Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Benedict Option

I first heard about this book a little over a year ago when I attended a book club meeting at my former church in Tulsa.   They were choosing the books they would read and discuss over the coming year and so I got to hear a little about each book recommended by the various women in attendance.  The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher was one of the one they chose. 

I would have liked to have been able to join them when they discussed it but alas Tulsa is too far to commute to for a Saturday morning.  By the time I read it it seemed that everyone else on the internet who had read it had finished it and was done discussing it. 

I enjoyed the book although there was much that made me think the author has missed some of the main problems and solutions.  As I read the first half, I kept saying to myself, "Yes, but...."    I was saying yes to his identifying many of the problems we see in Western and particularly American society but disagreeing with some of his conclusions or solutions.   The real solution is the gospel.  Transformed, renewed people are - or are supposed to be - salt and light in a society.  And the gospel message, "repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" is sadly absent in all too many churches today.   So I'd say we need to get back to basics first of all. 

Looking at the reviews on Goodreads it seems that many people take his advice (mostly contained in the second half of the book) as saying Christians should just close themselves off from society completely.   I did not get that out of the book.  Rather, he seemed to me to be saying a lot of things that are already encouraged in the churches and Christian ministries I hear from a lot - build up your church, be involved, realise that current society may limit your business options so plan accordingly, be self-controlled in the use of all of God's common graces (food, technology, etc), and make disciples (starting with yourself and your children).  He uses a lot of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox terminology and examples but it's easy enough to take the Biblical ideas he presents and think of them in a Reformed or Evangelical context. 

I enjoyed the book, and recommend it. 

Monday, 22 January 2018

2018 - here already. And hope springs eternal.

Hope does spring eternal in the human breast and with optimism I return to this blog!   I continue to try to read more.  I don't read as much as I'd like to and think I ought to.

I meant to do the Reading Challenge from Tim Challies last year.   I crashed and burned yet I'm trying again this year!  New year, new start, renewed enthusiasm, fresh optimism and all that. 

I tend to do the same thing with reading as I do with knitting. That is, I start a load of things throughout the months, and so I have things in different stages of completion at any given time.  Then I decide to work on finishing things so I curtail the beginning of new projects or books and go through a period of completing them.  Then I start the process all over again.

Currently on the needles and hooks are:
2 blankets
1 jumper (sweater) for the little girl of some friends
1 jumper, barely begun, for my oldest son
1 lace doily
Several crochet coasters
Several pairs of socks

Currently in the "Reading" stack are:

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
The Complete Father Brown Stories by G. K. Chesterton
It Happens After Prayer by H. B. Charles Jr
The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson (still - yes it's still not finished.  In fact I can't find it. So it's not really in the stack.  But then some of these books are on Kindle so they can't be on a stack, really, either.)
None Like Him by Jen Wilkin (I highly recommend this one, even though I haven't finished it.)
Sicily by Julian Norwich
Let's Study Mark by Sinclair Ferguson
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

And a few others.

Read over the last few months:
Binge Drinking (Pocket Puritan Series) by John Flavel
A Ransom for Many (commentary/devotional on the gospel of Mark) by Steve Wilmshurst
Murder Gets A Life by Anne George
Church History 101 by Sinclair Ferguson
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Timothy S Lane
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
La Forma dell'Acqua by Andrea Camilleri

I have a whole bunch of Pocket Puritan books published by the Banner of Truth Trust which I want to read.  They were a (requested) Christmas present.
My children got me a book on Abraham Lincoln for Christmas
In the post-Christmas sale I bought a number of Puritan Paperbacks, again, from Banner of Truth. 
And there are many others lurking in my room and on other bookshelves that I would like to read. 

One of the things I struggle with is feeling anti-social if I read.  Because we are a large (less large now, but still rather large) in a small home it's hard to read if I don't go to my room.  But that feels like I am saying "I don't want to be with you" which is not what I feel.  Another issue is that I am no longer a very fast reader as I once was.  

But onwards and upwards! 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy Reading in 2017

Ohhhh myyyyyy.

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Too long. 

My apologies, and I will try to do better this year. 

Happy New Year!  May it be full of God's blessings to you, and may those include books, ideas, and people to share them with. 

I have a few books I've read on the Danish concept of "hygge" that I mean to share with you in the coming week or so.  I'm currently reading Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford.  I think I will continue reading that although it will become a book to dip in and out of as, at least in the part I am in currently, it is more of a series of vignettes than of stories that need to proceed in an orderly fashion.

I've decided to join in Tim Challies's 2017 Christian Reading Challenge.   There are four lists:



If you see the hashtag #vtReadingChallenge, this reading challenge is the one referred to.  I plan on doing the "Light" version but may delve into others if I can manage.

I'm also beginning (again) a read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan.  I hope I am more consistent this year.   To be sure, I do read the Bible, but my plans to read the whole thing in a year rarely come to complete fruition.    I'm going to use a plan recommended by Tim Challies.  5-Day Bible Reading Program - I'm linking to his page so you can read the explanation behind his recommendation.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm

I'm back!  I've had a busy year so far.  My older daughter got married in February.  It was a very good day, but the arrangements did keep me busy, and if not physically busy, very occupied mentally.   Now it is Easter time, and I'm enjoying some time off from home educating and time with my family including my army son who's home for the holidays. 

I read an article about one-to-one Bible reading recently and this book was mentioned, so I decided to purchase it.  A friend of mine was already doing this with one of her friends, without knowing it was "a thing" so I was already familiar with the concept but excited to find that it was an idea that could also be developed into something with more structure. 

One-to-One Bible Reading
David Helm
(c) Holy Trinity Church (Chicago) 2011
Matthias Media
ISBN 978 1 921441 98 1

This book is very short, so if I say too much about it, I'll end up telling you all the ideas - and then you'd miss out on reading it! 

It's divided into two parts, with some appendices.   Part one is titled "What, why and how" and Part two is called "Framework and Ideas."

Part One begins by describing the different kinds of people we are likely to know - non-Christians, new Christians, and more mature Christians.  There is a bit on why and how reading the Bible is beneficial to each type of person. David Helms shares some tips on how to get started and what a typical meeting might look like.  There is a discussion on preparing for a meeting and Part One ends with an account of a personal experience with reading the Bible with someone. 

Part Two, Framework and Ideas, has 4 chapters (again, all very short):

Two simple frameworks for Bible reading (with helpful acrostic names)
Books of the Bible for different situations
Help with reading different biblical genres
Eight weeks through Mark's Gospel

I found this book very helpful and encouraging. The author tackles head-on the usual fears many of us Christians face of being inadequate and not up to the job by reminding us that the growth of God's kingdom does not depend on us or our abilities.  The Holy Spirit can use us.   He also reminds the readers that God uses His word - we must not disbelieve the power of it.

Here's a site where this book is currently for sale in the UK:

Thursday, 21 January 2016

A Ransom for Many

A Ransom for Many   

 the Gospel of Mark simply explained
by Steve Wilmshurst

Evangelical Press, Welwyn Commentary Series

I've been studying the book of Mark over the last few months and this book by Steve Wilmshurst is what I have been using to help me lately.   I like this commentary, which although explains historical and cultural facts and links plenty to the Old Testment, is not overly-academic.  It's definitely devotional and I appreciate the opportunity to not only learn more facts but to be drawn to love the Lord Jesus more, and also to be challenged in my Christian walk.

The book is based on a series of sermons and it is because of that, I think, that there are both scholarship and practical applications that are presented in a fashion which is thoughtful and very human.

This is not a book that would be easy to use just to dip in and get facts from, but would be useful to read sections from if one needed to learn more about a certain chapter.  Mostly, though, I think the benefit would come from reading the whole thing, along with the relevant sections of Mark as you go through the chapters.

It's not what I expected from a commentary but I am enjoying it very much. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Part of the reason I haven't posted very much lately....

These are some of the reasons I haven't been posting many reviews lately.  I can either knit or read in my spare time, and apart from late night reading on my phone's Kindle app, and a bit of more devotional or personal study,  of late I've been in a knitting season and not a reading season.  And I'm not even all that good or speedy with the knitting!  My husband's birthday was Nov 17, and I'm still working on his socks, but then there are new babies coming along to knit for too, as well as ones already here.... But I love it. 

The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

Just a brief comment or two -
I enjoyed this Inspector Montalbano story very much.  It is the second book I've read in the Montalbano series, but the first in the series.   I read both in Italian, so I can't speak for how they read in English, but I'm sure they will both be enjoyable. 

One thing I prefer about the books over the made-for-tv movies is that although they are definitely for adults, in their themes, language and certain scenes, generally I have found them a bit "cleaner" with few scenes I need to skip over.   (So far, with only two books under my belt.)

Mysteries/crime is a favorite genre for me, and Inspector Montalbano is one of my favorite protagonists, second only to Miss Marple!

The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri