Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Chasm - REVIEW

Randy Alcorn's The Chasm reminds me of Pilgrim's Progress and Michael Phillips's The Garden at the Edge of Beyond (not that I am putting those two books as equals). It was beautiful, terrifying, sobering, and excellently written. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

One thing that stuck out to me was when the narrator meets the Woodsman (Jesus) near the Chasm. He says, "Throughout my education and my upbringing, the retaining walls of my mind had been carefully constructed to deny the supernatural, explain away the miraculous. Now they fell to the ground like flimsy shacks in a hurricane." (page 91)

That's a good picture of how C.S. Lewis and others viewed Christianity before their conversions. And I have retaining walls of my own to work through. The story is a modern twist on Pilgrim's Progress and applicable to any reader.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Fight of Our Lives - REVIEW

The Fight of Our Lives by William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn forges new ground in the Christian perspective of Islam. They maintain that America has become timid in its war on terrorism, particularly under the Obama administration. Terrorism is alive and well, and apparently most terrorists identify themselves as Muslims--at least according to Bernard Lewis.

In my opinion, they go a little overboard in their message, but I also understand that they are trying to get it across and "wake up" America. I've always held a wariness and even fear of Islam, as well as respect for its power and ability to convert people. Their war with Christianity stems from Abraham's lack of trust in God leading to Ishmael and Isaac.

Anyway. All in all, this book gets 3 stars. It was decent, just nothing life-changing. But perhaps it will be for others who know little about Islam and its agenda.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tithing REVIEW

Tithing by Douglas LeBlanc is yet another book in the series on Ancient Practices published by Thomas Nelson. Yes, I like these books. There is at least one more in the series I plan on blogging about before it's all said and done. Anyway, one thing I really liked about Tithing was that the author interviewed people in all different branches of Christianity Eastern Orthodox priest. When I saw that mentioned in a review on Amazon I knew I wanted to read it.

As with the others, Phyllis Tickle, author and compiler of The Divine Hours, writes the intro. Chapter One was quite exciting as it is by one of my favorite authors, Frederica Mathewes-Green. Called "Continuity in the Tradition," it explains the Orthodox perspective on tithing.

Another chapter talks about "Missional lives after Katrina," and another favorite is about the Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. There is a veritable wealth to be had in this book. Tithing also includes a Study Guide. I enjoyed this read, especially how you heard so many different perspectives on one topic. I didn't feel like the author was giving his "slant" at all. Five stars!

Beauty of Communion

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher is one in a series of books on Ancient Practices by Thomas Nelson. After reviewing Finding Our Way Again, I eagerly dived into this one. Communion is a priceless treasure of every believer. For Orthodox Christians, the Body and Blood of Christ are the center of our lives, and the focus and climax of our Divine Liturgy. I was curious how Gallagher would incorporate the ancient faith--which Orthodox still practice--into her work on Communion.

It's a beautifully-written work. I appreciated her reverence in speaking of this sacred practice, this essential sacrament. "Consecrating bread and wine for Communion is like that wedding feast: it calls out of these ordinary elements their essential beauty and their life-giving core." I was in particular looking for if she would teach that the Body and Blood became the Body and Blood of Christ, or were only symbols. I was surprised but pleased by her answer--but I'll let you read it to find out what it is. :)

There are some great chapters on Communion as a practice, on the process of waiting, receiving, and afterward. There is the aforementioned chapter on "Eating the Body and Blood," and also one on the history, which is written in such a rich, excellent prose it's a treat to read.

All in all, worth the read for any believer wanting to more deeply appreciate this most important of sacraments.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inspiring Introduction and Tribute to Ancient Christianity

I've always felt that something was lacking in modern "mega-church" Christianity. The search for my spiritual roots, so to speak, led me to the Orthodox Church. I read whatever I can get my hands on related to the ancient church, church history, etc. Finding Our Way Again was a pleasure to read and I learned so much.

It's the first in a series called "The Ancient Practices" which says, "There is a hunger in every human heart for connection, primitive and raw, to God. To satisfy it, many are beginning to explore traditional spiritual disciplines used for centuries."

"To frankly, directly speak the painful truth about my own darkness in the presence of God and in the presence of my peers is a powerful thing, a transforming thing."

My favorite part of this book was on the contemplative and communal practices. I didn't care so much for all the extra stuff....I think the content of the book could have been written a little tighter and in maybe a third less length. I just found myself skipping through to get the "points."

All in all though, a good book. Four stars.

Dragons of the Valley - REVIEW

In Donita K Paul's Dragons of the Valley, the second book in a series, I found a story of adventure and poignancy. I'd read DragonSpell years ago, but didn't remember much other than that I enjoyed it. I've been meaning to read more of her books and you know how it is....well, I waited too long.

The book follows the main character from The Vanishing Sculptor, Tipper. She joins an artist-turned-swordsman and endeavor to save statues and take them to the Valley of the Dragons. I liked this book because it is light-hearted in places and serious in others. It gives you a good balance so it's not too dark or too silly. It's also appropriate for a whole family, which can't be said about many books these days!

Donita's world is so rich and detailed from her creatures to countries to foods--it's a treat to be a part of it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I just joined BookSneeze

And I'm excited to review books and add other favorites to this blog. I'm a twenty-something wife who lives in the Midwest and loves to read! I got a Kindle recently and have already downloaded more than 1200 books (most of which were free). Right now I'm reading Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock.

Hopefully some reviews will be coming soon!