Madeline L'Engle's Walking on Water is a must-read for any Christian who writes or feels the draw to create. The thoughtful meditations this book cont...moreMadeline L'Engle's Walking on Water is a must-read for any Christian who writes or feels the draw to create. The thoughtful meditations this book contains generate a lot of food for future thought. Filled with quotations and interactions with ideas from a variety of theologians, Christians will understand better their call to create and the discipline it takes to do things well. Those who are mothers or who appreciate L'Engle's other work will enjoy this even more. (less)
Before I was married and a mother, keeping the sabbath was easy. I read Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn to remind myself why I need to press...more
Before I was married and a mother, keeping the sabbath was easy. I read Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn to remind myself why I need to press on towards making my Sundays the way they ought to be, even in the midst of all of my busyness.
I really appreciated Keeping the Sabbath Wholly. Dawn works her way through four elements of sabbath keeping: ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting. As Christians, when we cease, we don’t just run away from everyday life, we assert that the things that drive our everyday lives don’t have ultimate authority over us. We mustn’t just take a nap or avoid exerting ourselves, we have to let our rest extend from the physical to the emotional and the intellectual so that it can renew our whole beings. By our ceasing and resting, we have room to embrace the values that we ought: intentionality, the Christian community, our callings, time instead of space, people instead of things and giving instead of requiring. And then, after the ceasing, resting and embracing, our feasting is that much sweeter.
Dawn makes sabbath keeping to her readers more than just a sound theological practice, but something that is inherently necessary for them to be all that God made them to be, and remarkably, does all of that without making the book one big guilt trip. “Sabbath keeping is not a dry duty or an oppressive obligation. It is a delight, a feasting on that which is eternal rather than a scrambling after the ephemeral success, the amassed wealth, the ceaseless activities, the elegant refinement that Americans think will grant them permanent happiness. Instead of trying to create our own security, we worship the one who is our security.”
I enjoyed Keeping the Sabbath Wholly a great deal and it was a wonderful reminder of truths that I used to know for myself but have lost along the way. My only major objections to it lie in Dawn’s practical application. She puts far too much emphasis on Jewish traditions of Sabbath keeping, which are extra-biblical. I do not think that lighting candles or saying the Kiddush and Havdalah are wrong. But her emphasis on them in her own practice might make readers feel that is the right way to keep the sabbath and there is certainly freedom to take or leave those practices. Personally, we are adapting prayers from the Christian tradition that fulfill the same purposes for our family. Overall, it’s an excellent book that I have and would recommend highly. (less)
I like reading about the Schaeffers. It got me thinking about ministry, family and hospitality and for that I am very thankful. I probably won’t read...moreI like reading about the Schaeffers. It got me thinking about ministry, family and hospitality and for that I am very thankful. I probably won’t read it again, abut I appreciated it for what it was (a rosy memoir.)(less)
This is easily the best contemporary Christian parenting book I’ve read. Clarkson writes about a model of family discipline that harkens back to the t...moreThis is easily the best contemporary Christian parenting book I’ve read. Clarkson writes about a model of family discipline that harkens back to the true meaning of the word: disciplemaking. His ideas fit well with the view that our children are also our brothers and sisters in Christ through baptism, and deserve to be treated as such. Unfortunately, he does rabbit trail into Harry Potter bashing in his attempts to explain the importance of filtering what media content goes into the home, but nobody’s perfect. (Borrowed from the library.)(less)
I hadn’t even finished the preface to Real Sex before I breathed a sigh of relief and thanksgiving that someone had finally written this book. Real Se...moreI hadn’t even finished the preface to Real Sex before I breathed a sigh of relief and thanksgiving that someone had finally written this book. Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity is a book that has been needed for quite some time, and Lauren Winner was up to the task. I read and thoroughly enjoyed her first two books (Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath) and am glad that she used her gifts at bringing the theological, historical, sociological and personal together in a compelling way on the subject of chastity.
Books about chastity have been written before. I was an older teenager when I Kissed Dating Goodbye hit the market in the midst of the True Love Waits craze. Both the book and movement served a purpose in their time and were particularly encouraging to teens, but failed at addressing the issues of singleness and chastity beyond the high school years. Real Sex is an intelligent and honest look beyond the surface at the issues of chastity. Winner comes to the conclusions that Scripture clearly provides, but with thoughtfulness, evidence, anecdotes and research that go beyond the proof-texting that has plagued the genre.
Real Sex is brutally honest about sexuality. Winner speaks about the communal aspect of sex, how it goes beyond the two involved partners and why the church should be in the business of talking about sex. As many of my friends are still single and others are in serious relationships, I was particularly convicted about my responsibility to talk frankly about sex with them, as awkward as it feels in our culture. I loved the section of the book where Winner exposes lies that the world and the church tell about sex. Lies such as the falsehood that sex can be seperated from procreation, that premarital sex will always make you feel bad, and that lingering gnostic belief that the sexual desires our bodies feel ae wrong. She also addresses at length how chastity is a spiritual discipline that all Christians are called to practice.
Though the book is well grounded theologically and philosophically, Winner weaves in pastoral and personal narratives that show her understanding of the struggles readers face and provides for areas of application. She tackles the proverbial question Christians ask about physical intimacy (”how far is too far?”) in the most satisfactory way I have encountered. She also addresses hot button issues such as lifelong celibacy, modesty, p0rn0gr4phy* and m4sturbat1on.
I was most surprised and encouraged by how much of Real Sex was relevant to me personally as a married woman. Real sex is sex within the union of marriage, and Winner is right to follow the example of the Apostle Paul in framing her thoughts on chastity around this central notion. She argues that real sex is the sex that happens in the midst of the routines and rhythms of everyday life, when dinner is cooking, bills are being paid or while you can hear the footsteps of your children going to the bathroom. Real sex is possible because of the shared life we have together, the way that we laugh and talk and cry and debate.
Real Sex by Lauren Winner is a must read for college students and singles in their twenties and beyond, but also encouraging and profitable to those who are thinking about the purpose of sex within marriage or about issues regarding chastity as parents. The book is 175 pages, an appropriate length to get readers thinking without trying to be a systematic ethic of chastity (which have been written before.) The bibliography and notes also provide a good backbone for further reading on the material Winner addresses for those who are interested in pursuing these issues further. I can’t recommend Real Sex for young teens, but for those with some exposure to the issues of sexuality, I can’t think of another book I’d recommend more highly. (less)
Andi Ashworth’s Real Love for Real Life is an excellent treatment of the Christian call to hospitality. Subtitled “the Art and Work of Caring,” the bo...moreAndi Ashworth’s Real Love for Real Life is an excellent treatment of the Christian call to hospitality. Subtitled “the Art and Work of Caring,” the book is of particular encouragement to those who are serving as caregivers on a full-time basis. In a world that pushes efficiency, speed and uniformity, Ashworth fights for the personal touch, for giving others our time and energy. Through her wonderful anecdotes, she helps readers to understand the importance giving of ourselves to create beauty and to make others welcome.
Ashworth helps readers to navigate the path of hospitality not entertainment and of true caring and not martyrdom. She doesn’t sugar coat caring or pretend that each day will be wonderful and feel fulfilling. She is also careful not to overwhelm readers and spends time explaining that giving care does not mean always saying yes or seeing yourself as the only one capable of caring. She emphasizes the importance of making room in our busy lives to care for others well.
Real Love for Real Life was a call for me to glorify God in the details, not to impress people but to show them that I love them. It was a reminder that even if I don’t always feel validated or encouraged for what I do as a full-time caregiver, I’m valuable and my work is of tremendous importance. I’d recommend this to any Christian woman, single or married, stay at home or working. It will be a tremendous encouragement to you. (less)
This is a reasoned apologetic for belief written by and for an urban, learned audience. Smarter and more convincing than most of the similar books in...moreThis is a reasoned apologetic for belief written by and for an urban, learned audience. Smarter and more convincing than most of the similar books in Christianity, it has a useful place in an evangelical's library. Keller skillfully goes through the most popular arguments against faith and belief and generally handles them with grace and ease. Probably would not hand it to a non-Christian unless they were really interested in that sort of thing.(less)
Winsome and wickedly funny, My Life With the Saints is part history, part theology and part memoir. Sharing about his own life and discovery of a vari...moreWinsome and wickedly funny, My Life With the Saints is part history, part theology and part memoir. Sharing about his own life and discovery of a variety of saints in the Catholic Church, James Martin helps readers to see the encouragement we find from other Christians (living and dead) while striving to follow God with our own unique gifts and experiences.
Far from being dry, Martin's interactions with the saints serve as a model for how others can study the saints for themselves, as companions and friends. He includes men and women, from many different ages of the church. As a Jesuit priest, Martin has a thoroughly Roman Catholic theology of the saints, but I think protestants can also learn a great deal from this book. (9/10) (less)
Not difficult to read, but fairly insightful, good for the genre of Christian worldview stuff. Some parts are outdated, but not so many it is a huge d...moreNot difficult to read, but fairly insightful, good for the genre of Christian worldview stuff. Some parts are outdated, but not so many it is a huge distraction.(less)