I'm choosing this particular volume as representative of Barclay's entire commentary - The Daily Study Bible. I read this (or used it for research, raI'm choosing this particular volume as representative of Barclay's entire commentary - The Daily Study Bible. I read this (or used it for research, rather) and a good many of the set when I was first doing some Biblical study. He's thorough and inserts a great deal of interesting historical information. I don't agree with much of his theology (apparently the conservatives find him unorthodox 'on several important doctrines' (100 Christian Books That Changed the Century, p.103); I, on the other hand, find him too conservative. Ah well, you can't please everybody. And I enjoy a theological debate....more
Phillips writes quite engagingly so I enjoyed skimming through this book. We differ on the most fundamental thing however, and that is 'the infallibilPhillips writes quite engagingly so I enjoyed skimming through this book. We differ on the most fundamental thing however, and that is 'the infallibility of the Bible'. He believes in it; I don't....more
I'm disappointed, but I guess not surprised. You see, I like the way Lewis writes - the conversational tone is pleasant and he uses words nicely. I loI'm disappointed, but I guess not surprised. You see, I like the way Lewis writes - the conversational tone is pleasant and he uses words nicely. I love the Narnia series and I've enjoyed some of his sci-fi, and really liked The Screwtape Letters. However, my hope that this book would satisfy me was a thin one, and I only got it from the library because I'm still determined to read (or at the very least, look at) all the 100 titles in 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century. I'm not entirely sure why I'm still plodding through it - I began reading them when I was in training for the church - and that life has been and gone. In fact, it appears I'm not even doing any lay preaching now . . . my local parish is so penny-pinching that when the new minister persuaded the parish council to offer a koha (donation, or 'gift from the heart') to lay preachers I gratefully accepted. It seems I should have gracefully rejected it, as I haven't been asked to preach in the last half year. Either that, or my theology is too radical. But I was getting consistent and good feedback from members of the congregations, so the latter is not likely. However (and I'm returning to my reasons for reading this book that I'm trying to review), who knows what the future may hold? Life could well change drastically once again, and the understanding about conservative Christian thought that I'm getting from reading all these 100 may well prove to be useful. Thus I persevere.
So - Mere Christianity. It's a classic. It's still read and loved by countless Christians. But, oh dear, it's so set in its time - women are patronised, generalities are given as if they are truths, no acknowledgement is given of any theological studies (a good amount of which had already begun to give exciting new insights). Well, I can read a book and make allowances for the cultural setting of the author, but I got tired of him giving only 2 options - the most widely quoted is his 'either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.' In actual fact, both options assume the Bible is quoting Jesus accurately. Unfortunately, if someone is assuming that all the words in the Bible are inerrant, then there is no room for discussion. And there was no point in my reading any further....more
This was undoubtedly a work of great influence when it was published, and frequent reprints and new publications show that it has continued. For myselThis was undoubtedly a work of great influence when it was published, and frequent reprints and new publications show that it has continued. For myself, I find the prose a little dull. I guess I prefer journal-length articles in formal discourse, or a book written in a lighter tone for the layperson.
The Petersens, in 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century, say that this book 'has been foundational reading for scholars and other observers tryThe Petersens, in 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century, say that this book 'has been foundational reading for scholars and other observers trying to make sense of Christianity in the United States over the last century'. They do make large claims and are a little less than precise at times (e.g. this book was published in 1951 so is well short of the century). However, I can see why it would have been widely read. It covers all aspects of the historical thinking about the subject, and it does so in a very readable way. I skimmed through most of the book, but if I had been studying this subject for my theological degree, I would undoubtedly have utilised it as part of my reading for essays....more
Everybody knows that it was Martin Luther who caused the split from the Catholic Church in the early 1500s and the rapid rise of the Protestant churchEverybody knows that it was Martin Luther who caused the split from the Catholic Church in the early 1500s and the rapid rise of the Protestant churches (protesting against the un-Christian practices of indulgences, and the corruption endemic in the Church of the time). Well, maybe not everybody knows - the unchurching of Western society has meant that much has been relegated to "church history" and no longer seen as relevant. The thing is, though, that religious and political history were one and the same for a large part of the last 2000 years. Political leaders were often motivated by faith; faith leaders were often motivated by politics.
In 1950, when this book was published (and when a certain Martin Luther King, Jr was ........), the Western world still went to church every Sunday. Even so, this biography stood out, selling over a million copies - 'an unprecedented total' [link to 100 cbcc]. I can believe it! It's very readable, and doesn't attempt to elevate Luther to sainthood. Bainton gives a thoroughly researched account of the times and of Luther's life, including many quotes from his own journals and letters (translated, of course). I read the original edition, and the many illustrations of contemporary woodcuts and etchings enhance the book so well (actually, I couldn't tell you if these have been included or not in later editions). I have very much enjoyed this - the style is yes, a little old-fashioned, but I can't imagine any more modern biography doing the subject any better....more
I'm working my way through a 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century - I can't quite remember why now, although I'm still curious about the 100 dI'm working my way through a 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century - I can't quite remember why now, although I'm still curious about the 100 different titles in it. This is my 38th, though I have to admit that I have skimmed through a good many of them. Still, others have been quite interesting, and I'm very glad I've read a couple of them.
This book, however, is one I discontinued reading after 30 pages. I can understand that it had a huge impact when it was first published (and for the next two or three decades), and I see from other Goodreads reviews that there are still many people who value it enormously. I can also see that it was the beginning of decades of self-help books, many of which have been life-savers for their readers.
For me, however, this book only served as an interesting look at the history of the genre. Like various other self-help books I've browsed through over the years, and like those various motivational speakers who pace the stage and get their audiences all hyped up and ready to agree to anything they say, the pace is relentless. The typesetting in this edition, and the layout, are like a quickly-thrown-together, cheap-and-nasty publication, so there is no relief from anecdote after anecdote after anecdote, all saying the same thing.
I do believe that some people have had their lives turned around after finding religion, but too many others have not been served well by the mantra 'believe, have faith, pray big prayers' and have been seriously damaged by fellow Christians saying they 'obviously don't have true faith' etc. This book seems also to be a prelude to the ghastly Prosperity Theology that is becoming prevalent. As if the man Jesus ever preached anything like it!...more
The grandchildren and I have now read The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and this. When I was a child and when I read thisThe grandchildren and I have now read The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and this. When I was a child and when I read this wonderful Narnia series to my son and then to my daughter (6 years later), I read them in the order in which they were written. This time I'm reading them in the chronological order of Narnia. I like this better because I remember being disappointed as a child that not all the books were about Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmond (and I didn't enjoy the others quite so much for that reason alone). Now, my grandchildren have met different sets of characters in each book they've heard so far and thus it is Narnia which will be the absolute focus throughout.
This book is about a Talking Horse, Bree, who was captured years ago and taken away from his home in Narnia, and a boy, Shasta, who was washed ashore as a baby in a land where he looks different to everybody else and where he has been raised by a fisherman. Circumstances cause them to join together to journey to Narnia. They meet another Talking Horse, Hwin (also captured, and also never speaking aloud for fear of being treated like a circus animal), who is carrying her 'mistress' Aravis as she flees from a repugnant arranged marriage. They experience many adventures both individually and as a group, and they gradually learn to overcome fear and prejudice, and to find their own strengths. It's a great children's story set in an exotic place with even more exotic creatures and, of course, the beautiful Aslan with his deep wisdom....more
I acknowledge Thomas Merton as a great Christian mystic of the 20th century. This autobiography, however (written in 1948), did not appeal to me. TheI acknowledge Thomas Merton as a great Christian mystic of the 20th century. This autobiography, however (written in 1948), did not appeal to me. The official website of the Thomas Merton Centre says that he has written on ecumenism (among other subjects) - I have to assume those writings are dated after this book. In this book he talks quite a lot about his early interest (and earlier non-interest) in spirituality, and he frequently writes as if Catholicism is the One True Religion (my capitals). In fact, my patience with his attitude ran out when I read that he had "only ever met one spiritual Protestant" (not a direct quote - I don't have the book in front of me). Sadly, after that I only had enough interest to skim through the odd paragraph here and there until I reached the end of the book.
was one of the best-selling titles of the 1940s. It entered the New York Times Best Seller list in October 1942, and four weeks later rose to No. 1. It held the position for nearly a year. The Robe remained on the list for another two years, returning several other times over the next several years including when the movie version was released in 1953. (Wikipedia)
A lot more people went to church then as part of their routine, so it's not surprising that a Christian novel would be so popular. Especially such a well-written one.
This really is a fine example of a historical novel. We are immersed in the Roman Empire of 2000 years ago, with vivid descriptions of the life there, most particularly in Rome and in 'the Holy Land'. We're treated to the sights, sounds, and smells, along with the customs and the variety of beliefs. The novel also has a love story, politics, adventure, and the turn-arounds of family relationships. The characters range from evil and callous to the saintly, with plenty of the in-betweens.
While the Roman Tribune Marcellus Gallio, the main character in this story, comes to believe in the literal resurrection, there are enough instances of rational explanations of 'miracles' (e.g. the feeding of the 5000) to make this not turn into something that is simply attempting to persuade belief. And the persecution and martydom of the early Christians, because of their absolute belief, is well-documented.
I'd be fascinated to know what somebody reading this book without any pre-knowledge of the Christian story would think of it. Not a person who is determined to be atheist, as that would bring its own set of preconceptions, but a person truly ignorant of others' takes, in the same way that I read a science fiction or fantasy novel. Oh yes, and a person who enjoys reading weighty tomes of over 500 pages in a style that was more popular 70 years ago that it is now. Is it possible to find such a person?...more
I've listed this in my "Can't Get Hold Of" shelf, but I did see a preview copy on Questia. It allows an interested person to read the first page of eaI've listed this in my "Can't Get Hold Of" shelf, but I did see a preview copy on Questia. It allows an interested person to read the first page of each chapter which I guess is very useful for making a decision on whether to buy or not. In my case, I haven't been able to find a copy that's within my price range, so I won't be purchasing one in the near future. I'm pretty sure from what I read, though, that I'd like to have a copy, because this author is viewing worship not from a Christian fundamentalist viewpoint, but from a mystical spirituality that views it as an act of response to the Eternal. I like that....more
I like the author's look at the creative nature of God and her use of the writer's craft to explore the analogy, but I really only like reading progreI like the author's look at the creative nature of God and her use of the writer's craft to explore the analogy, but I really only like reading progressive theology nowadays - I don't have the energy any longer to read people that I disagree with. So, this is thorough and well-written, but not for me....more
This is quite possibly the most profoundly beautiful book I have ever read - the word-crafting is exquisite and the story heart-breaking.
All I knew ofThis is quite possibly the most profoundly beautiful book I have ever read - the word-crafting is exquisite and the story heart-breaking.
All I knew of this book before I read it was that it was written half a century ago, was set in South Africa, and was "a classic". I owned a small old paperback copy for quite a few years, but never got around to reading it, and I think I gave it away last year when I needed to cull my large personal library (a sad story, but true). This year I borrowed a copy from the library and read it as part of a personal book challenge I'm doing.
The story is a simple one. Rev. Kumalo receives a letter from a Theophilus Msimangu in Johannesburg, asking him to come because his sister Gertrude is there and is sick. Kumalo goes, with his wife's blessing and with all their small savings. He goes because their son Absalom also went to Johannesburg and never came back. Johannesburg is a terrible place where Zulus have gone in their thousands and have lost everything that made them part of a cohesive community.
We only have to know a little history to know what kind of things Kumalo found. But he also finds some amazing people with great depths of compassion and a compelling desire to help all the people, black and white, to live lives of justice. Paton has a strong political message and a strong message of hope.
The most powerful thing about this book, however, is the beauty of the prose. I can say no more!...more
This is one of the classics by an important Christian theologian, and we're all 'supposed' to find it remarkable or insightful. I just found it difficThis is one of the classics by an important Christian theologian, and we're all 'supposed' to find it remarkable or insightful. I just found it difficult to read, because it seems to me that he is repeating himself an awful lot through it. If this was condensed to 1/6 of its size, I think I would have read it properly rather than skimming through it. Then I could have enjoyed an imaginary debate with him, as there are some things I agree with, and some things I don't....more
I can see why this author's books were/are popular - this is a very formulaic romance, which always works when the writing is done well: Extremely attrI can see why this author's books were/are popular - this is a very formulaic romance, which always works when the writing is done well: Extremely attractive and manly man Extremely beautiful young woman who doesn't realise how lovely she is Something tragic A bad girl to tempt the extremely attractive and manly man Loyal friends Another tempter in the form of a wealthy and powerful businessman
and for the Christian novel, lots of angst about faith and lots of knowing the presence of Christ.