neighbors in Northern Virginia.