Not all the stories are of even value, but some of them are down right awesome. For me, the best part was the essay in the middle about the place of tNot all the stories are of even value, but some of them are down right awesome. For me, the best part was the essay in the middle about the place of the fictional hard-boiled detective, how it has changed over the decades. The essay is eloquently written and deeply insightful. The later stories are quite dark, and not to be taken lightly, a portrait of grief, very different from that of C.S. Lewis....more
This, as the title might suggest to some, is a distressing book. Anyone who has ever been fired will have a hard time ingesting the idea that it is alThis, as the title might suggest to some, is a distressing book. Anyone who has ever been fired will have a hard time ingesting the idea that it is all for the best. You may, come to a conclusion later that you are in a better place, but it is still hard to connect what comes across as another person's unkindness as contributing to that state. Instead, if you're like me, you tend to think that the better place happened in spite of the negative development. Cloud argues that a leader must make these choices and accept them as a natural part of life. He goes through the steps of how to do it well and properly. However, as I have noted elsewhere, it still comes across as the lie we tell ourselves to make us feel better....more
This book is more than a song about how great various kinds of churches are. It is a map for how to tap into the unique characteristics of your churchThis book is more than a song about how great various kinds of churches are. It is a map for how to tap into the unique characteristics of your church to utilize the special niche you fill and make the most of your kingdom potential....more
Not recommended for the younger set. The book is very dark and raw, but exposes the darker underbelly of fantasy, revealing more about we who pursue iNot recommended for the younger set. The book is very dark and raw, but exposes the darker underbelly of fantasy, revealing more about we who pursue it than the literature itself....more
It is everything you would hope for in such a book and more. However, it is not for the easily bored. Augustine's confessions is more than an autobiogIt is everything you would hope for in such a book and more. However, it is not for the easily bored. Augustine's confessions is more than an autobiography (or my distracted friends would enjoy it more). It is also a theological miscellany, extensively exploring philosophical questions. I confess, I wish he would have stuck to the topic at hand more, but that is a purely modern idea. Augustine is a master of digression. He spirals off into deep and probing questions that are in themselves ways of, for example, looking at Scripture the average person might never conceive. I will be revisiting his thoughts on Genesis 1 for my own work. They are refreshing in an age distracted by science....more
I include this book in a selection of books I call "Conversation with Christ." This is a powerful older book that has influenced Christian thinking foI include this book in a selection of books I call "Conversation with Christ." This is a powerful older book that has influenced Christian thinking for centuries, giving us some of the roots of thoughts practices that are still widely used today. Augustine of Hippo of course is one of the greatest of Church Fathers and should be heard on any topic he chooses to discuss. This book, however is sadly ignored in our homiletics and hermeneutics classes to our own detriment. We are an arrogant, short-sighted people sometimes.
This book has taken me far too long to read. It deserves its place among the classics both because it is great and because it is challenging. It is not about Christian Doctrine in spite of what the title says. It is about the discernment and communication of Christian Doctrine. Augustine, orator that he was, goes about the task teaching how the Bible's truth should be discerned, framed and communicated. In the first three books he talks about discernment and framing. That is, he tells how the Bible should be interpreted and understood. In this way, he is more a technician and craftsman than a theologian. It is important for the presenter of the Gospel to know how to read the Bible for what it says first and also for the harmonics in its meanings. In Augustine's day allegorical interpretations were quite common. He pulls back from that habit and says that ordinary meanings of passages should be pursued first. It is only in the case where ordinary meanings are quite obscure in their theological importance that alegorical meanings should be pursued. More importantly, he highlights how love, faith and the glory of God should guide our thinking as we study and prepare to deliver the word. He says, in the time of our hope, when our love is perfected, Scripture will no longer be necessary.
Augustine's method is one of essential exegesis. It seems odd to say since he himself employed allegory so much, but he strongly encourages a methodology that is not dependent on that device. He encourages language and contextual studies, to the point of determining a critical text. This is no small thing, since he admits here that he did not know Hebrew and in the Confessions that he found Greek burdensome. For Augustine, critical text was as much about comparing versions as exploring the original languages. These tools are more abundant to us in the English speaking world today than ever. Woe to us if we do not use them to good advantage. In the presence of such wealth we should be experiencing an unprecedented renaissance in the understanding of Scripture. I believe it should also bring about a powerful unity in that understanding, bringing us closer to the purity of what was in God's mind when He inspired it.
The last book is a treatise on oratory and the appropriate use of that art for the communication of the Gospel. Augustine was a most accomplished orator and advises two considerations for the training of preachers. One is that if a person has a natural capacity of oration, he need not spend much time in training, however if he does not no amount of training will repair the lack. The second is that a natural aptitude is best trained in listening to skilled orators more than in studying the structure of effecitve oratory. Finally, he goes about explaining three modes of oratory: the subdued (used to inform), the temperate (used to delight), and the majestic (used to persuade). The strict division of these methods should not be observed, because each of them can be used for each of the three purposes when appropriate. Augustine advises a sparing use of the majestic, most forceful, tone since emotionally the audience cannot maintain that pitch for long. Augustine advises that all considerations must combine eloquence and wisdom, with an awareness that the word the preacher speaks is of the utmost importance....more
Absolute fun reading. This book is endowed with all the respect for courage and adventure that are characteristic of the best English characters. A reAbsolute fun reading. This book is endowed with all the respect for courage and adventure that are characteristic of the best English characters. A reader could fall in love with all of them: Peter, Chas., Celia, Mrs. Boquenet, and especially Margaret. They are bold, rye, and just stereotypical enough to keep the reader from taking any of the story too seriously.
The ghost, the ancient priory, the colorful denizens of the village and the secret passage nearly make for an episode of Scooby Doo. I'm sure the Monk would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those meddling wealthy Brits with too much time on their hands and an allergy to boredom.
You hesitate to treat the book too seriously, being written for entertainment as it was, but a theme of persistence and level headedness runs throughout the book. I loved the story's old fashioned vocabulary and my nook's lookup feature (do you know what meretricious means? or what a planchette is?) I find that novels are a wonderful window to a past that changes with mere memory. I know very few people who were alive in the 1930s and none who can recall the period with the full color detail a novel can bring.
If you read Footsteps, you will find yourself wishing you knew the characters personally, that you could sit in on their bridge games and join in their adventures. But if you're like me, you also feel that you would not quite fit in, not quite measure up to the group's devil may care ways....more
It's Stephen King, so it is a story well told, it almost goes without saying. It is as profane as life and as suspenseful as a blindfolded ethnic mealIt's Stephen King, so it is a story well told, it almost goes without saying. It is as profane as life and as suspenseful as a blindfolded ethnic meal. It's amazing since it's based on an event that everyone knows so well. Time travel is more fantasy than SF, but the SF world seems to think it belongs in their category, so I'll give it both. But the real value of the story is not in the time travel, but in the time to which the character travels. The portrait of the late 50s and early 60s is thought provoking, sweet, and naive ... just the way most of us look at the past.
The bigger the goal the higher the stakes. This might be the theme of the story. I can get sick if I want to do minor things, but if I want to do history altering things, the cost may be higher than most people are willing to pay. One of the bigger obstacles to me attempting truly great things is the sacrifice involved. It isn't Jake's sacrifice, but then my goals are more realistic.
Sadie and Jake is a love story for the ages. They are the kind of couple everyone wants to be, full of devotion and passion; trust and forgiveness. The story is really about them more than about JFK. Though the conspiracy theories and time travel are fun, they are really window dressing for love. And when you think about it, aren't many things just that?...more
This is a fun book, I recommend to anyone who has a flare for the ironic, the odd, or the absurd. The events and facts in this book go beyond the inteThis is a fun book, I recommend to anyone who has a flare for the ironic, the odd, or the absurd. The events and facts in this book go beyond the internet urban legends often circulated about the presidents. They do not defame the character of the men it reveals, and it is strictly non-partisan. At the same time, it pulls no punches in helping the reader to laugh at some decidedly unlaughable people. Who knew that Kennedy hoarded Cuban cigars the day before he signed the law of economic sanctions against Cuba? That one of the secret servicemen who saved president Reagan's life was, in his youth, inspired to become a secret serviceman by a Ronald Reagan movie. That Mrs. Wilson performed most of the president's duties following Woodrow Wilson's stroke.
This book is ideal for nighttime reading because it is delivered in brief, unrelated, two page vignettes. A few bites and off to sleep. ...more
Nancy Drew is as naive and simplistic as you expect her to be, in keeping with what adults believed teens should read in the 1930s. For the most partNancy Drew is as naive and simplistic as you expect her to be, in keeping with what adults believed teens should read in the 1930s. For the most part Nancy is careful about observing the niceties of society: good manners and citizenship. However, she is not above eves dropping and the occasional slip into the edges of legality. Her taking the clock is not exactly hoyle, knowing that it is stolen, even if it is from thieves. And she certainly has a good helping of spite.
The careful reader will note that Nancy's motivations are less than pristine. Her personal distaste for the "snobbish" Topham family drives her to see them get their comeuppance. She is positively gleeful at their downfall as the book finds its resolution in their destruction. Her hatred of the family is far from the gracious personality we see depicted in her more mature moments. Her father Carson is just about as bad.
Nancy's exploits in recovering the lost will of an eccentric benefactor are straightforward, linear. She is aided by luck more than with her detection skills, likely feeding the impression of young readers that Nancy's endeavors could happen to anyone. She is brave, but not particularly smart, stumbling upon needy beneficiaries, references to a notebook, and to a clock, even to the location of the clock.
Nancy is a fun read. The book is spiced with period references. Helen being Nancy's "chum", her "roadster" having "balloon tires" and main thoroughfares that have not been recently scraped. The police are warned not to shoot unless they have to, and are surprisingly cooperative in allowing Nancy to help with their investigation. Nancy is unaccountably (by today's standards) worried about driving during a rain storm, and strangers are just as unaccountably glad to see her and her car in their barn.
Read The Secret of the Old Clock to recall a time when life was simpler and attitudes were more conventional. Nancy's disposition is decidedly an American brand of democracy, and her freewheeling style lends the book a light-hearted two-dimentionality that keeps the reader from having to grapple with Nancy's darker side. But that's ok, since deserving people are treated well....more
Bob Roberts has many good things to say to the contemporary church. There is no virtue in a faith without legs. There is power in the collaboration ofBob Roberts has many good things to say to the contemporary church. There is no virtue in a faith without legs. There is power in the collaboration of skilled individuals to meet the needs of this world. There is great potential in the technological opportunities of this age.
To some whose reading is wide or whose involvement in church leadership is extensive much of what Bob says may seem like old hat. Ministers have been harping for many decades about the importance of lay involvement in ministries that move outside the church walls. We have also tried very hard to explain that nobody wants to be some Christian's spiritual project, so agenda driven love is not only ineffective, it is disingenuous.
However, Roberts' important contribution is in bringing the idea of "tent-making" ministries out of the mission field and into the local church. We must each answer the question, "how do my own particular particular interests and abilities uniquely qualify me to reach people that others will not as easily reach. How can I reach to authentically love my neighbor whether or not they are interested in embracing my faith?
Roberts has a couple of weaknesses, though. One is his strong endorsement of liberally using international travel. This is clearly an opportunity born of privilege. I would also argue that widely used, it is a waste of resources. While it may be inspiring to jump the Pacific to do ministry in Vietnam, taking others along and interacting with that culture, is it really advisable? Are we creating a new paternalism by exploiting a resource that our beneficiaries cannot freely use without our help in order to reciprocate? I personally must save for years before being able to afford international travel, and I have a hard time endorsing its broad use when contributions and alternative means of connecting may be more efficient.
I also am a little frustrated with his emphasis on profession. A person's work skills are indeed a wonderful inroad to interpersonal connections. However, they are far from our only personal resource. Most Americans have hobbies, social groups, activity involvements, and community involvements that go far beyond our professional domains giving inroads to other kinds of influence. While I can appreciate Roberts' need to limit his topic for the sake of publication, it leaves many in the cold who are part of the unskilled labor force of our culture. It may be a simple matter for a suburban mega-church to tap into a broad pool of semi-wealthy professional retirees with lots of time on their hands, but he under sells the lower middle class and those in even lower economic brackets.
These are detail complaints. Roberts issues a powerful challenge to action for those of us who are not fully tapping our potential for God's Kingdom. What skills do I have that should be used to make personal connections within my community, raising awareness of God among the people I see every day?...more
Good book. I think I might like to buy a few of these to give to the children in my life. I have made a special effort to take note of the spiritual dGood book. I think I might like to buy a few of these to give to the children in my life. I have made a special effort to take note of the spiritual dynamics of space travel, and until now, the spiritual journey of Irwin had escaped my notice. It is a pleasure to see such a dedicated effort made to give glory to God for both the beauty of His creation on the moon and for the noble endeavors He has made possible to reach it. It's a kid's book...more
This book is quite a strong voice against war. It speaks of the futility and the misunderstanding at its root. It also speaks rather vividly of its frThis book is quite a strong voice against war. It speaks of the futility and the misunderstanding at its root. It also speaks rather vividly of its fruit, its needless death, not just of enemy and friendly life, but of the psyche and the moral destruction. By moral destruction, I do not mean the destruction of morals, though that too seems to come about, as a side effect of the social shifts that take place over the course of centuries. More, I mean the numbing of the moral sensibilities, the breeding of cynicism.
If Starship Troopers was a tract on the value of militarism in the pursuit of unified identity, then this is the other side of the argument. Distance has always been the logistical downside of war. Interstellar distance takes logistical inconvenience to Einsteinian proportions. They and the speeds necessary make "lifetime" a quite flexible problem.
Haldeman takes the romance out of war and replaces it with grit and guts ... literally, entrails. He shows the stark blandness of the military machine. The emptiness of space reflects the much bigger emptiness of bureaucratic inertia. The sadness of death cannot be extracted from war. No obedience to orders or sense of duty can mitigate the psychic trauma.
I recommend the Forever War for anyone who has a strong stomach and can face the inevitability of human decay. The non-technician will have trouble with the relativity behind the long durations necessitated by Einstein's theory, but if the reader can accept it at face value, even through suspension of disbelief, then they may see the powerful statement the book makes....more