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Dr Norman Walford (Singapore, Singapore)

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How to Survive in the Pharisee Church: And Other Questions for Confused Christians
How to Survive in the Pharisee Church: And Other Questions for Confused Christians

5.0 out of 5 stars I Wrote It So I'd Better Like It!, 17 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Seriously, it's a good book! I put my heart and soul into this one. It's not just about pharisaism. As I wrote, my insight expanded and I came to recognize that blaming ALL my problems on the church was just a little too simplistic. So my remit expanded and I talked about a whole lot of other areas where the christian life can come to grief. That's why I added the subtitle.
The short philosophical starting point of the book is, I suppose, the truism that Jesus was crucified at the behest of what was, essentially, the church of his time. That is, by those who regarded themselves as being the ecclesia, the called out ones, of God. So unless things have radically changed in the meantime, and there's not much reason to suppose that they have, we're left with two churches, the one that Jesus founded, and the one that Jesus was executed by. And when we look at the churches of today we have to ask the question, Which type of church am I looking at here. I've tried not to be judgmental, or to say that all churches are bad of anti-God or suchlike - jsut that they CAN be, and we always have to ask the question.
This is a personal book and a practical book. It's written for hurting people, people who've been wounded in church and don't understand how or why. It's an attempt to help people understand and to help them find a way forwards. Really, if you're in any way in that situation I'd like to recommend this book to you. To find out more take a look at which is the companion website.
Now I'm going to give myself five stars . . . and that's a genuine rating, I really believe it!

In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World
by Tom Holland
Edition: Hardcover

81 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Book, 17 Nov 2012
When I set out to understand a bit more about Islam, my first port of call was Karen Armstrong's book 'Mohammed'. I came away from that with a portrait of Mohammed as a really rather impressive character - charismatic, compassionate, in many ways a couple of centuries or even millennia ahead of his time. I wasn't converted, but i was certainly made to think.
Now after reading Tom Holland, I realize that Armstrong's book is quite probably, in great measure, essentially a work of fiction. I say probably because, as Holland is the first to point out, the whole origin of Islam is shrouded in uncertainty, with far more unanswered questions than firm answers. If I was impressed by Mohammed, there's a simple reason for that - the first chroniclers of his life wanted me to be impressed, and that's how they presented him. I'm embarrassed now at the way in which I swallowed Armstrong's friendly portrait quite so uncritically.
Tom Holland picks up on the (once you see it) glaringly obvious problems and inconsistencies of the 'standard model' of Islamic origins and ruthlessly examines them. He writes with great confidence and considerable persuasive powers. My first reaction on reaching the end is 'I need to know more!' I need to know just where Holland stands in line with other scholars of the subject - is he mainstream or a maverick - I'm not sure.
I listened to the audio version of the book. I think reading in print might have been hard work. As audio it's great. Strongly recommended.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2014 1:06 PM BST

The Way We Live Now
The Way We Live Now

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Started Well, Tailed Off, 8 Mar 2011
I listened to this book on audio, all hundred chapters of it. It started well, full of verve, biting satire, and originality. But after about half way it began to tail off. It became humdrum, repetitive, lacking in originality. by the end I was thinking, I suppose I'd better keep goint to the end to find out who marries who - not that I really care too much any more.
Like many books at that time, The Way We Live Now was published in episodes - sort of like a modern soap opera. This explains the enormous numbers of chapters. Presumably by the time the first chapters were being published the writer hadn't written the end of the book - probably hadn't even decided what the ending was going to be. And it shows. Towwards the end I had the impression that even the writer himself was getting bored, just wanting to get through it and finish the contracted number of episodes before thankfully laying down his pen.
Overall a disappointing end to a promising beginning. Barchester Towers is far better, in my opinion!

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