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Showing posts from December, 2011

A Thrilling Journey

Being unfamiliar with Brouwer's work, I dove into this novel with a bit of reluctance. Although my cautious manner remained, I appreciated the story. I ended up finishing the book in one day as I was enthralled by the story line. Just to be upfront, I thought the story moved very fast and the action also. Although some of the plot details were a little bit contrived, the whole of the story had a good resolution and end.




The story begins with Crockett Grey, a teacher of high school students for adaptive learning. What we find out early on is that he wins the trust of most of his students by his care for them. Also, we find out that he is a divorced dad of a five year old Mickey, but also lost his little girl Ashley when she was young. Down on his luck, Crockett seems to always be looking for that glimmer of hope, that time with his son and time to make a difference in his teaching. In comes Jaimie, one of Grey's students, disheveled but also having something that none of the ot…

Bumpersticker Theology

Recently I have been scanning the parking lots at the local stores in our area for bumper stickers.  It seems nowadays everyone voices their opinions with a catchy phrase or witty saying on the back of their car.  What I find most amusing is the vast number of bumper stickers seeking to make a theological or religious claim, most notably from those who see this world going to hell and a handbasket.  Particularly, I find the bumper sticker 'Keep Christ in Christmas' most amusing.  Why?

For one thing, the simple assertion that Christ was taken out of Christmas is absurd.  Now, I get the messsage behind the words.  This or that person is claiming that our culture, its schools, politics, media, and messages seek to remove anything that is moral and anything that smacks of Christian beliefs.  Well, let's think about that for a minute.  Although there is often a hostile attitude towards the credibility of religious beliefs in our culture, doesn't our culture also claim to be…

A Year with Jesus

I am not usually a huge fan of devotionals, not because they are not helpful for devotional practice, but usually they offer sentimentalisms that are neither biblical or helpful. Yet, I found this devotional by R.P. Nettlehorst very beneficial on both sides. For one, how can you go wrong with centering on the actual words and actions of Jesus. Often, as we read through the Bible we tend to focus on the passages that we love or that we most gravitate towards and fail to focus on the passages that are hard and difficult to understand. Nettlehorst does a good job at focusing on the key events and teachings of Jesus in the gospels and their significance. He does not get into sentimental over-spiritual garbage but is intent on drawing out the key applications about the text.




What I really enjoyed about this devotional was the various things Nettlehorst incorporates in each day's readings. For instance, on Day 226 Nettlehorst explains the background of the Decapolin in relation to Jesus…

Dug Down Deep

Joshua Harris, author of such books I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl has written a much different, inherently valuable book on the basic beliefs of the Christian faith. He has packaged them in a way that is both accesible and enriching. Early on in the book, he tells the story of his upbringing by saying, "The bottom line was that my parents faith wasn't really my faith...I knew the Christian lingo but my heart wasn't in it" (4-5). He went onto play the blame game for a while pawning off his criticisms of the faith to others all the while never actually engaging the big questions of faith. As Harris moves on in the early chapters, he makes the point that not only does everyone have a theology, but having a theology is emminently practical. Harris writes, "Messed-up theology leads to messed-up living" (12). There is a direct connection between what we believe and how we live, for knowledge and affections are consequential to living rightly or wrong…

Poetic Genius

Rarely do you come across a book, or a book of poems that is shaped by a keen sensitivity to language and a profound story. The Sin-Eater by Thomas Lynch is 24 carefully crafted poems focusing on the life of Argyle, a sin-eater in Ireland. As other reviews have noted, a sin-eater is a man who comes to funerals for a six pence and stands over the deceased eating a loaf of bread and drinking a bowl of beer and thereby taking the sins of the dead upon himself. In doing this the sin-eater alleviates the dead from undue time in purgatory. Much like the scapegoat in the OT, the sin-eater was a wanderer after the act of sin-eating was done, roaming for the next place to act. Even though the subject matter can be at times grotesque and morbid, the poems were brilliant because they captured the culture and geography of Ireland, but more importantly they sought to bring together the internal struggle of a man caught between the church (its priest and rites) and the people he cares for. This kin…