Thursday, January 24, 2013

What I thought of what I read last year

A little late this year, but here’s the annual review of my reading last year, the first 20 books.

The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis, where travelers from Hell visit Heaven, and most don’t like what they see.  My third trek through this book brought fresh appreciation for the sanctified imagination of Lewis.

I sang through the Worship and Service Hymnal of the church of my childhood.  For me it’s always been the standard hymnal.  Produced by Hope Publishing Co.

Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. was my first systematic introduction to this great man who accomplished so much in his brief 39-year life.  By Stephen B. Oates.

John Baillie’s A Diary of Private Prayer widened and deepened my praying.  Thirty-one morning prayers and 31 evening prayers alternate over the pages of this slim volume.

Going against the flow, Rodney Stark defends much of the motivation and method of the role of Christians in the Crusades in God’s Battalions.  He also exposes the ruthlessness and culpability of the Moslems.

Jon Meacham’s portrayal of Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, is fascinating.  American Lion gave me new appreciation for a man for whom I had little, though he was certainly not without his foibles.

Henry James’s title, An International Episode, misleads one into thinking of crisis on a grand scale.  But a mere relationship between a man and woman who originate from different sides of the Atlantic Pond can certainly seem grandiose to those involved, especially when one party’s relations object on the basis of status.

In Dandelion Fire, the middle book of N. D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards trilogy, Henry learns more of his heritage and unique power and destiny, once again thwarting the plans of Nimiane, Queen of Endor.  Remind me a bit of Chronicles of Narnia.

George Eliot’s Middlemarch takes some patience and persistence to wade through, as many classics do, but this massive story of connected lives in an English village pays out dividends.

Edmund P. Clowney’s The Church offers many insights on this God-created institution but is at many times dry.  Will probably be helpful as a reference in the future.

Karen H. Jobes’s commentary on Esther in the New International Version Application Commentary series is fantastic: well-written and enlightening.  She deals with the thorny issues in Esther head-on, and many of her conclusions ring true.

R. C. Sproul and Abdul Saleeb both introduce Islam and contrast it with Christianity in an understand way in their short The Dark Side of Islam.

Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s classic, offers many insights into Christ, salvation, and the Christian life.  It’s not a thrill-a-minute, but classics rarely are.

The 10 Lies about God Erwin W. Lutzer highlights are ones promoted in our culture today.  Most are dealt with in unexpected ways, though most conclusions are solidly biblical.  This served as a base for a young adult Sunday School series I taught on the same topic.

Harold Bell Wright’s That Printer of Udell’s is a wonderful novel on the order of In His Steps.  Novels like these are like vitamins for spiritual health.  This one focused on the Matthew 25 aspect of faith, that Christianity must manifest itself in service to the needy.

The picture of modern-day North Korea that The Orphan Master’s Son paints is horrific.  Adam Johnson’s novel makes one appreciate one’s freedom while at the same time shocking the reader at the lengths to which totalitarian governments will go to control its citizens.  The reality of the depths of man’s depravity is portrayed here, whether Johnson would call it that or not.  To me it points to the need of the Savior.  A remarkable, well-written, ghastly, and sometime explicit book.

Paul Barnett’s The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (New International Commentary on the New Testament series) is thorough and helpful, though it occasionally lacks clarity and sometimes doesn’t answer the questions one is asking.  But the positives far outweigh the negatives.  My go-to commentary on 2nd Corinthians (even over Hafemann’s).

The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett, is a phenomenal prayer book.  This was my fourth time praying through it.  How it helps me pray!

In The Disappearance of God, Albert Mohler, Jr. helpfully deals with contemporary issues affecting the church.  Perspective-shaping.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together gave me new perspectives on the blessings and dynamics of Christian fellowship.  Theological and practical.

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