Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Hull Zero Three

Posted: June 10, 2014 in Books

I used to feel guilty about not finishing a book. Not any more. Some years ago I read a book on reading (kinda meta) which, among other things, advocated for giving oneself the right to not finish books. The method recommended was to subtract ones age from one-hundred and read that far into the book. If the book hasn’t grabbed your attention by then, drop it and move on. Part of the idea is the older you get, the less time you have to waste on literature which doesn’t speak to you. (It also means that when you reach 100, you have permission to judge a book by its cover.)

That brings me to Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear. I read a great review on it and noticing it was in my local public library I checked it out. I’ve read other books by Bear and enjoyed most of them. This one just didn’t move me. It’s probably just me, and the place I am in life right now. I’ve found that lately I’ve enjoyed more action/adventure (be it fantasy, sci-fi, cliffhanger, etc.) and cozy mysteries. This book is neither. I really wanted to like it (I pressed on to page 223), but it’s just too strange for me right now.

I shall be returning it to my library and trying another.

A Look at Old Man’s War

Posted: May 20, 2013 in Books

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The other week I read an interesting book called Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. It reminded me a bit of Starship Troopers (the novel, not the film) as it is written in first person and tells the story of a Colonial Defense Force recruit’s journey from civilian to seasoned veteran. It lacks the political analysis of Heinlein’s book and adds some interesting twists of its own.

Earth is a backwater planet. It may be the origin point of humanity in the galaxy, but it’s not the central power in human policy. When we join the main character he is seventy-five years old and leaving Earth to join the military. We travel along with him as he discovers just how the CDF can turn back the clock and enable an old man to become a soldier. That’s just the tip of the character’s ignorance iceberg. The Colonial Union has kept earth in the dark regarding “what’s out there”. Once you leave earth, you can’t come back nor can you call or write.

I really enjoyed the book as a fine space romp. The first person perspective allows the reader to discover the universe along with the protagonist. Scalzi did a pretty good job of building the world, giving background information, etc. in a way that didn’t bog the story down. The world he presents in this book and it’s sequels was interesting enough that I began to incorporate different bits into my sci-fi role-playing game world. We’ll see how they play out.

Getting Ready to Watch Game of Thrones

Posted: September 28, 2012 in Books, Film/TV

Getting ready to watch Disk 1, Season 1 of Game of Thrones.  I’m a fan of the books, but haven’t seen any of the shows yet.  I’m usually very critical of books translated to film so I’ve been hesitant to watch this.  We’ll see how it goes.

Errors in Reprint

Posted: September 3, 2012 in Books

I’ve been reading thought 1st edition AD&D reprint that wizards released. Despite their claim to have changed nothing but the cover there are indeed differences. WotC introduced typographical errors which are absent in the original TSR release.

Unimpressed with James Rollins

Posted: August 4, 2012 in Books

I’ve been reading “Map of Bones: A Sigma Force Novel” by James Rollins. While I enjoy a good conspiracy theory novel as much as the next guy, it positively chaps my hide when fiction authors make truth claims at the start of their novels. It’s sort of like someone saying, “Trust me”; it makes me automatically mistrust them (an impression which usually turns out to be correct).

At the start of this book Rollins makes certain claims regarding the accuracy and factualness of artwork described, historical trail, etc. The man can’t even get names of Biblical books correct, much less the content of Jewish and Christian scripture (and why didn’t his editor catch this). While Rollins never explicitly claimed his description of Biblical content was factual he did state, “The historical trail revealed within these pages is accurate.” Yet in describing this “historical trail” he misquotes, twists and outright fabricates portions of Jewish and Christian scripture. His understanding of early Christian history is also seriously flawed. Half a day in any decent public library will reveal this.

I’ll confess that I’m probably so annoyed because of the author’s mistreatment and misrepresentation of Jewish and Christian history. A large part of that reason, though, is because of the way in which I became a follower of Christ. While I was raised in the Christian Church, I rebelled. No one, not even my closest family, knows the extent of my rebellion against God and that’s just as well. God knows, I know and He has forgiven me. The germane point here is that I committed myself to Christ only after exploring and satisfying myself as to the accuracy of Jewish and Christian scripture and researching early Christian history. Having come at it as a skeptic, searching for a reason to doubt, it positively pisses me off to see someone muddying the waters of history either by malice or ignorance. Christian scripture presented honestly is itself enough of a stumbling block. It admits this. Jesus said his teachings were hard and not everyone would be able to accept them.

I don’t have a problem with the story itself. It’s actually an interesting read. My issue is with Rollins’ truth claims. The Indiana Jones movies completely butcher Jewish, Christian and Hindu history and religion, but they’re still fun to watch. Missing from these films is any claim the factualness of the history presented. Mr. Rollins ought to stick with entertainment and leave off misinformation.

Well there’re my two cents.

Book Plug: Crazy Love

Posted: August 1, 2012 in Books, Faith

I just finished reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Amazingly challenging and convicting book. Seldom do I run across a book I wish I could have everyone in my church read, but this is one. Every so often we need someone to say “The Emperor has no clothes.” This book helped me realize how complacent and comfortable I have become. It’s caused me to re-read scripture and face some of my eisegetical flaws. It challenged may faith, and what’s more, the practice of my faith on so many levels.

I heard about the book some years ago, but never felt compelled to read it. I got it recently because the ebook version was available for free from Amazon and Vyrso (so I got both – hey it was free). Now I wish I’d read it sooner. And I’d pay money for it (which is saying a lot).  In fact, I’m going to get a copy for our church library on my own dime. It really is a must read.

When I was younger, just entering my master’s work, I didn’t much care for Matthew Henry’s Commentary.  It wasn’t the archaic language; my first real Bible, when I was merely ten or eleven, was a King James at my own request (though I now use the ESV predominantly).  My objections weren’t primarily theological.  To be sure my theology was pretty messed up then, resembling a bad tasting casserole made from all the left over bits and pieces thrown in by professors, pastors and cultural icons (many well meaning, some even knowledgable). My issue with MH was that I simply didn’t get him. I understood the words, but not what he was getting at.

Now, after almost fourteen years of ministry I confess that Matthew Henry is one of my favorite commentators.  Again, not for the language (though it is beautiful, I am by no means a KJV only guy) nor for the theology (I don’t always agree with his insights, but as Dr. Robert Stein has observed, if your criteria for a good theologian is someone you always agree with, then the only good theologian you’ll ever know is yourself).

I love Matthew Henry’s work because it comes from a pastor’s heart.  I study his works not so much to discover something to teach or preach to my flock, but to receive edification and discipline from a trusted mentor.

As something of a side note, while I do have MH’s unabridged work available in my Bible software, I also own the collection pictured above and prefer to read from and make notes on the printed page.