Books

Long Journey Home

Publisher
Waterbrook

Author
Os Guinness

Central Theme
Our spiritual odyssey is a search for meaning that can lead us to futility or to a home rooted in truth and the peace of God’s presence.

Overview
Os Guinness lived for ten years in a Buddhist culture, later he sat at the feet of a Hindu guru and then studied at Oxford, a leading secular university. Through it all, as his restless spiritual quest took him through what he identifies as the three families of faith (Eastern, western secular and biblical faith) he discovered the best news ever in the person of Jesus Christ. This book takes the reader on an honest and open journey through the central questions every seeker asks and allows readers to reach their own conclusions

Beliefs num
–Every human is on a search for identity, mission and meaning.
–It is rare to live an examined life in an unexamined age, but without it our search will never lead us to a satisfying home.
–There are three major families of faith: eastern, western secular and the biblical family of faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).
–Secularism is based on the centrality of the self.
–Eastern thought is based on the detachment from the self.
–Christianity affirms the world because of its view of creation, but denies the world because of its view of the fall.
–Truth is anchored and reinforced in the universe itself.
–Christianity is unique in its assessment that the human search is for truth, not for the personal, desired goals of the seeker.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Do you think all humans are really on a spiritual search?
–What is today’s seeker really seeking?
–Is there only one true way to a personal reunion with God?
–Are you confident your religious tradition is true?

Provocative Quotes byline
–There are three requirements for a fulfilling life. The first two a clear sense of personal identity and a strong sense of personal mission are rooted in the third: a deep sense of life’s meaning.
==Guinness
–The term seeker is in vogue today but used far too casually.
==Guinness
–Traditional Buddhism has no vision whatever of a world entirely just and affliction free.
==Guinness
–Humanisms all-decisive claim is that, since there is no God, there is no revealed meaning. Therefore meaning isn’t disclosed or even discovered. It’s created.
==Guinness
–Because of it’s view of creation, the Christian faith like humanism today and Confucianism in the past openly affirms the world¢â‚¬¦Because of it’s view of the fall, the Christian faith openly denies the world like Buddhism and Hinduism, although for very different reasons.
==Guinness
–Only one family of faiths, the biblical family puts a premium on the absolute importance of truth and explains why truth is anchored and reinforced in the universe itself.
==Guinness
–¢â‚¬ËœTruth” and ¢â‚¬ËœChrist” are ultimately and absolutely indissoluble. Christ, after all, claimed to the truth.
==Guinness
–A thoughtful step of faith has three vital components. It includes knowledge, which grows into conviction, which grows into trust.
==Guinness
–The uniqueness of the biblical view of the quest lies in its estimate of the human ascent towards truth. In most faiths and philosophies, the quest is the great ascent of seekers towards their desired goals.
==Guinness
–What is meant by ¢â‚¬Ëœcalling’? Simply that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.
==Guinness

Posted in Books, Staublog in September 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals

Publisher
Touchstone

Author
David Halberstam

Posted in Books, Staublog in September 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

Celebrating A Christ-Centered Christmas: Ideas from A-Z

Publisher
Moody

Author
Sharon Jaynes

Posted in Books, Staublog in August 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

Unspoken (Lineage of Grace #4)

Publisher
Tyndale

Author
Francine Rivers

Posted in Books, Staublog in August 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

How To Be Good

Publisher
Riverhead

Author
Nick Hornby, best selling author of High Fidelity and About a Boy

Central Theme
In a society without an agreed upon definition of what it means to be good, the task of “being good” has become even more difficult.

Overview
Katie Carr, doctor and self declared good person), has just had an affair. It’s not her faulty she is, after all, married to David: angry, cynical, negative (though undeniably funny) and a real pain to live with. But then David meets DJ GoodNews, an astonishingly effective faith healer and do-gooder of the unbearably smug kind, and now David is good. Too good actually, ¢â‚¬Ëœa liberal’s worst nightmare,’ he starts to put theory into practice giving away their kids toys, reaching out to the hospitals and homeless in a very personal and, for Katie, disturbing way. It seems to her that if charity begins at home, it may be time to move.” Jacket Cover (British version).

Hornby is a witty writer with a serious intention to stare into society’s relativistic abyss and see if he can find meaning there. As one reviewer said, ‘it won’t outsell the Bible but it’s a lot funnier.’ In How to Be Good Hornby not only explores contemporary understandings of the concepts of “good,” but also deconstructs the common paths offered in the pursuit of the good. It is no accident that the new age faith healer has adopted the name “good news” for that is a literal and contemporary rendering of the word ¢â‚¬Ëœgospel’ and Hornby is intent on debunking the gooey claim made by so many new agers that they offer a new and improved version of traditional religion. While Katie’s husband is off exploring new age religion, Katie takes a try at the Anglicanism of her youth and finds the local clergywoman overly concerned with relevance while lacking confidence in her beliefs. Some of Hornby’s most sobering observations are of today’s church it seems clear he has more than a passing knowledge of church and Scripture. In addition to a comical and searing look at religion (new and old) Horny also takes a healthy cut at the ¢â‚¬Ëœbleeding heart” activism of today’s liberal humanitarian and identifies it’s swing from naive and optimistic to ineffective.

This is a book worth reading for insights into the contemporary dilemma, but it is short on satisfactory solutions and ends with Katie’s sense of hope about the future being declared just as she at the wrong moment ‘catches a glimpse of the sky and sees there’s nothing out there at all.’

Beliefs num
–There is nothing new under the sun
–Most people today cannot agree on a definition of ¢â‚¬Ëœgood.’
–The Anglican Church has lost the conviction that it offers truth and so instead substitutes relevance.
–The New Age alternatives offer an initial ¢â‚¬Ëœrush’ but in the end lack substance and staying power.
–Service to mankind is good in theory but ineffective and plagued with problems in practice.
–We ought to stop trying to save the world and focus on our own life and immediate family.
–It seems there is no God, we are alone in the universe.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What does it mean to be a good person?
–Are humans truly capable of goodness?
–Does religion help people become good?
–Will most young seekers try visiting a church and is it likely they will find what they are looking for there?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Listen. I’m not a bad person. I’m a doctor. One of the reasons I wanted to become a doctor is because I thought it would be a good thing to do.
==Katie, rationalizing about being good while she is having an affair
–You see, what I really want, and what I’m getting with Stephen, is the opportunity to rebuild myself from scratch.
==Katie, explaining why she is having an affair
–I’m a good person. In most ways. But I’m beginning to think being a good person in most ways doesn’t count for very much.
==Katie, realizing she can’t offset her bad deeds with her good deeds
–David has become a sort of happy-clappy-right-on version of Barbie’s Ken, except without Ken’s rugged good looks and contoured body. And I don’t think David has become a Christian, although it is hard to fathom exactly what he has become.
==Katie, reflecting on David’s conversion from a bitter, sarcastic guy to an overly sweet one
–I wanted to be like Luke Skywalker, off somewhere on my own, learning to be a Jedi. I wanted a break from the war. I wanted someone wise to teach me how to do the things I needed to know to survive the rest of my life.
==Katie, reflecting on the attraction of a mentor with answers
–When I look at my sins (And if I think they’re sins, then they are sins), I can see the appeal of born-again Christianity. I suspect that it’s not the Christianity that is so alluring; it’s the rebirth. Because who wouldn’t wish to start all over again?
==Katie, after reviewing her failures at trying to be good
–The vicar is indeed a kindly middle-aged lady who seems vaguely ashamed of her beliefs¢â‚¬¦I have never been to an ordinary church service before. I have been to weddings, funerals, christenings, carol services and even harvest festivals, but I have never been to a bog-standard, nobody there, Sunday service¢â‚¬¦it all feels a long way from God¢â‚¬¦It feels sad, exhausted, defeated; this may have been God’s house once, you want to tell the handful of people here, But He’s clearly moved, shut up shop.
==Katie’s observations when she visits her local Anglican church
–He has reached the end of his tether. Mark takes drugs, goes to see bands, swears a lot, hates Conservatives, has periods of promiscuity. If on meeting him for the first time, you were asked to name one thing that he didn’t do, you would almost certainly choose churchgoing.
==Katie’s shock at seeing her brother visiting church too
–Why are you people so timid? It’s no wonder the churches are empty, when you can’t answer even the simplest questions. Don’t you get it? That’s what we want. Answers. If we wanted wooly minded nonsense we’d stay at home. In our own heads.
==Katie scolds the vicar for not giving a straightforward answer to her question-should I leave my husband
–Maybe that’s what’s wrong with all of us. Maybe Mark thought he was going to find that warmth in church, and all those people on our street who took the street kids in thought they could find it in their spare bedrooms, and David found it in GoodNews fingertips went looking for it because he wanted to feel it once more before he died. As do I.
==Katie realizing we all want warmth to replace our sadness
–My family, I think, just that. And then, I can do this. I can live this life. I can. It’s a spark I want to cherish, a splutter of life in the flat battery; but just at the wrong moment I catch a glimpse of the night sky behind David, and I can see that there’s nothing out there at all.
==Last line of book, in which Katie’s hope is set in a context of aloneness in the universe

Posted in Books, Staublog in July 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

A Brooklyn Jew Meets Jesus: The Life and Ministry of Albert Abram Runge

Publisher
Christian Publications

Author
Albert Runge

Posted in Books, Staublog in July 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God

Publisher
Navpress

Author
Hugh Ross

Posted in Books, Staublog in June 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

Grasping for the Wind

Publisher
Harper Collins/Zondervan

Author
John Whitehead

Central Theme
The search for meaning in the 20th century has been shaped, influenced and doomed by ideas originating in the Enlightenment.

Overview
Culture reflects the prevailing ideas of a generation. Since the Enlightenment, those ideas have often been hostile to Christian thought and more than ever are accurately described by the writer of Ecclesiastes, ‘I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.’ This is a sweeping overview of the idea generators like Voltaire, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant, and the impact of their ideas on artists like Beethoven, Byron, William Blake, Oscar Wilde, Rimbaud, etc. Whitehead moves then to Nietzsche, Darwin, Freud, and Marx, showing how their ideas have worked their way into a narcissistic popular culture though art, literature and film. The book effectively illustrates that we are entering the new millennium with bankrupt ideas from the previous millennium. It is very strong on analysis without attempting to provide strategic remedies.

Beliefs num
–The predominant driving ideas since the enlightenment have been anti-Christian.
–These are actually old, recycled, yet ultimately destructive, ideas that pose as new, fresh, liberating ideas.
–Those ideas have worked their way into popular culture through the arts and personalities of each succeeding generation.
–These ideas are now at the heart of the cultural disintegration we are witnessing.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Why are humans attracted to ideas that are sometimes obviously destructive?
–If ‘organized religion’ has created opportunities for its critics, how can organized religion be part of the solution?
–Is art always fueled by ideas or do artists sometimes originate ideological change?
–Given a culture deteriorating due to it’s embrace of inferior and untrue ideas, how can we rebuild society around truth?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Life imitates art far more than art imitates life
==Oscar Wilde
–I am degrading myself as much as possible. Why? I want to be a poet, and I am working to make myself a seer — It is a question of reaching the unknown by the derangement of all the senses.
==Arthur Rimbaud
–I am an anti-Christ, I am an antichrist.
==John Lydon, Sex Pistols
–Light came in as a flood and all was clear. Not only had I got rid of theology and the supernatural, but I found the truth of evolution.
==Andrew Carnegie, in discovering Darwinism
–The secret stimulus of the French free thinkers from Voltaire to August Comte was not to remain behind the Christian ideal — but to outbid it if possible.
== Nietzsche
–I stand in no awe whatever of the Almighty. If we were ever to meet I should have no more reproaches to make to Him than He could make to me. I would ask why He hadn’t endowed me with better intellectual equipment, and He couldn’t complain that I have failed to make the best use of my so-called freedom.
==Freud
–There was a presence in the room that couldn’t have been anybody but Jesus — I truly had a born again experience, if you want to call it that — Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up.
==Bob Dylan
–I believe everything the Bible says.
==Dylan, 1991
–It will not be by water, but by fire the next time. It is written.
==Dylan, when asked about the Apocalypse, 1991
–We now live in an age in which science is a court from which there is no appeal. And the issue this time around, at the end of the twentieth century, is not the evolution of the species — but the nature of our own precious inner selves.
==Tom Wolfe
–The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and political fabric of America — we have learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives, which have no confidence or purpose.
==President Jimmy Carter, 1979
–We have a highly complex civilization which requires an equally complex social structure and political authority — yet against that the goal should be to destroy all authority, so man in his natural goodness may emerge — this Utopian view is a dangerous fallacy from an improperly structured society — The fault is in the very imperfect nature of man himself.
==Stanley Kubrick, on the message of Clockwork Orange
–We don’t have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression in our lives. We have a spiritual depression.
==Tyler Darden, in Fight Club
–What you have to consider is the possibility that god doesn’t like you. Could be, God hates us. This is not the worst thing that could happen.
==Tyler Darden, in Fight Club
–An exhaustive investigation would uncover a great number of influences , but the gradual decay of religion would stand somewhere near the head of the list — public life is thoroughly secularized. The separation of church and state, nowadays interpreted as prohibiting any public recognition of religion at all, is more deeply entrenched in America than anywhere else. Religion has been relegated to the sidelines of public debate.
==Christopher Lasch, historian
–To know nothing of what happened before you were born is to remain ever a child.
==Cicero
–Serious believers, agnostics and atheists now have the same enemy; the humdrum nihilism of everyday life in much of Western Society.
==Michael Harrington, author, atheist

Posted in Books, Staublog in May 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

The Virgin of Bennington

Publisher
Riverhead

Author
Kathleen Norris

Posted in Books, Staublog in April 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses

Publisher
William Morrow

Author
Bruce Feiler

Posted in Books, Staublog in March 20, 2001 by | No Comments »