Reading Digest #5 (April 2, 2009)

A digest of my current reading diet.


Proverbs 4. Studying this chapter on my own, with my son, and together for family worship. Stressing the importance of watching over our hearts to ensure our affections are not drawn towards worldliness.


Say It Ain’t So Joe!: The True Story of Shoeless Joe Jackson by Donald Gropman (30%, 2.80 stars). Because baseball is in the air and Joe Jackson is a celebrated hitter from my favorite era (1900-1920). Gropman reveals the many features of Jackson’s skills, his incredible power at the plate, and his ability to toss a baseball over 400 feet in the air (no fielder in the baseball could match his throwing distance)! Yet the author allows the flaws to come forward, too, and appears he will not make SJJ out to be a helpless victim of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Although he did not intentionally lose World Series games (which is statistically obvious), Jackson was aware of the scandal and did nothing to stop it. Thus far this book is balanced and enjoyable. Read selections from the book here.

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis (25%, 4.00 stars). In this excellent collection of essays I have been carefully studying “The Weight of Glory” and “Transposition.” Although I am not terribly familiar with Lewis, I have found him especially gifted in articulating the places where spiritual reality meets natural reality. Lewis opens my dim eyes to see the work of God in ways I previously missed… His thoughts on metaphor-as-reality are striking as well, although these thoughts are developed in other books.

A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C.S. Lewis by Clyde Kilby (20%, 4.50 stars). A collection of Lewis’s greatest quotes on all theological topics of consideration. “This book is so good,” John Piper said in 1970, “you won’t be able to finish it without putting it down.” As I’ve experienced myself. A precious little anthology of Lewis at his best.

The Christology of John Owen by Richard Daniels (15%, 4.00 stars). Daniels has written a masterful comprehensive Christology of Puritan theologian John Owen. To balance, I’ve been reading slowly from Owen on the difference between faith in Christ and our sight of Christ (1:374-389). A slow read, part of my morning devos.

The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Volume 3: A Christian View of Spirituality (15%, 3.80 stars). On his blog recently, Justin Taylor quoted from the book, No Little People, and my friend CB is reading True Spirituality. Schaeffer, I believe, was at his best behind the pulpit. Both books are comprised of sermons delivered at L’Abri and are included in volume 3 of Schaeffer’s works. My devo time has been richly reward by these sermons/books. A slow read, part of my morning devos.

A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White, Jr. (30%, 3.00 stars). A spanking new, highly endorsed, biography of president Lincoln. A hearty 900-page volume that has received at least one negative review (Weekly Standard), but the more I read the less I agree with that criticism and the more I enjoy this definitive bio. Slow read, being a nightstand book.

Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte (35%, 3.40 stars). Collection of over 1,000 sentences from the writings of the modern literary greats, organized topically, with syntactical exegesis to expound the stylistic construction of each sentence. I love the organization, the format, and the depth of explanation. Few books on style are as valuable. Artful Sentences is a rare book that excels at explaining abstract style within concrete examples straight from the pages of modern literature. You’ve seen this book on my list for a while and it’s not a book I’m trying to complete quickly.


The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone (15%, 2.50 stars). The ornamented world of Renaissance Italy is recreated by Stone in this ‘historical novel,’ praised for its research and historical detail (the author studied all 495 known letters written by Michelangelo). The author zooms in from the period to focus on the artistic tensions and life of M., whose sculpting is genius and a small miracle. His aristocratic family was not keen on the idea of son pursuing art, his father apparently hated the idea of a son working with his hands, and was appalled that he would chip rocks with a chisel. Sculpting had passed its height in Italy and there were no gifted sculptor mentors. Yet M. followed his inner conviction that he was created to sculpt. A captivating story of divine artistic gifting. Will pick this up as a summer read.

Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns (50%, 3.50 stars). Good book on how Christians forgive others. Written with immediate application in mind. Explains the fascinating (and I think biblical) concept of forgiving others for their sin only when they ask for forgiveness and not before. Good book but leaving it aside for now.

Our Reasonable Faith by Herman Bavinck (30%, 5.00 stars). My favorite condensed systematic theology noted for its theological splendor and for moments of breakout doxology. This is my go-to volume for rich, slow-paced theological learning. I’ll pick this up later in the fall.


Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch. Dipped into this book on a recent flight, long enough to know this is a book I want to read cover-to-cover.

Revising Prose (5th Edition)
by Richard A. Lanham. Recently heard great things about this (overpriced) book on editing. My training in the fine art of self-editing will never be completed.

Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions
by John S. Hammond. It took me a while to decide between paperback and hardcover but I flipped a coin and went paperback. Decision making is an area I can improve and this book comes highly recommended.

Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works Bernard of Clairvaux (Paulist Press edition). After reading Dr. Daniel Akin’s PhD dissertation on the soteriology of Bernard last year, I more greatly appreciated the medieval theologian’s evangelical understanding of the atonement and his penetrating spirituality. Dipping into Bernard for myself has been a personal goal for a while. This little collection will provide a suitable initiation.

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
by Humphrey Carpenter. Comes recommended and looks very interesting.

5 thoughts on “Reading Digest #5 (April 2, 2009)

  1. Hey man, I miss your frequent blogs! I know you made a decision to cut back a little.

    I just finished:
    The End of Religion
    The God Who Smokes
    The God I Dont Understand
    Total Church
    Leading With A Limp

    Culture Making
    The Fine Line
    Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism
    What Luther Says
    Foolishness To The Greeks
    Reading The Bible With Heart and Mind

    On the Docket:
    Bowling Alone
    The Earth is Flat
    Bookends of the Christian Life
    10 Books That Screwed Up The World And 5 Others That Didnt Help
    Why Johnny Cant Preach

    Good Reading!


  2. Excellent list. Thanks for the comment, Greg. After April I hope to be posting on a more regular basis and a more frequent rotation. Thanks! Tony

  3. I love Schaeffer. He was near his height of popularity at the time of my conversion, and one of the first things (True Spirituality) put into my hands as a young Christian.

    Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style sounds quite interesting. I immediately went to Amazon and put it on my wish list. Now if only family members would look at that list. Sigh.


  4. I am new around these parts but I just wanted to encourage you to finish Our Reasonable Faith by HB. The digest I did of thlat book was the hardest digest I ever completed but it was worth all the hours it took!!

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