While not all of these books were published recently, I read and reviewed them all here at Kingdom People in 2013.
Publishing book reviews allows us to join together in the reading experience to some extent. I enjoy the sharing of ideas that results from this social reading.
Hopefully, you benefited from the book reviews this year. Here are the top five from 2013.
From my review of Rob Bell latest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God:
I believe this book will resonate with many because the idea of “spiritual experience” is popular today. The question is, does Bell’s vision of spirituality have the doctrinal bone structure to sustain faith for two thousand years? I’m afraid not. His artistic abilities aside, the book’s vision is boring because the drama is missing.
I felt a little like I was stumbling through a dense jungle while finding diamonds and jewels all around me. The density of the thought pattern was mind-bending, yet there were so many gold nuggets to be found that I couldn’t turn back.
I’ve read Orthodoxy twice since then, as well as a number of other Chesterton works, including his novels, essays, and detective series. There’s a lot of Chesterton’s wit and wisdom in the character of “Gil” who grounds my first work of fiction - Clear Winter Nights.
As part of the 50th anniversary of the deaths of the three influential individuals, I read and reviewed Peter Kreeft’s Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley.
Between Heaven and Hell may be marketed as a conversation between Lewis, Kennedy, and Huxley, but this is clearly Lewis’ show. Kreeft does a terrific job of giving voice to Lewis’ thought, and it’s Lewis’ view that ends up most persuasive. If you want to read an engaging book that shows the collision of three worldviews, you can hardly find a better one than this.
Looking at Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries, I examined the sociological factors that contributed to Christianity’s early growth and then discussed how that can be applied to the modern church.
[W]e ought to see this book as an examination of the means God used to fulfill his purposes. A sociological approach should not be set against a supernatural approach. Understanding these human elements will help us make some points of application for society.
As a professor in London, Spufford gives an interesting defense of Christianity within the post-modern world of Europe in Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. As the review title indicates I found the book both helpful and incomplete.
In all, I still recommend people read Unapologetic. It’s well-written (despite the distracting curse words throughout), and it provides unique avenues of considering and commending Christianity. I think Spufford is wise to begin with the “emotional resonance” of Christianity even if, unfortunately, he doesn’t go much further.
Did you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them? Which book review at Kingdom People did you find most helpful this year?