Music Friday – Broken Bones

I haven’t done it in a while, so here is another Wolves at the Gate song, from their latest CD Types & Shadows. I’m torn on the videos for this whole CD. I like that they decided to put all the words up, because the words in these songs are incredible. On the other hand, with the exception of ‘The Fountain’, all of the videos look like ice cream and sprinkles.

Check out the words, though, I really like the line here where he says

“Don’t be nervous to face the truth that you’re not fine, you never were,
So don’t be frightened to see the Light when you open up your eyes”

Book Review: Mile Marker Zero

Mile Marker Zero: The Moveable Feast of Key West — William McKeen

My Rating – Put It On The List

Level – Short to moderate in length, but reads longer, easy to moderate read

Summary
I’m torn on the summary. It can be summed up in a basic sentence, or it would take a whole page to do justice to the craziness of this book. essentially, it is about Key West, way back when. When Key West wasn’t a tourist trap, when it was the wild west of modern America. This is post landbarron, like Flager, and celebrity, like Hemingway, but pre-over commercialization. There were as-yet unknown writers like Corcoran, McGuane, and Buffet. Hunter S. Thompson among others makes an appearance.

All to say, if you grew up with the legends of the Conch Republic, read this book, if you’ve never heard the stories of the way things were, it will either be dull or incredibly fascinating.

My Thoughts
So, I did grow up the stories of Key West, especially from my dad, who visited more often in his lost years. In fact, we took a pilgrimage, driving the 800+ plus miles from Atlanta, when I was maybe 12 or so. In a somewhat odd coincidence my dad actually grew up next to where Vaughn Cochran, proprietor of the Black Fly and secondary character in these Key West chronicles, spent his summers. Actually, it was my dad who loaned me this book.

Anyway, this book is a lot of fun. If you’ve spent time in Mallory Square or read the autobiographies of Jimmy Buffett or Hunter S. Thompson, you’ll get a lot out of this. It is all the craziness you’d expect and then some. Plus, some somewhat odd and data funny parts, like the little crew down there getting members only jackets with fake name to wear as the walked around getting drunk and partying.

There is a just an interesting mix of writers, musicians, and artist, you have to wonder why it never really got the popularity of some of the other historical places for such people. Maybe because it was at the bottom of the country, inhabited by nomadic Southerners so forgotten than the US Army once accidentally invaded the island; but probably mostly the commercialization tha followed. Ironically, Buffet’s own Parrot Head/Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise stores are currently part of the problem, a victim of his success.

 

Book Review: The Christian Life

The Christian LIfe: A Doctrinal Introduction

Rating – Must Read

Level – Quick, easy read

Summary
The subtitle of this book is really illustrative of what this book is about. It is an introduction to doctrine for Christians, more specifically reformed theology. This is probably the best intro book I’ve ever read. You won’t get the full intro that you’d need to tackle Systematic Theology, there is no doctrine of church, sacrament, eschatology, etc., but his chapters on man, sin, grace, election/adoption, justification, and christian living are possibly unmatched in their accessibility to the average Christian.

I’d highly recommend this book for anyone looking to understand more about doctrine, to go above a Sunday School level, and it may even work as a gateway book into deeper study of theology. Ferguson was a theologian and professor, but this book is written by a pastor first and foremost and can easily be read by any Christian at any level of education and knowledge.

My Thoughts
If I’ve somehow been unclear, I’m really high on this book. Clocking in under 200 pages but with 18 chapters, anyone can hope in and out of the different doctrinal chapters with ease. As I mentioned above, this is a great intro for anyone looking to expand their knowledge. It is also a great reminder to pastor and theologians of the basics of doctrine. A way to bring those who greater knowledge back down to a simpler level, a more concise study of what others need to know.

This is written almost as a series of sermons and could be a great book for a Bible study or community group looking for something to read. For pastors and elders in the church, this should be the go to suggested reading for anyone inquiring about doctrine. Overall, it is a must read for every Christian.

Book Review: Katharine and Martin Luther

Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk

Rating –  If you have time

Level – Easy read, short to medium length

Summary
For the most part the book is about the marriage of Katharina and Marin Luther. The first few chapters look at the two of them individually, then their life together, culminating in the death of Martin. The book is at its best, not necessarily discussion their marriage, but when getting into the minutia of life in the early modern period. The book is at it’s worst when the author seems surprised by the fact that life was hard for women 500 years ago.

If you are looking for an interesting book about the marriage between a former monk and former nun, this is probably not it. There are interesting insights, but it is far from a good history, there is a good bit of editorializing and comparing them to marriages of today. There is a little bit about the famous Table Talks and their life together mentoring and growing the next generation of reformers, but not nearly enough. In my view, this should be the centerpiece of a book about their marriage. It truly was revolutionary, but the author instead focuses her surprise on the fact that Martin loved and respected Katharina despite believing the Bible to the the Work of God.

My Thoughts
It should be pretty clear from above that I was a little disappointed in this book. The author goes in and out of interesting historical facts to discussing her shock that someone could read the Bible, believe it, especially as it pertains to the so-called ‘roles of marriage’ and then still love their wife. She starts with a good history of the issues women face, and they are shocking and substantial, but she doesn’t seem to be able to separate them from their place in history and our current time. She anachronistically puts modern views into the history of the early modern period.

Katharina and Martin hosted dignitaries, students, pastors, and leading intellectuals of the time from across Germany and other parts of Europe. She really misses out in this book by not getting into more of those conversations and how they related to each other. She also comes off a bit patronizing, unintentionally, to Katharina. She takes minor quips and solid comebacks and conflates them into great iconoclastic events.

Overall the book seems a bit jumbled, shifting focus too often. There is far too many uses of phrases like, ‘one wonders’ and ‘it’s not hard to guess’ for my liking. To be fair, in her defense, she never claims to be a historian or that this book is a definitive biography of historical discussion on their marriage. Her near unending shock that there are many letters retained from possibly the most famous and impactful European in church history greatly outnumber his wife’s letters in a time when most women (or people for that matter) could not even read, gets old quickly.  I guess if you happen across this book at a good price it could be worth while, but over all, it is probably not worth your time.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. See more here.

Book Review: Generation Z

Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World

Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Pretty easy ready, goes quickly, about 200 pages.

Summary
The book is exactly what it sounds like, and introduction to Generation Z, who he defines as those born between 1993 and 2012, how they will be different form previous generations and what the churches needs to do about it.

The book is broken into two parts, plus a pretty extensive appendices. The first part is focused on the Zs and the second on the difference and the churches new approach. The focus is mostly on the changing demographic of Zs, they are less white, more multiethnic, more liberal (economically and socially), and less Christian. White does a good job explaining the way technology is changing their lives, especially as it relates to early sexualization and porn.

My Thoughts
I think White does a good job of not being alarmist. It is a fact of history that the next generation will be our undoing, people have been saying it for thousands of years. So, it was good to read him taking a measured approach. There is a lot of media hype over the ‘nones’, and he explores how it is possible that a middle group who could go either way on the church is now siding with the no-religion group because it is the more socially advantageous position as it is more of the culture norm (the same way the opposite was true 50 years ago and through most of American history). I’ll add two reason I think the ‘nones’ are overblown, one it is cool now to be ‘independent’, we see it with political parties. I see it in church going people who are very devout, they like to say that they don’t like names or denominations. This is already a bit of a tangent, but second, I’ve worked with detailed surveys throughout my career. People are bad at them. You can look at the polling data and see that 9% of self-identified Atheist are certain there is a god when asked. I think it is something like 14% when the question is asked of self-identified Agnostics. Likewise, there are a number of self-identified Christians who say it is impossible to know if God exist. Due to this, I do think church attendance will continue dropping with the Zs and whatever comes next, but the core of the devout won’t change too much.

I like his definition of Z better than some of the others I’ve seen. Other have them starting in 2000 or even as late as 2005, and I think his focus works a little better. More importantly, there is a difference between them and the millennials, just as there was between X and boomers, and SIlent and Greatest before them. The first half of this book is good for anyone looking for a brief primer on the upcoming generation. The book as a whole is important for Christians to understand the changes that are coming, especially pastors and youth workers. Anyone in this latter group should make reading this book a priority.

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. See more here.