I read this one back in 2002, I think. As I recall, this was one of my favorite of Tolstoy's books. Being his last published fictional work (again, as...moreI read this one back in 2002, I think. As I recall, this was one of my favorite of Tolstoy's books. Being his last published fictional work (again, as I recall), which was published so that all the sales proceeds would go to support the "Spirit Fighters," a group of Christians that were then persecuted under the Tzar, the books is highly critical of Russian society and especially the Russian Orthodox Church. I recall loving it.(less)
Lively's retelling of Virgil's classic is a wonderful read. The story is, well, the Aeneid. So, it's great. The illustrations are fun and the kids rea...moreLively's retelling of Virgil's classic is a wonderful read. The story is, well, the Aeneid. So, it's great. The illustrations are fun and the kids really liked them (so did I). Got little ones? Get this and read it. I love introducing my little ones to the classic books in a way that is accessible. I used to tell them Homer's and Virgil's stories before bed from memory... this method is WAY better.(less)
Anselm's famous book was on one hand exactly what I thought it'd be, and on the other hand refreshingly different than I expected.
Cur Deus Homo is of...moreAnselm's famous book was on one hand exactly what I thought it'd be, and on the other hand refreshingly different than I expected.
Cur Deus Homo is often referenced in discussions of why the incarnation of the Son of God factored into the atonement which he purchased. It is quite common (praise the Lord) for people to speak of the Savior needing to be man because only a human could pay for human sin and also needing to be God, as only God could do the job of reconciling sinful men to an infinitely holy God. I totally expected to find this explained in Anselm's book, and I was not disappointed.
I was also refreshed by a few things that I did not expect. The first thing that I didn't expect was Anselm's lucid style. This book is set as a dialog 'twixt Anselm and Boso, a curious and educated inquirer. I think the style of the dialog is excellent and should be used more often. What's more, I've heard Anselm referred to as the Augustine of the Middle Ages. With his clear writing style and the way in which he handles ideas, I can understand why Anselm enjoys that high distinction. Augustine, too, was a fabulous and lucid writer. I find that usually the great ones are far easier to understand than their handlers. Finally, the way in which Anselm conceives of the redemption purchased by the God-man is at once very similar, but also quite foreign to the contemporary discussion of the matter. I don't want to go into detail here in this short review, but suffice it to say that there is great benefit in reading ancient writers. If nothing else, they can help us to see how our thinking is both modern and all-too-provincial.
One weakness of Anselm's approach, it seems to me, is that he's self-consciously and explicitly attempting to give a rational accounting of how the incarnation factors into the atonement. Thus, while he does occasionally refer to Scripture, and even call it the only rock on which we're to build a sturdy house, reason is his guiding light in this book. In Cur Deus Homo he's trying to show how the biblical doctrine and the church teaching regarding atonement through the God-man is rational. To that degree, I guess I have no beef. I would just like to see him root his work more deeply in the Scripture, which is, after all, the sword of the Spirit. His reliance upon reason, however, is part of what's earned him another one of his titles (valid or not): the father of scholasticism.(less)
This review will be a little longer than others, for Maxwell's little book was like a bombshell for me. If nothing else, I learned that I know very, v...moreThis review will be a little longer than others, for Maxwell's little book was like a bombshell for me. If nothing else, I learned that I know very, very little about historic Christian worship. I found, with some astonishment, that I knew virtually nothing of the liturgical nomenclature. I virtually had to have a dictionary open in one hand as I read this little volume. Maybe there is a liturgical dictionary out there (if so, please let me know, and I will buy it promptly, as I need it!), but I was swimming just trying to keep up with language of historic Christian worship. In a word, this book taught me that my ignorance is immense. That, itself, made this book worth reading. There are probably plenty of books that could have accomplished this, but, providentially, it was this book that came into my world and rocked the same. What's more (as if I needed any more cause for humility), this book is not some 800-page tome by Dom Dix. It is a small overview, a beginner's introduction to that *central* labor of the Christian life: public worship.
I joyfully hold to the regulative principle of worship (RPW). I think that divine worship is closely regulated by the revealed law of God. I am committed to the regulative principle, but I am currently not quite so sure I know what that means. In fact, I think that my commitment to the RPW (note: not the RPW itself, but my commitment to it) has actually pridefully blinded me to two millennia of Christian tradition, dismissing the great bulk of it as, at best, misguided. One reality that I found from page to page in Maxwell's book is that a great deal of Christian liturgy, which initially seems odd and non-Scriptural, is actually based upon Scripture itself. Now, I grant that what's based upon Scripture is not, itself, necessarily Scriptural. But, there are many aspects of Christian liturgy that I have dismissed out of hand, which I should rather have considered with much greater attention. My point, here, is that I have roundly dismissed too much of Christian liturgical history, merely assuming that these Christians were not in submission to Scripture. I want to stress that this is an issue of pride on my part. Essentially, I think that I've used the concept of the RPW as a rubber stamp for what I want divine worship to be. What's more, I do not suppose that I'm the only one who has done this.
I want quickly to add this note of restraint. I own that I am a schoolboy when it comes to Christian liturgy. I have been a schoolboy before, and I'm aware of the foolish errors which schoolboys are want to make. Briefly stated, knowing that I know very little, and therefore would do well to keep my trap shut. I need to read and pray extensively; I need to study the Scripture. In a word, I need to be humble. Humility naturally gives rise to conservatism. Conservatism is, by definition, slow to move.
As to criticism, there are two reasons that this book gets only three stars. First, the book could have been organized in a more useful way. Maxwell includes liturgies in the text proper. He would have done better to add an appendix with the liturgies. This would have done two things. First, it would have made the text less choppy, and second, it would have made comparison of the various liturgies far easier, as they would have been consolidated in one place. The second criticism is that Maxwell's guiding principle for worship is too subjective and is not based upon God's Word. Every liturgy is weighed in the balance of what Maxwell thinks is capable to shoulder the weight of divine worship. This is a useful concept, but is not where one should start. One should start with the Bible. What is scriptural? The Bible tells us what God wants in worship. Maxwell does not seem to have this most fundamental standard in view, and that is a glaring weakness.(less)
I’ve been a fan of all things Russian since I read Leo Tolstoy. The Russian Revolution is instructive for us, as the whole Western world seems to be m...moreI’ve been a fan of all things Russian since I read Leo Tolstoy. The Russian Revolution is instructive for us, as the whole Western world seems to be moving (slower or faster) toward some form of socialism or communism. Thus, knowledge of the history of the fall of the great Tsarist regime into Communism is important.
These lectures offer a helpful, modern assessment of Russia's transition from the Tsarist regime to the loathsome regime of the Bolsheviks. These lectures were well worth the time spent.(less)
Eig's written a book that not only gives one a pretty good feel for Capone himself, but also paints a helpful picture of the political landscape in th...moreEig's written a book that not only gives one a pretty good feel for Capone himself, but also paints a helpful picture of the political landscape in the US through the '20s and into the '30s. Further, in reading this book, I think I got a helpful understanding of this history of the city of Chicago. Eig writes well; the book moves along at a good clip and draws the read into Capone's complicated and sordid story. The author doesn't focus on the obscene, but leave the details off stage where they should be. When it comes to the violence, however, some of the descriptions are fairly detailed and gory. Being a gangster in Chicago in the Roaring 20s was a gory business.
Capone's a figure that is, at once, both repulsive and strangely attractive. He's repulsive for obvious reasons: he was (just for starters) a pimp, a murderer, and *pause for dramatic effect* an income tax evader. He an attractive figure because he had a schmoozy and magnetic personality, he loved his family (especially his son), and he's the figurehead standing against the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution (which, by the way, in case you haven't heard, was a very BAD idea). Capone was larger than life in his own day, and it seems like he still is today. He's a captivating figure and a worthy subject for Eig's well-written and interesting book. (less)