Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review: How to Listen So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections Becky Harling



Review: How to Listen So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections
Becky Harling
Bethany House
2017

How to Listen So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication and Deeper ConnectionsNew author to me, but I went ahead and picked this book.  Certainly not for the cover design or the title, though.  The publishers did her no favors with either of their choices.  But, the content is worth reading, particularly if you want to improve communication with just about anyone.  

Harling covers the bases well in this easy to read book.  Listening with the intent of engagement with the other person is the point.  Each chapter has a set of short activities, exercises to practice, which start with listening to God, then move to listening to your own heart, and finally listening to others.  She identifies plenty of ways to improve and some of the most common pitfalls of real communication.  

There’s nothing here that’s really new.  You know this stuff from experience or maybe a seminar you attended years ago.  What she has done in her book calls attention to the things that are most likely to impede genuine communication or conversation.  Things like inattention to the speaker, lack of empathy, or interrupting with your own stories from the negative side and on the more positive side she suggests ways to encourage the other person with questions, time, and genuine interest.  There’s a little psychology along the way, but nothing that again you don’t already know.  Like why you jump in to fix whatever the other person has mentioned is troubling her.  

Overall, I found the book to be a good review of some very basic communication skills that most of us know but just have totally forgotten to use.  

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











Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: The Whole Bible Story, The Illustrated Edition: Everything that Happens in the Bible in Plain English Dr. William H. Marty



Review: The Whole Bible Story, The Illustrated Edition: Everything that Happens in the Bible in Plain English
Dr. William H. Marty
Baker Books
2017

The Whole Bible Story: Everything That Happens in the Bible in Plain EnglishOriginally published in 2011, this edition adds numerous illustrations to the text.  Most of them are full color and add life to the reading.  Pictures help fix the story in my mind and suppose it helps others too.  The author has taught undergraduate level students for a number of years.  And it is my guess that this book was produced to help his students grasp the historical context more easily. 

Plain English certainly describes the text.  Simple, straight forward narrative and written at a level that suits the entry level student.  It could be used rather successfully in levels down to middle school in my opinion, depending on the students. That would be the reason to use this book. 

Personally, I found it an arid read.   With all the translations of the Bible available today, I would prefer them over this.  Yes, there’s a few things that get confusing (like all those kings after the tribes split), but not incomprehensible.  So, it may have a place in a school setting.

I received this book from the publishers in exchange for a review.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News Brian Zahnd




Review: Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News
Brian Zahnd
Waterbrook Press
2017

This author has done some thinking.  I'd recommend this book if for no other reason than to challenge yourself as to what and why you believe what you do.  I'm sure there will plenty of posts in some sectors that will not approve of Zahnd's conclusions.  Others will cheer the direction he has taken.  He's a very persuasive author, but comes off a bit strident at times throughout this book.  I did find most of what he had to say a welcome change of rhetoric.  In fact, I think this is a long overdue corrective to some of the teachings in the Christian religion.  
 
Each chapter can be read alone, but I think a better over view of the author’s mind set would probably come from the order it is presented.  As the title hints, Zahnd presents his version of how God treats sinners which is different from that of Jonathan Edwards ideas from the 1700's.  Gone are the rather frightening word pictures that Edwards sermon depicted.  Zahnd replaces them with pictures of love.  But, this is not one of those sappy God is love presentations.  Not at all. Instead, he presents his case through the lens of the life and teachings of Jesus.  Didn't the puritans do that?  Not well according to Zahnd which he interprets somewhat more broadly than Edwards did. 

Overall, this one to read and think about and one of the best books of its kind I've read lately. 

I received this book from the publishers in exchange for a review.