Archives For *Brief Reviews*

 

A Powerful Medium of Storytelling
 
A Review of 
 

God in the Movies: A Guide for Exploring Four Decades of Film
Catherine Barsotti / Robert Johnston, Eds.

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Fred Redekop
 
 
The Sound of Music (1966) was the first movie that I saw at the theatre. My parents and their eight children went the Brock Theater in Niagara-on -the-Lake, Ontario. The other movie experience that I remember growing up with was The Wizard of Oz. It came on once a year, in the spring, and our family sat down and watched it together on television. My first R-rated movie I saw was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. So, I am a movie-watcher, who likes movies from all over the world. My brother is a set designer and set builder for the movie industry in Toronto. I was a pastor for over 30 years, and know from the people that I was pastor to,  that movies are a powerful medium of storytelling

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Wisdom Sprinkled Lavishly
 
A Brief Review of 

Love Big, Be Well:
Letters to a Small-Town Church

Winn Collier

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2017.
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Reviewed by Rhodara Shreve
 
 

In this new novel by Winn Collier, you might think letters written by a pastor to his small church congregation would be irrelevant to the modern, urban churches in larger city areas but, you would be so wrong. In fact, reading this book is more about getting a chance to remember what we can be robbed of in this crazy high-tech, global world and why this has to do with our deepest need for friendships that matter as as we journey through life. In this book, a pastor finds himself called to a rural church, and as he writes these letters to his congregation, he shares so much wisdom through the stories of people he meets in this church as he gets to know them and the community they inhabit.

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Caring for Both the Earth
and Those who Inhabit It

A Brief Review of 

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist
Kate Raworth

Hardback: Chelsea Green Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Patrick Bowers

 

It is not very often a macroeconomic book could be praised as both approachable and revolutionary at the same time, but I think that is the only way to sum up Kate Raworth’s book.  This book was years in the making and the author very much wants the readers to follow her along on her trip from student to a shaper of economic thought.
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Developing a Taste of Place

A Review of

The Bees of Rainbow Falls: Finding Faith, Imagination, and Delight in Your Neighbourhood
Preston Pouteaux

Paperback: Urban Loft, 2017
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Reviewed by Duke Vipperman

 

If the author speaks as well as he writes, you should definitely consider getting in touch. Preston Pouteaux has written a thoroughly enjoyable manual on being both incarnational and missional captured through the fascinating lens of his beekeeping: a subject I knew less than nothing about, but which now fascinates me. Part One opens up the life of the hive, wandering bees, and the faithful bee keeper. We know that apples, avocados, broccoli, cranberries, cucumbers, grapefruit, melons and onions depend on bee pollination. Blueberries and cherries are 90-percent dependent. Almonds would completely disappear without honey bee pollination. Bees are a keystone of those crops: withdraw the bees and the crops will collapse. The collapse of bee hives across North America is a serious concern.

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Stories of Obsession and Experience
 
A Brief Review of 
 

Recycled Glass: And Other Stories
Fred McGavran

Paperback: Glass Lyre Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Anna Kasik
 
 
 
Horlach Spencer, a greedy financial adviser, shows up three times throughout Fred McGavran’s short story collection, Recycled Glass and Other Stories. When we first meet this character, in “Larson Bennett and the Flight into Egypt,” he has set up a laptop outside the room of a dying man, Larson Bennett. Spencer is showing Bennett’s family how their inheritance will be affected depending on whether Bennett dies before or after the first of the year. The death tax expires on the first, so if Bennett lives until then, his family will save millions of dollars in taxes—and Spencer will earn thousands of dollars from his one percent management fee.

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A Delightful Journey
into the Scriptural Story
 
A Review of 

Scripture and Its Interpretation:
A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible

Michael Gorman, Ed.

Hardback: Baker Academic, 2017.
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Reviewed by Chuck Sackett
 
 
In the introduction, Gorman identifies the limits imposed on a volume with such a broad subtitle. He readily admits that this work will be an overview at best. But, he also indicates something of his dream for the book at the end of the introduction when he uses the analogy of a library. He acknowledges that Scripture, like a library, may raise questions, invite you into a new world, and proposes interpretative approaches you’ve not considered. He concludes, “We hope to point you in the direction of some of these interesting questions, answers, and perspectives” (xxii).
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Getting to Know Ourselves Better
 
A Review of 

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything
Anne Bogel

Paperback: Baker Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Sara Sterley

 

I have been a junkie for personality types since I first took a Myers-Briggs assessment, probably at some point in high school. I loved the idea of many of my personality traits – as well as those of my close friends and family – falling into consistent patterns that I could study and learn from. So when I heard about Anne Bogel’s first book, Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I was excited about how Bogel (also known as Modern Mrs. Darcy, the much-loved book and lifestyle blog, or MMD, as I affectionately call her) would tackle this subject.

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To Steward Our Pain
 
A Review of 
 

A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory
Frederick Buechner

Paperback: Zondervan, 2017
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Reviewed by James Matichuk
 
 

*** This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog,
      and is reprinted here with permission.  Visit his blog for tons of great reviews!

 
Frederick Buechner is one of my favorite authors. He is a writer of enigmatic fiction with strange and conflicted characters (e.g. the holy and profane Godric, an unsaintly, Saint Brendanand the unlikable religious charlatan Lou Bebb), as well as sermons and theological musings, and poignant memoirs which wrestle with darkness, grace and calling.

A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory is vintage Buechner. Quite literally, in fact. Most of this book is culled from the Buechner canon with selections from The Sacred Journey, The Clown in the Belfry, Beyond Words, A Room Called Remember, Secrets in the Dark, Telling Secrets. However, the opening chapter, “The Gates of Pain,” is an unpublished lecture he gave, describing ways we can best steward our pain.

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A Timely Meditation
 
A Brief Review of 
 

October 31, 1517:
Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World

Martin Marty

Hardback: Paraclete Press, 2017
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Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
 
 
Today marks the 500th anniversary of the date attributed to Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church Wittenberg. Martin Marty, one of the most distinguished scholars of church history over the last century, has written a powerful and timely meditation on the significance of this event. It is, as James Martin, SJ refers to it in his foreword: “a short book on a big topic written by an expert.”

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Defying the System and Inspiring Hope
 
A Review of 

The New Pioneers: How Entrepreneurs Are Defying the System to Rebuild the Cities and Towns of America
J.P. Faber

Hardback: BenBella Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Ryan Johnson
 
 

Stories have a profound impact on people. They have this inherent ability to communicate facts and reality in such a way that they leave a lasting impression. The best stories go beyond this by transforming us for the greater good. They have a way of altering preconceived ideas and strongly held beliefs in a way that other forms of communication cannot. They make us consider different viewpoints by taking us beyond our own life experiences and placing us into the lives of others. They can even create strong advocates for causes for which one otherwise had no interest. In The New Pioneers, Faber does just this by communicating stories of a movement fueled by new entrepreneurs that is taking aim at the things that restrict creativity and innovation, that is over-regulation and bureaucracy.
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