Sunday, June 28, 2015

Christian Fiction Review: Dead Dog Like Me

Five stars for a wonderful and engaging story of redemption. Two stars for some big "no-no's" in style and more. "Dead Dog Like Me" by Max Davis is nothing like its back cover description. When mega-church pastor Nick tries to commit suicide, his trip back in time as Mephibosheth in the Bible lasts only two or three chapters in the book - and they're short, easy-to-read chapters. The rest of the book is about Nick's struggles with his inner demons over his bad relationship with his wife and his son's suicide. The story and characters themselves are interesting and compelling. Still, Davis has several small typos in his writing, his narrative style is plain, some of the situations and the time they take are unrealistic, and Davis uses parentheses and foreign languages in some odd style choices. The real unforgivable sin for Davis as a writer, however, is that more than halfway into the book he switches from first person point of view (as Nick) to third person point of view (as Nick's wife, Abbi). And the third person doesn't last long or take much space in the book, either. Worst of all, in one section he changes in the same section from third person as Abbi to third person as Nick! This would be a really fabulous book if Max Davis could just decide on one style of writing and change the Mephibosheth episodes to dreams or looks at the Bible rather than time travel.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nonfiction Review: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality

Kevin DeYoung gives a historical and Biblical view on homosexuality in his short, quick and easy read, "What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?" DeYoung addresses popular liberal arguments and controversial Bible passages from a strong, reasoned conservative position. His insights on God's attributes (love vs. judgment) and explanations of misunderstood histories are particularly interesting. However, DeYoung's aim is to address what the Christian perspective should be, so his book does miss a few opportunities to defend his case. A discussion of whether a homosexual can be a Christian would have fit well. And I would have liked to have read more about homosexual parenting (DeYoung implies that marriage is solely for procreation - which makes either a misunderstood or faulty argument), as well as responses to liberal arguments that compare straight to homosexual relationships (i.e. What is the difference between desire and companionship?).

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nonfiction Review: Redeeming Philosophy

"Redeeming Philosophy: A God-Centered Approach to the Big Questions" is basically a systematic theology for Philosophy. Unfortunately, there is nothing basic about this book. Although there are a few small insights about the Trinity and non-Christian worldviews, the author gets caught up in the complicated details of "perspectivalism," "the one and the many," triads (I make it a point to not use a triad here), and giving names to the obvious. By the time the topic actually becomes interesting, chapters are shortened and explanations become confusing. It takes a lot of concentration and patience to read this book.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fiction Review: Empire's End by Jerry B. Jenkins

Jerry B. Jenkins' "Empire's End" deserves three stars just for being slightly more readable (and less painful) than previous Jenkins efforts on fictionalizing the Bible. His version of Saul/Paul's story maintains interest, but feels more like the story of any other early Christian. It just doesn't feel like the Paul of the Bible - this Paul keeps a journal and has a romance. Furthermore, Jenkins misses several opportunities to delve deep into emotions, motivations and history. His descriptions are plain, and because he quotes directly from the Bible, characters' speech habits are inconsistent. When Paul is in the wilderness, Jenkins has God teaching Paul word for word from the New Testament, which strips the NT books of their historical context and style as authored by man (inspired by God). Paul repeats his conversion story a lot, and it becomes tiresome to read again and again. And Jenkins inserts a modern, relativistic sensibility into Paul's conversations. The ending is sudden and begs for a sequel. Again, this book is far better than past books by Jenkins, but the author has a long way to go to become a notable writer worth the reader's time.

*I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.