Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: The Original Jesus: Trading the Myths We Create for the Savior Who Is by Daniel Darling

Review: The Original Jesus: Trading the Myths We Create for the Savior Who Is
Daniel Darling
Baker Books

This book is one the target audience will probably never read.  The cover is less than attractive for starters.  The back page clearly identifies Darling with several conservative organizations that carry enough assumed baggage to deter many readers.  For those that persevere the contents will not disappoint their expectations.

bookThose that most need to rethink who Jesus is generally respond to a different style of writing and presentation in my opinion.  The author may like lattes, but that’s about as far he’ll get with many people.  But, I thought maybe I had misread him, so I tried his blog.  The same “I need to correct your theology” tone oozed from that as well.  

I don’t write many reviews this negative, but this one I just couldn’t avoid.  What the author has to say is important, but he doesn’t seem to know his audience or prefers preaching to the choir in my opinion.  

I would ask that you read this book and form your own opinion just to give this author a fair shake.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

Review: For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards
Jen Hatmaker
Nelson Books

Don’t miss this book!  Jen Hatmaker makes reading fun and she has some good words about nearly every topic addressed and she covers a bunch.  
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Divided into four sections she moves in ever greater circles from self to those that inhabit the world around us.  One section examines marketing and the messages sent.  Or how about the idea that you can have it all and do it all?  She thinks that just isn’t possible.  Another section covers family up close and personal.  And she even goes so far as believing that children are or should be children.  There’s so much in this book.  You don’t have to agree with her, but at least hear her out.  The chapter entitled Poverty Tourism (153) spoke most plainly to me right now as I pack for a mission trip.  Great reminders.  And don’t miss the Thank You Notes chapters.  They’re great!

The reader finds good common sense and good theology, but no preachiness in this book, but wait, there’s more.  There are recipes too.  They look good, too.  Her writing style allows her to transition from the silly to the serious painlessly---for the reader.  That takes skill and ability and a bunch of other stuff that good writing does and that isn’t as easy as it looks.

I do recommend this book with one reservation.  Because it is so easy to read, it would be just as easy to breeze through it and miss some good observations that the author lays out.  Let those nuggets soak in for a bit before moving on.

This book was provided by the publishers in return for a review.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Review: Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe Mc Fadden and Jim Al-Khalili

Review: Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology
Johnjoe Mc Fadden and Jim Al-Khalili
Crown Publishers

Quantum biology?  I had never seen those two words together before, so I had to read this book.  And now I have and liked many parts of it.  The authors try to explain quantum biology to the lay person, like me, and after reading this I understand at least some of it.  Repeated warnings appear throughout the text that the subject is not really as simple as some of their examples, so there’s much more out there than they included in this book.  Early portions of the book include a history of the development of quantum theory and many notable people related to that. 

How do robins know where to go when it’s time to migrate?  What does that have to do with quantum mechanics?  And what has any of that to do with biology?  It’s quite a task for the reader to keep up with all the dots that must be connected to draw the lines through the robin, quantum mechanics and biology.  One that only the hardy will finish.  

This is not an easy read.  And in my opinion the first half of the book does not make the task any easier.  It is uneven in its presentation, seemingly not able to maintain the level for the uninitiated reader.  The back half makes their case most clearly that quantum stuff can happen in the world of biology.  How the belief otherwise came to be is odd since quantum has to do with atomic, molecular stuff, but the biologic world was formerly off limits because of its squishy, warm environment which makes research much more complicated.  As methods and tools improved in biology, chemistry, and physics, to say nothing of biology and physics actually communicating with each other, some began to look deeper and that is what this book is really about.   

The ideas are challenging, and the applications fuel the stuff of science fiction.  The attempt to define concepts like consciousness and life in a manner that makes them accessible to the science community is still up in the air.  The authors seem to subscribe to a quote from Richard Feynman, “Everything that living things do can be understood in terms of the jiggling and wiggling of atoms…” (59) while they agree that livings things differ significantly from the inanimate.  They practice the quantum idea of being in two places and states of being at once as they try to balance this presentation to the lay person.

I would recommend this book primarily to those that have done some reading about quantum ideas first and to those that are willing to stretch to grasp the idea of a living office building (315).

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review.