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  • Imago

  • By: Octavia E. Butler
  • Narrated by: Barrett Aldrich
  • Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,139
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,018
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,024

Human and Oankali have been mating since the aliens first came to Earth to rescue the few survivors of an annihilating nuclear war. The Oankali began a massive breeding project, guided by the ooloi, a sexless subspecies capable of manipulating DNA, in the hope of eventually creating a perfect starfaring race. Jodahs is supposed to be just another hybrid of human and Oankali, but as he begins his transformation to adulthood he finds himself becoming ooloi - the first ever born to a human mother.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow!

  • By Lynnette on 10-16-16

A child of human and alien parents find a new way

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-17-18

One of my reading goals this year was to finished all of the fiction books that Octavia Butler wrote. This is the next to last.

Imago I think is a second tier Butler book. It is not bad. Butler is a good writer and creates intriguing worlds. This is not really complete series. It is set on earth, but an earth that an alien race has captured and rules. The alien world took over the Earth in the midst of a global war. The aliens capture the remaining humans and for hundreds of years kept them in stasis while they were studied and the earth was restored after the war.

In the first book of the trilogy the first humans were awoken and that started a forced breeding program to create new species. The aliens are genetic manipulators that go from world to world collecting gene samples and creating new species, mining and using up the worlds until they are bare hunks of rock and then moving on. Butler at times could be a bit to on the nose with her imagery.

The conflict of the trilogy is about participation of humans in this breeding program and the ways that the new ‘constructs’ impact both the humans and the aliens. The three books are about three different characters, the human mother, her first construct child and then this one about another of her construct children, the first construct that is a genetic manipulator itself. (The genetic manipulators do not have sex or gender, they are the conduit through which the different genders connect for procreation.)

As much as I like Butler’s writing and am intrigued by her ideas, her writing around sex is almost always disturbing. Sex is often not fully consensual. Here the humans are essentially made dependent up on the aliens. They cannot touch another human of the opposite gender without pain. They are essentially drugged to ‘love’ the aliens (or the particular aliens that are their mates). But they still retain the ability to understand their imprisonment/slavery. They understand that the only way they can survive is to be mated with the aliens, but it is a real choice between death and forced breeding slaves.

Imago has a conclusion, but the series feels incomplete. From what I read, there was plans for a fourth book, but it was never completed before Butler passed away. As a whole, I probably would just skip the whole trilogy. I do not think it really rises to the top of Butler’s game, although she always raises interesting ethical questions in her writing.

  • Kierkegaard

  • A Single Life
  • By: Stephen Backhouse
  • Narrated by: Tom Parks
  • Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 90
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87

Kierkegaard, like Einstein and Freud, is one of those geniuses whose ideas permeate the culture and shape our world even when relatively few people have read their works. That lack of familiarity with the real Kierkegaard is about to change. This lucid new biography by scholar Stephen Backhouse presents the genius as well as the acutely sensitive man behind the brilliant books.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great!

  • By Will on 07-11-17

Helpful intro to both Kierkegaard’s life and work

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-03-18

o the best of my memory I have never studied or read any Kierkegaard. I have heard several people commend Kierkegaard: A Single Life and when I saw it on sale on audiobook I picked it up.

This is a brief, but good overview of his life. And because Kierkegaard is important primarily for his writing, there is good context for that as well. At the end of the book, there was short descriptions of each piece (1-3 pages) which was much more helpful and interesting than I would have suspected going in.

In general I find biographies worth reading, if when I am finished, I want to either find another biography or pick up books written by the subject. I more want to read Kierkegaard than read more about him at this point. So I rate this as a helpful biography. Light, short, it feels a bit like one of the Very Short Introduction to X styled biographies. It is longer than that, about 300 pages. But this was clearly designed as an introduction.

  • The Weight of Glory

  • By: C. S. Lewis
  • Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
  • Length: 4 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 801
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 667
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 666

Selected from sermons delivered by C. S. Lewis during World War II, these nine addresses show the beloved author and theologian bringing hope and courage in a time of great doubt. "The Weight of Glory", considered by many to be Lewis’s finest sermon of all, is an incomparable explication of virtue, goodness, desire, and glory.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Indispensible Lewis

  • By Lyle on 01-17-12

Good but not great

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-03-18

I went through a period when I was reading a ton of CS Lewis (either by or about). I looked today and if I counted correctly I have finished 19 of Lewis’ books, many of them multiple times and started but did not finish another 4. But it has been a little while since I read Lewis. Unless I missed something the last books I read about Lewis was the joint biography of the Inklings in Feb 2017. And the last books I read by Lewis was Screwtape Letters in Nov 2016.

I picked up the audiobook of Weight of Glory because it was super cheap and I needed something ‘light’ to off set a lot of other heavy things I have been reading/listening to. That is to say I was probably not as engaged as I should have been. Weight of Glory is the favorite Lewis book of several people I know. It is not that for me. Not because it is bad, but because it is near the end of Lewis’ library for me.

Walter Hooper, Lewis’ literary executor and for a short point, his personal secretary at the end of Lewis’ life has a very interesting introduction. I enjoyed the introduction probably as much as anything else (again not that the rest is bad, but because I had not read a similar introduction from Hooper previously). Hooper says that you can see many of ideas of later books in early form here and that is certainly true.

Lewis had a way with words. He cut can to the chase and was very quotable. Weight of Glory is no different. I probably would have been better reading this in print than listening to it. But part of why I listened to it was that I have not gotten around to reading the print, even though I have owned it for almost four years.

In the end, even thought there was some good lines and as I was listening I kept thinking about how ‘this’ was like where he said ‘that’ somewhere else, it was mostly a forgettable book for me.

  • Kingdom of the Blind

  • A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, Book 14
  • By: Louise Penny
  • Narrated by: Robert Bathurst
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,348
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,179
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,173

When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder. None of them had ever met the elderly woman. The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I found the experience very satisfying.

  • By MV on 11-29-18

morally complex series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-03-18

Part of what I like about the Gamache books is that they are about things. There is a mystery, The plot revolves around the mystery. But there is more to the books than just the mystery. There are ongoing characters. Those characters are smart, thoughtful, morally complex, flawed and generally likable. 

The main theme moral question for the past several books has been around the idea of when it is acceptable to do morally and ethically questionable things, for a greater good. This is spoiler-y if you have not read the previous books, but in the last book, Gamache let drugs into the country so that he could lure in the higher up in the drug organizations and shut them down. He wanted to deal a fatal blow to the whole drug infrastructure. But in the process more drugs came into the country and some communities were harmed. Because of his unauthorized operation (because he was at the same time still smoking out dirty cops and politicians), he was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

It is during that leave that the book opens. Gamache, and separately Myrna, are invited to an abandoned farmhouse. They are met by a notary (in Canada this includes writing and administering wills) who introduces them to a third person and tells them they are named as executors of a will. 

The deceased has some very odd terms to her will. And that leads to investigations. At the same time Gamache is still working to get back all of the drugs that came in from the previous book, including a very deadly opioid. And a body shows up leading to an investigations. These three threads of the story weave together yet another excellent mystery. 

There is a good bit of real humanity here. Even though some the mystery aspects seem a bit less than real, what draws me in are the people and the ideas, not the accuracy of the action sequences. 

I have both read and listened to this series. Mostly I have listened and that is what I did here. The narrator is excellent (the first narrator of the series passed away and a second narrator took over.) I have thought the series came to a nice conclusion in previous books. But the series continued when I thought it would not. So I am not sure here. It again, feels like a series conclusions. But if she wants to, I am sure she can figure out how to keep the series moving along. 

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Laurie Berkner's Song and Story Kitchen

  • By: Laurie Berkner, The Laurie Berkner Band
  • Narrated by: Laurie Berkner, Josiah Gaffney
  • Length: 4 hrs and 52 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 305
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 277
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 276

Laurie Berkner’s Song and Story Kitchen weaves Laurie’s stories, original music, and age-appropriate themes into her fun-filled kitchen where she whips up yummy food, songs, and stories along with her good friend and sidekick, Thelonius Pig (Josiah Gaffney).

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very entertaining for my almost 4 year old.

  • By enm on 11-06-18

Great for car trips

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-16-18

My 3 and 5 year old have been listening to this since it came out. They will eventually tire of it, but they have been fans of Laurie Berkner for a while. This has a number of songs they know, but there are also songs that are new to them.

there are things I would change about it. But it is good for the kids and I tolerate it fine.

What I would like is an upgrade to the audible apple watch app that makes it easier to play this on my car stereo while listening to my apple watch on my AirPods. I can get that working occasionally, but most of the time I can only get one or the other to play, not both.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Being Disciples

  • Essentials of the Christian Life
  • By: Rowan Williams
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 2 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

This fresh and inspiring look at the meaning of discipleship covers the essentials of the Christian life, including: faith, hope and love; forgiveness; holiness; social action; and life in the Spirit. Written for the general listener by one of our greatest living theologians, this book will help you to see more clearly, love more dearly and follow more nearly the way of Jesus Christ.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • “Discipleship is about how we live..."

  • By Adam Shields on 11-13-18

“Discipleship is about how we live..."

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-13-18

I am a big fan of Rowan Williams little books. There are a lot of them. Most of them grew out of lectures and so are short (around 80-100 pages) and pack a lot of punch. There are a number of them that would make excellent small group discussion books because they could be covered in 4 to 6 sessions (what I think is an optimal length for small group discussions).

Being Disciples is a follow up to Being Christian. Being Christian focused on four practices that are central to being Christians, baptism, bible, eucharist and prayer. Being Disciples about attitudes or virtues or approaches to how we live. The chapter titles are Faith, Hope and Love, Forgiveness, Holiness, Faith in Society, and Life in the Spirit.

Williams is a real scholar and theologian and I have had some difficulty with some of his longer more academic books. But these shorter ones are are have a simple presentation without being simplistic. One of the reviewers of Being Disciples on Amazon said, “the simple presentations was made on the basis of deep understanding of theology and the human condition”.

Williams is a theologian, but a theologian that centers practice. He does not minimize theology, but suggests that how we live as Christians really matters to becoming more like Christ. The knowledge of theology is not unimportant. But we do not become like Christ through our knowledge, we become like Christ through our practice. (I read this right after finishing the Dangers of Christian Practice, so that was on my mind, but I still think that Rowan Williams is basically right here.)

Fairly early on in Being Disciples he says, ‘If you are going to be where Jesus is…you will find yourself in the same sort of human company as he is in…Our discipleship is not about choosing our company but about being where Jesus is.” He continues on to suggest that if you love God less, then you will love everyone less as well as vice versa.

Like many books that I have enjoyed lately, Being Disciples is a book of wisdom transmission. Books of wisdom transmission can be vague, and I think that is part of the inherent problems of trying to communicate something that is more art and practice than science. But Williams is fairly clear and while there are lots of good one line thoughts, this is not just a book of proverbs.

I do think that Being Disciples is not quite as good as Being Christian. But they are well paired and I think they would benefit many, especially because they are so sort.

#sweepstakes #shortreads

  • The Dangers of Christian Practice

  • On Wayward Gifts, Characteristic Damage, and Sin
  • By: Lauren F. Winner
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
  • Length: 5 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

Sometimes, beloved and treasured Christian practices go horrifyingly wrong, extending violence rather than promoting its healing. In this bracing audiobook, Lauren Winner provocatively challenges the assumption that the church possesses a set of immaculate practices that will definitively train Christians in virtue and that can't be answerable to their histories.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Spiritual practices are not silver bullets

  • By Adam Shields on 10-24-18

Spiritual practices are not silver bullets

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-24-18

Over the past few years I have become a disciple of spiritual practices. I have a spiritual director. I regularly use the Book of Common Prayer. I really do think that the eucharist and baptism should be central to worship. This makes me the target audience of Lauren Winner’s new book, the Dangers of Christian Practice.

The rough thesis is that spiritual practices, while good, have weaknesses that need to be paid attention to. Just like the church is made up of human beings that are sinful and make every church community less than perfect, good practices that are commanded by God and advocated throughout history also have some weaknesses.

The easiest illustration and the best chapters is about prayer. Keziah Goodwin Hopkins Brevard is the main illustration. She is a 57 year old widowed owner of two plantations and over 200 slaves. She left extensive journals both of her thoughts and of her prayers as fodder for Winner’s discussion.

As Winner recounts, Brevard prays for pliant slaves, she prays for the death of slaves that lie to her, she prays that Heaven will have a separate location for abolitionists and slaves away from her. (Note the political and rhetorical implications of a separate heaven.) She prays to be a good master and for a heart open to God.

Winner notes that the subjects of our prayers have long been a concern for Christians. Aquinas and others cited have thought and written about praying for things that are sinful or out of distorted desires. But the very nature of prayer is part of the problem. It is not just intercessory prayer, but teaching prayer to others and how public prayer is often not solely directed at God. Prayer can easily become gossip, self justifying or deluded. But even out of bad prayer often includes good aspects.

Winner gives illustrations of the anthologies of prayer that line her shelves. None of them are anthologies of bad or self seeking prayers that could help us understand how our own prayers may be come bad or self seeking. Instead prayer is presented and taught as an almost universal good.

The other two practices discussed in the Dangers of Christian Practice are the problems of the eucharist being held in too high of a value (the illustration is riots causes by accused desecration of the host) and the problems of antisemitism and supersessionism, and baptism and the problems of the privatization of baptism through private christening ceremonies that were held in the home in the 19th and early 20th century as well as the way that baptism can alienate the subject from their family or community as well as drawing them into the family of Christ.

This is a very brief overview. There are lots of side tracks as well as a good introduction to the concept and a concluding chapter that challenges the ideas of spiritual practices especially as it has arisen out of post-liberal theology.

The ideas behind Dangers of Christian Practice are very helpful. One that in someways could be an article or a much larger book and still be helpful. I was very skeptical about the concept of the book and probably would not have picked it up without reading James KA Smith’s very positive review at Christian Century. However, despite my skepticism, I this was well worth reading and a good reminder to not place too much weight or responsibility on any aspect of discipleship, moral formation, or model of church.

All models of church and modes of discipleship have weaknesses. All can be corrupted and tainted. But as Winner rightly notes in the last chapter, they are what we have. Because they are not perfect does not mean that we should abandon them completely. Winner is not advocating that. Instead she is advocating more humility and understanding of the practices so that we can minimize the harm that misusing spiritual practices can bring.

I listened to the Dangers of Christian Practice on audiobook. It was not my favorite narration, but it was acceptable. I kept checking my player because it felt like it was running slightly too fast. Like maybe the narrator read it too slow, and the editor sped the narration up slightly digitally by cutting some of the pauses and space between the words. But for me, it was far cheaper on audiobook than on kindle or hardcover.

#sweepstakes #Christian #SpiritualPracticeOfReading

  • Frederick Douglass

  • Prophet of Freedom
  • By: David W. Blight
  • Narrated by: Prentice Onayemi
  • Length: 36 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115

As a young man, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence, he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Biography

  • By Adam Shields on 10-22-18

Excellent Biography

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-22-18

I have not previously read any biographies of Frederick Douglass. I was aware of him from other history books or biographies. But this is an excellent biography.

I was aware of David Blight from the podcast of one of his Yale history courses but I have not read another one of his books. This was very well written and well researched. I am looking forward to reading it again in a couple years after I read some of Douglass' autobiographies directly.

Douglass is a fascinating figure.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Walking on Water

  • Reflections on Faith and Art
  • By: Madeleine L'Engle
  • Narrated by: Pamela Almand
  • Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 21

In this classic book, Madeleine L’Engle addresses the questions, What makes art Christian? What does it mean to be a Christian artist? What is the relationship between faith and art? Through L’Engle’s beautiful and insightful essay, listeners will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one’s own art.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • great listen

  • By carolyn on 05-17-18

Musings on Christianity and Art

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-19-18

Walking on Water is a book that it is hard not to hear about if you are in circles where you interact with Christian who write professionally. I have been hearing about the book for years, but Sarah Arthur’s recent biography of L’Engle reminded me again about how many writers (and other artists as well) were impacted not just by L’Engle’s art, but by her speaking and writing about the role of art in the Christian life.

In many ways Walking on Water is like a fifth volume of the Crosswick Journals. It is not as full of personal stories as the Crosswick Journals, but it was first published in 1982, between books three and four of the Crosswick Journals (Irrational Season in 1977 and Two-Part Invention in 1988). Walking on Water has a similar sense of listening to an older friend share wisdom about life. It is more focused on writing, but there are definitely overlapping themes with A Circle of Quiet (first book in Crosswick Journals).

Writing is more of a means of processing than as an art form for me. I do not edit as much as I should. So the thoughts on writing were not really my focus. This is a book that was written to be read and re-read. There is wisdom here, but like a lot of books of wisdom, there is some vagueness where the reader has to read into the text.

Walking on Water is the first of L’Engle’s books I have read after reading Arthur’s biography. Arthur had a helpful structure for writing about L’Engle’s contrasts (or paradoxes). Part of the paradox of L’Engle was her ability to mold the reality around her in ways that was not always ‘historically accurate’ but did show as aspect of truth that may not have been able to be shown without her shaping. That shaping of the world around her is hard to miss after Arthur pointed it out.

Walking on Water is a book I appreciated, but did not love as much as what many other do. I think that is in part because I am not an artist at heart but a consumer of art. Art is essential, but I am not a creator. Also, at this point there is an enormous amount of the content of Walking on Water that has leaked out of Walking on Water into other books that I have read since it was published 36 years ago. We are in time that values art better than some other eras. It is not perfect by any means, but I do think that L’Engle has strongly influenced the way that Christians receive and participate in art, in part because of this book. Walking on Water is worth reading. But, at least on this first reading, it was not a dramatic revelation to me, and I think that is largely a good thing, and at least partially the result of Walking on Water being a dramatic revelations to previous readers.

  • The Battle for Bonhoeffer

  • By: Stephen R. Haynes
  • Narrated by: Trevor Thompson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 21

The figure of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) has become a clay puppet in modern American politics. Secular, radical, liberal, and evangelical interpreters variously shape and mold the martyr’s legacy to suit their own pet agendas. Stephen Haynes offers an incisive and clarifying perspective. A recognized Bonhoeffer expert, Haynes examines “populist” readings of Bonhoeffer, including the acclaimed biography by Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bonhoeffer was a person, not a Rorschach test

  • By Adam Shields on 10-12-18

Bonhoeffer was a person, not a Rorschach test

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-12-18

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the most respected Christian figures of the 20th century. But it would not be surprising that his legacy is debated. Bonhoeffer’s works span 16 volumes in the complete works. Those complete works include letters, books, fiction, sermons, academic papers and more. It is unsurprising in the breadth of his work over time that there significant changes in thought, even in his short life.

What may be surprising for many is how recent the interest in Bonhoeffer is. There is a good chapter by Timothy Larson in Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture that traces Evangelical reception to Bonhoeffer. And Martin Marty’s biography of the book Letters and Papers from Prison has a long section that traces the history of how Bonhoeffer was received as well.

The Battle for Bonhoeffer is really a book length expansion of the use and misuse of Bonhoeffer that both of the two mentioned book discuss in shorter sections. And for the most part is a scathing critique of the misuse while noting some of the better uses.

Bonhoeffer’s ideas have been controversially appropriated for different movements nearly from the start. John Robinson’s very controversial book Honest to God used Bonhoeffer’s concept of religion-less Christianity. But in 1963 when Honest to God was published, Bonhoeffer was not widely known and Bonhoeffer was tainted in conservative circles because of his attachment to Honest to God.

Haynes carefully walks through how different groups have used (and often misused or distorted) Bonhoeffer for their own purposes. This is a brief but helpful reminder that broader context of a person’s life and work is important to rightly understanding and using a person’s ideas. My largest take away from Battle for Bonhoeffer is the importance of actually understanding the subject before talking about it.

There is special and extensive critique of Eric Metaxas and his biography. Metaxas is not a historian or theologian. While Haynes notes the value in Metaxas bringing more attention to Bonhoeffer, Haynes has almost nothing positive to say about the quality of Metaxas’ work. I am far from a Bonhoeffer scholar and at the time I first read Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, I noticed at least a half dozen mistakes. Haynes notes far more.

While Haynes is very critical of Metaxas and others bad use of Bonhoeffer, he is not unreasonable in expecting that subjects of biographies be treated accurately. As I was reading, I was reminded of Bradley Wright’s Christians are Hate Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Told. Both are attempting to correct Christians that badly use data/history. Many Christians that are using data/history badly are justifying the bad use because of their good intentions. Wright talks about pastors trying to prove the importance of their subjects in their preaching by searching for the worst statistics they can find instead of accurately presenting data. Haynes’ point about Metaxas bad use of history and his ignorance of Bonhoeffer’s theology and historical context is that even if Metaxas had good intentions, the bad history still is bad history.

Battle for Bonhoeffer is subtitled ‘Debating Discipleship in the Age of Trump.’ And there are several sections at the end that deal with current events. Part of the context of the critique of Metaxas is how Metaxas used Bonhoeffer as a weapon in his critique of Obama and Metaxas' support of Trump. Haynes is very concerned about how many modern figures on the political left and right keep pointing to Hitler’s Germany as somehow parallel to either Obama or Trump’s America.

However, at the end of Battle for Bonhoeffer, Haynes writes an open letter to Christians that are currently supporting Trump because he believes that while Trump is not Hitler, there are things that can be learned from Bonhoeffer that are relevant to our current political situation. He distinguishes between those that reluctantly voted for Trump but are concerned about Trump’s policies today and those that nearly two year after his election continue to fully support Trump. (Christianity Today reported on a survey by Lifeway that was released yesterday, Oct 11, 2018, that said that 52% of all Christian pastors support Trump’s presidential performance, 28% disapprove and 20% are unsure).

I am not sure many supporters of Trump will pick up a book about the use and misuse of Bonhoeffer, so I doubt that Battle for Bonhoeffer will make much of an impact to Trump's level of support. However, as an individual, this is a screed that I thought was personally useful in reminding me the importance of academic research, the limits of using historical data on understanding current events and the need to honestly inspect how we pick and choose data to make our points.

#Sweepstakes #History #Biography

0 of 1 people found this review helpful