Tag Archives: Book Review

"Crossing Oceans" by Gina Holmes was predictable, with some curves that sat nicely with me.  Sad, yet satisfying ending.

The main character, Jenny, is dying of cancer.  Taking her daughter to her childhood home to wrap up loose ends, more than a few surprises are thrown her way.

Confronting past sins, while avoiding new; trying to make old wrongs right; confronting fears along the way and making peace with enemies.

Like a lot of fiction, this is 'brain candy' - and very tasty.  Don't expect meat and you'll be happy with the snack.



"Forgotten God" by Francis Chan

This is a pretty basic book and Chan tells that right up front.  It is not so much that we don't know about the Holy Spirit, it's more like...we don't acknowledge Him - we don't live like His presence is a reality in our lives.

And that is the message of this book

Many times we are discouraged from being too passionate, or too giving, or too...whatever.  Do not let others discourage us from following the leading of the Spirit.

As I was finishing the book; reading the last few pages, this struck me

Galatians 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness...

Did you catch that?  I never have.

Fruit...singular.  One Spirit, one fruit, many flavors.

"Everybody Here Spoke Sign Language" by Nora Ellen Groce

It was a good book, but a little "text-bookish" - a lot of research went into it and the author talked to the last living people who knew some of the deaf people on Martha's Vineyard.

Way back when...when Martha's Vineyard was first settled by people from England, they brought with them a recessive gene for deafness.  At one point, the deaf population (percentage wise) was several times the rate of deafness in the population of the rest of the country.

The deaf on Martha's Vineyard weren't considered "handicapped" - they just...were.  Groce tells several stories of interviewing people and asking about a certain person.  The interviewee would say, "oh!  they owned a boat and they were really good fishermen" and it was only when specifically asked did the person remember, "well, yes.  Come to think of it, they were deaf!"

It seems that nearly every family had at least one child and every learned sign language, both hearing and deaf.   For a couple of centuries, deafness was about as much of a handicap on the island as being left-handed.  It wasn't.

Today, deaf people tend to marry deaf people - that wasn't the way it was on Martha's Vineyard.  It was only when "deaf schools" started to be opened on the mainland and people in general became more mobile, that the deaf population on the island started to dwindle.  As people moved off island and to the island, the gene pool expanded.

It was only in the mid-20th century that the person with this hereditary deafness died - from the 1600's until the 1900's, deafness was a part of every day life - I liked reading that.

What we see as an impairment - wasn't.  Today, deaf people are sometimes treated as though, because they cannot here, they cannot understand.  There...and then, it was the off-islanders who were at a disadvantage, because they didn't understand some of what was being said in sign.

It was the Martha's Vineyard sign language that became the basis for ASL.

If you have an interest in deafness or sign language...or if you just want the encouragement of reading about an "impairment" wasn't, this is a good book to read.

A Biblical Case for an Old Earth by David Snoke

Previous chapters here.

Chapter 2.

One of the complaints about the book in the Amazon reviews is that the book is supposed to be about the Biblical case, yet he starts with the scientific case.

The first sentence of this chapter says,

My goal is to build a biblical case, not primarily a scientific one, but I want to first review some of the scientific facts so that we can see the stakes involved.

This seems fair to me.  How can we build a Biblical case for an old earth unless we know what "old earth" entails?

The first topic is measuring the age of the universe by the distance of the stars

  • First, one could argue that the above (read the book) measurement process is wrong, and that actually the stars are much nearer.
  • Second, one could argue that the speed of light used to be much faster
  • Third, one could argue that the light we see did not actually come from stars, but was created "en route.

The problem with the first argument is that (if the universe is no more than 10,000 years old, then all of the stars would have to be within 10,000 light years of the view point (earth).  There are billions of stars and to have them all within 20,000 light years of each other (with earth at the center) would create gravitational chaos.

The second argument (the slowing down of the speed of light) is more interesting...but...

One of the books I'm reading now is "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil. On page 140 (a wild paraphrase) he writes that two physicists from Los Alamos Laboratory have discovered the remains on a natural nuclear reactor in West Africa that had a "melt down" 2 billion years ago.  There is a "constant particle" called an "alpha particle" that is inversely related to the speed of light and by examining isotopes connected with these particles, the slowing of the alphas implies that the speed of light has INCREASED. This is a minuscule change - 4.5 parts per 10 to the 38th power (no clue how to do exponents in wordpress).

The third argument (that light was created en route) is - according to Snoke - the most viable of the three.  But if we work under the assumption that things are as they appear, then the starts appear to be very far away.

This "apparent age" theory eliminates any possibility of a scientific discussion about the age of the world.

That's it for the "speed of light changing" and there's more in chapter 1...but I wanted to get this posted today... 

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Preface and Chapter 1

I'll link to this up as I add chapters - it's a good book that gives a different side to the "evolution vs. 6-day creation" debate.

"Biblical Case For an Old Earth" by David Snokes (if you buy through this link, I get a credit - hint, hint)

In the preface,

Snokes introduces the debate in a "orthodox vs liberalism" sort of way and describes how "old earthers" are often portrayed by  those who believe that the earth is (at most) 20,000 years old.

Snokes maintains that a person can be a theological conservative and accept a Biblical case for an old earth.

Chapter 1, "Starting Assumptions"

Snokes starts by telling readers that if he had not studied science, he would not have come to an old earth conclusion...tells us that his interpretation is a "possible" interpretation, not an "obvious" one.  He recognizes that his view may not be popular, and points out that:

It is illegitimate to change our view of the Bible because we want a more popular interpretation.

and then

He poses the question about whether or not it's okay to ever allow experience, history, or science affect or alter our understanding of the interpretation of Scripture.

Examples he used were Galileo...do we allow our understanding of science to affect our interpretation of Psalm 93:1?

Does history tell us that "king" in Daniel 5:1 refers to a viceroy, a "lesser king", and not the foremost ruler of an entire country?  Would we have that understanding, if we didn't have history?

There is a legitimacy to allowing experience to affect our interpretation...that does NOT mean that we should change our interpretation to bow to the prevailing views of culture in order to be with the "in crowd."  It also does not mean that we need to get onto the "slippery slope" and we can avoid that by clearly laying out the boundaries - what is negotiable and what is not.

we would do well to remember that science was founded by Christians who insisted that God is not a great deceiver, that the natural world is ordered by a good God, and that we must reject superstition and hearsay; moreover, that we must subject all truth claims to rigorous examination, even claims of honored church leaders from generations past...

Question: is it legitimate to allow your experience with purported miracle workers to affect the way you interpret passages like Ephesians 4:11 AND 2 Cor. 12:12 that seem to promise signs and wonders?

My answer...maybe not, but it is certainly wise to allow Scripture to judge whether or not a miracle worker is merely "purported."

From "The Parables of Jesus: Entering, Growing, Living, and Finishing in God's Kingdom" by Terry Johnson.

We know that Jesus taught with parables (not the only way He taught, but (Johnson says) that whenever it is recorded that Jesus taught, He included parables.

He gives 5 related by slightly different definitions of "parable".

(1) "wise sayings of a pictorial kind" (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, 354)
(2) "A story taken from real life (or a real-life situation) from which a moral or spiritual truth is drawn" (J.M.Boice)
(3) "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning" (an old Sunday School definition)
(4)"examples of popular story-telling that are meant to evoke a response and to strike a verdict" (A.M.Hunter, Interpreting the Parables")
(5) " a comparison, a putting of one thing beside another to make a point" (Robert F. Capon, The Parables of the Kingdom)

The parables are interesting because they sometimes turn what we "know" upside down.

"bad people are commended, good people are scolded and unanticipated pople are rewarded and punished" (p.16

The parables illuminate those with the key, but obscure it for those who do not. The disciples had to ask about the parable of the sower.

Johnson says,

Jesus' answer is that parables are uniquely suited to the central principles of redemption in that they in fact both reveal the truth and veil it. They are illuminating for some and at the same time obscuring for others.

  • do the definitions make sense?
  • why would Jesus use a confusing method of teaching?

This is a beautiful book!

Written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E. B. Lewis.

From Publishers Weekly
Woodson (If You Come Softly; I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This) lays out her resonant story like a poem, its central metaphor a fence that divides blacks from whites. Lewis's (My Rows and Piles of Coins) evocative watercolors lay bare the personalities and emotions of her two young heroines, one African-American and one white. As the girls, both instructed by their mothers not to climb over the fence, watch each other from a distance, their body language and facial expressions provide clues to their ambivalence about their mothers' directives. Intrigued by her free-spirited white neighbor, narrator Clover watches enviously from her window as "that girl" plays outdoors in the rain. And after footloose Annie introduces herself, she points out to Clover that "a fence like this was made for sitting on"; what was a barrier between the new friends' worlds becomes a peaceful perch where the two spend time together throughout the summer. By season's end, they join Clover's other pals jumping rope and, when they stop to rest, "We sat up on the fence, all of us in a long line." Lewis depicts bygone days with the girls in dresses and white sneakers and socks, and Woodson hints at a bright future with her closing lines: "Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down," says Annie, and Clover agrees. Pictures and words make strong partners here, convincingly communicating a timeless lesson. Ages 5-up. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

This is exactly how I would describe the book! I cried the first time I read it (although admittedly I was PMS-sing and I've been known to cry at animal shelter commercials...)

One of my classes this semester is "Multi-cultural Children's Literature" and this book was one of my "book talks" (I need a total of five).

I typically choose a mixture of cultural folk-tales, legends, non-fiction and "anti-bias". This is an excellent book portraying the ability of people to look beyond the fence.

Highly recommended

"Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit" by Gary Wills.

This author is a (liberal) Roman Catholic and many Roman Catholics will disagree with him and detest the book.

Many of the points that he makes (and conclusions he comes to) I disagree with. The main use that I would have for this book would be as a source for outside information (footnotes and citation lists, encyclicals, books and history).

AsI said, the author comes to conclusions that I would not come to, even after reading his book and finding the history accurate. Even in disagreement, I found the history fascinating.
I have a few books in my library that are very good resources - not for theology, but for the history. This may become one of them.

The first section of the book deals with the holocaust. The history is good, but it is history. Even if Rome had been more outspoken about what was happening, who can know how much of a difference it would have made? There is an interesting story of Ste. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, canonized in 1998. Born Edith Stein, this Roman Catholic saint was a Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism and became a nun. She was killed (along with her sister Rosa and many other ethic Jews) at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Whether or not she died because the Nazis were killing Jews, or whether she died because she was preaching the Gospel is debatable. But she is now a Roman Catholic saint.

As a result of Wills' book, I've read about Stein and - wow. I'd urge you all to google and read, this was an incredible woman.

The second section is called "DOCTRINAL DISHONESTIES" - here is the list of chapter titles:

  • The Tragedy of Paul VI: Prelude
  • The Tragedy of Paul VI: Encyclical
  • Excluded Women
  • The Pope's Eunuchs
  • Priestly caste
  • Shrinking the Body of Christ
  • Hydraulics of Grace
  • Conspiracy of Silence
  • A Gay Priesthood
  • Marian Politics
  • The Gift of Life

Topics include contraception, the history of unmarried clergy, the various sexual scandals. On "excluded women", I believe that male clergy and leadership is right and Biblical, I do think that the way Wills describes Rome's way of getting there is convoluted and based on the magesterium, not the Bible.
The last third of the book looks at honesty and truth. A lot of time is spent on Augustine; I like the history.


  1. If you trust in the infallibility of Rome, you will not like this book.
  2. If you are interested in the history of theology, you may like this book
  3. If you want the side of the Roman Catholic coin, from a man who does believe that Rome holds the truth but has erred in some places, this will be an informative book.

The next time I go through it, it will be with a highlighter and sticky tabs.