Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: 40 Days Without Food: Divine Goodness to a Starving Soul by Russ Masterson

In the author’s words, “I attempt to tell an honest story about faith, purpose, and love.” I think he has succeeded in his attempt. I found this book to be engaging and honest. This is not a how to fast manual. It is not hype about how wonderful the experience was for him. It is his story and he puts it all out there about the struggles he encountered during those 40 days. It is a road to discovery for him and most of the discoveries were painful. So why continue? Because he knows that he is growing personally and in his relationships through the process.

His diary style approach to the 40 days is interspersed with flashbacks that reveal some of his historical markers and how they generally are centered on a meal. Food and the table gatherings figure largely for the author and make the fasting more difficult for him in some ways. The struggles he chronicles here touched some of my own, too. What he learned and wrote helped me see some issues in a different light. One example is the link between ability and worth many of us have forged. Does he overcome that bad link instantly? No, but he does realize that recognition of its existence is vital.

Of course, the end of the book has what I consider to be the obligatory warning label about fasting. It is not for everyone. Point noted and the legal department can relax.

On the negative side, his composite character of Mac doesn’t always work well for him. There are times that he seems too theological in his conversations for a common sense sort of guy. Some editing could take care of that in no time though. I think this writer can mature in his abilities and become a valued addition to the ranks of Christian writers.

This book is worth your time to read and especially so if you want a real perspective into a lengthy fasting period. I recommend it to you.

This book was provided by Tyndale Publishers via in exchange for this review.

Review: Why God Won’t Go Away: Is the New Atheism Running On Empty? by Alister McGrath

Alister McGrath has put words to my questions about what he calls the “New Atheism.” McGrath sees New Atheism as a form of anti-theism, “…an intense anger against religion, which is held to poison everything.” (16). Ah, now we are on the same page with McGrath.

Throughout this book he examines the work of the leading proponents of the New Atheism and one by one is able to show the inconsistencies of their arguments. The best thing is even though some of the points he makes have to do with the proper formation of logical arguments he writes so that those of us who are not schooled in that area can still understand him. That is why I like this book so much. It is clear and yet leaves very little unsaid. It isn’t long either and can be read in an afternoon, and McGrath has engaged several of the New Atheism leaders in conversation. One other tidbit about McGrath, he holds an advanced degree in one of the hard sciences. He is not just taking shots from some scholarly vantage point.

The little nit I have with this book is some of the asides he makes are not in keeping with his reputation and give the other guys something to complain about. Yes, the New Atheism does the same thing and some of its followers are downright rude, but for McGrath to engage in some of his more erudite asides isn’t necessary for this work. Have to say some of them were right on target, though. In my opinion.

So, if you had that feeling that something wasn’t quite right when you read Dawkins or Hitchens or the others, but could not quite get a handle on what that was, this book is for you.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson through Booksneeze in exchange for this review.