Archives For *Brief Reviews*

 

A Basic Building Block of
Real Community

A Review of 

Praise the Lard: Recipes and Revelations from a Legendary life in Barbecue
Mike Mills / Amy Mills

Hardback: Rux Martin / HMH Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Andy May

 

Legendary barbecue pitmaster Mike Mills and daughter Amy Mills team up to deliver unto us a heavenly smoker’s cookbook revealing some of the best kept secret recipes in barbecue.  But more than that, peppered between the detailed recipes, Mike and Amy’s stories unveil the best of what small town America has to offer: the values of community, family, work, and faith. Amy and Mike share generations worth of wisdom, experience, and a gold mine of creative recipes.  As the original “slow food” movement, Mike and Amy emphasize that barbecue is more than just producing delicious and creatively crafted food, it’s also a basic building block of real community.  As friends and family gather, for whatever occasion, the sights, smells, and slow pace of smoking meat provide an opportunity be reminded of the important things in life. Barbecue is sharing, barbecue is hospitality, barbecue is risk, barbecue is hard work, barbecue is love.

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What We Talk About When
We Talk About Family Values

 
Review of

More Than Words: 10 Values for the Modern Family
Erin Wathen

Paperback: WJK Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Emily Zimbrick-Rogers

 

I began reading Erin Wathen’s family spirituality book, More Than Words, on a plane flight across the country, overhearing a conservative Christian college student try to evangelize her seatmate. She talked a lot about “proof” for God, Truth and right and wrong, why post-modernism was bad, going on mission trips, and her large family. I then finished the book while parked next to a car with a pro-life bumper sticker.

More Than Words, a short but illuminating book, prompted me to think about what “family values” are and what they should be, in dialogue with Scripture, experience, and community. Wathen, author of the popular blog Irreverin on the Patheos Progressive network, and senior pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church in Kansas City, enters the current discussion on “family values” from a particularly progressive, or Christian left, angle. Wathen proposes that progressive churches and individuals do have family values, which she names as compassion, abundance, Sabbath, nonviolence, joy, justice, community, forgiveness, equality, and authenticity. Wathen elevates values based in inclusive love and hope that enable deepened connections with family, faith communities, and our neighbors. She contrasts these values with what she names as conservative “family values”—exclusion/racism, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, and violence (2).

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Withholding Maps?

 
A Review of

Worship in the Way of the Cross: Leading Worship for the Sake of Others
John Frederick

Paperback: IVP Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Kirk Cowell

 

One day, while driving with my wife in the mountains of southern New Mexico, I had a moment of inspiration. My grandfather was famous for taking off down roads he had never seen before, eager to discover some homey restaurant or uncrowded woodlands. On a whim, I decided to emulate him. I turned off the main highway onto a road that seemed to go more-or-less the direction we needed. In those pre-GPS days, we were taking a risk, but for a short while, my spontaneous move worked wonderfully—we passed several gorgeous waterfalls we would have never glimpsed from the highway. But then the road turned the wrong direction. Pavement turned to gravel, then dirt, then mud. My little pickup bogged down, then stopped. As I opened the door and stepped out to assess the situation, Sandy asked, “What do we do now?” “All I know,” I said, “is that we are spinning our tires and home is somewhere off that direction. I don’t know how to get there from here.”

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Rooted in Scripture
and Monastic Tradition

 
A Review of

Benedict’s Daughter: Poems
Philip C. Kolin

Paperback: Resource Publications, 2017.
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Reviewed by Frederick W. Bassett
 
 

Benedict’s Daughter is Philip C. Kolin’s eighth and most recent book of poems. The mere titles of these earlier books, such as The Wailing Wall, Deep Wonder, Emmett Till in Different States, demonstrate his deep and wide-ranging poetic efforts. In a special way, this latest collection expands his poetic interests in Benedictine spirituality by shining light on the journey of his long-time spiritual director, a Benedictine Oblate named Midge in the poems.

In the midst of a gifted academic career (more than 40 books, over 200 scholarly articles, plus countless poems), Kolin wrote Benedict’s Daughter as a poetic tribute to Midge and those who live according to St. Benedict’s Holy Rule (“ora et labora,” prayer and work).
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Demanding More Than
We Could Ever Imagine

A Brief Review of 

Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores
Meadow Rue Merrill

Hardback: Hendrickson, 2017
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Reviewed by Dorothy Littell Greco

 
 

Every few years I read a book that challenges me to the core and makes me question my integrity as a follower of Jesus. Redeeming Ruth is one such book.

My most familiar confession is: God forgive me for not fully trusting you and for hoarding my time. Because this is my reality, I lack the courage (and sufficient faith) to even consider adopting a special needs child. Thankfully, author Meadow Rue Merrill and her family exhibit both courage and faith.

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The Power of Myth
in the Human Spiritual Experience

A Review of 

A Well of Wonder: Essays on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and the Inklings
Clyde Kilby

Loren Wilkinson and Keith Call, Eds.
Hardback: Mount Tabor Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Warren Hicks
 

 

“Clyde Kilby was fundamentally a teaher, but what he had to teach was not a collection of facts, rather, he taught an awed, thankful, and joyful stance toward creation and Creator.”  – Loren Wilkinson, from the foreword (.xiii)

 

A Well of Wonder introduces the reader to the relationships that Mr. Kilby had with Lewis and Tolkien that led him to pursue the project of gathering their papers and that of other of the Inklings into what would become the Marion F. Wade Center at Wheaton College in Illinois. This repository of primary source material including manuscripts and handwritten and typed correspondence among and by Lewis, Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield and G. K. Chesterton has become the fruit of what Kilby describes as, “nothing less than a movement of the Holy Spirit.”

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Harnessing Your Creative Energy

A Review of

Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life
Peter Himmelman

Hardback: Tarcher Perigee, 2016
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Reviewed by Bailey Shannon

 
 

Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Lifeis an insightful and practical tool to help us discover the fears that hold us back from pursuing our dreams and make steps toward living a creative life. Written by Peter Himmelman, musician and founder of Big Muse, a company that teaches leadership skills, creative thinking, and deeper levels of communication, the book offers a wide array of unique metaphors, like giving a name to our fear and negative self-talk, referring to our dreams as our “finished song”, and including various exercises called Brain Bottle Openers at the end of each chapter. Himmelman’s life experience influenced his method and style of writing and he presents  valuable information in a way that leaves the reader with a tangible “next step” to turn their dream into a reality.

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Unraveling the Tension
Between Faith and Science

 
A Review of 

Aquinas and Modern Science: A New Synthesis of Faith and Reason
Gerard Verschuuren

Paperback: Angelico Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Amy Gentile
 
 
Faith and Reason, or religion and science, are often set up as polar opposites in modern discourse. Debates on such topics as evolution or the origins of the universe can make it seem as though faith and reason are diametrically opposed, further entrenching people in both “camps”. Yet there are many wonderful scientists who remain fully committed to reason and trust in the evidence of science while also valuing the place of faith and religious thought. It is in this vein that Gerard Verschuuren writes, and his specific focus on Thomas Aquinas and Thomistic philosophy provides a unique contribution to those interested in the intersection of faith and science.

Verschuuren’s book is impressive in its scope; he begins the book by describing the historical context of Aquinas as well as outlining the broad contours of his thought. He especially focuses on: Esse, Essence, Existence, and Substance; Matter and Form; Fivefold Causality; and Primary/Secondary Causes. Here, Verschuuren does a good job of explaining Aquinas’s thought in understandable ways: the ideas are certainly complex, but the author uses helpful analogies and explains terms thoroughly to aid the reader’s comprehension. These aspects of Thomistic philosophy are then applied to very diverse fields of scientific study, encompassing everything from Physics to Biology to Neuroscience, and even the Social Sciences.

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Hospitable to the Human
and to the Divine

 
A Review of 
 

The Yearning Life:
Poems

Regina Walton 

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2016.
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Reviewed by Lynn Domina
 
 
The poems in Regina Walton’s first collection, The Yearning Life, are written by someone who is not only observant but also thoughtful, even contemplative. They consider questions without, as Keats so famously said, “any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” They often, therefore, straddle that boundary between poetry and prayer.

The opening poem, “Exemplum,” might have been written by one of the desert fathers or mothers. It relies on a direct style with short lines and stanzas, predominantly straightforward sentences, and accessible vocabulary (with one notable exception). Like many of the best poems in this style, its simplicity is deceptive. Here is the first stanza:

A fly lands
On my open book,
And rubs its fingerless palms together
Over the word askesis.

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A Confident Trust in the
Sovereign Purposes of God

 
A Brief Review of 

Change for the First Time, Again:
A Story of Change and How Change is our Story
Scott Lencke

Paperback: Resource Publications, 2016.
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Reviewed by Jessica Hudson
 
 
This most recent publication of work by author Scott Lencke is without doubt the most enjoyable paperback I have sat down to digest in a number of years. It is just the book I want to have with a cup of my favorite coffee in my most comfortable chair. Indeed, the further in it I read, the more I felt the impression that I might as well be sitting across a table in a pub with the author, comfortably sharing our stories together.

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