Archives For Review

 

Encouragement in the Struggle

A Feature Review of 

The Light Is Winning: Why Religion Just Might Bring Us Back to Life
Zach Hoag

Paperback: Zondervan, 2017
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Reviewed by Leroy Seat.

 

The present day often seems like a rather discouraging time for many Christians. Those who are in the “moderate” camp are embarrassed by many of the things conservative evangelicals say and do. But the moderates are also unhappy with the way many of the progressives/liberals deny or downplay some of the most central aspects of the Christian faith. Additionally, many of today’s Christian denominations—whether conservative, moderate, or liberal—seem to be in decline.

This new book by Zach Hoag, who self identifies as “an author, preacher, and creator from New England,” speaks a word of hope into these discouraging times through sharing his own story and some ongoing theological reflections.

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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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Do Not Harden Your Heart
 
A Feature Review of 

The Listening Day:
Meditations on the Way

Paul Pastor

Paperback: Zeal Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Madeline Cramer

 
 

In moments of uncertainty or indecision in which my inner dialogue resorts to a state of frantic, chaotic anxiety, my spiritual director used to calmly remind me that it was time to be still, observe myself, and “take a long, loving, look at the real.” Perhaps the objective of Paul J. Pastor’s The Listening Day, could be best described in the advice that she bestowed upon me. Each of the book’s ninety-one pages contains a daily “meditation” not unlike those practiced by the early monastic church fathers. As Pastor says, they are to be, “read…slowly—no more than one entry a day,” prayerfully, and with a quiet mind (xiii).

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Who is the Holy Spirit?
 
A Review of

Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life
Michael Horton

 
Hardback: Zondervan, 2017
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Reviewed by Alicia Brummleler
 
 
Recently, while discussing the final paper for her senior Faith and Culture class, my daughter posed a question that I think many Christians have wondered at different points. Mom, what is the role of the Holy Spirit?

Often, there is an ease and comfort with which we discuss the role and attributes of the Father and the Son. But when we mention the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves, well, pausing and perhaps struggling to find the right words to describe who he is. As Michael Horton, the author of Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in the Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life (Zondervan, 2017) aptly acknowledges, “Who exactly is the mysterious third person of the Trinity? Why does he seem to posses less reality or at least fewer descriptive features than the Father and the Son?” (13).

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Our Many Misunderstandings
of the World Around Us

A Review of

Scienceblind:
Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong
Andrew Shtulman

Hardback: Basic Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Alisa Williams

 

In an age where scientific information is readily at our fingertips, why do so many people resist or flat-out deny scientific explanations for everything from pasteurization and immunization to geology and genetics? This is the question Andrew Shtulman, a cognitive and developmental psychologist, seeks to answer in his book Scienceblind.

The quick answer is intuitive theories, our “untutored explanations for how the world works,” get in the way of reality (4). These intuitive theories are pervasive and indiscriminate – even scientists with years of study subconsciously resort to false intuitive theories when tested. This alone seems cause for alarm, but Shtulman offers hope. If we can understand why our minds insist on carving “up the world into entities and processes that do not actually exist” then we can also course correct our minds by dismantling those pesky intuitive theories so we can “rebuild them from their foundations” (5).

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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 Puzzle Box Top:
Seeing the Big Picture of Racism and American Evangelicalism

A Feature Review of 

The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege
Ken Wytsma

Hardback: IVP, 2017.
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Reviewed by Cynthia Beach

 
 

Watch for our interview with Ken Wytsma in our Fall 2017 magazine issue.
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My puzzle pieces were disparate. My African American student who overnighted with us and who, when he wandered the grocery aisles in my small (white) town, perspired heavily—as if he was distressed. Or that essay by Brent Staples, the African American who, when he roamed midnight sidewalks, would whistle Vivaldi to lessen the fears others had assigned his skin color. Or Hidden Figures when a smart woman’s heels click-clacked as she rushed out one building and into another to use the colored ladies restroom. I held the pieces, but not the picture until I read Ken Wytsma’s The Myth of Equality.

This Oregon pastor’s fourth book handed me the proverbial puzzle box lid that helped me fit together pieces to the disturbing puzzle, our American racism and white privilege. Finally, the picture was clear. When I finished this potent book, I thought, Now I get it. Now I see it.

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A Difficult Church Service
to Sit Through

A Review of 

Tears We Cannot Stop:
A Sermon to White America
.

Michael Eric Dyson

Hardback: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
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Reviewed by Jordan Kellicut

 

My first memory of race was the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots. Growing up in a white family, in a white community, in a white school, race was not a thing I ever considered. I do, however, remember watching King being beaten on the evening news. I always assumed that the four police officers who perpetrated this act of racially charged violence were charged, convicted, and jailed for the crime. I was shocked to learn, in Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, that these men were found innocent (though two were later convicted in Federal court). This likely illustrates the very issue of race in America – namely many white Americans (like myself) are oblivious to the experience of people of color, and as we have seen in the past few years, often hostile to their story.

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This week marked the 20th anniversary of the original UK release of J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel. 

 

The newest book from the Harry Potter universe… 

 
 

NPR remembers the occasion with a replay of their original review:

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