Book Review

Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like JazzI finished Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz this afternoon. A good read. Light, yet made me think. I recommend it, especially for people who are frustrated with the church. I especially enjoyed hearing about Miller’s time at Reed College. Confession: I spent several hours today on the Reed College site and over at wikipedia. I’ve often been guilty of many of the same things that Miller talks about: self-centeredness, turning the church into a legalistic institution, not caring enough about the world’s big problems. I’d especially encourage long time Christians to take a look at this book.

It looks like I’m finally getting back into pleasure reading. I have an Andy Stanley book on order and have also started re-reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Book Review

Angels and Demons

Angels and DemonsI just finished Angels and Demons, the prequel to The DaVinci Code. At 710 pages in paperback, it’s probably the longest novel I’ve ever read. But it’s also one of the books that I’ve made it through the fastest. Cory handed me the book at about 6:30pm yesterday, and I finished about 12:15am–less than 30 hours after starting.

The story is a typical Dan Brown thriller. Murder. Plot twists. Multiple viewpoints. Lots of short chapters (137). Unexpected. It reads stylistically exactly the same as The DaVinci Code, yet is different enough in concept to be interesting to someone who has read other of Brown’s works. Since The DaVinci Code makes some minor references to Angels and Demons, I’d recommend reading it second. But regardless of order, both novels offer a historically inaccurate but enthralling escape from reality.

Book Review Current Events Faith

The DaVinci Code

The DaVinci CodeYes, I’ve read the book.
No, I haven’t seen the movie (yet).
Yes, I enjoyed it–I’d even recommend it.
No, it’s history isn’t very accurate (including the facts page).
Yes, I tried to write a longer version of this post and the browser crashed (twice).
No, I’m not going to expose all the inaccuracies of the book.

Here’s a really interesting link about why people find The DaVinci Code fascinating.

The DaVinci Code is fiction, but a lot of people believe its inaccurate historical claims. The best look at the claims of the DaVinci code with response that I’ve seen was done by Ken Baugh at Frontline in late 2003. Go here and scroll way down (3rd from the bottom) to the “Beyond The DaVinci Code” series for responses to many of the claims made by the book. Also, if you have specific questions about The DaVinci Code and related topics, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Book Review Faith

Book review: The Organic Church

The Organic Church coverThis week, I finished reading The Organic Church, a book about church planting. Neil Cole writes about “growing faith where life happens.” I think that’s one of the problems the American church is facing today. For so many people, what they experience on Sunday has nothing to do with what they live on Monday. Even so, this book was a tough read, largely becase Cole says some hard to hear things for church leaders that I think are accurate but still no fun to hear.

I’ve become increasingly convinced that what most churches do on Sundays isn’t really what the church is about. It’s more like the city wide gatherings talked about in the New Testament, where we come together in unity and encourage each other through our numbers. However, the real church is what happens when small groups of believers get together for the common purpose of doing life together.

Churches as we know them tend to remove the power from the people in a way that weakens the whole church. I picked up a lot that I’m going to put into practice about empowering individuals to be the church and to multiply the kingdom of God through their lives. This book is a great and challenging read for church leaders, small group leaders, and anyone interested in planting churches.

I decided to order and read the book after reading about it on You Can Know God. The pdf at the bottom of the post about the book is an excellent summary and is what convinced me to read it.

Book Review Faith

Singing Songs

Life TogetherEarlier today, I was reading out of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during World War II who was martyred for helping escaping Jews and opposing Hitler. I found the following passage particularly meaningful to me. It talks about the reasons for Christians singing songs together. The short of it is that our music unites us in prayer and helps us to learn and understand the Word (scripture).

“Speak to yourselves in psalms and hymn and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19). Our song on earth is speech. It is the song Word. Why do Christians sing when they are together? The reason is, quite simply, because in singing together it is possible for them to speak and pray the same Word at the same time . . . The fact that we do not speak it but sing it only expresses the fact that our spoken words are inadequate to express what we want to say, that the burden of our song goes far beyond all human words. Yet we do not hum a melody; we sing words of praise to God, words of thanksgiving, confession, and prayer. Thus the music is completely the servant of the Word. It elucidates the Word in its mystery (Bonhoeffer 59).

Book Review Faith

Book review: The Purpose Driven Life

I wrote this post several weeks ago, but never actually posted it. The blog has been silent for a while, so I figured I’d go ahead and post it. Watch for a more substantial post in the next few days.

The Purpose Driven LifeI recently finished reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I had previously read The Purpose driven Church, Warren’s book on church structure and purpose. In The Purpose Driven Life, Warren covers an introduction to why we’re here on earth, and then discusses in greater detail five purposes for our lives:

  1. “Love God with all your heart”: You were planned for God’s pleasure, so your purpose is to love God through worship.
  2. “Love your neighbor as yourself”: You were shaped for serving, so your purpose is to show love for others through ministry.
  3. “Go and make disciples”: You were made for a mission, so your purpose is to share God’s message through evangelism.
  4. “baptize them into . . .”: You were formed for God’s family, so your purpose is to idenify with his church through fellowship.
  5. “teach them to do all things . . .”: You were created to become like Christ, so your purpose is to grow to maturity through discipleship.

(Warren 306)

The book is designed to be used as a 40 day personal devotional, with reflection questions and verses to remember at the end of each of the 40 mini chapters. I thought the book was well put together, and despite Warren’s Southern Baptist background, I agreed with nearly everything he had to say, and where I disagreed, it was always something trivial. This book would be an excellent choice for a new believer or someone who is interested in understanding what it really means to be a Christian. I thought it was a good summary of how to live a life that pleases God.