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Phil Whittall "Simple Pastor" (Stockholm, Sweden)

Page: 1 | 2
by Margaret Brownley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.32

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Articulate biography about Bible translator William Tyndale, 24 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Tyndale (Paperback)
Prior to reading this biography of William Tyndale I knew very little about him and now he enters the ranks as one of my heroes of the faith.

It is an odd twist of history that Tyndale is so relatively unknown given his immense contribution to the English language and the reformation in England. As the first translator of the Bible into English (and yes I do know about Wycliffe) every English Bible I own owes a huge debt to Tyndale, they are all his descendants. Not only that but my very Protestant faith owes as much to Tyndale as it does to Luther or Calvin. It is simply astonishing that in so many places that no one has been able to improve upon his English translation in nearly 500 years, which bears testimony both to his abilities as a Greek scholar and to his ability to capture that in English.

The bare facts are that the Word of God captured Tyndale and put within him a burning desire to translate the Bible so the 'plowboys' of England could read and understand the Scriptures for themselves. As a result Tyndale went into exile and was eventually captured in Belgium and executed after nearly two years in jail (strangled and then burnt) by the Catholic Church.

Despite their being relatively scant information about Tyndale (in part due to his long years in exile and on the run), David Teems has done a creditable job in putting a together a readable and enjoyable biography.

This is more than a simple chronological timeline of his life, as Teems takes various detours to explore the enormous impact of Tyndale upon the English language and uses various other artists to try to shed light upon the passion of this very determined translator. It is usually in those chapters however that the book becomes heavier going and loses both pace and focus. It is as though the author, so aware and admiring of Tyndale's English tries hard to write in a style worthy of the great man and ends up labouring under the weight of trying to make every sentence Tyndalian. Yet at times Teems has a great turn of phrase and is devastating in his withering assessment of Henry Phillips who betrayed Tyndale to the authorities.

Where the book succeeds is in the more conventional portrayals of the life and times of its subject and in particular the contest with Sir Thomas More (who as an aside it's hard to believe became a Catholic saint with his penchant for burning people at the stake). Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII make impressive cameos all adding colour to an already vivid picture.

Yet it is Tyndale and his willingness to choose exile, his willingness to face death, his determination to let the Scriptures loose on the English and to preach Christ and him crucified that impresses the most. A true martyr of the faith of whom, 'the world was not worthy' and although Tyndale did not live to see the fruit of his immense labours but 'blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.'

I haven't read any other biographies of Tyndale so it's hard to place this one, but it has made me want to read another not because this one is bad but because it has created an interest in its subject and that's what good biographies should do.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <[...]> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
by Max Hastings
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing single volume on the second world war, 21 Jan. 2012
For a while now I've been averaging about one book every ten days, yet here we are three weeks into January and I've only just finished my first book of 2012. The reason for that is that Max Hasting's monumental volume on the second world war, All Hell Let Loose, is 748 pages long so it's like reading three books!

The volume of literature on the last great war is immense, the bibliography to this book is enormous and so it's hard to say where this single volume work ranks. I also haven't read many other books so have little to compare it with, but I'm not sure I need to read another.

This book manages something remarkable, it conveys the great sweep of the war, the many differing timelines and events and yet manages to convey what the war was like. This is because the perspective is not that of a Churchill or a Roosevelt, for they are minor characters but having drawn from a myraid of letters, diaries and reports shares what war was like for those most affected by it, mothers, soldiers, sons.

The second world war really was global and immense, the numbers are staggering and hard to comprehend and this book both shattered illusions and educated. I learnt of the 15 million Chinese who died and the Bengal famine which saw nearly two million Indians starve, I learnt that the British army rarely if ever crowned itself in glory and learned how the great powers utterly shafted, screwed and ignored the nation of Poland from first to last.

That more Russians soldiers were shot by the Russians than British soldiers were sot by the Germans, that more Russians (civilians and soldiers) died at the battle of Leninggrad than the Americans and British armies combined for the whole war. The numbers are staggering, nearly 60 million people were killed in just six years.

No nation covers itself in glory during war, combatants and neutrals alike. Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden can hardly be proud of their neutrality. France has much to be ashamed of, and there were enough incidents for to prevent Britain and America from too much hubris. America became a great power as a result of this war, the only nation to emerge vastly richer and more powerful while all it's rivals lay exhausted and in ruins.

Of the three great powers, Britain stood up to the war when all others didn't. France defeated, America abstained and Russia was an ally to Hitler. Britain really did stand very much alone but too weak to win the war on its own. America paid for the victory. It's vast industrial might provided for all and proved far too much for anyone else to emerge victorious. Russian on the other hand clearly died for the war. 25 million Russians died, starved, shot, raped and ruined. No country was as willing to sacrifice it's millions more than Stalin and had they not, Hitler would have taken a lot longer to defeat.

Yet all these facts stand alongside countless story of death, rape, mutilation, despair. The sufferings of the Yugoslavs, Poles, Italians, Chinese, Burmese, Malays and of course the Jews throughout mainland Europe and ordinary people everywhere was horrific and shocking and it is these stories that make this book such a masterpiece.

This is quite a phenomenal book and I'm sure, no matter what I read, it will rank near the top of my reading list come December 2012. That's a slightly depressing to think I may have already read the best book of the year but at the same time, what a book!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2013 12:52 AM GMT

The Road to Missional (Shapevine)
The Road to Missional (Shapevine)
by Michael Frost
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.94

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Key introduction to missional church, 16 Nov. 2011
The word missional has been around for a while and everyone assumes they know what you're talking about even if you're talking about very different things. It's an issue that is not lost on one of the architects of all things missional and the author of The road to missional: Journey to the center of the church, Michael Frost. So Frost writes,

"We now have missional conferences, missional church planting schemes, and all manner of missional programs. This is not to mention the fact that books on the missional paradigm are becoming a dime a dozen. So much so, in fact, that one author recently suggested to me me that the term missional is a bit old hat these days and that the shelves are sagging under the burden of missional church literature. Better, he advised, to use a different, more appealing title to engage potential readers. Ten years ago it never would have occurred to me that being missional would become hip, let alone that it would become passé."

I've read a few authors cited by Frost as missional; Martin Robinson, Stuart Murray & Dan Kimball and I was aware that Ed Stetzer is becoming increasingly widely read among Newfrontiers leaders but I'm not sure I'd read a book that directly addressed the idea of a missional church before. At least not one good enough to stick in my memory.

So I'm going to let Frost define the terms for us beginning with, `what is mission?'

"Mission is both the announcement and the demonstration of the reign of God through Christ. Mission is not primarily concerned with church growth. It is primarily concerned with the reign and rule of the Triune God. If the church grows as a result, so be it." (p24)

A missional church then, is a church that realises this Missio Dei and has a `wholesale and thorough reorientation of the church around mission' (p16).

As a result mission cannot be reduced to simply spoken evangelism or acts of kindness and compassion. It's a bold attempt to transcend the old evangelism vs social justice debate, because to be missional is to declare that Jesus is Lord through what you say and what you do. It's evangelism plus, so to speak. But if you think it's just another word for doing some more evangelism, Frost says, you've missed the point.

The good news according to Frost is that our God reigns and rules through Christ and so whatever you do that alerts people to the fact of the rule of God is missional. The weakness of the book is that while it affirms this alerting of people by both `announcement and demonstration' (p35) almost all the focus and the examples are on `demonstration'. So, if you are from a church that is concerned about the `announcement' part of the equation you will find The Road to Missional a bit on the flimsy side, but if you were from a church that is looking for affirmation of the `demonstration' side to the equation then there is much to love and encourage you.

For example, in the chapter on evangelism Frost, rightly in my opinion, talks of the need to declare Christ not just as Saviour but also as Lord. So he says that evangelism requires `a radical reorientation' and that should `involve the decision to acknowledge the reign of God through Christ and submit oneself to live under it'. I agree.

Again, Frost spells out a presentation of the Gospel that replaces the `four spiritual laws' with this: designed for good, damaged by evil, restored for better and sent together to heal. Again all well and good but, for me, there was a missing descriptor.

So while I agree that `evangelism is then much more about announcing the lordship of Jesus than the sinfulness of the unbeliever' it is also about my sinfulness and my unbelief. Somewhere between restored for better and sent to heal, I need to repent. I really do. Every sinner on their way to sainthood does. I genuinely don't think there's another way to become a disciple of Jesus than to `repent and believe'. I think Frost would agree, but I just wish he'd spelled it out.

There is so much here that I agreed with and loved; I loved the focus on Jesus; the focus on genuine community, peace and reconciliation, sharp questions that help you become aware of who your neighbour is, an emphasis on discipleship, an everything agenda that sees value in the life and work of everybody and not just church workers. I found myself agreeing and wanting to be increasingly `missional'.

Having said all that, here are a few observations where this vision of church is missing a few important things. There was little mention of the role and place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the disciple or in the life of the church, so read The Spirit Filled Church by Terry Virgo along side this.

As a discussion on the centre of the church and what it means for a church to be missional there was also little on the role, place and structure of leadership for a church. Whether this is because missional can be super-imposed on any denominational or leadership structure or because it favours a flatter, more democratic approach to church life I'm not sure. Yet leadership remains crucial, I can think of several missional endeavours that failed or are failing for one very simple reason: poor or vague leadership.

These issues notwithstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed reading and being provoked by Frost who is an engaging and interesting writer and I'd be interested in reading more.

John Bunyan the Christian (Fount Classics)
John Bunyan the Christian (Fount Classics)
by Gordon S. Wakefield
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A helpful introduction to the thought of Bunyan, 9 Nov. 2011
As a child one of my favourite books of all time was a children's version of Pilgrim's Progress but I have to admit that before reading John Bunyan: The Christian by Gordon Wakefield my knowledge of the great author was a bit, well, basic. I knew he wrote Pilgrim's Progress, of course, and I knew he wrote it in jail (or gaol!) and that he was from Bedford. Which, fairly accurately sums up the extent and limit of my knowledge of the man credited by Rudyard Kipling no less, as father of the novel. So reading this biography really was an education.

The biography focuses on the theology of Bunyan, his deep and profound wrestling with despair and doubt which for Bunyan was both exacerbated and resolved by his Calvinist theology. Wakefield, as a Methodist, doesn't follow Bunyan here and intriguingly introduces the later John Wesley as conversation partners over the issue of predestination, which for Bunyan and most of the Reformed Baptists meant that the number of elect was pretty small and preaching to the lost was more an exercise in confirming their damnation than procuring their salvation.

A fair amount of space is given to Bunyan's early writings and it was evident that he was a great controversialist. There's nothing these Puritan Christians liked better than to prove someone else's theology wrong, a trait still very much in evidence by their 21st century admirers. I was also helped by being better able to place Bunyan in history, post the English civil war (in which Bunyan briefly fought in Cromwell's New Model Army) and amongst the religious fervour of the day with Ranters, Quakers, diggers, Levellers and the forces of reaction (otherwise known as Anglicans).

The focus of the book leads to Bunyan's great allegory and it's less than great successors, a fact which in itself had escaped me. The shortfall of Wakefield's biography is that he really fails to do justice to the impact of Pilgrim's Progress. There is no discussion of its reception, critical or popular, no discussion of its enduring legacy, no reference points to assess its popularity in Bunyan's lifetime or since. I think Wakefield takes this knowledge for granted and I felt the lack of this.

Wakefield also gives too short shrift to Bunyan the preacher, little space is devoted to the thousands that used to gather to hear him in London, the fact is just mentioned in passing and yet how did that come to pass? Was it the fame from Pilgrim's Progress that gained him the hearing or the years in jail, which weren't all that remarkable for a non-conformist?

This book stands out as an introduction to the writings and theology of Bunyan but not so much to his life as preacher or pastor. His early life and his battle to come to faith, beautifully illustrated in the progress of Christian is clear and profound. The light thrown on his later years, less so. It was also evident that Wakefield has command of a much larger vocabulary than me and so I had to look up words such as `obloquy' and `gallimaufry' proof perhaps that in the last 20 years standards of reading at a popular level have slipped a bit.

I don't know if there is a more accessible and popular level biography of Bunyan around, but I'd be interested in reading it if there was. Wakefield, to his credit, has reawakened a desire to re-read Pilgrim's Progress and understand a bit more about this great author and preacher.

Provocative Faith: Walking Away from Ordinary
Provocative Faith: Walking Away from Ordinary
by Matthew Paul Turner
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Escaping american evangelicalism for real faith, 9 Nov. 2011
Matthew Paul Turner is a product of American evangelicalism, something that turned out not to be a complete blessing. In fact, it pretty much shipwrecked his faith. Like many young men he regularly got stuck with internet pornography, simply tried harder to get himself free and like a fly stuck in a spider's web, the more he struggled the more stuck he became.

Provocative Faith: Walking away from ordinary is his journey of faith away from surface, shallow faith that is marked by legalism to a more grace filled, deeper, more real relationship with God through faith in Christ. This sort of faith, by its very nature, is provocative to others because it's marked by joy and trust. It's written with honesty, self-deprecating humour and a passion for something authentic.

At the end of several chapters there are small interviews with friends of MPT and it's these that are the hardest hitting. The conversation with the couple who struggled to conceive, the woman abused in her childhood struggling but finding the strength to forgive, the guy who lost his job and marriage because he had an affair, the pastor who has buried teenagers; all demonstrate either the shallowness of what MPT wants to leave behind or the real faith that he hopes we will discover.

However, I did have a few issues with the book. In his chapter on our longing for community MPT basically holds up the sitcom Friends as a good example of community and then describes his nearest experience to finding it. Well, that's setting most people up to fail at community. There are no old people in friends, there are no children in friends, there are no people with proper jobs and responsibilities, there is no purpose, there are no difficult people and no one new can join the group. Friends is a rubbish community.

MPT also ends up with a slightly more gospel-centred version of the American dream with chapters such as Participate in God's dream for you that propagates the myth that we are all somehow destined for greatness, all participants in heaven's version of the X-Factor. MPT says, "I believe the dreams that God has for us are just as grandiose, ridiculous and exciting...I believe each of us has a God-calling on our lives that only we can accomplish."

Sounds nice. Only for most people, that just ain't true. Unless by that he means, dependably and faithfully raising children, holding down a job, serving in church in ordinary ways, not giving up through the ups and downs of life and just being obedient in the next thing that God asks you to do given that it might be something quite small. Simply put, not all of us are called to be world-changers. All of us are called to `lead a quiet life' (1 Tim 2:2). I'm not saying you're not special or that God has no plans for you, but we can easily get confused with examples like Billy Graham. He was exceptional in the outcomes of his ministry. All of us can be faithful and upright as Billy is and was but maybe not all of us, in fact most of us, won't be exceptionally successful.

This book is OK but I'm not sure I'd be any clearer how God frees me or how to live free after reading this. I think I'd just give them something by Terry Virgo on Grace instead. It does articulate the experience of growing up in an evangelicalism infected by legalism and the resulting weakness of faith this results in, it's one I can personally identify, with but it comes up short with some of its solutions.

Jesus' Parables of the Lost and Found
Jesus' Parables of the Lost and Found
by James W. Moore
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars A brief but bland book on some of Jesus' parables, 18 Oct. 2011
This small book (just 87 pages plus discussion questions) examines Jesus' parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son from Luke 15. The first two parables get a chapter each and the last one gets four chapters looking at the lost son, the gifts, the elder brother and the celebration.

It's readable and accessible and that's about it really. Unfortunately for Moore when it comes to the parables he has some pretty stiff competition and this falls way short of the standard set by Tim Keller in the Prodigal God for example.

The points Moore makes are all OK but they're a bit bland and forgettable. The illustrations read like the ones you find on sermon illustration websites (which I used in my first year or so of preaching and then stopped. Preachers you can usually do better). It's thought of the day stuff but with a dose of American sugar and pie.

`Have you heard the story about the pastor who looked out of his study window and saw that a little kitten was stuck in a tree?'

I sure have Rev Moore and so it goes.

The points he makes are alright and nothing to complain about - God does after all want us to be like him and be forgiving and gracious and no He doesn't want us to be like the elder brother and so on. But those points aren't really worthy of a book are they, if they're not presented in a way that catches the heart, that exposes the sin, that draws me to Christ? Well, I didn't think so.

I don't know who I'd give this book to or what insights they'd gain from reading this instead of just thinking a bit longer about the parables themselves. So there's nothing much wrong with this book but nothing that makes it stand out either.

City-changing Prayer
City-changing Prayer
by Frank Green
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A helpful book on praying for the place you live, 18 Oct. 2011
This review is from: City-changing Prayer (Paperback)
Debra and Frank Green have been leading a remarkable prayer movement in Manchester, England that has since spread further afield through Redeeming our Communities. City Changing Prayer: Insights from Manchester's impacting city-wide prayer movement is the story of their journey from gathering half a dozen people in their front room to pray to gathering thousands of Christians from across the denominations to pray together for their city.

The Green's come from an evangelical charismatic background and in the UK those aren't always the most obvious places to look for fruitful ecumenical initiatives but this prayer movement turned out to be something quite special.

There are numerous practical lessons to learn here: from how to organise and run large prayer meetings with people from different church backgrounds so that prayer happens and not actually sink to the lowest common denominator to building trust between church leaders (which often proved to be the biggest obstacle) and how to involve city leaders from politics, education and police.

In fact it is the way they gathered the church to constructively engage with the civic leadership of the city that I found the most helpful and inspiring. In a secular post-Christian society civic leadership can often be suspicious and ignorant of the church, fearing us to be God-botherers with a narrow moral agenda and whose intolerance runs contrary to the leading values of the day. This constructive approach builds positive partnership, dispels fears and again puts the church as a constructive contributor to city life. As someone soon to move into a major city, this was an excellent insight to gain.

However, the book can't really live up to its title (not that that's necessarily the authors fault) but while the church may have changed and indeed many wonderful things have happened in Manchester supported by and contributed to by this prayer movement, it would be hard to argue that Manchester itself has significantly and measurably changed. So has it changed the city? The honest answer must be 'no, not yet.' Of course, we wouldn't buy a book titled 'Great prayer meetings in a city' or 'how to build ecumenical prayer movements' so I understand the issues.

The book is also pretty well loaded up with Christian jargon and if you're sceptical of any charismatic phenomena (such as evidenced during the Toronto Blessing) then there are any number of opportunities to be exercise due caution yet they steer away from the silliest theological ideas that evangelical charismatics have had and mostly embrace a solidly evangelical understanding of prayer, that when we pray with faith God hears and changes both the church and the situations being prayed for.

The book is readable enough while never being exactly gripping, describing as it does the slow process of relationship building and running prayer meetings but for those who are committed to building prayer across churches for a city then this is a good book to read.

What They Didn't Teach You in Seminary
What They Didn't Teach You in Seminary
by James Emery White
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.61

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mega church pastor on church leadership lessons, 5 Oct. 2011
I'd never heard of James Emery White before getting this book or the mega church he leads in America so when What they didn't teach you in seminary: 25 Lessons for successful ministry in your church arrived in the post for review, I had no expectations one way or the other.

After having read it, I have a one big question: what do they teach prospective pastors in seminary in America? Really, if they missed out all this then there's some room for improvement over there.

So some of the 25 topics that White covers include; emotional survival, raising money, sexual fences, family life, casting vision and other fairly basic leadership stuff. You know don't employ someone without references and burn out is bad for your soul, stuff like that.

There were also enough stories to make me scratch my head about American Christianity and the industry that we call the church. I know that the church can often have the meanest and stupidest people on earth in them but no one seems to do that better than America if the stories you read in leadership books are even half-true.

Each chapter is short and eminently readable and it really does contain some useful leadership lessons. It's a book I'll keep and pass along. Others have covered in greater detail some of the material so for example the chapter on the five C's is straight out of Bill Hybel's Courageous Leadership and the chapter on emotional resources received a book by Wayne Cordeiro and so on. It sounds like to me that White and his church would be pretty similar to say Willow Creek, that's where I'd pitch it, if that helps at all. In fact it's a lot like Hybels' Axiom book.

The book is down to earth, conversational and generally straight talking about the realities of church leadership and most of the advice offered was good, sound and solid stuff. One of the little positive that stood out for me and enjoyed as I read the book were the last sentences of each chapter, each was pithy, witty and drove home the point of the chapter. I thought most of them were really good examples of punchy writing.

There were a few areas which made me pause, some of which are no doubt shaped by White's context (American mega-church) and which don't travel all that well.

White had an annoying habit of talking anonymously about all the well-known pastors he'd met with here or there. Now you can mention it once and it's clear that you're just naming names, do that five or six times and it sounds like you want people to know that really you could name names and that you're in the know. It was name dropping without saying the name, so it just came across as a little boastful.

There were some more real areas of disagreement such as the value of excellence and the general assumption that big seeker sensitive church is the way to go, and possibly the only way to go that makes any sense. So there were some things there that I just couldn't get excited about and there is very little teaching here. So it's life lessons from an experienced pastor and not insights from the Bible into leadership.

So recommended and a book I may well pass on but it needs reading with some sense of context to filter out the stuff that just doesn't work if you're not in an American mega-church or even want to be in one!

Good To Grow
Good To Grow
by Tibbert Steve with Taylor Val
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.46

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful book for church leaders, 29 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Good To Grow (Paperback)
In the interests of full disclosure I should say that I count some of the staff and members of Kings as friends and am part of the same family of churches as the author of this book, Steve Tibbert. It's always a slightly tricky thing when you review a book by someone you know. Being a sycophant isn't my thing but then I've not always got the balance right when making public comments about people who, after all, are on the same team. That makes it sound like I'm about to pan this book, which I'm really not at all.

Good to Grow is the story of Kings Church in south-east London since Steve's became the leader in the early 90's. It's a story of a church that has grown from some 200 to well over a thousand regular attenders, now meeting across multiple sites and pushing ahead at some rate of knots. As such it's a story to be applauded. There simply aren't enough stories like this in the UK of churches growing consistently over the years and breaking through significant barriers in terms of numbers and diversity.

Good to Grow also contains the leadership lessons that Steve has learnt along the way and Steve is a very focused leader and there is lots of good stuff here particularly on building a diverse church, building a great marriage and the challenge of regularly retooling your leadership team to be ready for the next season of growth.

The chapters are short and the tone is conversational so you race through the pages quickly and nowhere does it get bogged down in detail. I read it in about three hours and it's time well spent.

At times the book is a bit uneven and patchy and this is mostly when the story and the leadership lessons get mixed up and the chapter loses focus, this was more evident at the beginning of the book as the story of the early years of Steve's tenure was recalled. The book became much sharper and found its stride from the middle onwards.

However, any quibbles I have are minor and it certainly doesn't spoil the book. The big take home lesson for me was the importance of building a great team which undoubtedly Steve has done. So for an encouraging story of church growth, for honest assessment of how to build a diverse multi-racial team and for other useful leadership lessons Good to Grow is a worthwhile book for a leader to read.

Before The Frost
Before The Frost
by Henning Mankell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than Larsson, decent murder mystery, 15 Aug. 2011
Having read The girl with the dragon tattoo last year on a trip to Sweden, I thought I'd try another Swedish mystery and so turned to the bestselling Wallander series by Henning Mankell. I randomly chose Before the Frost.

In so many ways Mankell is the superior writer to Larsson, the prose is better, the characters more real, the settings more recognisable, the mystery just as gripping and the plot more convincing. Before the Frost is a better book.

It also has two Wallander lead characters: Kurt the father, experienced, stubborn, sharp detective and his daughter Linda a new recruit but who has some of her fathers instincts if not his wealth of experience and know-how.

Interestingly though Before the Frost & TGWTDT have something in common. The protagonist in both cases are a biblically inspired psychopath. In Larsson the Bible is used because it is full of sacrifice without faith whereas in Mankell it is the faith and deep belief in itself which is dangerous.

In Larsson a minor character has a deep faith and is portrayed as being part of a cult, in Mankell the bad guys are a cult. Now in neither case are they saying that the problem is mainstream Christianity but both show a disdain for religion and that in Sweden religious convictions are not well understood and seen as somehow `not Swedish'.

So I've read two best-selling Swedish writers and in both cases they have used faith as a device for evil doing and shown me that in popular culture Christianity has a major PR problem in Scandinavia.

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