Posts

Showing posts with the label #BookPile

The “Early Church Fathers”: Ancient Christians. Who wrote stuff.

Image
Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament ends with Paul of Tarsus in Rome, awaiting his trial before Nero Claudius Caesar, and encouraging the Christians of Rome. And that’s it. Its author Luke never tells us what came next; most scholars figure Luke didn’t know what came next, ’cause he wrote the book while Paul awaited trial. That’s likely so. But when I was a kid, I wanted to know what happened next. How’d the trial go? And there, my Sunday school teacher was no help; nobody had told her how it went, and she hadn’t bothered to investigate. So I did. Turns out it went well. Paul was released, and went back to traveling the Roman Empire and founding churches. But about a decade later he got arrested during the Neronian persecution (and possibly wrote 2 Timothy while awaiting trial), stood before Nero Caesar again, and this time things didn’t go his way. He was condemned and beheaded. I shared this info with one of my youth pastors, who told me, “Well that probably happ

The books of a Christian’s library.

Image
Birthdays and Christmas frequently mean gift cards, and if you got one you might be thinking, “Hmm, what books ought I buy?” But probably not. People don’t read. Okay you clearly do, if you read TXAB . But most don’t. Christians might read the bible, though many of us consider it a massive struggle; a New Year’s resolution we never get round to completing, and peter out in March along with our gym memberships. We’ll read little else. We don’t want any more books, and figure most Christian books are either poorly-written fiction, repackaged sermons, or light devotional stuff which are no deeper than the stuff we hear Sunday morning. (Which largely ain’t wrong.) So I rarely get asked, “What books should I own?” Most Christians figure if their Christian library contains a bible alone, they’re good. Sometimes more than one bible. Maybe a study bible; maybe a concordance, exhaustive or not; maybe an inexpensive one-volume bible commentary, like Matthew Henry’s. Maybe a prayer

The Word-for-Word Bible Comic: The Gospel of Matthew.

Image
When I was a kid our Sunday school classes had a take-home comic book called Bible-in-Life Pix . ( Now it’s just called Pix . ) As I recall it’d usually contain three stories each week: Something about some missionary or preacher or saint who did something of interest. “Tullus,” a fictional series about the adventures of an ancient Roman Christian who’d share Jesus with pagans. I found it so boring , so I’d skip it. Excerpts from The Picture Bible , which is the only part I really cared about—and collected. ’Cause it’s bible. But a comic book! My only beef with The Picture Bible was it wasn’t the whole bible. Stories were abbreviated. Some stories were skipped altogether. Sometimes for very good reason; most of Judges really isn’t for children! But you know how literalist children can be: If you present ’em a comic-book bible, they want the whole bible. All of it. Genesis to maps. My other beef with The Picture Bible came much later, once I majored in biblical his

Before you go book shopping…

Image
This Christmas, some of you are getting gift cards or gift certificates. I regularly get Starbucks cards—which is great, ’cause that’s exactly what I want. I’ll definitely use ’em. Yes, I’m at Starbucks as I write this. Anyway, some of these gift cards will be for bookstores. Maybe Amazon, maybe not. And as Christians who wanna get religious about our relationships with Jesus, some of us are likely thinking of buying Christian books and resources, and stuff that’ll help us get better at Christianity. I know I do. And, when I was newly devout, I wasted a bunch of money on stuff that really didn’t do any of those things. Likely so will you. We all do. Our zealousness overtakes our wallets. But hold on there, little buckaroo: Don’t get all fired up to ride off an’ lasso some steer, ’cause you might just wind up with some bull. If you go to a brick ’n mortar Christian bookstore, first thing you’re gonna notice is they sell an awful lot of “Jesus junk.” And bibles; most of their

My favorite End Times novel.

Image
And no, you’re never gonna find it on ChristianBook.com. Years ago, I was complaining about one of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’s Left Behind novels. Don‘t remember which one, but I do remember my complaint—for once—wasn’t about the terrible Darbyist theology, but about the poorly-developed characters. Caricatures of characters, really. The fellow I was ranting to was a bit of a Left Behind fan, so he didn’t appreciate my critique… although he admitted the writing “felt rushed.” There, I don’t agree. My beef wasn’t with how fast the Left Behind novels were cranked out. Some authors only need a month, start to finish, to produce a book. But they produce three-dimensional characters, whereas the Left Behind books produced melodramatic heroes and villains. “Well fine,” he said, “what’s your favorite End Times book?” “Easy,” I said, “ The Stand .” Yep, this book. When I realized I meant the Stephen King novel , he was outraged. Which I get. After all, King uses swears in h

The “Wild at Heart” kind of guy.

Image
Nine years ago a friend, who should’ve known better, gave me a copy of John Eldredge’s Wild At Heart as a Christmas gift. The book was all the rage among Christian men five years before. At the time (’cause I tried to get rid of it on Amazon) it was going for 20 cents. Betcha she found it on sale. People buy books like Wild at Heart to inspire the men in their lives. That’d include men who don’t read. Consequently there are a lot of men who own a dusty copy of Wild at Heart , and mine’s pretty dusty too, ’cause I refuse to read it again. I’d read it years before. It wasn’t my copy, which is the only reason I didn’t throw it across the room in disgust. Nope, I don’t care for it. Here’s why. Eldredge’s profoundly misguided thesis is constructed around certain Happy Premises. (I stole this term from Bowfinger , which I watched again recently. Loony self-help ideas tend to gravitate together in my mind, whether fictional or not.) HAPPY PREMISE #1. Man needs to be wild, fre

Back to the Book Pile.

Image
I know; books aren’t everyone’s thing. That’s why, according to Christ Almighty’s stats, last month’s Book Pile article was the least-read thing last month. The public has spoken, and it’s a resounding, “Good Lord, Leslie, you write 1,000-word essays and you expect me to throw books on that? What’re you trying to do, kill me?” Followed by a quick Netflix binge, just to get the foul taste out of their system. (Shudder.) Reading. Ugh. But for the tiny minority who wants to know what literature I’m plowing through, ’cause they figure it’ll give them some insight into my odd little mind, here y’go. Glean what you can from it. This month: The Last Days According to Jesus by R.C. Sproul. Did God Kill Jesus? by Tony Jones. Imagine Heaven by John Burke. If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis by Alister McGrath. Next month, more books. ’Cause I’m gonna keep reading… and gonna keep ranting about the stuff I read, whether it’s the obligatory book-review stuff, or the things I read fo

Introducing the Book Pile.

Image
There’s this well-known pastor in my denomination. I’ve heard him preach, and found it impressive. When I found out he had a blog, I decided to subscribe to it. At the time it was mostly things he’d discovered in the process of writing his sermons, and the occasional rant about his politics. But two years ago it turned into nothing but book reviews. Y’see, once your blog starts racking up the viewers, book publishers find out about it, and start offering you books for review. They hope your readers might wanna become their readers. And they’re not wrong; I’ve come across some really interesting books through some of my favorite blogs. So when they contacted me, I figured why not. But lest you worry, Christ Almighty! is not gonna turn into a book blog, like that pastor’s site did. He began with books on Christian discipleship, branched into novels (and his novels aren’t my cup of tea), and doesn’t bother to write about Jesus anymore. I really need to unsubscribe from his blog