Review: 30 Second Book Reviews
Some books I’ve read while I’ve been off-air, in 30 seconds each:
The Warden & The Wolf King (Andrew Peterson). The last book in the absolutely fabulous Wingfeather Saga. A tale full of adventure through both fantastical lands and through the valleys and mountains of personal identity and purpose. Humour, suspense, and deep deep characters. Challenge and redemption, courage and reliance, solitude and compassion, separation and belonging.
When the Money Runs Out (Stephen D. King). Subtitled “The End of Western Affluence.” This book is by an economist, and one with UK point of view no less. A tough read for the lay-person with only a cursory understanding of macro-economics. This book lays out the problems associated with the Global Financial Crisis, and the further problems laid out by the attempts to solve it. Places the GFC in history and compares it with other greater economic crises of the 20th Century and, indeed, throughout much of Western history. In the end King resolves things down to one consideration: the Western World has bought into the lie that our wealth will always increase; in a flattened global economy this by no means certain, and the assumption that it is will make things worse.
Building a Discipling Culture (Mike Breen and the 3DM Team). A good follow-up read from Launching Missional Communities this book gives a brief outline of the philosophy that undergirds MC’s, namely that of holistic, intentional discipleship. Like Launching MC’s this is a very practical book. In particular, it is the definitive articulation of the LifeShapes tools – mnemonical aids that help discipling relationships be necessarily broad and necessarily deep. For the theologically precise there are a number of “ouch” moments but they are generally superficial or excusable. I continue to find 3dm material resonating with my spiritual and ecclesiological DNA: as if someone has taken what we have experienced and learned over the last decade and a half and actually articulated it. A useful, helpful, fruitful read.
McCabe P.M. (John Rowe). How often do you get to read a 1970’s Australian political thriller? I even had to buy this book off and ebay and read a copy that was printed on to paper! A friend had mentioned the plot line and it intrigued me – a Liberal politician suddenly becomes Prime Minister in the early 1970’s (pre-Whitlam), three months out from a general election. Over those three months a sequence of seemingly-benign occurrences accelerate into a conclusion in which martial law is declared and consideration is being made of bombing Western Australia. It’s a “do you really think this couldn’t happen here?” story which transcends it’s contemporary issues (e.g. militant Aboriginal activism) and style (e.g. sexual revolution pulp fiction). The only disconnection is a bewildering idealism on both sides of its politics – perhaps the only thing keeping us from descending into similar holes in 2014 is the utter cynicism of our political classes.
Center Church (Timothy Keller). A surprisingly disappointing book to read. Maybe that’s a bit unfair: this book is self-confessedly not designed to bring scintillating new ideas to the task of growing the church. Consequently it contains a lot of wisdom. And it is perfectly titled – it’s all about the “center” and finding the balance: e.g. between church that is separated from society and church that is syncretised; between church that focuses on evangelism, and church that nurtures the existing; about church that holds to the old, and church that finds new forms of expression etc. etc. Good stuff, but I don’t find myself often going through a book and finding myself internally saying “well, duh!” But it’s still well-written, and did prick my conscience and my passion in places. At the very least it’s a solid reminder that the hard yards and joys of being church is found in the practice, not in the theory.
Currently reading: N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God; Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged; and wading through Moreland and Craig’s, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview.