Posting was spotty in 2022 due to a new job in my real life and a focus on our podcast – Modern Cloister – but I’m hoping to be back more often this year with fairly regular book reviews and a project I am starting on the Psalms. I should have a steady stream of book reviews, as I am way behind, starting Monday with one of Crossway’s new commentary series on Luke. I’m trying to get it up quickly, so I can grab their version on Mark will advanced copies are still available. It isn’t a full on commentary, but I think it is pretty unique and a great addition to any library or Bible Study. I have a very long term (probably years) plan on the Psalms that I hope to start sometime this Spring. If things are actually going well, I’m going to try to start an occasional series that will come out on Wednesdays that may be posted here and streamed through the Modern Cloister, for as long as we keep that going.
I also wanted to recommend a few books for anyone looking for something to read this year. I have reviewed either yet, but hopefully soon. If you are look for a good fiction book, try Lonesome Dove. I checked it out of the library. It is on the longer side, maybe 800+, but it is a quick/easy read and probably one of the best works of fiction I’ve ever read (easily top 5). Those looking for a devotional should check out Psalms in 30 Days: CSB edition. I’m not a huge fan of CSB for the Psalms, though better than others, but if you’ve taken the habit of reading the whole Psalter in 30 days, this is a really interesting twist. The author breaks the readings into three instead of two, but instead of just reading, there is essentially a mini-BCP (Book of Common Prayer) with calls to worship, gloria patria, and additional prayers. It is probably my favorite devotional of all time.
Two heavier books, on Systematic and on non-fiction. Evangelical Theology from Michael Bird is now probably at the top of my list for a systematic theology text. I’ll have more to say when I review it, but it is reformed-ish and evangelical in the theological sense (not political, as he is not American), easy to read, offers great depth, and maybe most interesting: funny. If you are looking for non-fiction, I finally got around to reading Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order. This is the first (beginning of time to French Revolution) of a two volume work on society/political organization, and if that is an interesting topic to you, this book is fascinating.
Looking back through my Goodreads, you can kind of forget what you read, and I realized I’d planned to do a post on a slew of ‘controversial’ books from the past few years – Making of Biblical Womanhood (review), Recovering from Biblical Womanhood , Jesus and John Wayne, and Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. I need to finish these reviews, and either a write-up with how they interact or a pod on them. Speaking of which, does anyone listen to podcast that review books? I am thinking of making a few episodes specially on book reviews and wasn’t sure how interesting that may be.
Final recommendation to start the year is a substack (because blogs and people who have them are old and outdated) called Common Grace, Common Schools (check it out here). I found it via, of all places, LinkedIn, but the author was a friend of mine back in high school/church growing up, and actually we were almost roommates in college, which is a long story. He has a PhD in education policy and works in that arena now. The series is (going to be) about a Christian view of public school and (I assume) homeschooling. Stephen is an extremely intelligent guy and pretty good writer and I think the series will be interesting for anyone who has every considered the public/home school debate/issues. I’ve considered writing a series myself, but his will almost certainly be better. I went to public schools (including college and grad) and my parents could have never afford home/private schools and I am a bit biased due to two/maybe three different incidences. First, after college I actually worked at a ‘home school’, this could be a post itself, but I’ll just say it was past embarrassing and into shameful. Second, through some very crossed wires, I had an interview with ‘definitely not the Heritage Foundation’ think tank on ‘school choice’ (this is your reminder if someone is arguing ‘choice’ they’ve already lost on merits). Their legislative director explained to me their goal of undermining and defunding public schools in Georgia. I’m generally fine with most sincerely held political beliefs, so if you want to defund schools and end education in America, I guess that is fine, but I very much hate that Christians are the ones used to do this and they method the organizations use is fear. Third, I knew basically no one homeschooled (before fear was used around the millennium, and of course the reason the school I know started was not what they said, but because one of their children were kicked out of school), mostly because I lived in a middle class area. This is similar to my current situation. However for the past 15 years or so, I’ve worked in and attended church in a rich area, and there, where it doesn’t take two incomes to live, homeschooling is seen as the ‘correct’ and ‘most Christian’ way, which I find frustrating.
Anyway, I could write quite a bit more on this, but I think Stephen will hit most of it, and maybe I’ll have some reactions. I’d also recommend anyone who doesn’t know, go check out the history of homeschools (which wasn’t legalized in Georgia until the mid-80’s).
Alright, that should do it for now. Hopefully, I’ll be back to posting regularly in 2023. If not, y’all probably wont hear from me in anymore 2024.
Edit: Two things I need to add that I forgot. First, Stephen received his PhD from the two time defending national champs – the University of Georgia. Second, I should have caveated – not all homeschools. There are legit reasons to home school, and some schools (or consortiums, or whatever they call themselves) are quite good; I know at least two great people who teach at some of those. However, that being said, the history and people’s reasons are often shaky, and I will probably always remain skeptical.