Sunday, February 03, 2019

2 Samuel

by Andrew Steinmann

Technically, Dr. Steinmann's commentary on 2nd Samuel is a standalone book. Practically, it's really a the second volume of a set. The introduction and all of the scholarly background information of the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel is contained in Dr. Steinmann's previous book, 1 Samuel. This one simply jumps right in to the text. Once again Dr. Steinmann offers his relatively brief comments on the text, examining the events and people of the stories and how they reflect and relate to us today. The connector, of course, is Christ, as is brought out on just about every page. (Well, not the index and bibliography...)

Of course it's on my shelf!
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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies

by C. S. Forester

As I've been reading through the Hornblower Novels, I've wondered what this book would be like. In the midst of tales of action and adventure, the thought of the hero as a middle-aged admiral doesn't seem all that appealing. Fortunately, Mr. Forester's imagination is better than mine. Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies is a satisfying end to the series. In this book, Horatio Hornblower, is more of a trickster than an action hero. He still has his skirmishes, but saves the day with strategy rather than brute strength. (Well, his own brute strength that is. He does employ the more vigorous men under his command.) Unlike the previous books, the tale is less of a day to day account of a particular mission, but rather tells the highlights of a three year posting in the Caribbean. It ends with a final sea voyage, and a battle against nature rather than enemy ships.

Definitely on my shelf. 
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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mallworld

by Somtow Sucharitkul

This blast from the past is a collection of short stories from the early 1980's. The scenario is this: Centuries from now, the human race will be visited by an advanced race called the Selespridar. They'll shunt the solar system into a parallel universe to keep us in quarantine as they (slowly) judge whether humanity has evolved enough to become part of the greater pan-galactic civilization. Considering the stories in this book center around  30-kilometer-long shopping mall in the vicinity of Jupiter, you can probably guess that we have a ways to go.

The tales of Mallworld are amusing, though they elicit more of a quick grin than any LOLs. (Of course, they were written before LOLs, so that might be a factor.) Many of those are anachronisms/malapropisms committed by characters in their references to our ancient era. The overall purpose of the collection seems to be to take pot-shots at the vapidness of American consumer society while telling tales of common people confronting the crushing pressures brought to bear by wealth and power and winning peace and contentment in the end. There's a lot of worse things you could be reading.

Check it out!
LibraryThing link

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Lies My Teacher Told Me

by James W. Loewen

Last read in January 2005.

on my shelf
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Monday, December 10, 2018

The Once and Future King

by T. H. White

I've gone through many fixations in life--enjoying a season of enthusiasm for this, that, or another thing. One I had back in college was with the Arthurian legend. It was my ambition to collect every retelling of the story. Like most of my ambitions, my dedication wasn't up to the task. I purchased a handful of books for my library, but nowhere near all of them. And, of course, my rereading any of these fine books doesn't happen too often. Too many (other) books, too little time.

But every now and then, I do crack open an old favorite. I think I read The Once and Future King only once before, back when I purchased it in the ancient 80's. Recently I decided to give it another read, feeling a bit guilty as it stared at me from the shelf. It was a pleasant surprise to find the book better than I remembered. Mr. White retells the saga of Le Morte D'Arthur, vastly expanding it with more story and humor. (Though, to be honest, it's been years since I read Le Morte as well.) He chronicles King Arthur's life from childhood to the eve of his final battle, as well as taking forays into the lives of Lancelot, Guenever, and Gawaine. It's definitely a 20th Century book, however, as there are a number of side comments alluding to the events and mores of the middle of that century. I'm curious if younger readers who came of age in later decades would find the references as amusing as I did. Still, I don't think human nature has changed all that much, be it in the 6th, 14th, 20th, or 21st Century. I bet the story would still hold up. But don't take my word for it, read it yourself and make up your own mind.

LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dragonfly

by Frederic S. Durbin

First read in April 2003.

on my shelf
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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys

by Richard Twiss

I've heard said that one measure of a good college education is one that challenges your beliefs. I was expecting that for my daughter as I sent her off to college. What I didn't think about was how my beliefs might be challenged as she started sharing ideas (and books to read) with me. Richard Twiss was an activist, author, and, most importantly, a Lakota follower of Jesus. In Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys, he shows how Christian missionaries served (either knowingly or unknowingly) as agents of Western colonization in North America. Consequently, most Native Americans want nothing to do with the religion. Dr. Twiss* calls for a freeing of his people and Christianity from the legacy of colonization by contextualizing Christian worship and teaching within indigenous culture and worship forms. It's a controversial idea. When you change religion, how much of the old one should you leave behind? As one raised in a religious tradition that likes to emphasize correct doctrine, I'm always a bit uneasy when people start talking of more than superficial innovation. But then again, as Dr. Twiss points out, the Western tradition is steeped in centuries of European culture. Who could stand as judge on issues of whether drums (or pipe organs, for that matter) are appropriate to use in the worship of the true Creator? In the end, I was inclined to agree with Dr. Twiss, though I would be interested in hearing the arguments of his opponents. Whoever I end up siding with, this book would be a good one to have on my shelf.
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* Richard Twiss earned a doctorate in missiology from Asbury Theological Seminary, but since he never bothered to get any of the intervening degrees after his high school diploma, he was not permitted to use the title. Since this blog is anything but scholarly, I figure I'm not under the same constraints. So there.

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