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Notable Books

Here a few notable books I've been reading recently:

You will surely know Winner from her previous books, some of which are entitled, Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity, Mudhouse Sabbath, and Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.  This is a rather deep look about ways in which we meet God that are out of the ordinary or ways in which we past over that are very easily unidentifiable.  The chapter on Smell is illuminating and challenging to say the least.  Quoting from George Orwell and others, Lauren peers into our hearts that allow smell to distance us from becoming friends with others.  She writes, "Perhaps if smelling is to be a part of my relationship with God, I might start here: trying to unlearn whatever I have been taught about the relationship of smell to virtue, trying to notice how I let smell become a barrier between me and people who might be my friends (89)."  With quotes from spiritual guides and thinkers to wisdom from her own experience, this book is a real gem.

With unflappable humor and introspection, Bible scholar Peter Enns gets to the heart of the matter concerning Scripture and our defense of it or lack thereof.  Much of the book is a foray into the question of the Canaanite genocide in the OT, the cultural and historical situation regarding it and if God really told Israel to decimate the entire people living in Canaan.  I found many of the arguments concerning the question of the genocide to be lacking in substance.  For those with an evangelical stance, this book will be tremendously frustrating, yet you will still find many points at which to either agree with or respect.

This book is divided up into very short pieces, usually 2-3 pages long that read more as very fascinating blog posts.  Yet, this book is tremendously full of wisdom and critical thinking.  Volf is the Founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.  He is a systematic theologian and one of the leading theologians of our time.  He has experienced great suffering in his homeland of Croatia.  This book pulls no punches and calls people on the table.  In his chapter on Evil and Evildoers he pushes back against his friend who believes it to be preposterous to call a terrorist act or person evil, for it does nothing for the situation.  Furthermore, as Volf explains, his friend believes that evil only arises out of a set of pernicious influences from abusive parents, bad genes, unjust structure and leaders.  Volf counters by stating, "Our condemnation of our deed notwithstanding, we respect an evildoer by calling her evil because we are treating her as a responsible being (23)."

Rather than end on this note, Volf goes onto mention that, "God's love is broad enough to include evildoers, the worst of them.  We know this because Christ died for their salvation no less than for the salvation for the rest of us who are one and all by nature God's enemies (25)."  With a dose of Solzhenitsyn and a firm foundation in the gospel, Volf displays a remarkable wit to challenge our dearly held beliefs and look again at what God is doing in his world.  My recommendation is that you buy this book, or at the very least check it out. 


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