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Great Books: Volume 1

“Great Books” is a new blog series where I ask pastors, deacons and members of North about books they love, books they have found helpful and books that have influenced them. My hope is that readers will get to know the personality of the men and women I interview and be left with a list of enlightening, edifying and entertaining books. 

-Drew Schrimsher Media and Communication Director

What is your name and role at North?

“My name is Donovan Medina and I am the Pastor of Worship and Arts here at North.”

Can you tell me a little bit about your family? 

“My wife's name is Molly, and we have five kids—Elias, Laura, Kennedy, Taylor and Bree.” 

Why is reading important to you? 

“The main reason why I read is so that I can stay in touch with the ABC’s. I’m still trying to conquer the dyslexic lower case 'b' and 'd.' I’m almost 40 years old and still have to pause and think about which one is which.

I read for a few of other reasons. 

To learn about or analyze a subject of interest. For example, I wanted to understand the science behind why humans laugh, so  I studied laughter for a couple of years. The study still has me on an absurd journey. I also read a bunch of books on Texas Hold’em. I had this drive to know various systems and strategies for poker, so I studied the game for about three years. I'm pretty sure my kids could bring home some cash from the poker table at the casino.

  1. To understand an unfamiliar perspective. Last year I wanted to know the motivating political philosophy behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Both leaders were influenced by Saul D. Alinsky, who wrote a sort of guidebook for change and reform called, “Rules for Radicals." 

  2. To challenge my predetermined judgements and preconceptions. I live in a world that is constantly trying to shape what I think and believe about so many issues. I will often ask myself why I feel so strongly about certain ideas. When I include books that are contrary to my own judgements and preconceptions, both sympathy and empathy emerge as I feel the struggle of my fellow humans."  

What is the most influential theological book you've read? 

“Chapter 6 of “Created for Worship” by Noel Due. The chapter is about how Jesus is the perfection of New Covenant worship. Jesus is both the Great High Priest and perfect sacrifice who presented his own blood while entering into the true Holy Place. This means that I can enter into the presence of God with assurance of faith and boldness. And as a worship director, I do not have the ability to lead anyone into God's presence. Jesus does it all.”

What is the most influential non-fiction book you've read? 

“The Inner Game of Tennis,” by Timothy Gallwey. This book is not really about tennis, it’s more about responding and reacting to present circumstances without overanalyzing. 

I also have to mention “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America,” by Colin Woodard. American history and culture are more complex than red and blue state politics. 

What is the most influential fiction book you've read? 

“Not sure that I can say that it was influential but it was fun reading the “The Stand” by Stephen King. It was more of an accomplishment since it was about 1,500 pages. 

Also, “Slaughter House Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. This is sort of a fiction-non-fiction book. Vonnegut used science-fiction to talk about what it was like for him to survive the Dresden bombings and his life afterwards. While Dresden was being bombed, Vonnegut was an imprisoned soldier who was in a basement underneath the city. After the bombing was finished, he walked out of the basement and into the open air. The entire city was flattened and human life was eradicated. There should have been complete stillness and silence in air after the massacre but the birds kept tweeting. So it goes. This is a book that challenges me to think about perspective on a daily basis.”

What are you currently reading? 

  1. I’m working my way through a list of "The Best Short Stories of All Time.”

  2. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

  3. The Book of Acts