. Books, Reviews, Misc

Book Reviews: I’ve RE-read 10 Excellent Ones Recently (List 1)

Here are brief reviews of books I’ve chosen to RE-read in the last two or three years.  That means they’re worth a lot to me, because there’s a bunch I still need to read for the first time.

Have a few brief book reviews!  Here, in alphabetical order by authors’ last names, is the first half of the list. (See the 2nd half.)
Brief reviews of books I've recently reread.

  1. Frank Andrews. The Art and Practice of Loving

[reviews: Goodreads, Amazon]

In a recent on-line query as to the “best 20th Century theologian” I listed Frank Andrews.  He was educated as a physicist and has strong credentials there.  He’s not formally a theologian of any stripe. This is apparently his only book on this type of topic.  But to me at least it is priceless.  He thought about these issues, and observed human behavior and experience, very attentively for years.

I call it theology because it does NOT deal in the academic, speculative,  denominational, controversy-laden wordiness (neo-scholasticism) that often passes for “theology.”  Instead he goes directly to the core of what Jesus (and the apostles and prophets as well) actually emphasized – love.  They did, you know.  He seems irreligious; he does not derive the priority of love from those Biblical or other Scriptural sources, but from actual experience, observation, and thought in this real world.  What if we learned to actually LOVE people, earth, life, all of creation, even society and our nations?  It may massage your grey matter a bit.  But that’s not all bad.

  1. Richard Bauckham. The Theology of the Book of Revelation

[Goodreads, Amazon]

160 very substantial pages. A highly reputed New Testament scholar does a rigorous treatment of “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”  – the last book of the Bible.  It is certainly a high Christology in that it sees Jesus as the central personality of history, now and future.  It is strongly anti-imperialist, anti-domination, seeing The Revelation as a deliberately constructed underground critique of Rome and all the economic, military, social, etc. domination that the empire at the end of the 1st Century represented – and that, by very logical extension, all empires represent.

  1. Richard Bauckham.  Jesus: A Very Short Introduction

[Goodreads, Amazon]

The Oxford University Press series.  This is just simply excellent.  And for a theology / Bibllical studies book it really is short. 😊

  1. Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory Boyd.  The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition

[Goodreads, Amazon]

I’ve re-done the first 130 pages plus dips several times.  It’s rigorous in several ways.  Very strong content, very strong reviews.  A bit of a project to read.  Its purpose is to show that the Jesus stories really are worthy of respectful attention even as they stand.  Everything does not have to be explained away.  Quite convincing to me  The Introduction as a summary is worth the price of the book.

  1. Eknath Easwaran.  Gandhi the Man: How One Man Changed Himself to Change the World

[Goodreads, Amazon]

Not a chronological recital, though the chronology is there.  This is a highly recommended view of the inner man from a Hindu perspective.  I’ve read it maybe 4 or 5 times.  Easwaran came to the US as a Fulbright scholar, taught at Berkeley, founded a meditation center in northern California, and published a raft of books. (There’s a quote from Easwaran at the end of this post about Silence.)

  1. David Bentley Hart.  That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell and Universal Salvation

[Goodreads, Amazon]

A strong rejection of the long-standing traditional Christian teachings about “Hell,” traditions that are not actually strong before, say, 400 C.E.  Very rigorous philosophically, theologically, Biblically, and logically.  It’s good mental training! For that reason and especially for the substance of his arguments it has been well worth my second reading and I’ll probably decide to just turn around and go through it again.

I mentioned it to a friend recently who complained that Hart is so arrogant he nearly stopped reading.  Well, there is that flavor for sure, because of his rigor and his confidence. But there’s real appreciation here for the beauty, the truly Universal Love, the God who actually IS love whom the author finds in the Bible. That’s delightful

  1. B H Liddell Hart.  Why Don’t We Learn From History?

[Goodreads, Amazon]

I suspect I’ve read this four times – most recently last year.  He was a very highly respected military historian.  This work was at the end of a long, productive, realistic, and very thoughtful life.  His son worked to get it into print.  It’s short and inexpensive!  Simple answer – we lie to ourselves about history, both while it’s happening and when we write about it.  (There are a couple of quotes from Hart near the end of this article on books for ministers.)

  1. Tony or Anne Hillerman  (no specific review)

[Goodreads, Amazon]

Fiction, but fun and a bit therapeutic.  I recently reread 3 or 4 of Tony’s novels of the Navajo Tribal Police, and also Anne’s first few.  (Also watched a couple of times the new video series based on them, “Dark Winds”.)

  1. James Hollis.  Living an Examined Life, and Through the Dark Wood: Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life

[Goodreads, Amazon]

Short chapters, very wise guidance from this much-published Jungian therapist.  I’ve reread these two in the last couple of years.

  1. Ronald F Inglehart.  Religion’s Sudden Decline

[Goodreads, Amazon]

Ties the decline of religion to economic (and social and political) experience in various settings.  Focuses on changes recent or under way.  The last half I especially appreciated.

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