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Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour
Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour
by Kate Fox
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and humourous look at the English, 30 Mar. 2013
Kate Fox is an accomplished anthropologist who also knows how to make the reader laugh. She presents the fruit of serious research into the quirky behaviour of the English in a highly entertaining fashion. (Most of what she writes could easily apply to Brits in general but it is a sign of her commitment to excellent scholarship that she narrows the focus to the people she actually studied, the English.) Well worth a read if you are English, to laugh a little at our own foibles and understand a bit more why we seem to tick the way we do. And if you are coming to the UK, there are few books which will genuinely introduce you to British habits and give you some insight into what makes us the way we are than this one. Great stuff.

Whose Religion is Christianity?: The Gospel Beyond the West
Whose Religion is Christianity?: The Gospel Beyond the West
by Lamin Sanneh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Christianity enters new cultures, 30 Mar. 2013
Sanneh is a master of his field, and an excellent communicator. He understands the historical development of Christianity in a cultural context better than anyone I know (mmm... maybe Andrew Walls is on a par, actually!) and is able to communicate what this means for contemporary Christianity. The Christian faith has never been locked into one cultural expression and Sanneh demonstrates how this has occurred through history and implications for the the global church today. A bit like Stephen Jenkins but not based on statistics, rather on understanding of history and faith today. Excellent.

Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers,
Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers,
by Kevin L DeYoung
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent approach to seeking guidance, 30 Mar. 2013
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There are not many books that I would recommend every Christian to read. This is one of them. You may not agree with everything that the author says (do you agree with everything anyone says, even yourself?), but I think you will be glad to have read it. And it's a short book so it won't even take you very long :-)

DeYoung does a great job of helping us get rid of the notion that God has a blueprint for every single aspect of our lives, and thus also doing away with the Sword of Damacles that hangs over us if we somehow fail to discover and follow this perfectly mapped out path. I fully share his appreciation of the place of "wisdom" in decision making, as something that can be cultivated, rather than just waiting for revelation to descend from heaven.

He is a little abrasive at times, and could sound condescending, but there again mincing his words would not help to get an idea across, particularly one which goes so sharply against the tide of popular Christian thinking.

Personally, I still expect slightly more from God in terms of "guidance" than DeYoung seems prepared to concede, but as an ongoing corrective we find in our obedience and action, not a prerequisite for doing anything. (He is very strong on not sitting around waiting for God to speak - hence the book's title.) "My sheep hear my voice" must still figure in the way we live our lives, and hearing God is an art that is worth developing. Paul's prayer for a spirit of "wisdom and revelation" is still my own - both of these, not an either/or. But in general terms he is spot on.

One quote that sums it up:

"Does God have a secret will of direction that He expects us to figure out before we do anything? And the answer is no. Yes, God has a specific plan for our lives. And yes, we can be assured that He works things for our good in Christ Jesus. And yes, looking back we will often be able to trace God's hand in bringing us where we are. But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining His will of direction for our lives ahead of time.

The second half of that last sentence is crucial. God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision. I'm not saying God won't help you make decisions (it's called wisdom, and we'll talk about it in chapter 8). I'm not saying God doesn't care about your future. I'm not saying God isn't directing your path and in control amidst the chaos of your life. I believe in providence with all my heart. What I am saying is that we should stop thinking of God's will like a corn maze, or a tight rope, or a bull's eye, or a choose-your-own adventure novel. [...]

God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That's wonderful. The problem is we think He's going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know --and need to know-- what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God's will, as well intended as the desire may be, is more folly than freedom. The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we're going."

All in all, well worth the read. Though who am I to tell you if it is God's will that you read this book or not...

The Reason for God
The Reason for God
by Timothy Keller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good presentation of Christian faith, 30 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The Reason for God (Paperback)
Keller writes well, he knows his stuff, and, perhaps most importantly, he knows the world in which he lives. In an age of encroaching secularisation and "anti-faith", it is great to read an intelligent yet easy to read presentation of the Christian faith from someone who ministers at the heart of the modern city, in New York.

The book is divided into two sections. The first, The Leap of Doubt, deals with the most common objections encountered by Keller in his dealings with people at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhattan. These chapters offer no unusual or spectacularly profound insights, nor trite answers, but they do offer reasonable responses to some basic objections to the Christian faith. (I especially missed something more substantial in the chapter in the reliability of the Bible; the chapter deals almost exclusively with the Gospels and thus Jesus' assessment of the Old Testament but fails to address some of the more hairy passages in the Old Testament, passages which are enthusiastically seized upon by those out to discredit Scripture and its message.) Those with serious misgivings may need to look elsewhere for more light, but what is presented should at least serve to show that Christianity is not a blind leap of faith and that thinking people have faced these questions and are still able to believe.

The second section, The Reasons for Faith, has some excellent material and the book is well worth the read for these alone. The chapters The Clues of God and The Knowledge of God are great introductions to the kind of answers - and questions - that radical atheists and materialists probably do not want to be forced to consider.

All in all, Keller gives a reasoned and attractive presentation of the option of Christian faith. An open-minded sceptic would gain much from reading this, and those who already confess the Christian faith will find food for thought and help in knowing how to address the very real questions they may encounter and present their faith in meaningful, relevant and respectful ways.

Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics)
Christianity Rediscovered (SCM Classics)
by Vincent J. Donovan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative contextualisation at its best, 30 Mar. 2013
Vincent Donovan writes with passion and life-experience of what it means to introduce Christ to a people in a way they can understand. His exploration of what contextualisation means in practice is gripping and informative. It is particularly insightful as he is speaking from the Roman Catholic tradition, yet seeks a way to not impose Roman tradition on African Christians. His candid exploration of themes such as marriage and the priesthood or the sacraments is fascinating. A must-read for anyone involved in cross-cultural Christian ministry.

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