Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quick book reviews (#7)

Here is another set of brief reviews of books I recently read. These reviews use a scale of one to five stars based on Library Thing (where I post these reviews as well). I am a tough grader and seldom give out the full five stars, so keep that in mind when looking at my ratings.

The Grace and Truth Paradox: Responding with Christlike Balance by Randy Alcorn (3.5 stars)

Alcorn looks at balancing truth (which can be harsh) with grace (which can be too gentle). Generally, most Christians fall more to one side or the other of this balance. Some think that telling other folks they are wrong is the most important thing and believe they are doing so in love. Others instead favor showing grace and forgiveness over worrying about what the sin may be. Alcorn attempts to show the correct balance between these two extremes. My main complaint with the book is that it does not consider the proper way to speak or show truth to others. As a silly example, telling someone they should not steal office supplies is unlikely to do much good. Mentioning that I had had an issue with something similar and how I came to understand my error and found some techniques to help overcome the temptation is more likely to be of help. Both approaches may be speaking truth, but one is more likely to do any good. Alcorn’s book is a short one that can easily be read in an hour or two. I would recommend this to Christians trying to understand the proper balance between showing grace and speaking truth to those around them.

Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape: The Remarkable Life of Jacques Anquetil, the First Five-Times Winner of the Tour de France by Paul Howard (2.5 stars)

Howard pulls off a remarkable feat in this book—he makes boring the life a five-time Tour de France winner who had an affair with his doctor's wife, married her, had a child by (and an affair for twelve years with) her daughter, and finally broke up his marriage by having an affair with his step-son’s ex-wife who he ultimately married. While the book is full of interesting facts and controversial topics, it fails to be compelling. The reason may be that the author does not do much in the way of finding trends among the facts or of trying to reconcile competing viewpoints of the people he spoke with. Despite the flaws, I would recommend this book to anyone curious about a very different era in cycling, the 1960s.

More than Meets the Eye: Fascinating Glimpses of God’s Power and Design by Richard A. Swenson (3.0 stars)

Swenson’s book is a journey through a number of areas of science to show how they point to the hand of God, the Creator. He describes in great detail topics such as how finely tuned conditions are for human life and the incredible complexity of both the universe and the human body. I really enjoyed Swenson’s books on maintaining margin in our lives, but I was less impressed by this one. That may be because many of the things he cites were not new to me and seemed somewhat repetitive. The book is also a bit dated as it was first published in 2000. Despite those reservations, it can be fun to read. I would recommend this book to Christians who don’t have a lot exposure to the wonder of science, especially those who may not be familiar with some of the work of Michael Behe and other intelligent design proponents.

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill (4.0 stars)

Hill's book is a self-exploration of his homosexuality in light of his Christian faith. He details his life and his decision to live as a Christian, celibate homosexual. Hill does not pretend that the decision was an easy one nor that living such a life is simple or without struggles. Instead, he openly and honestly shares of his life, both failures and triumphs. I recommend this book to anyone looking to better understand the lives and choices facing homosexual Christians.

I am running behind on reviewing books I've read, so I should have another set of these in a couple weeks. Well, that is my goal, at least!

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