The Month in Reviews: February 2015

February is always a short month. It was also a “full court press” month in my work with travel and several major events. Somehow I managed to finish nine books this month ranging from another John Scalzi novel to The Bully Pulpit to a fascinating book on the value of vulnerability and a thought-provoking treatment on the idea of revelation (not the book but the concept) by a young Catholic theologian. Here’s the list with links to the full reviews:

1. Paul and Judaism Revisited: A Study of Divine and Human Agency in Salvation by Preston Sprinkle. Sprinkle thinks a more nuanced view is needed of the continuity between Judaism and Paul than is proposed by “New Perspective” theologians.

Paul & JudaismBully PulpitDaring Greatly2. The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A magnificent work that introduced me to the lesser know figures of William Taft and the muckraking journalists like Ida Tarbell who set a high bar for investigative journalism. Of course, there was also a fascinating portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, as well as the complicated relationship between him and Taft.

3. Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown. Brown explores how the courage to be vulnerable leads us to personal wholeness, human connection, better parenting, and more effective organizational life.

4. 30 Events that Shaped the Church by Alton Gansky. Gansky gives us a highly readable narrative of key events throughout church history. I would have wished for more from outside the western world and more about the African-American church’s contribution, particularly around civil rights.

Essential EschatologyRevelation30 events5. Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation: The Mediation of the Gospel Through Church and Scripture by Matthew Levering. Levering is a Catholic theologian publishing with an evangelical publisher who both upholds a high view of the inspiration and authority of the Bible while also arguing for the important role of the church in its councils, liturgy and leadership for mediating a clear and unified understanding of that revelation.

6. Essential Eschatology: Our Present and Future Hope by John E. Phelen, Jr. Hope is a theme of this book that explores how our future hope may shape our present lives.

7. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. The second in “The Old Man’s War” series which explores the ethical landscape of enhanced human clones grown specifically to become Special Forces troops in the midst of a riveting plot.

Ghost BrigadesProtegeShepherding God's Flock8. Protege’: Developing Your Next Generation of Church Leaders by Steve Saccone with Cheri Saccone. The Saccones outline five key elements of their leadership development work: Character, Relationships, Communication, Mission, and Entrepreneurial Leadership.

9. Shepherding God’s Flock: Biblical Leadership in the New Testament and Beyond edited by Benjamin Merkle and Thomas Schreiner. The contributors to this volume do just what the title proposes, albeit from a common, shared Southern Baptist perspective.

I thought this month I might start including my “best book” recommendation, and “best quote” simply for your enjoyment!

Best Book: Hands down, it had to be The Bully Pulpit for its exploration of presidential influence, the role of the press, and the fascinating portraits of Roosevelt, Taft, and the muckraking team of journalists that gathered around McClures.

Best quote:  Consistent with my best book recommendation, but cited from Daring Greatly is this quote from Theodore Roosevelt in a speech at the Sorbonne in 1910:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Previews for March: A collection of essays on Christian political witness, a book exploring the future of higher education, a mystery by Michael Innes, a narrative on the rise of Amazon, and her founder, Jeff Bezos, and the place of paradox in our spiritual journey.

All “The Month in Reviews” post may be accessed from “The Month in Reviews” category on my home page. And if you don’t want to wait a month to see my reviews, consider following the blog for reviews as well as thoughts on reading, the world of books, and life.


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