Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible & Christianity by Clinton E. Arnold and Jeff Arnold

Review: Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible & Christianity
Clinton E. Arnold and Jeff Arnold
Baker Books

The title describes this book well.  It gives short answers, but as the authors say in the preface, “…Short Answers is not meant to be the end of your study; rather, it’s the beginning.  Let this be the springboard for you to dive into the deep ocean that is understanding God.” (17)  To help the reader move toward that goal each chapter ends with several Scripture passages related to the chapter topics and then a few questions for thought.  Some of those questions are tough, too.  There is a list of titles for further reading provided at the end.  The authors have achieved their goal, in my opinion. is no light, fluffy read.  There are illustrations that are relevant though, so it isn’t like trying to read a catechism book.  That is good.  It is not written for the totally unchurched, but for someone seeking answers or for someone wishing to be better skilled in answering questions.  It does not avoid the non PC questions, but remember this is a beginner reader and a springboard to more.  

This book is a good resource volume for most of us.  Give it a look see.

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review: Good Things: Seeing Your Life Through the Lens of God’s Favor by Kevin Gerald

Review: Good Things:  Seeing Your Life Through the Lens of God’s Favor
Kevin Gerald
Waterbrook Press

Good Things by Kevin GeraldRight from the start the author hits his reader with the question, “What do you think God thinks about you?” (10)  Combine that with some polarized sunglasses and you are off and running through this book.  

This is a short, easy read that surveys seeing your life through the lens of God’s favor, borrowing his subtitle.  I say survey since each of his chapters could have been a feature length presentation.  Happily, he gives us enough to get the idea and go with it.  You could almost say he’s an optometrist of sorts, staying inside his metaphor.  He’s out to help his reader see the good things more clearly.  

One statement in particular stood out for me.  The authors says, “The actual challenge for us is not gaining God’s approval but rather accepting God’s approval.” (13)  That’s just the starting point since favor in most of our minds involves approval.  Gerald covers pessimism, optimism, Mondays and lots more.  However, he does not allow the topic to descend into a matter of mere positive thinking.  He’s too real and human for that one and knows we are too.  He’s aware that life is tough, bad things happen, and evil exists.  The vision correction he’s going for does not avoid the hard stuff and where the good things go in those really bad times.

Lots to mull over in this 200 pages of book.  It’s a starter book and one that could probably be read again in a while to look for the good things the reader can now see, and as reminder where to look for more.

I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race and Identity---What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves by Christian Rudder

Review: Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race and Identity---What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves
Christian Rudder
Broadway Books

Rudder takes a subject that could’ve made the Sahara look verdant and makes it not only enlightening but a good read.  This guy deserves some award for his service to readers like me.  In the meantime he’s showing us how similar and different we are as persons and groups of persons.   OK, we already know that---sort of, but he’s got the numbers to prove it.  Big samples that reflect the characteristics of the online users.  For those of us that managed to get through school without statistics as a requirement he explains what he’s done in ways that are understandable to us.

Dataclysm by Christian RudderThis is not a beach read, page turner item but I don’t think the readers mind that too much.  He’s revealing how the information is gathered and used.  Some of it I knew about and so do you.  The stores tracking your purchases, websites recording time and clicks, time and place on your photos.  Stuff like that.  But I didn’t realize you could get a good idea of gender, sexual preferences, race, political leanings, and HR departments’ dream, employment potential.  Or what about discovering the difference between saying and doing?  It’s all there and for some gathering agencies loads more.  This information isn’t just hometown stuff, it’s global if the gatherers decide to include that much in their samples.   How or should all this information be regulated?  He offers some insight on that topic too.  

His presentation helps put some of my privacy paranoia at bay by presenting how the information could be used in manners that go beyond economics or political intrigue without violating all those rules that we sign off on when we go online but never read.  Yeah, that “I accept” choice.  The whole enterprise is still evolving though and it remains to be seen if his optimism will prevail. 

Good read.  I recommend it.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.