Adult fiction, Book Reviews
by Tim Downs 2003 / 371 pages Did you know that insects have been known to help solve murder investigations? One of the first recorded cases of an...
Adult fiction, Book Reviews
The White Rose Resists: a novel of the German students who defied Hitler
The problematic push for electric vehicles (EVs)
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the way of the future. Maybe you aren’t convinced, but our “higher-ups” are – political leaders in Canada, and in ...
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Economics
Economics in One Lesson
by Henry Hazlitt 1946 / 193 pages Universal basic income, a four-day work week, and government-funded daycare are just a few big-ticket proposals that are gaining momentum nationally, and even within our own church circles. All these proposals boil down to getting more while doing less. Promises have been made that middle and lower class families will not have to pay a cent more in taxes but the wealthy 1% will do all the heavy lifting. In Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt argues that all these policies can’t deliver what they promise. He argues that many of these proposals only focus on a special interest group in the present and fail to consider how the proposal will affect the general populace both now and in the future. For example, when a government announces a multitude of public “make-work” projects, at first glance these projects seem like a good idea, or at least seem like they couldn’t do any harm. The citizens get: An employment opportunity Tangible infrastructure But Hazlitt warns that although these benefits look attractive, there are many indirect consequences that are not considered. First, someone must pay for these employment opportunities. For every dollar spent on a public work project, a dollar will be taken away from a taxpaying citizen. Not only are the citizens as a whole worse off, there is now less money for them to create new jobs. Second, now that the infrastructure exists it is easy to assume that without that piece of infrastructure the country would be worse off – having a bridge would seem obviously better than not having a bridge. But in reality, one thing has been created instead of others. Instead of the government-built bridge there could’ve been citizen-built houses, or cars, or dresses and coats. All of these items are unrealized because the bridge is now standing. Although Hazlitt wrote this over 70 years ago, many of the issues he deals with are just as relevant as ever. We should be wary of governmental promises to ease our daily tasks. Our sinful nature yearns for an easy life; that is why these promises are so alluring to us. However, as Christians we are not called to an easy life. That does not mean that we should always seek out the hard way, but we shouldn’t become entangled in false promises of an easy way. To get Economics in One Lesson as a free pdf book, click here....
Book Reviews, Teen fiction
The Secret Code
by Coen Hartman 1980 / 195 pages Hank and Dick are two average teenagers who dive into the deep end of adventure and espionage. The boys’ adventure begins when they agree to help a produce grocer hold down his shop while he picks some forgotten asparagus from his warehouse. While managing the shop, a customer gives the boys an envelope with instructions to deliver it to the grocer when he returns. Due to the boys' forgetfulness and curiosity, the envelope is not delivered to the grocer until after they have copied the message it contained. This message, much to their delight, was a secret code! After some attempted decoding the boys are well on their way to one of the most thrilling and dangerous times of their young lives. I had a great time reading this novel and would recommend it to any reader twelve and up. The pacing and suspense of the story made it very difficult for me to put the book down. I appreciated that this book is clearly written by a Christian author. Both boys recognize sin and grapple with their own guilt. Another very unique aspect of this novel is that the secret code is actually a numerical code that the reader can attempt to crack on their own before it is solved. One caution: do not read the back-cover blurb! It does a great job summarizing the plot but gives away about half of the story. Canadians can find this at ReformedChristianBooks.com....
Adult fiction, Book Reviews
Father Brown and the Ten Commandments: Selected Mystery Stories
by G.K. Chesterton 2017 / 249 pages An heiress of a large fortune has fallen to her death, and suicide seems the obvious explanation. But then along comes a short man in clerical dress with an explanation that shocks everyone. This short man is Father Brown, Roman Catholic priest, who doubles as an amateur detective. Brown often finds success in his investigations because of his perceptive understanding of human nature. Brown also uses his unimposing character and position to gain valuable information from witnesses who see him as only a priest. This information, often overlooked by even the reader, helps Father Brown bring the criminal to justice. Brown was a creation of G.K. Chesterton, who was Catholic himself, but whose apologetic writings are much appreciated by Protestants too. His Father Brown character has been featured in over 50 short stories. This collection of mysteries is focused around the Ten Commandments, taking on the commandments one by one. I enjoyed all of them – each story is just 20-30 pages long, which is great if you don’t want to commit to reading a novel. And Chesterton still manages to build enough suspense to leave the reader shocked by the criminal and their motive. Two cautions: first, G.K. Chesterton wrote over one hundred years ago so his vocabulary may be less accessible to younger readers. Some of Chesterton’s characters use racial slurs (Agar Rock in The Scandal of Father Brown) and there are a couple uses of “salty” language. I have never been a huge fan of mystery novels but found myself thoroughly enjoying each story. I look forward to picking up another collection of Father Brown mysteries....
Adult fiction, Book Reviews
The Battle for Seattle
by Douglas Bond 2016 / 303 pages Even Canadians have probably heard of Paul Revere’s daring midnight ride to Lexington, Massachusetts…but have you heard of the “Paul Revere of the Puget Sound”? That’s who we meet in Douglas Bond’s book Battle for Seattle, where we experience the conflict between the American settlers and the Native American tribes of the Puget Sound, which is an inlet off the Pacific Ocean in northwest Washington State. This historical fiction follows the life of William “Bill” Tidd, one of the early settlers of area. Although some local Native tribes are friendly towards Tidd and the others settlers, not all are as amiable. Tidd begins hearing rumors of a coming war between settlers and Natives. In an attempt to stop this war before it can begin, Tidd joins up with a local group called the Eaton Rangers who are tasked with capturing the warring Native chief. After being betrayed by one of the Rangers and ambushed by Natives, Tidd must ride through danger to ask for backup, beginning his role as a dispatch rider in the Puget Sound Indian War. Although Tidd had his fair share of daring rides during the war, the title of the “Paul Revere of the Puget Sound” does not fall to him. I’m not going to give it away; you’ll have to read Bond’s book to find out who really holds the title. The reader is able to follow Tidd in more than his adventures as a dispatch rider, but also in his internal struggle with faith. After the deaths of his parents, Tidd slammed the door on God, but due to the evangelism of some close friends, we see that door starting to creak open. Although Bond does a terrific job weaving a cohesive narrative of William Tidd, it must be noted that this is a fictional novel and not a history. The major events are true but much of the narrative and some characters have been imagined to allow this story to be told....
Book Reviews, Teen fiction
The Hobgoblins: a novel on John Bunyan
by Douglas Bond 2020 / 268 pages There are people who carry out such heinous acts and live such immoral lives that we’d think, surely they could never be saved. And in 17th-century England, many would have thought that about the young John Bunyan. Yes, this is the same Bunyan who penned the most famous Christian allegory in history, Pilgrim’s Progress. But the man he became is not how he began. In Bond’s remarkable Hobgoblins, we are transported back to Bunyan’s early years. His friend Harry Wylie is the narrator, and was one of Bunyan’s partners-in-crime, however unwilling. Wylie witnessed firsthand Bunyan’s immoral lifestyle: from stealing boats to blasphemous tirades, Wylie was there for it all. It was no doubt a shock for Wylie to watch this same man move from an unsaved blasphemer to: a fledging Christian who was utterly convinced that his past sinful life disqualified him from God’s saving grace. a despairing Christian convinced that his wife’s death was a punishment from God. a comforted Christian realizing that Christ’s blood covers all. a bold preacher spreading the Good News a pastor imprisoned for spreading the true Gospel Bunyan had many opportunities to gain his freedom by promising the authorities he’d stop preaching, but each time Bunyan refused. This refusal resulted in over a decade in prison apart from his wife and four young children. Would we have the same convictions? Although the author does a terrific job weaving a cohesive narrative of Bunyan’s life, readers should note this is a fictionalized history. The major events are true but much of the narrative has been imagined to allow this story to be told. I really enjoyed this book. Bunyan’s life is a reminder to all Christians that however heinous or wicked someone may be, they are not beyond the saving power of Christ. Bunyan, however unworthy he may have thought himself to be, was one of Christ’s lost sheep that was found and returned to the fold....
Adult fiction, Book Reviews
Letters Along The Way, from a Senior Saint to a Junior Saint
by D.A. Carson & John Woodbridge 2022 / 373 pages Christians have long had the chance, in C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, to eavesdrop on the correspondence between two demons, one young, and the other a senior demon intent on passing along the knowledge necessary to lead Christians to damnation. Now, in Letters Along The Way, we have the opportunity to read the mail exchanged between two saints, both intent on spreading the gospel to the world. We can follow along, by way of their correspondence, as senior saint Paul Woodson mentors Tim Journeyman on the path from unbeliever to church pastor. Like Lewis, Carson and Woodbridge cover a broad range of topics. Reading straight through will allow you to fully experience the transformation of Journeyman. However you could also just pick and choose different letters to get a wealth of knowledge on that particular subject, ranging from pastoral training to communism – a helpful index highlights which letters talk about what subjects. (The reader should be mindful of some theological differences resulting from the authors’ Baptist point-of-view.) Reading this cover to cover may be a slog for some, and they may prefer reading just this letter or that. Others will enjoy following the whole journey God is taking this fledgling Christian on, molding him into His instrument to spread the gospel. Readers may see parts of Journeyman reflected in themselves and may well form deep bonds with their new friend and mentor, Paul Woodson. Find a link to a free pdf version of the 1993 edition here....
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews
Strange New World
How thinkers and activists redefined identity and sparked the Sexual Revolution by Carl R. Trueman 2022 / 187 pages Just how strange is this new world we live in? Well, we’ve seen: A father jailed because he used the “wrong” pronouns to refer to his gender-confused daughter Pastors arrested for holding worship services while thousands marched unmasked to protest alleged systemic racism Elementary school students sent to the principal’s office for “misgendering” their classmates Boys taught that their natural rambunctiousness is an example of toxic masculinity and must be despised and replaced with more feminine traits. The world is in the throes of madness, but to assume that there is no method to the madness would be naive. In Carl Trueman’s, Strange New World, (a concise version of his earlier The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self), we take a swift trip from the Enlightenment to the 21st century to review the radical thinkers responsible for the madness of today’s identity politics. Under identity politics an individual is only as important and valued as the racial, social, or sexual group he is part of. A black transgender woman would be near the top of this hierarchy, deserving of society’s sympathy and support while a straight white male is at the bottom, deserving of ridicule because of the privilege he must have based on the color of his skin. People are no longer judged by their character but rather by their lived experience and the history of oppression or privilege their “group” has experienced. As Trueman details, the problems associated with identity politics can be traced back to our notion of the self. For all of history, we recognized that if our inner feelings differed with the physical reality around us it was important to realign our feelings to that reality. However, bringing the mind into line with the physical body has, in the space of only a few years, been rejected in favor of bringing the body into line with the mind. Toleration was once… well, tolerated. But no longer. Now full acceptance of the latest new view is expected, with severe repercussions to those who do not. How does our culture justify that severity? Well, if the mind is said to be the driving force behind reality, then words have much more significance – words themselves can now marginalize and cause damage to the person. The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” needs to be adjusted to something along the lines of “sticks and stone may break my bones, but your words are also violent.” Many institutions are quickly writing laws that carry punishments for inflicting emotional damages to those in marginalized groups. What Trueman makes plain is that although this shift towards identity politics has occurred recently, thinkers such as Rousseau, Marx, and Freud long ago laid the foundation on which identity politics now stand. Identity politics is not some passing trend but is rooted deeply in our culture’s psyche. Seeing it widely embraced could lead Christians to despair. However, as Trueman reminds the reader, Christ has promised His church that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. God is sovereign and His will shall be done, on earth as it is in heaven. With this hope we can continue to eagerly await the coming marriage feast of the Lamb. This book is a must-read for older teenagers and adults alike (and ranks in my personal top 5). Understanding the history of the ideas that led to this moment gives us the power to resist our culture’s siren call into identity politics, and will better equip us to sympathize with those who haven’t resisted, and have been shipwrecked....
Book Reviews, Teen non-fiction
Do Hard Things: A teenage rebellion against low expectations
by Alex and Brett Harris 2008/ 241 pages Did you know that the term “teenager” has been around less than 100 years? It’s only a recent development that our culture has come to expect the teen years to be a mystical period of life completely disassociated from adulthood. We’ve come to expect so little of these years. Do you have this same view of the teenage years? Alex and Brett Harris – just teenagers when they authored Do Hard Things – want to change this perception. Instead of a time of relaxation, they present the teenage years as an opportunity for strict training in order to set the direction of young people's lives and build towards a rewarding future. The best way to train for adulthood, they maintain, is to do hard things during the teenage years. The brothers emphasize that in order to do truly hard things we must lean on God for strength and reject the Devil’s lie that God is not powerful enough to help us do what is outside our comfort zone. I’d strongly encourage any teenager or young adult to give this book a shot. If it leaves you wanting more, take a look at Start Here, where Alex and Brett answer some frequently asked questions that can arise during the process of doing hard things. Read an excerpt of the first 25 pages here. You can also download a free 15-page study guide. And you can read the first two chapters of "Start Here."...
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Internet
The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place
by Andy Crouch 2017/ 220 pages Did you just binge multiple seasons of that show everyone is talking about over the weekend? Do you feel guilty for doing it? Do often lay on the couch and scroll Instagram and TikTok from the time you get home until you crawl into bed? Does your family see the back of your phone more than your face? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to read The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch. Crouch’s approach to technology is “almost almost Amish.” He does appreciate the many ways that technology has improved all aspects of our lives, but is wary of the “easy-everywhere” lifestyle that technology offers, especially within our homes. Technology may give us unlimited access to information, but it does not make us wise. It gives us a platform to speak, but it does not give us the conviction and character to act. Wisdom and courage can only be nurtured and grown with the help of our family, and of course the Church. Worship is the most important thing we can do, as Deuteronomy 6 reminds us, that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might. True worship with our brother and sisters in Christ calls us out of an “easy-everything” world back to “the burden of bearing the image of God” which brings us ultimate joy. Technology can derail this by addicting us to instant gratification. Crouch challenges readers to 10 commitments to detox from this “easy-everywhere” lifestyle, a detox my family and I have just begun.I would encourage anyone struggling with putting technology in its proper place to read this book. While not everyone lives in a single-family household, we are all part of the family of God, making these 10 commitments relevant to all. You can read an excerpt of the first 30 pages here and listen to a 6 minute interview with the author below. ...