Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Reviews: 2010

Following is a list of all my book reviews for 2010 in one post.  Looking forward to a great reading season in 2011.

Anderson, Michael (2005), The Scent of Life: A Pocket Prayer Book for the Discovery of Life.  This book was a gift from John Massey in Durant. It is a brief work that contains quotes and scriptures and prayers set amidst our senses.

Brouwer, Sigmund (2008).  Who Made the Moon? A Father Explores how Faith and Science Agree. Brouwer writes for parents wanting to explain questions of beginnings to their children. In so doing he attempts to reconcile questions of faith as they relate to modern science. Very interesting presentation of elementary scientific principles but without a young earth construct.

Bryan, Patricia and Thomas Wolf, Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland. This real life murder mystery was later used as the basis for Susan Glaspel's short story, "A Jury of Her Peers," then later her play, "Trifles."

Hankins, Barry (1996). God's rascal: J. Frank Norris and the Beginnings of Southern Fundamentalism. Hankins approaches the life of Norris regarding his views of populism, fundamentalism, dispensationalism, and crusader against communism, while also discussing Norris' political transformation and views on race.  A fascinating study of the fundamentalist preacher's inconsistencies, and in some cases, downright meanness.  To say Norris was controversial is an understatement; let's face it, shooting and killing a man in your pastor's office is not what you might expect from a preacher of the Word.

Cothen, Grady (1993). What Happened to the Southern Baptist Convention? A Memoir of the Controversy. Dr. Cothen is a former President of OBU and President of the Sunday School Board (now Lifeway).  Having the opportunity to spend a day with him earlier this fall, I found him to be a very engaging and kind gentleman. His memoir of the conservative resurgence in the SBC is at once fascinating and grieving and tells the story from the perspective of a leader who is theologically conservative yet denominationally moderate.

Dekker, Ted (2010), Immanuel's Veins.  New York Times best-selling author,Ted Dekker's newest book is set in the 1770s in Moldavia against the backdrop of the Russo-Turkish war.  This was my first Dekker book and it was interesting reading providing a parable of sorts for the great love story of the bridegroom for the bride and the lengths at which someone will go to win the freedom of the one on whom their hearts desire is set.

Douglas, Frederick, The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglas. Every person who has ever struggled to understand the sad history of slavery in the world should read this narrative, which is both a sad commentary on America's history of slavery and an inspiring story of an individual's ability to persevere in the face of persecution and rise above the indignities of others.

Edgar, William, The Face of Truth: Lifting the Veil. This scholar from Westminster argues that "it is always wise to seek God above all else," in his plea for readers to give biblical faith a hearing.

Eichwald, Kurt, The Informant. The book on which the Matt Damon film was based, this is the account of a complete breakdown in ethical business practices and the problems with too much of modern commerce. The story is told against the backdrop of an informant who himself is complicated and sometimes comical. Caution: language/transcripts of actual testimony and witness accounts very foul.  

Flacco, Anthony and Jerry Clark, The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders. A haunting story of brutality and redemption, this is an emotionally difficult read that provides the back story of the Jolie/Eastwood movie, The Changeling. Warning: graphic descriptions of the horror that took place in the life and murderous rampage of the chief antagonist.

Grisham, John (2009).  Ford County. In his collection of short stories, the author's tales are great opportunities for fans to get quick fixes of Grisham in small doses.

Grudem, Wayne (2003). Business for the Glory of God: The Bible's Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business. This little volume is a quick read but splendid in its approach to moral goodness of profit and free enterprise.  A must read for any business professional and a should read for everyone else.

Hughes, Lynn (2010). Lame Science Blind Religion.  This book is written by an OBU alum and Profile in Excellence honoree by his alma mater.  Like Brouwer, Hughes attempts to reconcile faith and science through his own personal experiences and perspectives. He unashamedly presents faith and the Bible as true, yet does not hold to a classic creationism or young earth perspective.

Humphreys, Kent (2010). Christ@Work In Your Transition: From the Campus to the Workplace.  Humphreys book is designed to help college students transition from the life on campus to the workplace.Specifically, he focuses on carrying out a graduate's Christian commitment as she moves into the often rough and tumble world of the modern work environment.  This book makes an excellent graduation gift for the college student in your life.

Jones, Larry, I Lost My Ball and Found My Life. Mr. Jones graciously gave me this book on a flight out of Dallas. A very brief novella, the book outlines the harsh realities of poverty in "third-world" nations especially its devastating effect on children. The title is awkward if not descriptive, but I would have chosen the title of "Slice."

Marshall, Colin, and Tony Payne (2009). The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything.  The authors present a model of church management that de-emphasizes corporate business models too often prevalent in modern ministry; they present a very biblical model for ministers.

Moreland, J. P., Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul. As a long-time admirer of the work and contributions of Dr. Moreland, we were pleased to host him on our campus last year.  In this book, he does a masterful job of explaining the importance of Christ's Great Commandment to love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds. 

Parrish, John W. (2010).  Proudly Stand on Bison Hill: A Pictorial History of Oklahoma Baptist University 1910-2010.  Parrish did a wonderful job of documenting through pictures and highlights, the story of Oklahoma Baptist University.  This book is part of the OBU Centennial Series and a must-have for all those who love OBU and Bison Hill.

Phelps, M. William, The Devil's Rooming House: The True Story of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer. If you've ever seen the old Carey Grant movie, Arsenic and Old Lace (ironically a comedy), you might not know it was inspired by a real-life woman. Her name was Amy Archer-Gilligan, and this is her story told against the backdrop of the newly emerging business concept of caring for the elderly and infirm.

Preston, Douglas and Mario Spezi, The Monster of Florence. Having visited the famous city with Dana a few years ago, this book caught my attention. Set in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy, the authors weave the city's rich history and culture with the cold, hard realities of modern Florence and its pockets of crime and mankind's baser instincts. Caution: graphic depictions of the crimes and rough language.

Puzo, Mario (1969). The Godfather. I've never seen the movie but two good friends constantly quote from the movie, so when I saw the reissue of the classic Puzo novel, I picked it up at Borders.  Two words: violent and gruesome. The novel is a a fascinating perspective on leadership and management but is replete with foul language and explicit scenes inappropriate for most readers.  My friends tell me the movie is not as graphic...

Raley, John Wesley Raley, et. al. (1935). Why Christian Education?  So far ahead of his time, Dr. Raley had this book compiled by the faculty of OBU on the occasion of the University's 25th anniversary.  It has an introduction by the great George Truett--his address on the 25th convocation.  The book explores the distinctives of a Christian approach to higher education that is still timely and a must read for current educators, parents, and students.  I am working on getting this republished and exploring the possibility of having a new edition written by current faculty.

Reichs, Kathy (2007). Bones to Ashes Reichs continues her Temperance Brennan series with a story of a skeleton discovered in Acadia, Canada.  She becomes dedicated to solving the crime as she discovers connections with the mysterious disappearance of a childhood friend.  If you like the TV series "Bones" you will enjoy Reichs' books.

Ritenour, Shawn, Foundations of Economics: A Christian View. This book by a close friend of mine is very readable even for the non-economist. Dr. Ritenour is a brilliant scholar of the Austrian school of economic thought, and presents economics from a biblical worldview.

Stover, Emma (2009), Sirloin Stockade Slaughter: Murder on the Run.  A very brief tale taken largely from newspaper accounts, this 87 page read recounts the terrible tale of Roger Dale Stafford who took the life of a couple traveling near my hometown of Wayne and then committed the horrific mass murder at Oklahoma City's Sirloin Stockade. During the murder trial for the Wayne area murders I would sneak out of school and attend the trial in Purcell and so I was particularly interested in reading the book.

Stott, John, Your Mind Matters. Embracing the life of the mind and the virtue of intellectual pursuit among evangelicals, this brief work by Stott is excellent. This should be on the shelf of all students and faculty engaged in distinctively Christian higher education.

Stokes, David (2010). Apparent Danger: The Pastor of America's First Megachurch and the Texas Murder Trial of the Decade in the 1920s.  In this true story of J. Frank Norris and the killing of an unarmed man that took place in in the pastor's office at First Baptist, Fort Worth, the author covers the crime, trial, and consequences. Norris claimed self defense, however, all witnesses agreed along with Norris that the man was unarmed.

Wester, Ruth Lance, and June Proctor (2007).  Ropin' the Dream: The Story of the Ken Lance Sports Arena 1964-1994.  Told by his former wife and her sister, this story is a memoir of the lifework of Ken and Ruth Lance who built a famous rodeo arena and helped launch the careers of some of the most notable country singers in the world.  A virtual who's who of country music is but one of the story lines in this candid look at a bit of cowboy and western history. Ruth's maiden name is Whitlock and we became friends during my nineteen years of living in Durant, Oklahoma.

Willis, Avery, and Henry Blackaby (2002). On Mission With God: Living God's Purpose for His Glory.  At the funeral of Dr. Willis, his friend Henry Blackaby spoke and the family gave copies of this book to all present.  For those who were changed by reading "Experiencing God," this book is the most appropriate follow-up work to read.  The book is challenging and life changing. 

Willis, Avery and Matt Willis  (2009), Learning to Soar: How to Grow Through Transitions and Trials. My copy was given to me by Dr. Willis and is a most treasured volume.  In the book, Willis and his grandson provide insight into facing transitional challenges.  Using the imagery of the eagle as presented in Scripture, Avery provides wisdom backed up by decades of experience, while Matt writes with the zeal and perspective of a young man at the beginning of a lifelong journey of service. You'll find this book helpful no matter your phase of life.

Winchester, Simon, The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary is one of the most significant accomplishments undertaken in the English-speaking world. Who knew that one of the major contributors was discovered to be an inmate in an insane asylum, convicted of murder?

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