Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Intro to Preaching: Book Review

February 7, 2011

This is the book review I wrote for my Intro to Preaching course.

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Book Review: Preaching as Testimony by Anna Carter Florence

Preaching as Testimony by Anna Carter Florence, is written for the explicit reason of asking readers “to rethink preaching in light of testimony…[and]…testimony in light of preaching.”[1] As Florence sees it, “testimony is our oldest model for talking about God”[2] but “is a virtually untapped resource” and its absence from homiletics “need[s] to be addressed.”[3] Aware of the ongoing debate regarding the complications of sharing too much personal information from the pulpit, Florence persuasively argues that we reclaim testimony as a form of preaching that is not autobiographical, but rather a telling of what the preacher “has seen and heard in the Biblical text and in life, and then confesses what she believes about it.”[4]

Preaching as Testimony is broken up into three parts.  Florence believes there are details of our preaching tradition that have been forgotten and as such, part one highlights three women preachers as an attempt to “wake up some of those details.”[5] Her choice of women is based on the fact that they were “amazing people” who were famous and had “written documents associated with them” to include “trial transcripts, letters, autobiographies, and journals.”[6] Just as these women were worth highlighting in the book, they are worth highlighting here.  (more…)

A Book Review: More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren

September 25, 2009

I found this book while buying text books for my fall classes.  It was on the shelf for another class that after seeing the “text books,” I wish I could take.  Brian McLaren is one of my favorite authors not because I agree with everything that he says, but mostly because he has a lot of really great ideas and I feel as though I have become a better follower of Christ from conversing with Brian through his books.  Brian’s ideas are very challenging.  But I have found them challenging in a productive way.  There has been fruit as a result of the challenges he has issued to me as a reader of his books both in what he says and more importantly how he says it.

In Brian’s book More Ready Than You Realize, Brian invites readers into a dialogue that takes place between him and woman named April he meets at a book signing.  Though the words exchanged at the book signing were few, April read Brian’s book in one night and e-mailed him shortly after meeting him.  What starts as a short conversation turns into a spiritual friendship.  As Brian sees it, “engaging in spiritual friendship will not only help others become Christians, it will help us become better Christians, who love God more than ever…because our concept of God is expanding, deepinging, and growing more glorious through conversation with our seeking friends” (p.58).  If that’s not shocking, he goes on to say, “In essence, the Christians are “converted” first in authentic spiritual friendships” (p.58).

More Ready That You Realize is a breath of fresh air in the aftermath of televangelists and cookie-cutter salvation prayers in that he offers an authentic view of how people can come together and learn from each other and how in that, both those who have met Christ and those who aren’t sure if they want to, are more ready than they realize.  While Brian does not offer a simple system to “do things the right way,” if you have questions like…

How do I share my faith in Christ without being a Bible beater?

Do people really want to hear about Jesus anyway?

What if I don’t feel confident enough in my faith to tell people about it?

How am I supposed to know how to answer questions people ask me about Jesus, God, and the Bible?!?

This book will contribute to your faith journey in ways that are beneficial for you personally, as well as those you encounter on the way.

For more information about Brian and his books and speaking ministry, visit http://www.brianmclaren.net/.

(McLaren, Brian D. More Ready Than You Realize. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.)

A Book Review: the Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight

January 31, 2009

The subtitle for the Blue Parakeet reads: “Rethinking How You Read the Bible.”  After taking a class in Biblical Hermeneutics (the science of the interpretation of the Bible) two semesters ago, I am very interested in this conversation.  The title reflects the main analogy, or parable if you will, that Scot McKnight uses throughout his book to assist readers in connecting the ideas he presents in this book.  The first three “parts” are dedicated to…
                  What is the Bible?
                                 What Do I Do with the Bible?
              and                                 How Do I Benefit from the Bible?

Zondervan

Photo by: Zondervan

In the last partof the book, McKnight uses a somewhat controversial topic to discuss the points he makes in the beginning of the book: The Question of Women in Ministry.  And he does a good job of building a case for the support of women in ministry by highlighting what women did in the old testament and new testament as well as the cultural aspects that are often not taken into account when interpreting the passages where Paul is often said to be silencing women in the church.  Though I think McKnight has great ideas and is able to communicate them in down to earth, practical ways, I found the writing to be very choppy and somewhat hard to follow at times.  It was an interesting book and I am glad I read it.  I think it would be a good primer, if you will, to offer folks who are interested in understanding where folks who support women in ministry are coming from.  While they may not agree, at least they may get a glimpse of the fact that those who do support women in ministry aren’t ignoring the difficult passages in order to do what they want to do.

A Book Review: With Open Hands by Henri J.M. Nouwen

January 9, 2009

Untitled Blue

Photo by: Untitled Blue

With Open Hands is a book by Henri Nouwen on prayer.  It is not quite like any other book I have read before.  It is a small book, but it is packed with such wonderfully crafted words of wisdom that it spoke to the deep places in my spirit.  Though the cover bears Nouwen’s name as the author, it was written from “many hours of intimate and prayerful conversation” with 25 theology students Nouwen invited to discuss their understanding of prayer.  Throughout the book are quotes from the meetings they had.  It was nice becuase it was very obvious throughout the book that it was a community effort and it would not have been as meaningful to me without them.

The book starts off with an introduction that is subtitled “With Clenched Fists.”  It’s a play on the title see, and it really spoke to me.  I don’t want to say more than that because I don’t want to ruin the way Nouwen presents it for anyone that would choose to read it.  It really challenged me.  But not in a “save the world” kind of way which is par for the course with me.  Rather in a somewhat subdued but deep seated upheaval of the way I view not just prayer, but God myself, and the people around me.

Other things I appreciated about this book are the fact that there was a lot of white space on the pages.  It gave me room to think somehow.  It’s amazing to me how our physical environments effect the way we respond to the world.  Sure, different people respond differently, and some probably tolerate things better than others, but I think it’s safe to say the physical space we live in effects us more than we know.  So for me, when I enter into a book, it becomes the physical space where I live.  The room on the pages made it easier to receive what was on the pages.  Each chapter also ends with a  “Question for Meditation.”  Sometimes these types of things can annoy me as they seem canned and shallow.  But I liked it in this book.

I think this is a book that anyone could benefit from and I highy recommend it.  I am actually going to read it again and for me that’s a big deal.  I hope you check it out the next time you are at a book store!

A Book Review: Red Letter Christians by Tony Campolo

October 11, 2008

I learned about this book while reading my latest issue of Relevant magazine.  I decided to buy a copy because I have become more politically and socially aware in the last year of my life.  The subtitle of this book is “A Citizens Guide to Faith & Politics” and I can definitely say I think Tony Campolo did a great job in holding true to that.  While he is up front about his political leanings and adamant about certain issues, he seems to do a pretty good job of helping his reader understand both sides of the issue.  I must admit that the quote from President Clinton on the top front of the cover kinda threw me for a loop.  But it forced me to own up to my judgemental attitude towards a man who, despite his moral failings, has probably done more positive things than he is often given credit for. 

Tony addresses a wide variety of issues in this 224 page book and it could be aptly viewed as a primer for present day politics in America.  After a short intro citing increased reticence in a majority of Christians to label themselves as “Evangelicals” along with a straying from the recorded words of Jesus himself as the reasoning for the creation of the term “Red Letter Christians,” Tony spends time on Global Issues.  Covering issues such as the environment, the war, and the AIDS pandemic, he highlights the important part America plays in the globalized community that is now our reality.  It is interesting to me that he chooses to put these chapters first in his book.  Based on his writing, I think it is safe to say he did that intentionally to help his readers widen their perspective on what is important.  Next Tony tackles the Hot-button Issues that for some are the single most important issues of any election: gay rights, abortion, and increasingly, immigration before covering Economic Issues and Government Issues.  Here he covered issues such as minimum wage, wasteful government, and political lobbyists.

As a passionate person, I tend to get riled up when these issues are discussed.  That said, I didn’t read this book to illicit feelings.  I read this book to be a little bit more informed about the issues at hand.  Tony did not let me down on that.  I appreciated his even handed approach to the issues especially since he did not come across as dispassionate or disinterested.  I recommend this book to anyone who has a growing desire to understand more about the political arena in America today from a faith based stand point.