Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Three Philosophies of Life

by Peter Kreeft

There's a dangerous place in Seattle and it's called Harvest Logos bookstore. (www.harvestlogos.com) To me, it's a Christian bookstore done right -- it gives more shelf space to books on theology and world missions than on self-help or fiction. In short, it offers a lot of good things to read. But it's run by a dangerous man named Michael. Michael will take an active interest in what you are browsing for and offer suggestions as to good things to read. And since there are good books for him to suggest and since his suggestions are sound, I spend more money there than I plan on. Anyway, on my last visit, Michael directed my attention to a collection of books by Peter Kreeft, a philosphy professor who had just been in town for a lecture. I politely looked at the collection and noticed his book Three Philosophies of Life, which is an overview of the Biblical books of Ecclesiastes, Job and Song of Songs. I was gearing up to lead a Bible study at church on Job, and on last minute impulse I grabbed the book. Once again I was not disappointed. Three Philosophies of Life is not a commentary, where the Bible is dissected and analyzed, but rather a contemplation of the three books, a look at the whole refracted through the lens of our modern culture and the human heart. Professor Kreeft sees the three biblical books as an expression of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, respectively. Ecclesiastes is "Life as Vanity", or life without God -- an empty existence under the sun. Job is "Life as Suffering", a life that also is missing the presence of our Heavenly Father but one that actively seeks, and hopes, for Him. Song of Songs is "Life as Love", the romance fulfilled and celebrated. As Kreeft studies these three outlooks on life, his own love for God pours through and entices the reader to come along and discover the our own love affair with God. This book is on my shelf, without a doubt. Unfortunately, it's not the only book written by Kreeft and Michael had a nice booklist of all the other things Professor Kreeft has written. Oh, well, who needs money anyway....

LibraryThing link

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Friday, January 19, 2001

The History of Christianity in Africa

by Elizabeth Isichei

Most books I like or dislike from the get go--this one grew on me. I picked this up from the library after seeing it on the shelf at a bookstore. At first I was a bit skeptical of its quality -- I have a 500 page book called The History of Christianity in Asia that covers the first 1500 years and Isichei's book covers that same period in her 32 page first chapter. But the book certainly had more information than I had ever read, so I checked it out anyway. I was impressed. I felt a combination of pride and guilt when reading the accounts of my fellow Christians. The pride came when reading of the many who suffered for their Lord, enduring physical violence from enemies or prejudice and exploitation from supposed friends.  The guilt came in when identifying with those Christians who fell short, both the European missionaries who tried to bring in too much culture and the African leaders who tried to throw out too much truth when establishing their own identity as God's people. Professor Isichei tells of them all, pointing out their shortcomings without demonizing them. I still might wish for a more extensive history, but this book is a good overview and I could always stop being lazy and check out the books referenced in her notes. Anyway, it looks like that bookstore is going to be getting my money anyway, when I get around to putting this on my shelf.

LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, January 10, 2001

The Three Boxes of Life

by Richard N. Bolles

This a book my wife purchased to assist my daughters when they struggle with the question of what to do with their lives. My daughters are aged 8 and 4, so you can see that my wife likes to plan ahead. My wife also recommended that I peruse the book the next time I struggle with that same issue. (She thinks I haven't figured it out yet. Actually, I do know what I want to do with my life. I want to fall in love and get married. Having accomplished this life goal, I now have to figure out how to kill time until I die.) Anyway, The Three Boxes of Life is basically a book of, as Mr. Bolles puts it, LIFE/work planning. It is chock full of tools and tips to analyze yourself and use what you discover to find suitable schools, jobs and/or retirement activities. As I read the book, I was reminded how much I hated analyzing myself and trying to find a job. But I finished the book anyway. It was interesting, I have to admit. Mr. Bolles is an engaging writer and the book was full of all sorts of interesting illustrations. (You see, the book was printed in 1978 and business types used a lot of fun designs in the '70s. Of course, when I graduated in the '80s, business was back to boring. But I digress...) Overall, as I neared the end, my one real complaint with the book was that it seemed rather self centered. That is, the focus was on the reader's desires and interests, with little comment on an individual's duties and responsibilities to family or community. I mentioned this weakness to my wife, who counseled me to withhold judgment until I finished my reading. Her advice became clear as I reached the epilogue and the author dropped all airs of professionalism and gave a very clear and moving essay on his beliefs about death and the life one lives before it. The epilogue alone is worth checking out, but if you also might be struggling with education, job or purpose in life type issues, this book might help you get your thoughts together.

LibraryThing link

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