Book Review: 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

My Rating – Must Read

Level – Quick, easy read; short (just over 200)

Pretty self-explanatory; Reinke lays out 12 ways he believes your smart phone (and social media) are impacting you. The book is, unsurprisingly, broken into 12 chapters – addicted to distraction, ignore flesh and blood, crave immediate approval, lose our literacy, feed on the produced, become what we ‘like’, get lonely, get comfortable in secret vices, lose meaning, fear missing out, become harsh to one another, lose our place in time. There is also a preface and an intro called ‘theology of technology’, as well as a conclusion on how to live with a smart phone and an epilogue.

My Thoughts
I was torn on exactly how to rate this book, it is one of those times where I’d like to give a 4.5, but ultimately, if you haven’t read anything about the impacts of smart phones/social media or you haven’t read about those impacts from Christian perspective, I think then it is a must read. If you’ve read a few of these, it is worth putting on your list.

Overall, Reinke has given us a broad survey into the issues with technology/social media. The strongest aspect of the book is that he himself is a big advocate and user of technology. So, you have someone who is appreciates and enjoys the different media (though, somewhat amusingly, he doesn’t appear to know the origins of Snapchat), who also understand the dangers, while not wanting to let it go. I appreciate his honesty and preservative in that way.

The book is a good way to get a taste of the issues. Reading it, you might be left feeling a little wanting, as almost every chapter could be it’s own book. As I mentioned, it is broadly researched and he pulls from many sources and people. I had not heard of some of the ‘Instagram models’ who quit and pulled away. I’ve seen the research on how often people check their phone and the impact of Facebook on happiness and well being, but I had seen a response or commentary on these impacts from a distinctly Christian viewpoint.

I found much of the book to be fascinating, but I have to confess that I viewed much of it as an outsider. I’ve never been on Facebook (despite being in college when it started, when it was only for college students), I occasionally use twitter, and I still don’t really understand the point of Instagram. I also dislike starting at a glowing blue screen, and really only carry a phone when Mrs. MMT insists. However, the friend from whom I borrowed this book found it impactful and Mrs. MMT is actually attempting to modify some of her habits after reading.

While I couldn’t always relate, I do empathize with people who struggle in the ways depicted in this book and the book finishes strongly with suggestions on how to live with your smart phone and social media. I think the practical tips could be of value to many people. Realistically, if you have ever wondered if you use your phone/social media too much, or if it is negatively effecting you, then it probably is and for you this might be a book to add to your list or a must read.

Book Review: Work and Our Labor in the Lord

Work and Our Labor in the Lord (Short Studies in Biblical Theology)

Rating – If you are looking for something.

Level – Short, moderate read, feels a little redundant at times

Hamilton attempts to concisely write a theology of work – why we work, what it means to work, and what it would look like to ‘labor for the Lord’. The book is broken into four main parts: work before the fall, work after the fall, work now after Christ’s coming, and finally, work in the new heavens and new earth.

My Thoughts
I’ll start off by saying I think this is one of the most difficult topics for which Christians can write. Not necessarily because the Bible is unclear on work, it is, and not because I thought Hamilton didn’t handle the theological points well. In fact, I thought he did a masterful job from a Biblical perspective; though there were occasionally odd section that appeared to have political undertones, but I guess that’s to be expected from an evangelical publication (or maybe I just read too much into it, and watch too much politics).

No, the problem is the reader. Especially me – educated, white-collar, upper-middle class reader, who has actual opportunities to think about different careers or finding fulfilling jobs. Due to the reader problem, I think books on work are hammered twice. First, because the reader looking for answers, such as what should I do with my life, do not find any and may come away disappointed. Second, because those are the readers, the authors tend to focus on that demographic. Hamilton avoids some of these trappings, probably due to his focus on theology, but they do show up. I won’t digress any further on that point.

The strength of this book is the first section, work before the fall. In our Biblically illiterate, 140 character limit culture, we miss too much of what the Bible actually says. For most of my life, I believed work was punishment for sin. I was around 30 before I heard someone point out that we worked the garden, it was one of the first commands from God and our original role in this world. So, work isn’t our punishment for sin, but our sin has corrupted out work. Hamilton does a great job of teaching and explaining this Biblical truth.

This point is expanded on in the work after the fall section as well. I especially liked the references to Ecclesiastes; which is always a great reminder of the way we view life in general, but I’m not sure I’ve seen it related specifically to work.

Overall, it is a solid book, but it left me wanting a little more. I’m probably a little too critical of Christian books focused on work, so if that is a topic you are studying you should put this book on your list. If not, you might want to skip. It is short, so that is a positive (why not just knock it out) and a negative (maybe not as in depth as you’d like). The Biblical Theology is strong, so that would be another reason to read it. So, grab this book, if you are looking for something.

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

Systematic Theology Study Bible

ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible – New from Crossway , coming some time in the Fall. The latest date I’ve seen is October 21, 2017; however, it has already moved once as far as I can tell. You know I’m big on Study Bibles, and obviously adding Systematics is going to be big for me. I plan on getting this as soon as I can, hopefully before it is published. I’ll keep you updated on what I know.

Update – Looks like all editions (Hardcover, Leather, fake Leather) are going to be available 10/31/2017. That is the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation starting (Luther nailing the 95 Theses).

I won’t be buying the hardcover, I tend to favor the fake leather, but I can’t quite tell what the design looks like. May actually splurge and get the real leather.

Book Review: Parenting

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

My Rating –If You are Looking for Something

Level – Quick, easy read

Well, it’s a book about parenting. Pretty good summary, right? This is an interesting book because the approach is very different that most parenting books. The main difference being that there is nothing ‘practical’ about this book. That can be incredibly frustrating and challenging as you read. You are not going to find anything about sleep training, how to deal with allowances, or curfews in here. I guess the best summary would be to say that it is solid reformed theology and how it relates to parenting.

Probably the most interesting part is a reminder of the most important roll for you is as parent. What would you say if asked? I know it’s not to make my kid happy. My answer is typically something about independence and teaching your kid to take care of herself. That is wrong though, as Tripp points out, your most important goal is to teach your child about God, who He is and what He has done for us. That is his starting point, and it only gets more challenging from there.

My Thoughts
This book is a mix of good reminders, frustrations, and challenges of parenting. If you are familiar with reformed theology, you’ll have a decent idea of what is coming in this. Your child has problems because she is sinful. You don’t model well and have problems being a good parent because you are sinful. That can get old, because at times you feel, what’s the point, then? It is incredibly useful however, like much in the Biblical Counseling movement that Tripp is a part of, the focus on someone’s sinful nature is a good place to start. It can be kind of funny, sometimes, honestly. I’ll catch myself in a moment with Sprout, when I’m angry and thinking, why in the hell did you do that? Then I kind of laugh and think, well, you are just a tiny fallen human.

Tripp also does a good job of shining a spotlight on parents as sinners. That’s also annoying, but again, it is useful to help check your own feelings and reactions. All that being said, I wanted to like this book more. If you are having problems parenting, or looking for a foundation, or just trying to read everything you can about parenting, then this is a good book. It is well written and incredibly strong on theological basis. I may be the only one, but it just didn’t sit right, I’m not sure why. Maybe because it is different. It really is a book about the heart of parenting and understanding the heart of a child.

I have a toddler, so I guess I was wanting something that spells things out a bit more. There are so many day to day things and broader parenting questions that this book doesn’t really address (or attempt to, to be fair). Should you spank, and how old is too old? What about screen time or games on the phone? You won’t find these answers, and maybe in the long run, they don’t really matter, but that is what you expect from typical books. Instead, what Tripp has done, is focus you first on the important task of teaching your child about the Lord, then basically just asking you challenging questions, instead of offering answers, then leave you to figure it out.

* I received a free copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.