Quite frankly, I expected to be bored by this book. It’s about the gospel, and I’ve been in church for decades. I’ve taught dozens of Bible studies and preached a few sermons, so the gospel is not unfamiliar to me. What surprised me was how much I personally benefited from reading this book.
This is not just a book for new believers. This is not a longer version of a gospel tract. It’s not something you hand off to someone while praying, “God, please help that sinner to know You.”
This is a book you should read. This is a book I needed to read. The chapters helped me to understand the full impact of the gospel, putting together God’s macro plan for eternity and His micro plan for my life.
I feel required to start my review of Jesus + Nothing = Everything with a justification of my three-star rating. At the time I write this, all thirteen customer reviews on Amazon have given this book five star ratings. Let me say at the outset that I respect Tullian Tchividjian. I have a strong appreciation for the work he has done at Coral Ridge Presbyterian in Fort Lauderdale. I view his theology, as pictured in this book, as consistent with the Bible, and I do not doubt that his sermons serve as welcome calls to return to the Gospel. Please read other reviews to gain a deeper picture of Tchividjian’s theology and of all this book’s strengths, of which there are many. I write this review simply to give another perspective.
I give this book three stars not because of its theology or its author’s faith. I give this book three stars for what I deem to be its excessive repetition, both internally and externally.
In high school I read nearly every Star Wars book ever written, and I have great memories of Jedi adventures across the universe. Every now and then —In high school I read nearly every Star Wars book ever written, and I have great memories of Jedi adventures across the universe. Every now and then — particularly when I am in need of some easy fiction reading — I like to pick up one of the new Star Wars titles. I was given a free digital copy of Into the Void in exchange for an honest review, and I jumped at the chance.
Into the Void focuses on the beginnings of the Jedi, to their historic roots. In fact, the few force-sensitive individuals in this book are actually called Je’daii, and they are far less concerned with clinging to the light side than their later descendants. The Je’daii look to walk a balance between light and dark, keeping a healthy tension, whereas the Jedi most of us know were ultimately concerned with never straying anywhere near the dark.
Additionally, the Je’daii are unique in that they don’t yet have lightsaber technology. Although there are some hints of force crystals and the beginnings of lightsaber tech, the Je’daii use regular swords. Those swords can absorb and deflect some laser bolts, much like a lightsaber, but it took adjusting to accustom myself to reading about a Je’daii carrying a gleaming metal sword.
In Into the Void Lanoree Brock is the protagonist, tasked with tracking down her brother, a mysterious possible villain who turned his back on the Force he despised. The brother-sister relationship carries good potential, but Lanoree never becomes a captivating hero. Her character lacks depth, and the author spends more time focusing on Lanoree’s history with her brother than on Lanoree as a person. I kept wishing I’d see more complexity in Lanoree’s thoughts and words, but she was frustratingly simple.
The action was very well-written and compelling, but the character development was more frustrating and less complete than in other Star Wars novels. I recommend this book to Star Wars fans who want to ponder the beginnings of the Force and the Jedi, but I wouldn’t suggest this book to budding Star Wars readers, as there are many better novels to begin with....more
Chesterton was a jovial, good-natured man, known for his raucous laughter and his love for naps and good beer. But Chesterton was also criticized forChesterton was a jovial, good-natured man, known for his raucous laughter and his love for naps and good beer. But Chesterton was also criticized for his joy, particularly criticized for how many jokes he made at his opponents’ expense. Heretics exhibits that style of jovial criticism, as in its pages Chesterton contests the philosophies and the philosophers of his day, but does so with wit and flair.
The chapters of this book are each devoted to a different writer or thinker of Chesterton’s day, as he tears down their ideas one at a time. Some names are recognizable today, while others have disappeared into the forgotten past.
I give this book a rating of 3 out of 5 with some regret, because I found great enjoyment in its pages. But the primary weakness of the book is its strong ties to the past; many of the ideas and persons described within are no longer known to today’s society. While the chapter on H. G. Wells still carries some interest for today’s reader, there is little need for us to dwell on the weaknesses of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
As to the book’s strong suits, I thought the opening to be one of the most profound I have ever read. Chesterton described our modern world turned on its head, as illustrated by our use of the words “orthodoxy” and “heretic”:
"The word 'heresy' not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word 'orthodoxy' not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right. For obviously a man ought to confess himself crazy before he confesses himself heretical."
Chesterton also wrote profoundly about the modern tendency to focus on evils and weaknesses, without pointing men and women toward any idea of what is good: “The human race, according to religion, fell once, and in falling gained knowledge of good and of evil. Now we have fallen a second time, and only the knowledge of evil remains to us.”
I could continue to share dozens more quotes — the Kindle tells me I’ve highlighted 89 different passages in the book — but instead I encourage you to read Heretics yourself.
This book will require more labor to read than any of today’s books, but the effort is worth your time. Chesterton was a brilliant social critic, and a fantastic wordsmith. If you are up for the challenge, Heretics will provide you with handfuls of pithy quotes, a picture of Chesterton’s coherent Christian worldview, and an example of how to winsomely critique the false ideas of your peers. It has not the accessibility of C. S. Lewis or even of Chesterton’s own Orthodoxy, but Heretics is a fascinating, if more difficult, read....more
This book is a cheap, cargo pocket-sized introduction to preparing for a disaster. With 101 easy tips, Bernie Carr takes the reader through dozens ofThis book is a cheap, cargo pocket-sized introduction to preparing for a disaster. With 101 easy tips, Bernie Carr takes the reader through dozens of simple ways you can start preparing today.
This guide covers a variety of disaster scenarios, and one of its benefits is that the author does not assume an end-of-the-world scenario. Carr offer suggestions for hurricanes, earth quakes, and power outages alongside tips on how to prepare a bug-out bag and a long-term survival plan. The book will help you now matter how big a disaster you want to prepare for.
I give this only four stars because of the book's brevity and generality. This is a great introduction to the topic, but it is not sufficient for all your prepping needs. Once you read this book, you'll be eager to start learning more. This will only whet your appetite....more
"Reading Bonhoeffer is incredibly convicting." That was my friend's opinion when I mentioned this book, and he is absolutely right.
Bonhoeffer was the"Reading Bonhoeffer is incredibly convicting." That was my friend's opinion when I mentioned this book, and he is absolutely right.
Bonhoeffer was the German pastor convicted, imprisoned, and executed for speaking out against Hitler and eventually scheming to assassinate him. As with his opposition to Fascism, Bonhoeffer lived out each one of his beliefs. That biographical tidbit makes every one of his books more amazing; his strong rhetoric is not simply hopeful. Bonhoeffer walked the talk.
In this book, Bonhoeffer explored the role of Christian community, which he imagines as a small, familial fellowship of believers. Christians, in Bonhoeffer's world, meet together morning and night, before and after their workdays. For that reason, Life Together includes strong opinions about how a community should do daily reading and prayer. Modern Christians may be put off by the depth of involvement Bonhoeffer expects from them, particularly in the chapter entitled "The Day with Others."
The other chapters are devoted to the nature of Christian community, the need for silence and solitude, the role of ministry in community, and the need for confession and communion. Bonhoeffer's praise of solitude echoes Blaise Pascal, when he writes:
"Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone. Because they cannot stand loneliness, they are driven to seek the company of other people. ... The person who comes into a fellowship because he is running away from himself is misusing it for the sake of diversion, no matter how spiritual this diversion may appear."
I commend this book to you, because it will challenge you to invest more time, energy, and prayer in your local Christian community. Bonhoeffer elevates Christ in all things, and he illustrates beautifully the role individual Christians play in proclaiming Christ. It will encourage you to pursue life together....more
The bulk of Tchividjian’s narrative rests upon a distinction between a theology of glory and a theology of the cross, a distinction he takes from Martin Luther. In the former, suffering (most notably Christ’s on the cross) is an unpleasant means to a future end, usually salvation or God’s power over the earth. But in a theology of the cross, God is present, is at work, in the suffering. This frees us, Tchividjian writes, to face life’s tragedies, admit their pain, and yet stand comforted by our hope in God.
Elisabeth Elliot is a treasure from a bygone era, although she still lives and writes in ours. Her active, living faith shapes her life in a profound way, and her traditional, biblical view of manhood and womanhood hearken back to a time before modern feminism.
Men and women steeped in feminism and liberal equality will not enjoy The Mark of a Man, but traditional Christians with a complementarian view of the sexes will find a treasure in its pages.
In the opening pages, Chesterton describes this biography as a sketch of the famous man. Rather than attempting a full picture, the author chose to paint a brief description. Additionally, Chesterton makes no attempt in these pages to explain the variety of miracles alleged to have occurred in the life of St. Francis. As he explains at the outset, Chesterton’s goal is to present a skeptical reader with an introduction to this saint.
Billy and Allie connect with young King Huko and his friend, Anui. As the four young people come together in a quest to find the medallion, they learn that it has fallen into the hands of the evil Cobra, a malevolent king bent on controlling the islands and all their residents.
There are several uniquely intriguing elements to this book, each of which is designed to capture the hearts and minds of young readers.
Coca-Cola, prescription drug companies, and foreign countries sponsor anything and everything in Junior‘s America. Ray Donley writes this book as a farcical, extravagant mockery of American pop culture. Junior stretches into an imagined future, poking fun at many things about modern America, including our love of advertising, corporate sponsorship, and megabillion dollar sports industries.
Rachel Scott was a student at Columbine High School in 1999, on that infamous day when two young men went on a violent rampage. Rachel was one of the thirteen victims whose lives were taken, but her faith lives on today in the pages of her journals and this book. The book, Rachel’s Tears, is written by her parents and is a record of Rachel’s faith and the impact of her life.
I cannot recommend J.I. Packer’s Knowing God too highly, primarily because I have never read a book that has more practically changed my own life. NoI cannot recommend J.I. Packer’s Knowing God too highly, primarily because I have never read a book that has more practically changed my own life. No work – obviously excepting the divinely inspired Word of God – has taught me more truth, opened my eyes more often, or spurred me to love God more strongly. As the dustcover says, “J.I. Packer’s classic has revealed to over a million Christians around the world the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God.” I can’t think of a better, more enticing tagline to put on a book than that.
Quoted on the cover of another book is Packer’s sentiment that, “To rush to God…with no pause to realize his greatness and grace and our own sinfulness and smallness, is at once to dishonor him and to make shallow our own fellowship with him.” I believe that the true worth of Knowing God is that it leads the reader to meditate on each of those issues by sharing Dr. Packer’s own meditations on God. The book builds up God’s greatness and glorifies his grace, while it forces the reader to realize his own sinfulness and smallness in light of God’s character. In so doing, this book leads the reader to honor God rightly, thereby deepening his fellowship with the Lord.
In a chapter entitled “The Majesty of God,” Dr. Packer asks, “How may we form a right idea of God’s greatness?” His answer is that the Bible shows us the two steps we must take:
"The first is to remove from our thoughts of God limits that would make him small. The second is to compare him with powers and forces which we regard as great."
To serve this end, the author gives a stirring exhortation at the end of the chapter: “How slow we are to believe in God as God, sovereign, all-seeing and almighty! How little we make of the majesty of our Lord and Savior Christ! The need for us is to ‘wait upon the Lord’ in meditations on his majesty, till we find our strength renewed through the writing of these things upon our hearts.”
I, personally, have committed to reading this book at least once a year, because it has done more in bringing me to meditate upon God’s majesty rightly than has any other book I have read. I feel strongly that every Christian ought to read through Knowing God at least once, for Dr. Packer’s simultaneous uses of wisdom and encouragement lead the reader into a deeper knowledge of God. It seeks to drive the reader from a passive, intellectual knowledge ‘about God’ to a powerful, life-changing knowledge ‘of God.’ This book, more than any other, has taught me what it means to seek to be “knowing God.”...more
Joel Beeke is the President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and he has served as pastor of a local church for nearly three decades. That expJoel Beeke is the President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and he has served as pastor of a local church for nearly three decades. That experience combines beautifully, here resulting in a book that is theologically excellent and targeted at practical application. Beeke writes to help married couples, and he succeeds at targeting his words to the common weaknesses.
The first section of Friends and Lovers focuses on the need for friendship between the partners in a marriage, then it offers suggestions for how to cultivate that relationship. The second — and far larger — section targets sexual intimacy in a tasteful and helpful manner.
I’d describe Friends and Lovers as a mix of encouragement and small suggestions to married couples. Due to its small size (93 pages), this book is tailored more to suggestions than comprehensive theology but that is also part of its appeal. Don’t pick this title up for a theology of marriage; pick it up to help your marriage.
My only complaint with this book is the short format. Cruciform Press focuses on short, accessible books, which is a great blessing to busy people who want good material that can be read quickly. That format however, means that an author must necessarily skip much that could be said on the topic. Here, Beeke does a fantastic job in encouraging married couples to pursue companionship and intimacy, even though he can’t cover everything....more
I vividly remember the first time I watched Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. I remember the entire theater shaking with each artillery blast, and I rI vividly remember the first time I watched Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. I remember the entire theater shaking with each artillery blast, and I remember dodging instinctively as bullets seemed to whiz past my head. But what I remember most is the devastation and carnage as soldiers were torn apart by the evil instruments of war. This book, What Survived, brought back those same emotions.
Like Saving Private Ryan, What Survived follows a small group of devoted soldiers through the hellfire of World War II combat. This story by Jesse Roman R. focuses on one man in particular, a man the reader knows only as "Tim." Tim's rank, his last name, and most of his backstory are unimportant details in this tale, in which Tim's battered and beaten humanity plays the most important role.
The novel is spent focused on the questions, "[W]hat can withstand war? What can really endure [that] sort of a hell?" Tim's humanity and his very decency are attacked on every page, as Tim watches friends, enemies, and strangers all killed brutally and agonizingly.
As a result of that focus, this book is not for the faint of heart or the very young; every chapter captures death in all its terrible detail. The graphic nature of the novel is very nearly too much, and some readers may think that it goes too far. Jesse's ability to throw the reader into the darkened heart of war is his strength as an author, but the reader cannot leave undisturbed. If you will be bothered or offended by painstakingly minute descriptions of gunshot wounds and other violent horrors of war, I cannot caution you strongly enough that this is not the book for you.
This book on the horrors of war improves as it progresses, and I almost felt as if I was watching Jesse grow as a writer. I cringed at a couple turns of phrase in the first chapter, and I found myself wishing for a bit more character development before soldiers died at the author's hand; but those problems faded as I read, and the narrative grew more fluid with each chapter. The characters later introduced felt much more developed and much more human, and I felt drawn to many of those bloodied soldiers.
I appreciated how deftly What Survived portrayed the horrific consequences of war and how it did so at an intensely personal level. Although Jesse's online biography is a bit quiet on his personal information, I suspect he is a young, budding author, and I expect to see many more stories yet to come. I owe him my thanks for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
In No Matter How Loud I Shout Edward Humes shares his observations, criticisms, and suggestions after spending a year observing Juvenile Court in LosIn No Matter How Loud I Shout Edward Humes shares his observations, criticisms, and suggestions after spending a year observing Juvenile Court in Los Angeles. This book was very dark and depressing, cataloging the failures of our juvenile justice system in America, and listing every way in which we are failing our nation’s troubled youth.
That said, No Matter How Loud I Shout is very well-written, and it comes off like a series of stories rather than a simple piece of investigative journalism. This book’s style made it easy to read, even when the content made it a challenge.
Humes is particularly harsh about the criminal system for youth under the age of 18, as he sees how badly it fails to help them. He lists dozens of examples of young boys and girls who first act out and are ignored by the system, act out again and are ignored, and only when they commit a serious crime does the system finally take action. Humes frequently pleads for a system that would step in earlier to assist and rehabilitate young people, instead of our system that waits until they act very poorly, at which point it will punish them like adults. I was particularly moved by Humes’ interviews with the children in the system. He spent many hours with boys and girls in custody, and Humes brilliantly captures their stories through their own eyes.
“We’re the monsters they talk about on the news,” sixteen-year-old Chris, a gentle-mannered robber of pizza deliverymen, told me matter-of-factly. . . “We’re the ones you’re supposed to be afraid of.” (p. 16)
I picked this book up because of its connection to the work I do in my day job, but I think a wider audience can appreciate its contents. For anyone concerned about the state of our nation’s youth, or for those who want to understand our juvenile justice system, this is a great book. It is well-written and insightful....more
I have been on the fence for quite some time about reading The 4-Hour Workweek. I have heard both good and bad reviews about this first book by Tim FeI have been on the fence for quite some time about reading The 4-Hour Workweek. I have heard both good and bad reviews about this first book by Tim Ferris. Some people praise it as the key to a new lifestyle and previously unknown freedom. Others decry it as a shallow way to hack life, never becoming an expert at anything and simply finding shortcuts to getting things done.
This year I finally decided to make up my own mind and read The 4-Hour Workweek. I have decided that it is somewhere in between the two opinions.
Tim Ferris wants to teach readers to join what he calls the New Rich, a group of people who are more concerned with enjoying life now and less with waiting for retirement age. Ferris’s goal is that people could have the freedom to take mini-retirements every year or two, so he spends most of the book suggesting ways to outsource your responsibilities and work remotely.
Although they were not Ferris’s main focus, I benefited most from the chapters on working efficiently and intelligently. Ferris introduced Pareto’s Law, commonly known as the 80/20 principle, and Parkinson’s Law, which says that as the amount of time available to complete a task decreases, you will limit your actions to the most important. From those two principles I took one lesson: each day decide what tasks are most important, and set myself very tight deadlines for accomplishing those tasks.
Where I am less swayed is on Ferris’s suggestions to hire Virtual Assistants and outsource all my mailing and emailing responsibilities. While I am relatively convinced that those strategies would create more freedom and make one more efficient, I am not sure that I can implement those in my own life. And Ferris’s recommendation to negotiate remote work arrangements sounds fantastic. I hope to one day have a job where I can negotiate a day or two a week of working from home, but for now I am not at a job that allows it.
I recommend The 4-Hour Workweek to people who want encouragement and ideas for how to work more efficiently and to create more freedom in their lives. I will encourage you to only pick this book up with an open mind, ready to take what is helpful and discard what is not. I found The 4-Hour Workweek more helpful as a list of suggestions rather than a step-by-step list of actions I must take....more
“No amount of talking penetrates as deeply as example,” writes Elisabeth Elliot, and the pages of this book are permeated with that philosophy. Elliot frequently reminds the reader that this is simply a memoir of how one family raised honest, disciplined, godly children — it is not to be taken as a step-by-step how-to guide.
Empire opens with intrigue and promises to draw the reader in for a captivating look at a potential future for America, but it slows in the middle andEmpire opens with intrigue and promises to draw the reader in for a captivating look at a potential future for America, but it slows in the middle and fizzles at the end.
Orson Scott Card here envisions the potential downfall of America’s stability, and he creates a unique path to the nation’s collapse. In the book, political incivility reaches new heights as Right and Left collide in violent hostilities. As Card himself describes at the end of the book, modern political discourse has gotten so full of vitriol that it does not have too far to go before it may spill over into violent actions. This book stands as a fictional representation of what such a conflict would look like.
Ultimately, Empire slides too far into political commentary and the story’s plot devolves from intriguing to farcical by the book’s conclusion. Card has done a great job to envision a novel picture of America’s future, but the book feels rushed and poorly-written as it nears its end....more
Douglas Wilson is nothing if not forthright. You will know his opinion in the first few pages of any book, and Wilson will never pull a punch. In Father Hunger, Wilson begins by writing these two things:
"In order for a man and a woman to enjoy the same good marriage, they must each fulfill very different roles." (7), and, "All men are called, like Adam our first father, to provide for their families and to protect their families." (9)
If you are on board with those two statements and are okay with strong, unabashed criticisms of other views, you will love Wilson's newest book on fatherhood. Wilson's goal in this book is to expound upon why masculine fatherhood is essential -- essential to the father's children, to the family as a whole, and to society at large.
Luci Swindoll wrote this book to help readers live a happy life. She wrote 50 very short chapters, each no more than 3-4 pages long. Each chapter is something Swindoll considers a secret to a happy life, and some are more helpful than others.
Swindoll offers three types of secrets: (1) biblically-based principles that come straight from Scripture; (2) good ideas that are practical but not in the Bible (like, “Learn to Organize” or “Be on Time for Everything”); (3) secrets that have made Luci’s life happy but may not work for people of different personalities (like her suggestion to draw pictures of concepts you find difficult to understand). Even though she has a variety of topics, Swindoll writes like every secret is of equal importance.
The Road is set in post-apocalyptic America, but one of the book’s strengths is that MYou can read this and many other book reviews at Quieted Waters.
The Road is set in post-apocalyptic America, but one of the book’s strengths is that McCarthy never wastes effort describing the apocalypse itself. Instead, this book focuses on a man and his son, and their attempt to stay alive.
My favorite part of this book was the father-son relationship, in all its gritty beauty. The father attempts to shield his son from the worst horrors of a devastated landscape. The son clings to youthful optimism but trembles in fear as he watches his father’s health fail. Their interactions and their love drive this story.
McCarthy’s vocabulary astounds me in its breadth and its beauty. The Road is squarely in the prose camp, but its lyrical style blurs the lines between fiction and poetry. Dozens of sentences stopped me in my tracks, forcing me to reread multiple times just to enjoy how well McCarthy writes. Like this one:
The blackness he woke to on those nights was sightless and impenetrable. A blackness to hurt your ears with listening. Often he had to get up. No sound but the wind in the bare and blackened trees. He rose and stood tottering in that cold autistic dark with his arms outheld for balance while the vestibular calculations in his skull cranked out their reckonings. (15)
This story is far darker even than that excerpt. The father’s despair sucks hope from the reader, and the hopelessness weighs heavy on the entire narrative. That darkness is simultaneously McCarthy’s genius and one reason I can’t give this book a five-star rating.
Forgive me for a review that’s more about me than the book, but I don’t enjoy books as much when they lack a strong story arc, when they lack resolution of some sort. I loved the emotion and the relationship in this book, and McCarthy’s writing is unique but powerful. But I wanted more resolution. I don’t mean that I wanted a happy ending; I just wanted an ending that tied things up better. For a book with so much overwhelming emotion, I expected more at the end.
I greatly enjoyed The Road, and I will likely find more of McCarthy’s work in the future. While his writing style took twenty or thirty pages to get used to, after that it flowed quickly and pulled me along. This was a powerful story with many images that will stick with me....more
Certain types of books are always difficult to review: study Bibles, commentaries, and how-to books are all on that list for me. So, too, are year-long readers. Whether they be devotionals or selected excerpts from a famous author, books that require 365 days of reading are inevitably difficult to review fairly.
That introduction is my way of apologizing for giving a 3-star rating to a compelling collection of Chesterton quotes. A Year with G. K. Chesterton is one man’s attempt to present the reader with hundreds of Chesterton quotes, excerpted out of their context, and by and large, Kevin Belmonte succeeds beautifully.
Finishing Deathly Hallows left me with the sense that I’ve lost touch with an old friend. After starting Sorcerer’s Stone with much skepticism, I have spent the last several months getting to know Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and all the rest. I’ve come to have much more affection for the group than I had planned.
Now, coming to the end has left me unexpectedly sad. J. K. Rowling marvelously crafted a seven-book plot arc, developing her characters over the course of the series, rather than rushing their growth in any one book. So now, at the end of it all, I have to say goodbye to the boys and girls who have grown up in front of my eyes.
I wavered between a 4- and 5-star rating for this book; it’s that good. This is my second time to read World War Z, and it was just as enjoyable the second time around.
This story poses as a future history, chronicling the lives of those who have survived “the crisis,” a worldwide zombie plague. Several of you are probably already mousing toward the next review, assuming this is yet another zombie story, but let me promise that you’re wrong. You’ll have to suspend disbelief to the same extent you do in the works of Tolkien or Lucas, but Brooks does a nearly-equal job of captivatingly portraying the human experience in a unique situation.
How do you review a book that came out years ago, a book that has become part of the global culture? That’s my challenge, now that I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Odds are that nine out of ten readers (if not more) have already read the book. So rather than a typical review, where I’d suggest my opinion of the book’s strengths and weaknesses, I’ll instead walk you through my first reading of the book.
So this is Harry Potter. After hearing about the boy wizard for thirteen years, this feels like reading a biography. I know the name and some of the exploits, but I don’t know the details.
You tell me: does that look like a cover I would be likely to pick up? I am a twenty-six-year-old male, not inclined to read romance novels, whether Christian or not. So no one should be surprised that I didn’t pick this book; Calvinists can say it chose me.
In fact, two of my male cousins (both in high school) pushed the book on me the last time I visited them. Despite the cover image and the fact that the author writes Christian romance, they both assured me that this was a book worth reading. “It has a gladiator!” they exclaimed. So I gave it a chance. And I’m glad I did.
The Everlasting Man is second in my series of books to fill my year with G. K. Chesterton. I continue to appreciate Chesterton for his wit, eloquence, and admiration for beauty and joy; while I am beginning to have some hesitation with his overall body of work.
This particular title splits into two parts, divided by Christ’s advent. Chesterton’s first half focuses on the world before Jesus and the way in which its religions developed. He lists and describes many ancient religions, showing how they all paved the way for Christianity.
That section, contrasting Christ's disposition in giving up heaven to enter our world with that of Satan in rebelling against God, was the strongest of the entire book. I read each contrasting pair with eyes wide open, recognizing far too much pride in my own life. Where Jesus did not count equality with God something to be grasped, I too often presume upon His grace. Where Jesus willingly humbled Himself, I too often seek out accolades. This book speaks right into that pride, reminding me that God calls most of us to live lives of humble service.
The Amazon page for this book indicates that it was written for the young adult genre, but it strikes me as an excellent book to read aloud to young children. The story is set in an imaginative fantasy world that would pique the interest of even young listeners, but the vocabulary is expansive and impressive. Sentences like, “They increased their authority by giving generous service in a self-effacing manner” offer an excellent opportunity for an adult reader to teach young listener’s new words within the context of a delightful bedtime story.