Sunday, November 18, 2012

Quick book reviews (#4)

As I've done previously, I’ve written some brief reviews of books I recently read. These reviews use a scale of one to five stars based on Library Thing (where I posted these reviews as well). I am generally a tough grader, but I think they were all worth reading.

Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science by John C. Lennox (4.0 stars)

As a student of both technology and the Bible, I am always looking for good books that attempt to understand the connections and apparent contradictions between the two. In this book, Lennox looks at the issues of creation as outlined in Genesis versus science. People like Stephen Jay Gould have argued (in Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life) that religion and the Bible are non-overlapping magisteria and as such have nothing to do with each other and no attempt should be made to reconcile them. Lennox in this book does not agree with that and does a good job at looking at the Bible and creation. 

He raises a number of good questions and brings up some excellent points about how at different periods in time people have fervently believed the Bible stated something regarding science that we no longer think it does. He talks about how passages in the Bible refer to the earth as unmoving (such as 1 Chronicles 16:30 and Psalms 93:1) and others that the sun did move (such as Ecclesiastes 1:5). These verses and others were used to refute Copernicus’s heliocentric view that the earth revolves around the sun. Luther and Calvin both disagreed with this view. We now view those passages as being poetic or metaphoric, not literal. It is an important cautionary tale for how we should approach the creation account in Genesis. 

Although I found the book very interesting and well worth reading, it was difficult to tell where the author was going. He raises good points, but did not actually resolve many them. He does, however, a decent job of pointing out what is essential, such as that fact that God was in control of creation, not random chance. I actually found the appendices, especially the final one, as interesting as the rest of book. I consider this book well worth the short time it took to read for anyone interested in a Biblical perspective on creation and science.  

How the Church Fails Business People (And What Can Be Done about It) by John C. Knapp (4.0 stars)

This book is a fascinating, though sobering, look at another two worlds important to me that often do not mix—Christianity and business. Knapp bases much of the book on a series of 230 interviews to find out how Christians experience work and the church. The results are often disheartening as many of the respondents saw the church as having little or nothing to say about the challenges they faced in their work lives. The book is full of statistics and quotes from the interviews. One striking statistic is that only 18 of the 230 people had ever consulted a pastor for advice about a work-related matter. A related quote was, “It would be important to feel the freedom to talk about work-related problems with my pastor, but for some reason it seems it wouldn’t be appropriate.” Statistics and quotes like these form the core of the book. 

Unfortunately, though the book starts out excellently, it trails off and was a bit difficult to finish. The author admits that he does not have “neat answers or prescriptive solutions.” However, I consider the book important for church leaders to read to see an area that we need to address within our churches. It is certainly a book that has made me think quite a bit and one I have discussed with my pastor and other folks.  

It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace by Rye Barcott (3.5 stars)

I am fascinated by books about how a single person can have a major impact on the world (Three Cups of Tea and Mountains beyond Mountains are favorites of mine). This books tells the story of the author and his work in Kibera, Kenya—one of the worst slums in the world. As an ROTC marine in college at UNC, he begins a program to help Kibera. Eventually, what he started grows and has a real impact. The book starts out great and really held my interest. The latter parts of the book, however, deal more with his disillusionment as he serves with the marines in Iraq. Though still interesting, it is not nearly as compelling. It took some effort to complete, but I felt it was worth doing so. This book is worth reading to understand what impact people, even young people, can have if they are willing to make sacrifices and work hard.  

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (4.5 stars) 

I recently watched the movie Hugo which is based on this book and quite enjoyed it. I knew nothing about the book, however. Then, while trying to organize some books in my office, I found a copy. (I received it as one of the books from the TED Book Club.) I devoured it immediately. (Which is why I generally do not allow myself to read fiction--I can't stop once I start a book.) The book is a delightful combination of prose and pictures, mostly pencil sketches by the author. The story revolves around an orphan boy (Hugo) who repairs the clocks in a train station in Paris. It is also the story of an old toy shop owner in the station and his hidden past. Movies and a mechanical man tie the two inexorably together as the story unfolds in interesting and surprising ways. The book is a children’s story, but so are many of the best loved fiction of recent years (Harry Potter and Hunger Games being obvious examples). I whole heartedly recommend this book (and movie) to anyone interested movies, history, and a good read. 

I’m currently reading a number of books that I really like, so hopefully I’ll get in a decent bit of reading over the holidays and will have to write another batch of reviews!

1 comment:

  1. I am definitely interested in that first book--do you have a copy I can borrow?