Category Archives: book review

“From Tablet to Table” – A Review

Leonard Sweet’s recent release, From Tablet to Table: Where Community is Found and Identity is Formed, is a remarkable work. Len, as always, writes with an artist’s eye and a brilliant mind. I read everything Len writes and this is an exceptional addition to his collection of work.


Intending to ingest it over several sittings, I started but couldn’t stop. I began what I thought would be a multiple meal experience, taking place over several sittings, but ended up experiencing a finely cooked meal with extraordinary company. I couldn’t put it down, reading it in one sitting. Like all good meals, it consisted of great food (content), great company (an authentic voice) and lingering conversation.

As a personal recipient of his hospitality, Len and his family do what he writes in this book and the table is an open and regular part of their life and routine. In a culture wresting with identity and community, this book is a prophetic call back to the table with a poetic voice. Well done, Len!!!

Don’t miss one of Len’s most timely and prophetic books!

Book Review: “The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails”

There is a select group of people in my life that, with a conversation over a cup of java, make me feel smarter and wiser.  Randal Rauser is one of those people.  I have had the privilege of sitting down with him on several occasions over coffee talking life, movies and theology and I have always left feeling smarter and wiser as a result.

Randal’s new book, The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails, is a unique project, inviting the reader to listen in on one of those types of conversations.  Although it deals with weighty apologetic subjects, it does so comfortably and conversationally, making it approachable for the average reader.  Using inviting language and playful prose, Randal invites the reader to eavesdrop on a thoughtful conversation over a cup of coffee.

If you are interested in exploring the current apologetic debate, this book will help introduce you to the conversation in an inviting way without compromising the content of the arguments.  Randal demonstrates his unique blend of gifts through this book: his vast knowledge, his ability to teach and his writing skills. This unique blend creates an inviting aroma that warmly and inclusively invites the reader to join the conversation.

*Note: Although the good people at IVPress, as part of the book’s promotion, mailed a complementary copy of this book to me, at no time was I obligated to write a positive review.

Review: You’re Not As Crazy As I Think

I recently read a timely and prophetic book by my friend and former professor Randal Rauser, “You’re Not As Crazy As I Think: Dialogue in a World of Loud Voices and Hardened Opinions.”  I think this book is very apropos in our currently evangelical Christian climate.  A climate where people truly do have hardened opinions and don’t seem to have the ability, or tools, to dialogue with others in the pursuit of truth; a climate that has people simply and exclusively reading and listening to voices that reinforce their pre-existing view, rather than challenging it in a healthy way.

This climate has been evidenced in the recent Rob Bell “debate” with Rob’s, yet to be, released book “Love Wins.”  A book that asks series theological questions that need to be asked, a book that continues a dialogue about a controversial subject that the church has wrestled with for thousands of years.  Whatever his view will be in the end, it will definitely not be new and the church will survive.  I just would hope that we would at least listen to the arguments before we “pre-condemn” a book and it’s author.

I have to admit that I found Randal’s book to be more personally prophetic than I anticipated.  The title says it all but I dived into the material looking for ammunition of how all those whom may disagree with, need to learn to listen more and come to a better conclusion.  But something very different and unexpected happened.  I ended up full circle and found I was the one being rebuked and corrected in my hardened views that I may not have recognized before.   I recognized, quite reluctantly, that I was part of the problem and that I need to learn to listen more to voices outside my own view(s).  I may not change the view I have because of them, but at the very least, it will help me to understand the view I hold better as a result (for more on this, see my earlier post here).

Randal uses his platform to communicate our common need to pursue truth and what should be our desire to pursue it.

“…our deepest conviction ought to be the desire to know the truth, as well as the willingness to see this same conviction in our “enemies.”” (pg. 12) 

Randal uses several examples to communicate his point and although I feel he went into more detail than needed for each example, space that could have been used to explore other topics and examples, it highlights our hardened options none-the-less.

One of the things I have witnessed recently, that Randal highlights, is the disconcerting phenomena of viewing those with different views as being morally corrupt (This is explored in his chapter entitled; “Those I disagree with Are Probably Not Ignorant, Idiotic, Insane, or Immoral.”)  I have witnessed this disturbing reality recently in the Evangelical Church: In a YouTube video featuring John Piper, Piper makes the comment that the Emergent Church movement is over and determines those apart of it to be in shambles (the implication is that there is moral problems) – a claim he doesn’t back up.  I, too, think many of the theological beliefs of some of those in the Emergent Church movement are troubling, but I don’t automatically think the people who hold them are consequently morally corrupt.  If this were true, then one could therefore take bad morality as logical sign of bad theology and the reverse, good morality as a sign of good theology.  Thus, this is a symptom of the church’s problem: we have forgotten how to dialogue, how to pursue truth and how to listen to others.

This book hits the selves at a timely moment in evangelical culture and one that is a must for every theological student and pursuer of truth!

The Post-Semester Reading Update

I thought this picture would give you a quick update on my reading over the last couple months. Because of the amount of reading I’m doing, I do not have time to blog about the specific books I have read. Therefore, this picture will have to suffice. The crazy reading schedule isn’t over yet as my books for next semester have already begun to arrive in the mail. The new stack is at least as big as the stack in the picture.

Book Review: The Unhealed Wound

I have been reading The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality by Eugene Kennedy over the last couple of weeks and have found it quite fascinating. Speaking about the Catholic Church and it’s stance on birth control, priestly celibacy and women ordination, Kennedy, a former priest, effectively and quite ingeniously relates the situation to the myth of “Tristan’s Wound” or the “Grail King” who is wounded in the genitals and awaits someone to come and offer a word of healing. Kennedy uses this imagery to refer to the church, making the comment that it has been wounded sexually and needs to be healed.

Kennedy’s discussion is interesting and I learned a lot about Catholicism and its recent history. However, I continually found myself relating what I was reading to the wound that exists in the Evangelical Church. We, too, have often avoided sexuality, seeing it as something confusing, if not evil, and something to protect ourselves from. We have avoided this subject and not engaged many important issues related to sexuality in our lives and culture. In many ways, we still exist with the sexual wound that is uncomfortable because we refuse to look at it and pursue healing. I believe many of the sexual issues of today are more common place than we would like to believe and we, ironically, never really talk about them. This wound has not healed and we have, to our detriment, avoided the pursuit of its healing. Consequently, this avoidance has lead to continued discomfort of our woundedness. I am not quite sure of the answers, but at least we have begun to ask the questions.