November 17, 2017

Book Review: On the Way Home

On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894  (Little House #10)On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894 by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My wife read the Little House books to the kids and I this Spring and Summer, leaving me with a real hunger to learn more about the life of the Ingalls/Wilder clan. This little diary (with introduction and postscript by Rose Wilder Lane) was very enjoyable, just to see what life on the trail from South Dakota to Missouri would be like 120 years ago.

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November 14, 2017

Books Review: The Little House Books

The Little House Collection (Little House, #1-9)The Little House Collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My wife read these books aloud to our family this past Summer, and these will certainly be books we return to. Some people are disappointed to find how much of the books are fictionalized material, but they are absolutely delightful stories. And while obviously not history per se, they do introduce young minds to a world of covered wagons, washboards, and hard survival which might otherwise be hard for iPad toting toddlers to imagine.

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November 11, 2017

Book Review: Soul Survivor

Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the ChurchSoul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church by Philip Yancey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting book. I always enjoy Yancey; his probing, questioning, journalistic style is very reflective in a reflexive age. In this book he walks through the lives and writings of thirteen individuals who've helped him navigate his own life, and the narrative weaves between the various subjects of the chapters and his own story. Very enjoyable.

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August 30, 2017

Book Review: Walden

I remember reading Walden quickly in high school because it seemed like a good thing to do. I decided to listen to the audio book via Librivox because it seemed like an enjoyable thing to do.

I was very pleased with certain parts of Walden. Thoreau's descriptions of his days, of the landscape, etc, are most enjoyable. Many of his critiques of modern man still apply with equal accuracy today. But as to his positive philosophiziing, his transcendentalism just doesn't cut the mustard. And he spends far too much time on it. He also is not quite the poet he apparently finds himself to be.

On the whole, I think it's a book worth reading, and I in no way regret listening to it. Gordon Mackenzie is, I believe, the fellow who read the version I listened to, and his reading style was thoroughly enjoyable.

August 15, 2017

Christianity and Transgenderism

Rod Dreher has a very worth-reading interview with Andrew T. Walker, author of the new book, God and the Transgender Debate. One especially provocative and insightful quote from Walker:

Children who express gender confusion are now encouraged to explore it. Think about that for a second: We are putting decisions that have a lifetime of consequence into the hands of children unable to do algebra let alone understand the ramifications of their gender.

August 09, 2017

Book Review: Black Elk Speaks

Black Elk SpeaksBlack Elk Speaks by Black Elk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started this book a long time ago. I slowly poked my way through, and thoroughly benefitted from evey step of my pokey way. The extensive footnotes and endnotes, as well as the 10 appendecies, are helpful in pulling apart Neihardt's poetry from Black Elk's actual narrative. As a Christian, I have a lot of questions about the origin of Black Elk's visions. And how reliable one man's memory of events occuring some thirty to sixty years earlier can be thought to be is, well, questionable.

That said, this is a book worth reading. The penetrating criticism of modern life (circa 1930) provided in places by Neihardt and in oter by Black Elk himself, is worthy of pondering. The poetry of what Neihardt writes is simply haunting in places. And one does become more familiar with the story of the Lakota and their dealings with the U.S. Government.

I plan to revisit this book in the future.

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July 26, 2017

Book Review: Martin Luther

Martin LutherMartin Luther by Martin E. Marty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marty's short treatment of Luther is certainly a worthwhile read. Coming from a more liberal Lutheran position, Dr. Marty is never enamored by Dr. Luther, but at the same time he writes with a sympathy and understanding of the historical context which is both admirable and enjoyable.

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July 19, 2017

Book Review: Unparalleled

Unparalleled: How Christianity's Uniqueness Makes It CompellingUnparalleled: How Christianity's Uniqueness Makes It Compelling by Jared C. Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book I've read by Wilson, but after listening to a number of conference lectures by him I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did. If I had one problem it was the number of pop culture references that I think will date the book fairly quickly. Otherwise, I think this is a clear, useful, compelling introduction to the Christian faith.

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July 11, 2017

Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in CrisisHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a book I picked up after reading Rod Dreher rave about it on his blog. I'm thankful I did so. I'd encourage you to do the same.

There were so many things in this book that resonated with my experiences growing up in a poor, working class white family in North Idaho. Not everything in Vance's Ohio/Kentucky hillbilly experience was familiar to me (praise God); but the descriptions of community breakdown and multi-generation despair rang true.

Vance writes with a brutal honesty and keen insight into the flaws of his people, yet he manages to do so in a tone that is sympathetic and compassionate, rather than scornful or arrogant. As I read this book I felt at alternating times happiness, despair, gratitude, anger, enjoyment, and grief. Both for Vance as a person, and for his people. For myself, and for my people. Perhaps the best single word to describe this book would be: haunting.

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June 12, 2017

Commonplace Monday

"The incarnation of God is proof that the human body is an essential component of [the image of God]."
Herman Bavink

Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

About Me

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @, you can reach me @