Review: Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel

Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel
Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel by J. Mack Stiles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This brief book is an excellent practical guide to personal evangelism. Stiles points out some things that have gone wrong and do go wrong. I appreciated the space he took clarifying the Gospel message that we should share and the examples he used. He gives us a good push where we need to be pushed to be more active and faithful in evangelism. Reading books on evangelism is one way we can improve. I highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews

Review: A Man of Means: A Series of Six Stories

A Man of Means: A Series of Six Stories
A Man of Means: A Series of Six Stories by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a collection of short stories featuring Roland Bleke. Roland is not armed with high intelligence or great wit, but he does have some luck. He repeatedly gets entangled in difficult situations, but manages to get out of them by sheer luck. A good read but not the best of Wodehouse.

View all my reviews

Review: Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating and inspiring read. Filippo Brunelleschi was an Italian goldsmith and clock maker. In 1418, Filippo won a competition for the design and construction of the massive dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence. The original design of the cathedral completed in the previous century had called for this dome, but no one had any idea how it could constructed and stand without collapsing under its own weight. The span and height of the dome was greater than any dome in existence in the world at that time, and I think it’s still the greatest to this day.

The builder of the dome would have to overcome obstacles that few even saw possible. The use of buttresses had been outlawed by the city. Buttresses were commonly used on large structures to reinforce the vertical walls against lateral forces, particularly those created by the sheer weight of a massive dome. At that point, all domes were built using wooden scaffolding and centering support until all the mortar was set, which could take a long time. The span and height of the proposed dome meant that it would not be possible to use the conventional methods. Additionally, no known machines existed to lift the weight required to the height required in order to construct the dome.

Filippo believed it could be done, though many problems would have to be solved as they went. His model was impressive and ambitious, but he refused to divulge the details of his design, which led to a long deliberation before the award of the commission. If you’ve heard of Brunelleschi at all, you’ve probably heard of how he won the competition by making an egg stand on its end and his clever quip to his competitors. It appears that story is a myth without any historical foundation though it’s been oft repeated through the centuries.

The author pieces together the account of the construction of this dome with its successive challenges to be solved. The portrait of Brunelleschi emerges as a man of extraordinary mechanical genius. He was ahead of his time and accomplished feats of architecture, engineering, and construction that are marvels. He wasn’t without flaws and the author brings these to light as well. Brunelleschi is credited for giving rise to the Renaissance and elevating architecture from low trade to high art.

If you are interested in history, architecture, engineering, and construction, this is a great read.

View all my reviews

Review: Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose
Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of essays and addresses mostly about fiction writing. This is the first writing of O’Connor’s I have read. She was intelligent and a good writer. Her wit was very dry but she definitely understood the craft she was about. There are helpful gems and insights scattered throughout. Being a collection, there are stronger and weaker essays. I think my favorite of the group is her essay on keeping peafowl.

View all my reviews

Review: Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a public apologetic for Christianity based on the author’s radio addresses during World War II. Thinking of Lewis riding the train from Oxford to London, while London was being bombed, to deliver these addresses on the radio is astonishing. He was asked to do this and it was an effort to unite a country at war. This was behind Lewis’ objective of “mere” Christianity. He took the term from the Puritan Richard Baxter who used it to refer to essential Christian doctrine, or the essence or core of Christian faith. Lewis envisioned it as the lowest threshold by which any Christian profession had merit. So he wrote seeking commonality and avoiding the “denominational doctrines” that were sources of division. I can’t say I commend the approach.

Lewis was first a philosopher, so it’s not surprising his approach was more a reasoned approach than a biblically didactic approach. I don’t think we should reject a reasoned approach from the off, because to do so would be to suggest that reasoning, by that I mean the laws of reason, is contradictory to Scripture. We know that is not the case for Jesus commended the reasoning of the Pharisees concerning the weather (Matthew 16:1-4), but condemned their reasoning that was not joined with faith to discern the true sign before their eyes. Their problem wasn’t reasoning per se, but unbelief.

However, Lewis was not a theologian nor a pastor. He had definite holes and problems in his theology. At times he does make awful statements in terms of theology. His anti-calvinist shirt tails come untucked here and there, but he usually manages to get them shoved back in his trousers, but his belt could use a little more cinching. Lewis does understand something of practical Christianity. He knows something of Christianity in a tweed sport coat, a conductor’s cap, a mother’s apron, and a workman’s overalls. This is the area where I did the most highlighting as I read.

As a thinker and writer, Lewis is always worth reading. As an exegete and didact of the text of scripture, not so much. One can benefit from reading him, but one has to know how to read.

View all my reviews

Next Page »