Book Review: The Meaning of Jesus

The Meaning of Jesus

The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions by Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright (New York: Harper One, 1999. 306 pp) Marcus Borg was a New Testament scholar, theologian, and author. Borg was a fellow of the Jesus Seminar and a major figure in historical Jesus scholarship. Borg attended Concordia College as an undergraduate. He studied at Union Seminary before matriculating at Mansfield College, Oxford, earning an M.Th. and D.Phil. He retired as Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and died in 2015. N.T. Wright is a leading New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired bishop. He earned his B.A. from Exeter College and his D.D. from University of Oxford. After retiring as the Bishop of… Read More →

Book Review: You Are What You Love

You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2016. 224 pp) James K. A. Smith is the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview at Calvin College. With a background in philosophy focused on French thought, Smith engages as a public intellectual and cultural critic. In addition to his published books, Smith has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, Christianity Today, and The Hedgehog Review. A Divided World We live in a divided world. The obvious unpacking of this statement surrounds divisive politics or schisms between worldviews. But, our experiences are divided even at a metaphysical level. In other words,… Read More →

Book Review: The Price of Salt

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (New York: Dover Publications, 2015; originally published in 1952. 256 pp) Patricia Highsmith was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1921. She studied English composition, playwriting, and short story at Barnard College. Highsmith wrote 22 novels during her career, including Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. She died in 1995. Who Are You? Identity is a tricky thing. When I was younger, I worried consistently about goodness. Did I possess good qualities inherently? Did I need to work for them? What did it take to be good? With a constant focus on these identity questions, I never felt whole. I had nothing obviously hindering me from living a decent life,… Read More →

Book Review: Art in Action

Art in Action by Nicholas Wolterstorff

Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic by Nicholas Wolterstorff (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980. 250 pp) Nicholas Wolterstorff is the Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School. He has also taught at Calvin College, the Free University of Amsterdam, and the University of Notre Dame. He has received numerous fellowships and serves on the editorial boards for Faith and Philosophy, Topics in Philosophy, and is the general editor for the Supplementary Textbook Project of the Christian College Coalition. In Pursuit of Art One of my most favorite classes as an undergrad explored the philosophy of art. Why do we pursue art? What constitutes a work of art compared to just work? How… Read More →

Television Show review: The Leftovers: Season 2

The Leftovers Season 2

The Leftovers: Season 2 created by Damon Lindelof (Warner Bros. Television) Starring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, Regina King, Kevin Carroll, Jovan Adepo, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Carrie Coon. *SPOILER ALERT FOR PREVIOUS SEASONS* So That You Might Believe What are the parameters of your belief? In a post-modern society, many might not consider belief to be a warranted pursuit. But, in truth, we all believe something. For the rationalist and the naturalist, that faith might connect to scientific pursuits. For others, belief might correspond with a person—the savior of a certain group, or the benefactor of another. And many channel belief into an organized religion. But at its core, faith is required… Read More →

Book Review: Rain

Rain by Cynthia Barnett

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett (New York: Crown Publishers, 2015. 368 pp) Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She is the author of two previous books, Mirage and Blue Revolution, a Boston Globe top 10 science book of 2011. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and children. Joy of a Rainy Day Rain represents a simple joy in life. I’m not talking a deluge. Not even a monsoon. Just the simple drizzle renowned in the Pacific Northwest. I find satisfaction in a book on the porch while the syncopated patter of the rain offers a soundtrack to whatever the current narrative offers…. Read More →

Book Review: The Ball and the Cross

The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton

The Ball and The Cross by G. K. Chesterton (New York: Dover Publications, 1995; originally published in 1910. 178 pp) G. K. Chesterton was an English writer, philosopher, and Christian apologist. He is best known for his non-fiction such as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. The Good News? “Have you spread the Gospel?” This question operates as a foundational principle for the majority of Evangelicals. The core purpose—maybe even the only purpose—surrounds converting souls. Family must be Christian. When a child is born, the mission of the parents exists only to bring the child to Christ. Unbelievers throughout the family need the cross. I would venture most awkward holiday conversations emerge from this evangelical mandate. Work does not exist for… Read More →

Book Review: American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods: Author’s Preferred Text by Neil Gaiman (New York: William Morrow, 2011; originally published in 2001. 560 pp) Neil Gaiman is a bestselling author of more than twenty books. He has received numerous awards including the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Locus Award. Nothing New Under the Sun A wise, ecclesiastical thinker once said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Such sentiments are particular true for the arts. Everything feels derivative. With music, the Western scale provides 12 notes. It’s no wonder an old musician sues a new musician every quarter or so for plagiarism. Painters have the same issue. Why else travel further through the Dadaist… Read More →

Book Review: Every Good Endeavor

Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf (New York: Dutton, 2012. 288 pp) Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. In 1989, he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Katherine Leary Alsdorf worked twenty-five years in the high-tech industry as an economic analyst and in various executive leadership positions. After her CEO roles at One Touch Systems and Pensare, Redeemer Presbyterian Church recruited her to lead the church’s efforts in marketplace ministry, now called the Center for Faith & Work. Defining Point The year between my undergraduate and… Read More →

Book Review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords: Booke Three of a Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin (New York: Bantam Books, 2000. 1216 pp) George R. R. Martin is an American author and screenwriter of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Born in New Jersey, Martin earned a B.S. and M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University. He began writing fiction in the early 1970s with his first works earning him a Hugo and Nebula award. In the 1980s, he began writing in Hollywood for the Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast. Martin is best known for his critically acclaimed epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was developed into Game of Thrones, an HBO television series. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Books in Effect throughout Review* Marriage is what… Read More →