Search Results For "mark eckel"


One of the Better Christian Books on Movies
A Brief Review of

When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian Practice
Mark D. Eckel

Paperback: Westbow, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Gina Dalfonzo


There are those who warn that spending too much time watching movies and shows necessitates the turning off of one’s brain. Mark D. Eckel begs to differ. Movies, for him, open the door to a world of ideas and emotions that can enrich the life of anyone who’s willing to engage them seriously. More than that, movies are an example of God’s common grace, a gift that He gives to everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, from which they can learn and benefit.


Eckel’s book When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian Practice shares the insights he’s gained from years of watching movies, thinking about movies, and sharing movies with friends, students, and family members. It includes reviews of movies in a number of different genres, as well as interviews with Christians in a variety of fields, from education to media production to blogging to sitcom writing, about their experiences with movies.

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To Be a Thoughtful Learner

A review of

I Just Need Time to Think! Reflective Study as Christian Practice
Mark Eckel

Paperback: Westbow Press, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis
I’ve had my review copy of I Just Need Time to Think! on my desk for several weeks, and whenever anyone stops by, the vibrant cover catches the visitor’s eye. It is the title, though, that prompts a comment, every time.
“Oh! I need that book!”  “How is that book?  Is it useful? I really need time to think!”  Clearly Eckel has lighted upon a timely, pertinent topic that resonates with many. The cover of the book depicts young people, perhaps students, pensively examining notes or the horizon.  Dr. Mark Eckel is Professor of Leadership, Education and Discipleship at Capital Seminary and Graduate School.  Eckel’s reflections in this helpful book are gleaned from his vocation as a teacher, but they are relevant to anyone who feels overworked, overstimulated or, at the very least, out of the habit of taking time to reflect upon one’s life and decisions.

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This World IS My Home:
A Theology of Place

Dr. Mark Eckel,
Professor of Old Testament
Crossroads Bible College, Indianapolis, IN

“We live in virtual relationships,” Kaycee lamented.  Russ added, “We serve Facebook, rather than allowing Facebook to serve us.”  “We only have so much time,” Katie rightly ascertained, “Only so much emotion to give.  Can we continue far-flung relationships with those whom we no longer live near?”  The Christian thinker Sertillanges spoke in 1920 about the issues these students raised in the 21st century:

Avoid, even with these, the excessive familiarity which drags one down and away from one’s purpose; do not run after news that occupies the mind to no purpose; do not busy yourself with the sayings and doings of the world, that is with such as have no moral or intellectual bearing; avoid useless comings and goings which waste hours and fill the mind with wandering thoughts.[1]

I was struck by the students’ acknowledgement, the unstated need, for relationship in proximity.  How much do we have need for longevity in a place to build physical, visible relations with others?  How necessary is the day-in-day-out connection with folks who know us best, in all our moods, situations, and interactions?

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Heavenly Merchandize - Mark Valeri A Review of

Heavenly Merchandize:
How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America
Mark R. Valeri.
Hardback: Princeton UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel

How many of us form an opinion on something based on spurious evidence and then allow the idea to set concrete-like into fact?  If there is any historical point of reference to which this dictum may apply it has to do with America’s founding.  We tend to “cherry pick” quotes and ideas that suit our rock hard position.  Our tendency, then, is to use these lovely out-of-context-ideals to chip away at other points of view.  Might I suggest that we break out a jack hammer to all our hallowed—and sometimes hollow—positions.

Mark Valeri’s Heavenly Merchandize is a historical treatise which reinvestigates Puritan economic positions at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries.  Key to the book is the dynamic of change that moves people over a short time within the Puritan movement.  Understood, yet not a focal point, is the way words changed meaning over time.  Moreover, Valeri notes what historical markers were allowed to lapse when the present pressures of commerce—including individual profit—meant more than principle itself.  In short, Puritan commitments to clear Scriptural standards were left behind when a better deal came along.

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Glue that Holds Us Together

A Review of

When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up.
Jamie Janosz

Paperback: Moody, 2014.
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Reviewed by Mark Eckel

This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s website, and is reprinted here with permission.

They prayed with prostitutes.  They confronted gangsters.  They entered tawdry saloons. In each place, with each person, they sang, preached, celebrated, and applied scripture.  From the first page, I—a man—wanted to be like these women.  But as Jamie says, they were “ordinary,” folks just like me and you.  Jamie’s real interest is not simply to tell you their story, but to live their story.  Jamie Janosz has given us this, her storied thesis, in her good work When Others Shuddered: Eight Women who Refused to Give Up (Moody, 2014).

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Helping Us Interpret Our World

A Review of

Christian Guides to the Classics
Leland Ryken

Paperback: Crossway, 2013

Macbeth:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Paradise Lost:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

The Scarlet Letter:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

The Odyssey:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel.


“When you see a book with Leland Ryken’s name, buy it; ask questions later.”  For the past 25 years this has been my mantra whenever anyone has wondered about books for the humanities.  Leland Ryken has written or edited 40 books in his lifetime, teaching for almost a half century at Wheaton College.  His latest offerings should be scooped up by every homeschooling family, Christian school teacher, lifelong learner, and college student.  What Ryken has done is to give the thoughtful Christian a basis for engaging classic texts such as Macbeth, Paradise Lost, The Scarlett Letter, and The Odyssey with the transcendent source of truth, Scripture.

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The Incarnation of the Book.

A Feature Review of

Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times.

Andrew Piper

Hardback: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
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Reviewed by Mark Eckel


My son is one of the few people I know who actually writes letters by hand.  He includes on pages and envelopes freehand pictures, drawings, and flourishes which both decorate and drive attention.  I can only imagine the post-person’s double take.  Tyler’s personality and personableness are on display.  If you are fortunate enough to receive one of Tyler’s creative missives, you might try hard to find a way to keep it.  In like manner, Andrew Piper’s children allow him to connect page to person.  Anecdotal connections to his offspring bring us face-to-face from a page-to-page perspective in Piper’s important work, Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times.

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Liberal Arts for the Christian LifeGlorifying the King

Liberal Arts for the Christian Life,

edited by Jeffry C. Davis & Philip G. Ryken.

Paperback: Crossway, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel

“When you see a book with Leland Ryken’s name, buy it; ask questions later.”  For the past 25 years this has been my mantra whenever anyone has wondered about books for the humanities.  Leland Ryken’s 1981 volume The Christian Imagination brought together essential essays linking a Christianly coherent liberal arts viewpoint for many.  Ryken’s small, exceptional 1985 introduction to a Christian interpretation of literature, Windows to the World: Literature from a Christian Perspective, stoked my own literary fires, lighting the torches of many of my students.  Ryken’s study Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure still stands as the most direct, accessible work on the twin subjects ever written.  Of course, his books on Bible teaching, the Puritans, Scripture as literature, and Christian interpretation of the classics add to the depth of any learner’s understanding from the pen of a world class scholar.  Over the last decade, Ryken has committed his attention to Bible translation.  The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (2002) gives explanation for his oversight of The English Standard Version (2001) including the first ever Literary Study Bible (2007).  Lest one would think Ryken simply a writer, he has spent 40 years at Wheaton College training students to properly understand English literature from a Christian worldview.  Consider the multiplicity of students who have had the privilege of Ryken’s literary erudition and expertise.  How many homes and churches have a broadened understanding of life having sat under Ryken’s tutelage?!

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Amy Sherman - Kingdom CallingGiving Ourselves Away.

A Feature Review of

Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good.

Amy Sherman.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2011.
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Reviewed by Mark Eckel.

As a reviewer, I decided to put my money where my mouth is: I ordered a box of Amy Sherman’s books and am giving them away.  Amy L. Sherman’s latest volume, Kingdom Calling, is a catalyst for generational change.   The subtitle Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good is the accelerant needed for the catalyst to ignite the transformation.  Countless talk about socio-economic concerns, but Sherman tells the stories of many who are doing, not talking.  The full title also explains Sherman’s belief.  The King is king of the whole kingdom.  The Church’s focus often centers on itself and its work, whereas the work of The Church’s people is who they are, where they are.  ‘Calling’ is that of folks changed by The Call, practicing agents of redemption as janitors, doctors, trades-people, lawyers, coaches, philanthropists, and all the multi-colored gifts of God’s people (1 Peter 4.10).  ‘Vocational stewardship’ means the “intentional, strategic deployment” of a believer’s full person and place “to advance foretastes of God’s kingdom” (20).  Far from programmatic, Christian work in the world is missional only insofar as it is personal: missio Dei per imago Dei, the mission of God through the image of God.  ‘The common good’ involves everyone within our sphere of influence who benefits from our God-given gifts.  Inspired by a Tim Keller sermon on Proverbs 11.10, Sherman now inspires us to help communities flourish by the giving of ourselves to justice.

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Herbert Butterfield by Kenneth McIntyreOrdered Liberty Premised on Divine Providence

A Review of

Herbert Butterfield:

History, Providence, and Skeptical Politics

Kenneth B. McIntyre.

Paperback: ISI Books, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel.

Twisted history marks the pastime of lazy thinkers.  Herbert Butterfield would have none of it.  Practicing his craft during the tectonic shifts of the 20th century, it would have been easy for Butterfield, the historian, to accept the view that using history to promote present belief was acceptable.  After all, Butterfield lived in physical and philosophical war zones.  But Butterfield’s work was born of Augustinian theology which acknowledges the inherent corruption of humans.  He understood that views of history must be constrained and limited; interpretation of another person’s place or time does not exist for simple lessons of history.  “The Christian faith produces both humility and sympathy in the face of the moral and intellectual complexity of past” (42).  The practical application of Christian doctrine to an academic discipline is well expounded in Kenneth B. McIntyre’s Herbert Butterfield: History, Providence, and Skeptical Politics.

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