This book was quite a slog, but gave a very thorough overview of Dante's political activities throughout his life. I found myself getting frustrated bThis book was quite a slog, but gave a very thorough overview of Dante's political activities throughout his life. I found myself getting frustrated by Santagata's lack of discussion over what makes the Commedia transcendent: Dante's deep faith in God and the Church (despite corrupt priests and popes) and his enduring love for Beatrice. The Commedia is undeniably political, but it is so much more than that. But I get the impression that Santagata believes practically every line to be politically motivated. If you want to get deep into the weeds of the nightmarishly complex Italian politics of Dante's day, this book is for you. Otherwise, I would probably give it a miss....more
I found this on a list of recommended reading about race from The Gospel Coalition. This is a great book for evangelicals who don't believe there is aI found this on a list of recommended reading about race from The Gospel Coalition. This is a great book for evangelicals who don't believe there is a race problem. It does get a bit dull part way through (the book is the result of a sociological study and is focused on publishing data from the study). My main criticism is that it ignores the role of the Holy Spirit in changing hearts and institutions. Of course, the authors are looking primarily at the problem through the lens of sociology and rightly conclude that it seems almost hopeless. But they are leaving out the main ingredient for change. Also, the study probably needs to be updated because the data is about 15 years old. But it is a great introduction to the racial problems facing evangelical churches in America....more
This book is probably more like 3.5 stars, but I'll be generous. It turned out to be more autobiographical and devotional than I expected, but was stiThis book is probably more like 3.5 stars, but I'll be generous. It turned out to be more autobiographical and devotional than I expected, but was still good nonetheless. At the end of each chapter, there is a text box with pity and obvious advice; I found my enjoyment improved greatly when I skipped them....more
A must read for anyone who cares at all about fairness in society. Stevenson describes in heartbreaking detail the injustices some of his clients haveA must read for anyone who cares at all about fairness in society. Stevenson describes in heartbreaking detail the injustices some of his clients have experienced, primarily at the hands of the state of Alabama. I couldn't put it down. John Grisham put it best in his review: "Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South."...more
This jumped out at me at the library while I was looking for audiobooks, so I picked it up – something I rarely do with books. This isn't really a bioThis jumped out at me at the library while I was looking for audiobooks, so I picked it up – something I rarely do with books. This isn't really a biography of Jane Austen, but rather a biography of her books. (For a biography of Austen herself, I'd recommend Oxford scholar and Inklings member David Cecil's "A Portrait of Jane Austen," if for no other reason than as an introduction to Cecil's delightful style). "Jane's Fame" is somewhat interesting at parts, but is more often tedious. Still, Harman does have a snarky tone at times that almost makes up for the boring bits....more
The Fellowship is not just a biography of the listed authors, but is also in part a biography of their ideas. It was mostly about Lewis and Tolkien (wThe Fellowship is not just a biography of the listed authors, but is also in part a biography of their ideas. It was mostly about Lewis and Tolkien (which was expected), but I was hoping for a little more on Barfield and especially Williams. I could have also done with a little more on other members such as David Cecil, but that might be asking for too much.
One other complaint is the authors' infuriating habit of referring to various photographs but not putting them in the section of pictures in the middle of the book. Instead of the photographs that are discussed, we get a fairly random selection of photos of the various subjects of the book....more
Keller's devotional on prayer is extremely practical. Although he does deal with a theology of prayer, he is more concerned with teaching us how to prKeller's devotional on prayer is extremely practical. Although he does deal with a theology of prayer, he is more concerned with teaching us how to pray. He does this by synthesizing and summarizing writings on prayer by older Christians such as St. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and tons of Puritans. His focus is on connecting Scripture reading to prayer; we should read to pray. At the end of the book, Keller critiques the modern quiet time and it's intensive focus on study; instead our focus should be on reading to stimulate prayer. This of course requires some study and understanding, but the end goal should be prayer. Keller also critiques the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox methods for similar reasons; prayer is separated from reading. Keller acknowledges that many Protestants are growing frustrated with the quiet time model and are turning to medieval methods. (However, Keller thinks that there is much to learn from other Christian traditions such as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. His concern is that they separate mystical experience from doctrine. He also believes that the medieval schedule of hours is only conducive for monks and is not particularly practical for anyone else). Keller believes we should move beyond both and return instead to a more Puritan method. His recommendation is to use both written and unwritten prayer as part of our prayer life. I especially love how he chides modern evangelicals for our aversion to written prayers and advises that we look for some of these great collections of prayers such as Cranmer's collects and the Valley of Vision. (Personally, I have enjoyed in the past using the collects in the Book of Common Prayer and the prayers of Jane Austen, although I haven't used either recently). This helps us pray beyond ourselves and brings us into the prayers of the entire catholic church.
For some reason, I found Keller's writing to be somewhat stilted or forced (unusual for him), so I removed a star. This is not to detract from the usefulness of this book. This is still probably one of the best books on prayer that I've read, after Lewis' Letters to Malcolm....more
Tragedies like Columbine require some time to step back and get perspective before we can really understand what happened. I don't remember ColumbineTragedies like Columbine require some time to step back and get perspective before we can really understand what happened. I don't remember Columbine (it was before I started paying attention to current events), but over the years I'd heard bits and pieces. Dave Cullen goes through the whole story and debunks a number of myths that arose shortly after the attacks that have lingered in our national consciousness because of the way the media works. In a crisis, lots of information comes out at first that might turn out to be wrong; however, the news has moved on to the next big crisis by the time the smoke has cleared. There were a lot of things like that at Columbine, but two of the big ones that come to mind were the idea of the killers being loners and the martyrdom of Cassie Bernall. Neither of these happened the way that we think they did. Cullen sifted through the police reports that were released long after the events and tries to tell the whole story. We get to know the killers on a level that is truly fascinating and disturbing. Highly recommended....more