A visual look at some recent and upcoming book reviews/interviews.
I am reading several books on culture to expand and refine some teaching notes. One book I’ve had, but never read is All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Kenneth Myers. It was written in 1989 so does not have anything to say about the Internet, but wisely addresses our American love affair with media and entertainment.
Myers cites Roger Shattuck’s work (The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I) to describe the four major features of the era we dub “The Sixties.”
They are: “the cult of childhood, which attacked education and society at large for introducing concern about self-control; the delight in humor, especially in the absurd; the confusion between reality and fantasy; and a preference for ambiguity over clarity.” (All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, p. 109).
Those who know me know that I like to use memory aids (mnemonic devices) in order to recall various things. Years ago, I came up with the name “Gage” (pronounced/emphasized with a long a for the two “a” cities) to remember the five cities of the Phillistines.
This past Wednesday evening, I was reviewing various things and up came the five cities (Gath, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron) of the Phillistines. I laughed because the very next day I was having lunch with my dear friend Cliff Wilson, who is a pilot for Southwest. It turns out that Cliff’s son is named Gage (pictured below). Does he look like a Phillistine to you? I think not!
“…in later years he made a point of quoting Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: ‘There is a great difference between still believing something and believing it again.’ All his beliefs were beliefs again.”
As one who has experienced some severe seasons of doubt about the Christian faith, I definitely resonate with this quote.
My nephew Jon was born exactly thirty years after me. I am 56 and that of course means Jon is 26. The picture above is Jon professing his new faith in Christ through baptism. Praise God for His work of grace in Jon’s life!
Kurt is a dear friend I met in college. He was the campus director for Cru at Arizona State. There are many stories I could tell about Kurt, but here is one of my favorites. Kurt was salutatorian in his high school class along with being a gifted football player. Several academic schools pursued him including Yale and the University of Virgina. Kurt wanted to play at a school known for being competitive in football. As I recall, that meant doing a fifty year history of the most successful program which fit his other criteria. Hint: Notre Dame and Alabama were never in the mix as Kurt hates both of them. In any case, he decided on the University of Tennessee. He went on to say no to Yale, Dartmouth, Virginia, and others. Recently, Kurt made an offhand comment to someone that Yale was one of his “safety schools.” The other fella figured Kurt was crazy or kidding. Joke on him!
So happy birthday Jon and Kurt. You make my life much richer!
And happy birthday to Joel Osteen, who holds a very different view of the Christian life than me, but nonetheless shares March 5 as the date of his birth.
THERE IS LOTS OF TALK ABOUT CHRISTIANITY.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT WHAT CHRISTIANS DON’T BELIEVE.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT HOW JESUS CAN FIX YOUR MARRIAGE.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING, EXCEPT…
NOT ENOUGH TALK ABOUT JESUS HIMSELF.
WHO IS HE?
WHY IS HE UNIQUE?
WHAT MAKES HIM SO COMPELLING?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT ONLY HE IS KING?
I have the privilege (and pleasure) to interview many leading thinkers, writers, and leaders. One was Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941-2013). She wrote my favorite book on Augustine. She was a highly regarded scholar with a clear moral compass. Her insights always paid big dividends.
This essay which The Wilson Quarterly just published is one of the most significant I’ve read in a very long time:
Once again, here is the picture of our home library. Over at Professor John Wilsey’s site, you can see he is soliciting pictures. Some of you ought to help him out!
As promised, I wanted to offer the various ways you can build a great library without spending too much. Here in no particular order are the things we’ve done:
Check out your local library sales. They happen on a regular basis. When we lived in Palo Alto, we got a 19th century hardback edition of Baxter’s The Saints’ Everlasting Rest for fifty cents! It deeply impacted both of us. In between her discipleship meetings with students, I vividly remember my wife reading it (many times with tears in her eyes) in the student union at Stanford.
Used bookstores. You never know what you might find. I found a first edition of God and Man at Yale by William F. Buckley for $5 in Annapolis. A few months back I found an old biography on H.L. Mencken for $1. While thumbing through to make sure it was clean, out fell two personal letters from Mencken. They just got appraised for $250 and $150. I was already thrilled about just getting the book for $1!
Garage sales. Many people don’t know what they have. Yes, there is usually an abundance of pulp fiction, but I have found some incredible and valuable books.
Amazon has many partners who sell new and used books. I have ordered several and never had a problem. I typically look for used books which say there are no markings/like new. And I look at how many good votes they received as a carrier.
Write reviews. Publishers will send you free review copies if you have access to a solid platform. For example, if you want to write for a blog with decent readership, here is how to get started:
*Familiarize yourself with the blog by reading it on a regular basis.
*Don’t comment too often and don’t make your comments long. I am amazed how many people still violate these simple tips. When I see a long comment on a blog post, I always pass over them. The only exception is when someone comments who is an expert on the topic under discussion.
*Thank the blogger for their efforts with the blog. If you have been posting thoughtful and brief comments, they will probably have some vague idea of who you are. If you write them a personal note (again keep it brief!), you will definitely separate yourself from the masses! A younger pastor recently sent me a hand-written note of thanks for one of my articles. Putting pen to real paper makes a big difference.
*Pick books to review the blogger would appreciate.
*Approach them about the possibility of doing one.
*If they say no, know that real authors don’t lost heart. Persevere. Perhaps your writing is not as good as you think. Perhaps the blogger does not connect to your style. Whatever the case, real writers keep writing. Real writers don’t write simply to get published. Real writers write because they must whether many or a few are listening.
*If the blogger says yes, work very hard to do a great job writing the review.
So this is kind of a twofer: how to build a library and a few thoughts about getting your work noticed.
Finally, if a book makes a big impact on you, and if the author is still alive, write him or her a short note of thanks. Believe me, no matter how famous the author, it is a great encouragement. And yes, I’ve had authors send me books as a thank-you for my thank-you, but that of course should not be one’s motivation for writing.
No, it’s not Oprah’s Book Club, but one I started. We begin on March 15. More information here:
Professor John Wilsey of Southwestern Seminary solicited pictures of home libraries/studies. One of our bookshelves got lopped off, but this panoramic picture shows most of it. I wish I could magically stretch the room like the camera is able.
Soon, I will give tips for how to build a great library at a very reasonable cost.