Here are some recent book reviews. For more, see http://tim223.xanga.com/category/book-reviews/
Beyond Racial Gridlock, by George Yancey (2006)
This excellent book starts by examining four common "models" of healing racial problems in the USA: (colorblindness, Anglo-conformity, multiculturalism, and white responsibility). Yancey explains strengths and weaknesses of each approach, and strengths and weaknesses of how Christians have implemented them. Then he puts forth an alternative model, "mutual responsibility". He writes in a way that is sensitive to people from ethnic majority culture and minority/BIPOC cultures, and has many good anecdotes, statistics, and historical examples. He talks about racism as both individual and structural, with solid examples of both. He discusses reparations and affirmative action, and when (not) to play the 'race card'. He has a separate chapter talking about how the sin nature affects European Americans versus how the sin nature affects people of color (hint: it affects both, in different ways). He has a really great chapter on how Jesus (the "ultimate reconciler") dealt with racial issues, as both a majority (Jewish man interacting with Samaritan woman) and as a minority (Jew interacting with Roman centurion), as well as other Biblical examples. He talks about the importance of listening to people from other backgrounds. Overall this is an excellent, highly-recommended book, for Christians. I think it would be great for a book discussion group, even one composed of both Christians and nonChristians. My only two caveats are that it is fairly old (2006) and that the first few chapters felt a little wooden and repetitive in writing style. But I think this is well-worth reading, and discussing with others. Neil Shenvi has a longer review (which motivated me to buy and read the book) - https://shenviapologetics.com/a-long-review-of-yanceys-beyond-racial-gridlock-part-1/ https://shenviapologetics.com/a-long-review-of-yanceys-beyond-racial-gridlock-part-2/ https://shenviapologetics.com/a-long-review-of-yanceys-beyond-racial-gridlock-part-3/ https://shenviapologetics.com/a-long-review-of-yanceys-beyond-racial-gridlock-part-4/
Unoffendable, by Brant Hansen
Excellent book that makes a simple case that Christians should be unoffendable, because of the huge grace and forgiveness that God has shown us through Jesus Christ... i.e. He forgave all our sins and gave us eternal life, despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Hansen's chapters discuss how anger is generally not proper for us Christians to hold, especially not holding it inside for a long time. Some people talk about the importance of "righteous anger", but Hansen suggests that this is usually just an excuse... and for real cases where anger is justified, we can trust that God will take care of dealing out vengeance on our behalf. He shares a lot of personal stories, in a humorous, self-deprecating, witty style. In some cases, this book gets a little too simplistic sometimes, in its portrayal of responses to a "sinful person" (e.g. interacting with Christians or churchgoers) as either legalistically-judgmental or lovingly-welcoming... but surely there are more Biblically-nuanced options...? Surely it is possible to love the sinner yet hate the sin? That caveat aside, the book seems useful and worth recommending that others read (especially if you know you have a problem with anger, judgmentalism, or being easily offended). Hansen also talks in several places about his Aspberger's Syndrome.
Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers
Childers shares her story of growing up in Christian circles (including touring as a CCM singer), then later attending a Bible study with a pastor who was a secret agnostic / Progressive Christian. In his faith-deconstruction, she likewise began doubting everything. Then she found apologetics answers to her questions, and now she believes again, more deeply. She shares her story, and also weaves in questions/answers regarding why the Bible is trustworthy and historical including the miracle claims, hell/atonement/justice, sexuality and homosexuality, and more. It is an interesting and informative read. Her answers might be too short to satisfy someone else who had doubts, but it could still be useful as an encouragement for someone doubting, that the deconstruction experience is not too unusual and there are solid answers available for those willing to study. The explanation of the dangers of Progressive Christianity is very helpful.
One To One Bible Reading: a simple guide for every Christian, by David Helm
This book is a simple guide for how to read the Bible with other people, in discipling three types of people: a seeker, a new Christian, and a younger Christian of a few years' experience. The book is short, simple, and extremely practical. It has lots of good ideas. Highly recommended.
Those Who Wait - Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt, and Delay, by Tanya Marlow
This book has four short fictionalized accounts surrounding the Biblical stories of Sarah, Isaiah, John the Baptist, and Mary. It emphasizes their needing to wait, during long years of circumstances that tempted them to doubt and give up on God. The stories help to bring the backgrounds of the stories to life and are helpful in exemplifying to us how to wait in our own circumstances. Each story also has discussion questions afterward, for group studies. The final epilogue chapter has excellent thoughts on waiting for God to act in our lives.
These Are The Generations, by Mr. and Mrs. Bae and Eric Foley
Wow. This book shares the story of Mr and Mrs Bae's family, living as Christians in North Korea for many years until they finally escaped. It is well-written, and shows all of the thoughts and fears that they went through, and how they heard about the gospel through their grandparents and parents, and eventually came to slowly believe and trust in Christ themselves. Then it shares the troubles they faced due to this. This is a very encouraging, very challenging, insightful, book. Everyone should read this book.
Live Not By Lies, by Rod Dreher
This book presents evidence that America is sliding into a new leftist totalitarianism (starting with pre-totalitarianism / "soft totalitarianism" / cancel culture / woke capitalism, and aided by people buying their own surveillance devices), and then presents ideas for how individuals, honest citizens, and the Church can survive it. His suggestions are (chapter titles): value nothing more than truth (borrowing from Solzhenitsyn's essays), cultivate cultural memory (the value of maintaining true history despite society's totalitarian brainwashing attempts), families are resistance cells, religion the bedrock of resistance, standing in solidarity, and the gift of suffering. One of the best parts of the book was the many anecdotes taken from interviews with people who survived Soviet communism in the last century, and their stories of principled (and mostly religious) resistance, of people who valued the truth more than convenience and more than their lives... and the stories and examples of strong-principled men and women who were not cowed. This book fits very well with the stories we hear from other communist countries and oppressive regimes. It is a sobering and encouraging book, mostly recommended. There are a few sections that some people might want to skip, about the brutal violence of the communist regimes. Some interesting sections: how the Benda family trained their children to follow the truth, how Silvester Krcmery forgave his captors during his 13 year prison sentence, more info about Solzhenitsyn, etc.
A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller
This professional shepherd talks about Psalm 23 from his experience with sheep. Very interesting and worth considering.
They Say We Are Infidels, by Mindy Belz
Mindy's account of years of traveling in Iraq and Syria, between 2003 and 2016. She shares stories of Christian families in many parts of Iraq, and how they dealt with persecution. Some stayed, some left. She tells about her friend Insaf, who traveled back to Iraq many times from Canada, bringing financial help and spiritual encouragement to her friends in Iraq. She talks about some things that she learned spiritually. She talks about the many failures of American/Western policy, and the rise and fall of ISIS/Daesh. Overall, good book for understanding the situation better, and encouraging to see the faith of the Iraqi Christians.
Intended for Evil: A Survivor's Story of Love, Faith, and Courage in the Cambodian Killing Fields, by Les Sillars
This is a powerful book. It tells the true story of Radha Manickam, who grew up in Cambodia, then was forced into the rural rice paddies when the Khmer Rouge communists took over in 1975. It is very well written, mixing in little bits of history amidst Radha's personal story and his family's story. It tells of the griefs he experienced, and how he barely held on to faith in Jesus, and how God provided for him in many ways and kept him alive. Eventually, he and his family were able to escape, after about 5 years as hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died. I think this is worth reading because it is good to remember how God sustained His people through very dark times in the past, to help us prepare for whatever upcoming difficulties we will face (Hebrews 11, 1 Peter 3-4).