The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

I am nearly done with the C. S. Lewis book, The Great Divorce, which I am reading for the first time. While the book isn’t a tremendously challenging read, nor is it long (150 pages), nor is it filled with theological depth, it is still very worthwhile and highly recommended.

In the Preface, Lewis emphasizes that his intent in writing the book was not for us to argue about the view of the afterlife he is presenting. His purpose was merely to force us to think about our lives in relation to the statements and ideas posited by the characters. If you go into this book looking for a Left-Behind-esque attempt at prophetical interpretation of Heaven and Hell, you will be sorely disappointed; my recommendation is to read it with grace and understanding.

Lewis’s strength is in statements that can draw you up short and say, “I never thought of it quite that way;” and this book gave me plenty of those. My personal favorite:

“I only want my rights. I’m not asking for anybody’s bleeding charity.” “Then do. At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity.”

Lewis uses stereotypes and sets up his arguments carefully, but this does not in any way diminish the beauty and truth of the words. He exposes many of the excuses that people give for rejecting Christ in a fresh way. Two conversations that stood out were with the liberal theologian (Chapter 5), and with the artist (Chapter 9). The liberal theologian placidly believed nothing while using Scripture to support his arguments. The artist, who had begun his career in painting to show Christ through art, had ended his career in painting for painting’s sake; the art became more important than the reason for art.

The Great Divorce is an excellent book, and one that I plan on re-reading. It has encouraged me to look at my own excuses for not
following Christ on a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment basis; it has challenged me in many ways. It’s an excellent book, and one that I plan on re-reading.

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Wings of Dawn by Sigmund Brouwer

I cannot write reviews on books without writing a review of Wings of Dawn. This is one of my favorite books. Let me set a few misunderstandings about this book straight. First, Sigmund Brouwer released the book as Magnus; then, he released this book as a series of children’s books under the title Wings of Light series. Magnus was reprinted under the title Wings of Dawn. It is now out of print again, but this book is still one of the best purchases you could make, even if you are only buying a used copy.

Where can I start with regards to the book? Thomas is caught in an epic battle between the Merlins and the Druids. Both sides want to capture the city of Magnus, because of the power it contains. Pilate asked Christ, “What is truth?” Sigmund asks, “What is power?” Thomas is caught between the two mortal enemies with no one to trust. Neither side trusts him, yet both need him. Both sides use ancient and arcane knowledge as power. To the peasants, this knowledge seems like magical power (e.g. affecting the dogs with an ultra-sonic whistle and of course, black powder from China). Toss in a knight or two, a few priests, a couple of lords and ladies, and of course, two attractive and mysterious (and quite eligible) young ladies and you get one superbly written plot.

My copy of this book has traveled the world. I have read it in Mexico and Canada. It has traveled with others to Bolivia and the Middle East. It’s a bit worn, but I love this book. If I had to choose among all of my favorite novels, this one book would probably top the list as my favorite. Now, if I could only meet Sigmund and get an autograph on this book…. This is a must read. Sigmund Brouwer did a fantastic job with this plot. In the end, the reader walks away with a better respect for education because they read this book.

Mischief From the Back Pew by Todd and Jedd Hafer

The other morning I picked up Mischief from the Back Pew (which appears to be out of print – but available through Amazon’s resellers). I have read this book before, but it is a delight to reread a couple of chapters on occasion. The chapters are short: about 3-5 minutes reading time. This book is a compilation of comic monologues re-worked for printing. Very enjoyable.

The Hafer brothers grew up in church as PKs (Preacher’s Kids) and they have a lively and enjoyable approach to church life – and all life in general. Whether they are discussing the “drunk interim secretary” or the COE – Church of Elvis, you will be laughing aloud. The way they discuss church life specifically and life generally will keep you laughing until you are out of breath.

My favorite chapter just might be “Do You, Jedd, Take This Blame to Be With You Always?” Every married man can sympathize and every married woman would say “right on!” Just try not to read the book when you are supposed to be quiet…. You’ll probably choke yourself trying to maintain your silence.

You might also wonder how much of this actually happened and how much is exaggeration or fiction. A while back, I would have argued that no family could have that many funny things happen to them. Then I made some new friends. Now I know that one family could have that many stories! Now, I am certain that the Hafer brothers took some comic liberty with the stories, but it was worth it.

The book is not just comedy, but they effectively use the comedy to make certain points. One of the first points (and I disagree strongly with this) is that Christian Rock is acceptable music. With that, they talk about how their father would buy rock music for them under the condition that the church elders never found out about it. There is a slight problem of deception being taught by the pastor to his children in that story. But, on the brighter side, they dicuss the deity of Christ and the rigors of a pastor’s daily routine. Using humor, they bring our and expand several other points in the book.

For $1-2 on Amazon, you should add this to your next order. (You know- the next order that you make through this site…. It will help keep the site open.) You will be happy that you bought this little gem.

The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin

As someone who has long been a fan of Steve Martin’s unique blend of highly intelligent, literate, surrealist comedy, I guess I came into this book with a predisposition toward enjoyment; this was not disappointed. I found The Pleasure of My Company to be one of the better I have read in recent months; and while I wouldn’t recommend that everyone go out and buy it, I think
it’s worth a read.

The narrator is Daniel Pecan Cambridge, an average guy with a few minor quirks. He is either 28, 30, 27, or 34, depending on the situation and the need; he can only cross the street where two driveways are exactly opposite each other. There must always be exactly 1125
watts of light on in his apartment (he hoards 30-watt bulbs because they are so difficult to find), he creates magic squares, and connects those things and people around him by colors, patterns, and planes. His
life is lived according to logic and simples rules.

His story centers around three potential relationships in his life: Elizabeth, the realtor, whom he worships from afar; Clarissa, the student psychiatrist who visits twice weekly and whose name cannot be
anagrammed; and Zandy, the pharmacist at the Rite-Aid who knows his prescriptions. Between his efforts to win the attention and affection of these women and twice becoming a finalist in the Tepperton’s Pies Most
Average American contest under two different names, his life becomes complicated but his rules of logic hold firm.

I quite enjoyed meeting Daniel Cambridge, simply because I can identify with many of his quirks, though I normally don’t take things to his degree. (For example, I have noticed that I try not to step on
painted lines in parking lots, but that’s about as bad as it gets–I think.) However, I can appreciate his outlook on math and words; I enjoy sitting down and working out crosswords and math problems. He
understands the root of his neuroses, he laughs at them, he has an excellent perspective on just how he is perceived by others–and, indeed, knows that, in time, he will be able to leave these things
behind–but enjoys living in the grid of logic that he has built and the safety it provides.

Overall, the book would probably be rated PG-13, with several expletives and two brief sexual situations. Steve Martin majored in philosophy in college, and in this book, his intelligence and comic timing really shine through. I would recommended The Pleasure of My
Company, especially if you are quirky, romantic, and slightly eccentric.

Einstein’s Miraculous Year by John Stachel

This is a quick review to bring a book to your attention. If you find Einstein’s work fascinating, then you should definitely look into this book.

I skimmed the book (due to limited time) but the book has great content about Einstein and the five papers (they are reprinted in this book) that he published in 1905. If you want to know a bit more about Einstein’s work, then this is a great starting point – if you know are willing to wade through some of the technical details. This isn’t the easiest book, but it is a good book.

A significant portion of the book is dedicated to a biography of Einstein and his views on thinking. That was quite interesting and certainly thought provoking. It also discusses his relationships to women. It would seem that he had regular female friendships and romantic relationships. It probably shouldn’t be surprising, but I found it interesting that Einstein had a flirtatious streak…. Still, this book has lots of fun facts and information about the science that he addressed and the issues surrounding that science. It also discusses the issues in his life that impacted his discoveries.

Overall, a worthwhile book to read if you are interested in Einstein and his papers.

Relic Qest by Robert Cornuke

Do you have a touch of the “conspiracy theorist” in you? I have just finished reading a book that you might like. Even if you aren”t such a theorist, you may very well like reading Relic Quest (Legend Chaser) by Robert Cornuke. This non-fiction book details the quests of Cornuke as he searches for Mt. Sinai and the Ark of the Covenant.

The book is generally well written. It is in a popular style and is completely first person in perspective. This is easy enough for a junior high student to read, but certainly interesting enough for anyone. I love books that challenge the status quo and then do a good job of defending that challenge. Cornuke does just that. He also challenges the belief that the Old Testament is a collection of myths. As a new believer, Cornuke rejected the accuracy of the Old Testament. Then he met Jim Irwin (former astronaut and one of the few men to walk on the moon) and Irwin took Cornuke to find Mt. Sinai. The quests that Cornuke began convinced him of the literal accuracy of the Old Testament.

In the first half of the book, Irwin and Cornuke travel to Egypt to look at the traditional site of Mt. Sinai. Emperor Constantine’s mother, the Saint Helena, determined that this was Mt. Sinai. Unfortunately, the only claim that this mountain has is church tradition. There is no evidence that this mountain was the actual Mt. Sinai. Cornuke eventually tracked an alternative candidate in Saudi Arabia. The problem was simple: Saudi Arabia was completely closed to foreigners and particularly closed to anyone who wanted to investigate this mountain. Cornuke eventually entered the country on forged documents and scouted the mountain under cover of darkness. Cornuke and his partner had to search at night, because the Saudi Arabian army has a permanent encampment around the mountain to keep everyone away. What are they protecting/hiding? Cornuke found many interesting things on that mountain. Whether it is the actual mountain that God gave the 10 Commandments from or not, may never be known, but Cornuke makes an excellent case in favor of this mountain.

In the second half of the book, Cornuke traces the Ark of the Covenant from Israel to Egypt. From Egypt, the trail led him to Ethiopia. Does the Ark still exist? Cornuke’s ideas about the location are not popular in Western society, but he interviewed many people in Israel, Egypt and Ethiopia that all agree to the current location of the Ark. They all say that the Ethiopians are the guardians of the Ark. Is it really in Ethiopia? Cornuke makes a strong case, but he cannot prove it, because the Ethiopians only allow one man to see the Ark. When that man dies, his successor becomes the only man to see that Ark. That man cannot talk to anyone outside of the order of monks who protect the Ark. Still, there is an interesting trail with plenty of evidence. Cornuke talked with many monks and natives (including the president of Ethiopia) who opened up to him for the first time. Never before has anyone been given the information that Cornuke received. He saw ancient silver trumpets ostensibly from the temple that Solomon constructed. He saw an ancient bowl desgined to hold the blood of sacrifices. He saw many fascinating structures of ancient origin. If the ark still exists, then I suspect that Cornuke is correct. If it doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t matter.

Still, this book was quite intriguing. If you are interested in theories, evidences, and the Ark of the Covenant, then you need to pick up this book.

Power of the Night by Chris Walley

If you have read book one of this series (Shadow at Evening), then I probably do not need to write much. You are probably excited at the thought of book two. If you have not read book one, read the review on that novel and get that book first.

Power is much more exciting than the first book. Stranded from the rest of civilization for the next fifty years, the population of Farholme, otherwise known as World’s End, must unite to repel the invasion of the outsiders. War is the last thing Merral and company desire, but can it be prevented? What evil lurks in the crater? How can a civilization that has been at peace for more than ten thousand years wage a war? How can a world, which has never been alone, survive the separation from the Assembly? And can a civilization learning to deal with sin still unite?

In this book, Merral, the great hero, learns the value of honesty and loyalty to his word. He struggles with his relationship to Isabella. Through the lens of their relationship, Merral discovers to his horror the evils of his heart. This is not to imply that anything immoral occurs. Rather, it’s their rebellion to their parent’s authority and their focus on themselves that shocks Merral. Do they have the right to reject their parent’s opinions and wisdom? Walley explores the sinful tendencies of the heart and emphasizes the wickedness of all sin (not just the “big stuff�).

And what are those intelligent bug-like creatures? Are they really sentient? Can they be beaten? Oh, and where are they from? Merral must lead the battle to protect Farholme from invasion.

This book is definitely better than the first. Walley set the stage in book one and now he dives into the plot with abandon. Excellent!