Book Reviews

I decided in November (2011) that I would read sixty books in thirteen months. I have never come close to such a number in a year, but I figured, hey I’m not taking any classes right now and I hate to feel my brain rotting under the weight of televion waves, so here goes. I will post a short reflection on each book below as I read.

#1 The Last Boy

Aahh, now this is biography at its finest. I have read very little of the man that was Mickey Mantle, so I have not much to compare Jane Leavy’s account to. I do not, however, believe anyone could have recorded the breath and width of The Mick’s life as well as Leavy did in this New York Times Bestseller. Much more personal than other baseball biography’s I’ve read, I enjoyed learning of the man behind the bat from someone who admired him and was considered at least an acquaintance.

The book takes you through the whole of Mantle’s life, neatly subdivided by chapters from an interview Leavy had with The Mick many years after his retirement from baseball. Though Mickey was rarely considered the gentleman, this book will highlight both his strikeouts and homeruns both on the field and off.

After finishing “The Last Boy”, I put it down feeling like I truly know Mickey Mantle, like I sat down with him and had a drink while talking about the boys of summer and the great American pastime.

#2 Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero

I came across this book while meandering my way through the book tables at Costco the other day. As soon as I saw it, I knew this was to be my next read. I am drawn to books with a great photo on the cover and grabbed the book sure that it would shed light on the man that seemed so “elusive” even in this photo. So I must say that I was disappointed when I turned the last page while thinking there must be more.

If you are interested in the facts, figures, formulas and processes by which Jack Kennedy became president, this is the book for you. But as one who enjoys reading of the person behind the image, I felt the book fell short. Mind you, not drastically so, but enough so that one wonders what else there was to Jack Kennedy.

The one positive, maybe negative depending on your preference, is that the book says nothing about his assassination. It merely stops right before and picks up during the aftermath. I respected the author for not bogging down in a place that has already been covered many times by other journalists, documentarians, and writers. But, the book still falls short of my expectations and I say, do some research and find a book that personalizes JFK a bit better.

#3 Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend

Looking for yet another baseball history book at Half Price books the other day, I stumbled upon the Willie Mays book. Though a bit longer than “The Last Boy”, I was still able to finish it within the week. I have decided that I enjoyed the Mays book just as much, if not more than the Mantle book, if not simply because Mays was a black version of my grandfather. While rarely exhibiting his own emotion or connection to others, he was still a man of character who showed people that he cared by being patient with them, keeping his cool, and being willing to give you the very shirt off his back. The Say Hey kid did all of these as if tutored by my grandfather, and that they were born in roughly the same year, it makes sense. As a matter of fact, the book even prompted me to call my mother and ask a few questions about my grandfather and his role as her father. I think a good book impacts you and causes you to reflect on your own life and family.

Back to the book, if you are looking for a book that sheds some light on the integration of baseball, the history of the New York/San Francisco Giants, The “Negro Leagues”, etc, this is the book to read. Wonderfully written the book will keep your attention and delight your mind.

#4 Losing The News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy

Now this was a book that found me. Part cynic, maybe overstated, and part idealist, Alex Jones in “Losing the News” does a phenomenal job of stressing the importance of core news to the success of democracy. In a nation where news can be bent as far as any politician and bought like a snow cone on a hot summer day, Jones stresses the absolute necessity of unbiased and experienced journalism. As the owner of a local newspaper and a writer and reporter himself, he preaches a conservative approach to liberal journalism, if liberal could be defined as one who acts independently of those circumstances and individuals which may influence his reporting. The American people need the hard core news for it is necessary, no matter how bloody, how politically damaging, to determine which side of the issues they are on. A must read for anyone serious about thinking about a change in direction for American politics and policy.

#5 Michelangelo and The Popes Ceiling

I have always been taken to another world when viewing The Creation of Adam as painted on the vault of The Sistene Chapel. It is because of this dramatic reaction that I picked up said book. All I can say is that I never realized the dramatic circumstances surrounding Michelangelo’s masterpiece. A book about a man, a loner, an artist, most tempermental, who devoted so much to this work could do nothing but inspire. The hours, days, years it took to design, gather pigments, smooth things over politically, prepare surface, build scaffolding, it amazes me that we have such a work of art in response.

While the book gives incredible insight into the man that was Michelangelo, that becomes a bridge to understanding the history and reason behind every bit of fresco painted on the vault.

#6 Kaboom: Embracing The Suck In a Savage Little War

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING BOOK REVIEW CONTAINS LANGUAGE OF AN “R” RATED NATURE. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NEVER MY INTENT TO FILTER SELECTIONS FROM A BOOK AS THESE ARE THE AUTHORS WORDS. THEY ARE NOT MY WORDS TO EDIT AND OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE AUTHOR, I WILL NEVER DO SO. I AM POSTING THIS WARNING AHEAD OF TIME SO PLEASE MOVE ON IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY ADULT LANGUAGE.

I LOVED this book. Matt Gallagher, as a second lieutenant in the army gives his account of what it is like serving under current conditions in Iraq. In a very profound, poetic, and honest way he writes of what it is like to lead men in a very different kind of war. I can relate and understand well as Matt could have been one of any number of my young officers directing me through the rigors of day to day life in “the suck”. I have even recommended Shawna reading this book as I believe it shows the war from a different perspective. I cannot believe it easy to understand, as a civilian, what it is like to live in such circumstances based on the medias interpretation of it. Read the book. Be surprised. I’ve decided that I would include an excerpt from the book here. Enjoy.

Shoot Move and CommunicateBoomBoom

Scouts Out.

Shoot Move and CommunicateBoomBoom.

Scouts out.

Shoot Move and CommunicateBoomBoom.

Scouts out.

The days bleed into nights, and the nights bleed into days, and there’s really no point in acknowledging the difference anymore. The sun just means we drink more water; the night just means we live in the green world of night vision rather than the grey world of day vision. Patrol. Eat. Sleep. Patrol. Eat. Make phone calls home and ignore the strain in their voices since they’re doing the same. Patrol. Sleep. Get woken up in a panic; it’s time for a new and fragolicious patrol.

Emotional burnouts. All of us. Life is nothing more than a Frogger game with IED’s. Mesopotamian sand rests at the bottom of my lungs like spare change in a swimming pool. I’m still removing bits of Boss Johnson flesh grunge from my memory with a spatula.

Chew tobacco.

Chew tobacco.

Chew tobacco.

Spit.

If you ain’t cav,

you ain’t shit.

Born after the ‘Nam. No illusions about what war is and what war does to the human condition exist or ever existed. Sure, it still shocks the senses into nothingness, but I can’t claim ignorance to this inevitability. Going here was almost like finding a validation for being so disillusioned in the first place. Yeah, I did it backward, but at least I did it. At least my children and grandchildren might be tricked into thinking that the iWar destroyed my generation’s wit and yielded our indulgences, not knowing the real culprit had been cartoon overdose some twenty years previous. How embarrassing would that revelation be? Ruined before puberty; truly, a historic achievement worthy of posterity.

iWar?

Yeah. iWar. iWar. Fitting, in that succinct, catchy pop-culture kind of way. Perfect for this era of irony and commercialization and technology. Just like iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iRack. They can learn all about the iWar on the e-world, just by sitting down at a computer. They just choose not to.

I War. Subject. Verb. Where’s the object? We’re still looking for it, some five years later. How’s that for iRony?

A generation has to be involved and interested for a generational calling to occur. Something beyond stretching the limits of the small warrior caste has to transpire in that wet dream of slogan speak and Orwellian doublethink.

I’d never do it for real, of course.

Still, though. It’s there. And enticing during those select moments when I honestly don’t care anymore. I don’t care about you. I don’t care about me, and I certainly don’t give a fuck about things. Anythings. Everythings. Things. I just want all the hurt to go away.

My officer basic course class just sent our second member to Fiddler’s Green, the cavalry equivalent of the afterlife. Well, we didn’t send him. A mortar attack did, just as a catastrophic IED blast sent the first. Did any of us think we could actually die back then? Like really die? For real die? They almost got Lieutenant Demolition with an EFP last week. His Stryker engine ate it. Would my Stryker engine do that for me?

Close only counts in horsehoes and hand grenades.

And in atomic bombs.

Life makes sense in this little plastic bin(porta john).

The black dogs of self-doubt can turn into ravenous monsters, especially late at night. Especially here. Especially when I’m alone. Especially when I can’t sleep Especially happens too much.

Talk to the people.

Okay.

I know people care about the iWar. But not enough, given the circumstances. Not even close. Agree or disagree with the war, I don’t care-just give a fuck. Be able to find Basra on a map, know that the Tigris isn’t some sort of unholy crossbreed found at the San Diego Zoo, try to figure out the difference between a Sunni and a Shia even if it complexes and perfuses the mind beyond repair. I wish I could issue some loud, righteous proclamation here about the repercussions of such continued resounding American apathy, but who are we kidding? The warrior caste is simply too small nowadays and too proud. There will be no reckoning for all of this. We’ll fight the fights not because we necessarily want to but because no one else will. We were bred to protect. Even if we’re protecting nothing more than an isolationistic yawn prefacing the continental slumber history demands occur after protracted warfare.

Stop talking to the people. They aren’t listening.

Okay.

They never were.

I used to dream of a life without consequences. Like that defiant sand castle though, it got swallowed up by a crashing surf of memories, washed away, lost in the swirl of bleeding blue.

iWar. Mine, not yours. This war. My War. Our War. We War. I War.

You peace. Out.

# 7 All Quiet on the Western Front

I picked this book up at Half-Price books for $2.50. I always love reading bargain books, especially when they are books as acclaimed as this one that really nudge me. Ha! Who needs television? It’s like forty bucks a month for cable tv. I got a whole four days of entertainment out of a book that cost me less than three bucks, and god forbid, I actually expanded my brain power. Enough preaching. The book was great. This will stand as one of the best novels I’ve ever read, and is considered by many to be the greatest war novel ever written.

Written from the perspective of a German soldier during WWI, Remarque(the author) tells a story from the front lines. Full of blood, death and everything detestable while shedding light on the human desire to live and to live full, if you read this and afterward still champion war, not saying you have to be anti-war, then you should play a little more Grand Theft Auto and keep your mouth shut.

#8 Traveling Merrcies: Some Thoughts on Faith

by Anne Lamott

How I have enjoyed this book. Donald Miller, being one of my favorite authors, speaks very kind words about Anne Lamott and boasts that she is one of his personal favorites. As this was my first experience with Anne Lamott, I look forward to reading more of her words.

In Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott tells her story of life, faith, heartache, and joy. It is a “no holds barred” vision of who she is. It feels at times more like a therapy session in which you are the therapist and she lays on the couch vomitting her grueling stories, yet in this case the therapist somehow leaves the room more in love with life. One can only come to appreciate and respect her honesty. She has the ability to make the reader feel as though they aren’t alone in doubt, falling short, feeling alone, yet managing in the mess to cling to a faith that at best feels fleeting at times.

There are so many great passages from this book, but here I’ve taken a small excerpt to give a sampling:

All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it…

We spent a lot of time in our room, too. It was airconditioned. Sam (Anne’s son) so solemn and watchful, frequently brought up the last time he had seen Pammy (Anne’s best friend who had recently died of cancer) on Haloween, three days before she died. He was dressed up as a sea monster, and he sat on her bed and they sang “Frere Jacques” together. He went over and over the facts of the evening: “She was in her jammies?” “Yes.” “I was in my sea monster costume?” “That’s right.” I thought a lot about the effect of Pammy’s death on Sam, my own stunned attempts to deal with that, the worry that he voiced every few days that if Rebecca’s mother could die, then wasn’t it possible that his could too? I somehow felt that all I had to offer was my own willingness to feel bad. I figured that eventually the plates of the earth would shift inside me, and I would feel a lessening of the pain. Trying to fix him, or distract him, or jolly him out of his depression would actually be a disservice. I prayed for the willingness to let him feel sad and displaced until he was able to stop slogging through the confusion and step back into the river of ordinariness. The sun beat down, the hours passed slowly to the drone of the air conditioner. I kept starting to cry and then falling asleep. Sometimes grief looks like narcolepsy.

#9 Bottom of The Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Attempt to Save Baseball From Itself

by Michael Shapiro

No quotes from this one. First, to the facts. This was a book I picked up looking to get back to my baseball reading. What can I say, I love the game. The book fell far short of my ecpectations. Maybe that’s just because I like to read about the magic of baseball and this is not one of those books.

The book details the events taking place in the early 1960’s when there was an attempt to form a third major league within baseball. As a history book, the book is good, but believe me when I say, there is no narritive here. The book is dry and reads like a physics book full of formulas, numbers, and names that are all interconnected but are just stated facts. I admit, I was so frustrated with this book that I didn’t want to read anymore books. I started to question whether this 60 books ideas was really worth the time. Thank God I chose a little Donald Miller for my 11th read.

 

 

#10 Searching For God Knows What

by Donald Miller

 

How much did I love this book and how much do I respect the writing style and thinking of Donald Miller? If I had a friend who was intrigued by my faith, this is the book I would hand them. Especially if said friend was less than impressed by what he saw in the traditional American church. God, I can’t say enough about this book. I read 3/4 of the book in one evening, and this is a medium sized book at 233 pages. I laughed, cried, thought and was inspired. I recommend this book to everyone. Seriously, everyone. I believe this book to be Donald Millers greatest literary feat, beating his New York Times bestselling Blue Like Jazz, which I also cherish.

 

I have chosen to include several excerpts:

pg. 187 I was the guest on a radio show recently that was broadcast on a secular station, one of those conservative shows that paints Democrats as terrorists. The interviewer asked what I thought about the homosexuals who were trying to take over the country.

“Which homosexuals are tyring to take over the country?” I asked.

“You know”, the interviewer began, “the ones who want to take over Congress and the Senate.”

I paused for a while. “Well,” I said, “I’ve never met those guys and I don’t know who they are. The only homosexuals I’ve met are very kind people, some of whom have been beat up and spit on and harassed and, in fact, feel threatened by the religious right.” Think about it. If you watch CNN all day and see extreme Muslims in the Middle East declaring war on America because they see us as immoral, and then you read the paper the next day to find the exact same words spoken by evangelical leaders against the culture here in America, you’d be pretty scared. I’ve never heard of a homosexual group tyring to take over the world, or for that matter the House or the Senate, but I can point you to about fifty evangelical organizations who are tyring to do exactly that. I don’t know why. In my opinion, we should tell people about Jesus, not try to build some kind of temporary moral civilization here on earth.

pg. 193 I recall watching a documentary detailing Muslim frustratioin, both domestic and Middle Eastern, with the perception that all Muslims subscribe to the sort of angry and dangerous extremism propagated by terrorist hijackers on September 11. “It was more than those planes that got hijacked,” one Muslim woman commented. “It was the nation of Islam. In the eyes of the world, they took our faith and flew it into those buildings. The damage may never be repaired.”

I wondered if the Christian faith in America had not been hijacked as well, hijacked by those same two issues; abortion and gay marriage. How did a spirituality such as Christianity, a spirituality that speaks of eternity, of a world without end, of forgiveness of sins and a mysterious union with the Godhead, come to be represented by a moralist agenda and a trickle-down economic theory? And more important, how did a man born of Eastern descent, a man who called Himself the Prince of Peace, a man whome the sacred writings describe eating with prostitutes and providing wine at weddings and healing the sick and ignoring any politial plot, a man who wants us to turn the other cheek and give all our possessions if we are sued, become associated with-no, become the poster boy for-a Western moral and financial agenda communicated thtrought the rhetoric of war and ignorant of the damage it is causing to a world living in poverty.

My only answer is that Satan is crafty indeed.

pg.216 My friend John MacMurray tells me the first book written in the Bible is the book of Job. Moses wrote Job before he wrote Genesis, most scholars agree, and so the first thing God wanted to communicate to mankind was that life is hard, and there is pain, great pain in life, and yet the answer to this pain, or the cure for this pain, is not given in explanation; rather, God offers to this pain, or this life experience, Himself. Not steps, not an understnading, not a philosophy, but Himself. I take this to mean the first thing God wanted to communicate to humanity was that He was God, He was very large and in control, storing snow in Kansas, stopping waves at a certain point on the beach, causing clouds to carry rain, causing wind to race down imaginary hills of barometric pressure, and that if He could do all this, then He could be trusted, and that, perhaps, this would help us through our lilves. And so from the beginning, from the very first story told in Scrirpture, God presents life, as it is, without escape, with only Himself to cling to. It worked for Job, after all, because even before God healed him and even before God returned his wealth and even while Job was sitting by a fire picking scabs from his wounds and mourning his family, he would respond to the whirlwind God spoke through by saying, All this is too wonderful for me.

#11 Grace (Eventually) : Thoughts On Faith

by Anne Lamott

 

There is a little story behind this book. As Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors to read, he, in Blue Like Jazz, introduces Anne Lamott as one of his favorite authors. After reading Traveling Mercies, I was hooked. On to the story behind this book. I walked into Half Price Books expecting my next read to find me. Usually I have a book in mind, but often abandon it for something that strikes my fancy. So as I comb my finger across the “Christian Living” section, a section I must admit, I don’t frequent, I find this book. As I pull it off the shelf, and while it’s still dangling there, I notice a gold shiny sticker on the front. It reads, “Signed Copy”. I think, “This must be a mistake.” Sure enough, as I finger the first few pages, there I find where Ms. Lamott handled the book herself, and so it bears the proof. Needless to say, I was thrilled that I was getting a signed Anne Lamott for $7.99, not a big deal for many, but for me, a pretty big deal.

I really enjoyed this book. Maybe not as much as Traveling Mercies, but in a similar way, Lamott gives you the sense you aren’t alone in your thinking. In fact, there are many who feel the same way about life that you do. Maybe you aren’t as crazy as you once thought you were. It’s an easy read, as there are no real deep passages in it, yet somehow it still strikes the reader as a good read. Here is a taste:

(Lamott writes this passage after a fight with her son in which she slapped him)

I went inside and did everything I could think of that helps when all is hopeless. I ate some yogurt, drank a glass of cool water, and cleaned out a drawer. Then I took my nice clean car to the market and bought supplies: the new “People”, a loaf of whole-weat sourdough, and a jar of raspberry jam. I lay on the couch, read my magazine, and ate toast. Before I started to doze, I turned on CNN softly and watched until I fell asleep.

I woke up a few times. The first time, I was still sad and angry and ashamed, and I knew in my heart that things weren’t going to be consistently good for a long time. I was willing for the Spirit to help me forgive myself, and for Sam (Lamotts son) and me to forgive each other, but these things take time. God does not have a magic wand. I kept my expectations low, which is one of the secrets of life.

When I woke up a second time, I saw the last thing on earth I expected to see: Sam in the room with me, stretched out on the other couch, eating yogurt and watching CNN.

“Hi,” I said, but he didn’t reply. His legs hung over the side of the couch.

I dozed off again, and when I woke up, he was asleep, the dog on the floor beside him. He was sweating-he always gets hot when he sleeps. He used to nap on this same couch with his head on my legs and ask me to scratch it, and before that, he would crawl into bed beside me and kick off all the covers, and earlier still, he would sleep on my stomach and chest like a hot water bottle. He and the dog were both snoring. Maybe I had been, too, all of us tangled in one anothers dreams.

Everthing in the room stirred: dust and light, dander and fluff, the air-my life still in daily circulation with this guy I have been resting with for so many years.

#12 The Hermeneutics of Charity

I’m still working my way through this one. I usually read the more difficult books simultaneously with something a bit more palatable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#13 The Jesus I Never Knew

by Philip Yancey

 

I’m not really sure where to start with this one. I have known for sometime this was one of the most praised books in Christianity, but the title always threw me. I figured it to be another “long evangelical tract” in disguise of a New York Times bestselling book. Boy was I wrong. Simply put, this is the best book about Jesus I have ever read. I can’t even quote from it, because simply taking one quote would do more harm than good. I cannot tell you how many times I was moved to tears by the way Yancey poetically describes the humanity of Jesus. Believer or not, I recommend this book…highly. Think of it as a commentary on the humaity of Jesus Christ. Phenominal.

 

 

 

 

This wasn’t my favorite book by Donald Miller. Like some of his books, he gets bogged down in repetition and “rabbit trailing”. However, for those of us who grew up without fathers there were gems in this book that I won’t soon forget.

In the book Miller focuses on one truth that rings true in my own
life, the search for affirmation. When one grows up without a father, much of his early life is spent searching for some affirmation of his manhood. I can
relate well to this and see the residue of this search in the many mistakes I’ve
made thus far in my life. But I quickly found comfort in something Miller states in this book. “In all of my searching of life, of scripture, of God, of religion, I have found only one prerequisite to manhood. (dramatic pause) A man is affirmed as a man if he has a penis. And anytime one is confused of this he is
welcome to journey to the bathroom, check his shorts, and if it’s still there,
he is still a man”. (My own paraphrase) To someone who grew up with
a father, this may seem uneventful and even comical, but to one who grew
up in the absence of a father, this is such a revelation. For this I thank one of my favorite authors for his insight.

My mother was not herself very affirming of my manhood either. The moments of chasing women, heavy drinking, smoking big cigars, my time in the military, all done as a search for affirmation that I was indeed a man. But as Miller states, that affirmation is found in my relation to God. In my integrity, my desire to be a better father and husband, and admitting to my many shortcoming I find my
manhood.

I have enjoyed reading Tony Jones lately. I’m finally in a place where I can read him without a bias, so I’m not approaching his words reading my own evangelical background into them.

The book is good. I believe Tony Jones to be a bit more on the practical side, sharing more methodology than theology, but both are necessary to understanding the emergent conversation (If you want a taste of emergent doctrine, go straight to the appendicies). I don’t believe you could really walk away from a reading of this book fully understanding the emergent movement. To do so one would need to read a bit of Tony Jones with a little Brian McClaren. McClaren does more theological work on emergents behalf. But I would still say this book a necessity for an emergent library.

It isn’t my favorite Tony Jones book. Postmodern Youth Ministry is definitely in my top ten. If you have the opportunity, watch the Trucker Frank videos on youtube.

I will try to post a new book review every two weeks. I may post more or less often, but I aim for one every two weeks.

I have really fallen in love with Donald Miller and his books. I think it because he is so very much like myself. I can read my life and my feelings between the lines of his words. This book was a great example. It is a book that will challenge even the laziest among us to get off the couch and do something great to live a better story.

Miller takes a look at what surrounds him and realized that he isn’t living a very good story. He attends a seminar on story and determines that he needs to do more to live a better story. The book follows him as he travels all over the world and takes some extraordinary turns to live out a better story. His words are poetic, funny, reflective, sad at times, and overall very enjoyable. This goes down as one of my favorite books of all time.

Favorite line from the book: While attending the seminar on story the speaker asks the audience to name a movie with a good car chase scene. Donald replies to the friend sitting next to him, “I’ll give you five bucks to say “The Passion of the Christ”.

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Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for The Church in Exile

I just finished the third of Rob Bell’s writings entitled, Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for The Church in Exile. I have read both Velvet Elvis, and Sex God, although I must admit I never did complete Sex God. I am again surprisingly impressed by another of Rob Bells books. Rob Bell, for those who have never read him, is really an expert of sorts on drawing links between the Old and New Testaments, and interpreting Scripture carefully within it’s cultural context. In this book he does on several occasions, drawing a link between the tower of Babel and the speaking of tongues at Pentecost (disunity at Babel to unity at Pentecost), the mark of the beast and the mark of the emperor to purchase supplies during Roman occupation, and water baptism as exodus from previous oppression and enslavement (in the flesh) and the parting of the red sea during the exodus from Egypt.

Without giving the book away too much, we could summarize it really in one sentence:

This is a book about exodus from oppresion and enslavement under an empire.

The first three chapters chronicle and draw parallels using the majority of Israel’s history in the Old Testament. It goes into much detail, and you could almost read this book and understand much of the Old Testament with no prior knowledge of the history of Israel and Christianity. The last two chapters (It’s only five lengthy chapters) compare those moments of exodus to the exodus involved in following Christ, and the stark contrast when looking at the state of the church today. WARNING: THIS IS WHERE IT GETS CONTROVERSIAL. Bell draws similarities between “empire” and occupation and oppression, and the religious authority and governmental “oppression” we see in the world today. Not so bad, however, most of Bell’s more controversial statements are aimed at America and the Evangelical Church.

Hey, I’m reviewing the book, not giving my opinions. I would say, if you like Rob Bell and some of his more controversial reading, you will enjoy this book. Again, a warning, Bell’s theology is not always very orthodox.

Enjoy the Silence: A 30 Day Experiment in Listening to God

This is a book that I read earlier this year that I had to post on my blog for it’s benefits. It is a book that teaches the ancient monastic art of lectio divina or divine listening. When I tell you it has revolutionized the way that I approach my times of bible study and prayer, it is quite the understatement.

I have always been very turned off by our approach to bible study and meditation as something that must be done in a series of steps and must take a certain amount of time blocked out from the day. Lectio Divina calls for reading a portion of Scripture, usually a passage, but no limited to just this. I can only give you an example of how it’s changed my personal time of devotion.

Since reading this book I will sit down and read from Scripture until I feel that I have satisfied a desire to reach a point at which I can ponder and meditate on what I’ve read. Sometimes this is as small as a verse, sometimes as large as a book. Either way it gives me a diving board into my prayer time. I will then simply place my Bible on the table and pray. Before assuming this mean talking at God, don’t be fooled. Much more listening involved. I will listen to what God is speaking to me through the portion of Scripture I’ve just read. Sometimes this may take thirty minutes; sometimes three hours. Either way it is all about listening and not placing on my time of devotion a time restraint.

If you have not read this book, I assure you it will satisfy your desire to breath life into your devotion.

God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now

This is a book that I am currently reading and are finding absolutely fantastic. Before going out to buy a copy, I picked this one up at the local library. I cannot give a full review as I am still reading it. I do, however, want to post an excerpt from the book that I believe give a pretty good idea of what to expect when readin this book. So far, it’s great…

“Violence is bred by injustice, poverty, inequality, and other violence. This lesson was learnt very painfully in the first half of the 20th century, at a cost of some 80,000.000 lives. Of course, a full belly and a fair hearing won’t stop a finatic; but they can greatly reduce the number who become fanatics. Even more significantly, a just and fair distribution of the world’s resources would help separate the hundreds of fanatics who kill from the thousands of supporters who help them and the millions of sympathizers who defend them.

During the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age, from around 3000000 to 12000 B.C.E., we humans learned to control, organize, and domesticate tools, fires, and hunts. Later, during the Neolithic or New Stone Age, from around 3000 to 1000 B.C.E., we learned to control, organize, and domesticate plants and grains, animals and herds, peoples and communities. We are so terribly clever, but where in all that human evolution is there any sign of wisdom?”

The Gates

I read very few novels. I have recently, however, decided that I would read on non-fiction and one fiction book just to keep myself entertained. I began with something that was light hearted and even comical. This book is a great read for those who enjoy Harry Potter and such books.

The book is about a boy who, along with his dog, accidentally discover a portal or gateway to hell. The master plan, hell will come through and invade our world. The story then takes on a good vs. evil plot in which the boy, with the help of others, attempt to reverse what is happening. It’s really an enjoyable read and I’d recommend it for those looking for a light novel to enjoy.

One response to “Book Reviews

  1. So yeah.. I just realized the cover says (in those white blocks)

    Jesus
    wants
    to
    save
    christ
    ains

    And I feel kinda like an idiot for just now catching that….

    I like Rob Bell. Although he defiantly the embodiment of the new Social Gospel. His theology can be edgy, and border on heresy, but then again as the reformers were viewed that way at one time or another.

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