Category Archives: Book Review

THE IDEAS THAT MADE AMERICA

Our oldest son and his wife will many times choose a few hors d’oeuvres and then split a meal. They get more variety, and many times find out that the appetizers are better than the main offerings.

I thought of our son and daughter-in-law’s culinary sensibilities as I read Ratner-Rosenhagen’s terrific book. The author does a wonderful job of laying out the seminal ideas that have bubbled up over our country’s history. There are some ideas I wished she unpacked in more detail, but it is a satisfying sampler.

The author is a lucid writer, so any thoughtful person will find much to chew on in The Ideas that Made America.

 

LOST IN THOUGHT…

Our American culture is full of people with a toxic combination of ignorance and arrogance.

Lost in Thought is an antidote to both of these.

Hitz’s subtitle is The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life. She has done a terrific job of showing us where the gems are to be found.

I am glad Hitz felt free to use “intellectual” and to show that all of us, irrespective of brain power or giftedness, are called to pursue a life of learning.

This book is part memoir as the author shares a bit about her own journey. I found this not only interesting, but it lent credibility to the things she promotes in her book.

Hitz does a good job demonstrating that deep learning is a way to show love to others.

Education and high culture do not automatically lead to virtue. You can be both learned and lacking in virtue. The Germany of WWII is the example usually given, but sadly there are many more.

Hitz’s book contains many fascinating insights like how the solitary confinement of prison resulted in some people doing brilliant work. She did not mention John Bunyan, but I will try to forgive the author for that omission!

Highly recommended!

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT IN ITS WORLD

The New Testament in its World by N.T. Wright and Michael Bird

I typically read 4-6 books at the same time. Being a person of many interests, it fits my personality, and dare I say, my calling.

When one of the books I am reading is long (500 pages plus) and/or technical, I tend to read no more than 5-20 pages at a sitting. It gives me ample time to ponder and scribble my many marginal notes.

One large book (almost 900 pages) I am now finishing is The New Testament in its World by N.T. Wright and Michael Bird. I saw it highly recommended by many I respect so I decided to read it. I am glad that I did. It would fit in the long, but not technical category.

Instead of a traditional book review, let me mention (in no particular order) five things I appreciated about this book:

*Even though this a dual authored book, it is clear and smooth in its presentation.

*It is amply supplied with graphs, timelines, maps, and other visuals that wonderfully augment the text.

*The authors do a terrific job of modeling how history is crucial for the best understanding of the New Testament. My own book, Stuck in the Present, highlights this need.

*Various positions on the different books of the New Testament are offered. The authors are fair and balanced in telling the reader why they hold, or at least lean in one direction.

*There is a good use of both ancient and modern scholarship. This regularly reminds the reader that the Christian faith has a rich history.

Highly recommended!

 

 

A MASTER HISTORIAN ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

I have read a couple of Robert Wilken’s other books. His books never disappoint. He is an elegant writer along with being an eminent historian of the early Christian and medieval eras.

He is fair and balanced and that is certainly true of this book. You will find that Wilken had his book scrutinized by both Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars.

I do not know if Wilken meant for there to be any apologetic aim with this book, but his terrific sketch of history certainly corrects a faulty view that many have about the origins of religious liberty.

Kudos to Yale University Press that consistently makes beautiful books!

YES, ANOTHER BOOK OF THE YEAR!

In short compass (unlike Moby-Dick!) Philbrick gives the reader a wonderful preview of the riches in Moby-Dick.

I am very interested in early nineteenth century literature (Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Poe, Melville, Hawthorne, Whitman, Fuller, et al.). Philbrick’s book motivates me to revisit Melville’s great work.

Philbrick is a skilled wordsmith and offers many suggestive and wonderful insights about human life in the midst of an uncertain and many times terrifying world.

THE CLUB

Take a fascinating group of influential leaders from a variety of professions. Mix in an author’s ability to find the telling story, anecdote, or insight. Add a publisher’s penchant for producing beautiful books in both content and design and you get The Club!

Highly recommended and quite entertaining!

TELLING A BETTER STORY

The best compliment I can pay this book is that it joins my list of favorite dead and living authors for better engagement with our culture.

For the former, there are Augustine, Pascal, Chesterton, Lewis and Newbigin. For the later there are Dan Taylor, James K.A. Smith, Tim Keller, Charles Taylor, and James Davison Hunter.

THE TEMPLE AND THE TABERNACLE

The Temple and the Tabernacle is one of those books I can recommend with gusto.

The text of the book is gorgeously accented with loads of pictures. Baker has done a truly stellar job with the production of this book.

Hays is a careful reader of Scripture. He does not make wild claims, yet there are many wonderful insights throughout his book.

I learned much from this book. It is accessible, but loaded with insight.

My safe guess is that it will help you make better sense of the tabernacle and the temple.