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God's Fool: The Life and Times of Francis of Assisi (Perennial library)
God's Fool: The Life and Times of Francis of Assisi (Perennial library)
by Julien Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.13

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A portrait of a saint, 3 Nov. 2000
There are few books that deserve a full five stars as much as God's Fool. I love this book. Julien Green has written a compelling, thoughtful, and moving picture of St. Francis. Green lovingly synthesizes a ton of material about Francis into a story about what can happen to a fully human, fully sinful person when they are touched by the love of God. God's Fool was a joy to read. There are not many books that I have enjoyed more. I recommend it wholeheartedly to everybody.

The Courage to be (The Terry Lectures)
The Courage to be (The Terry Lectures)
by Paul Tillich
Edition: Paperback

14 of 59 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What kind of book is this being?, 3 Nov. 2000
...I know of no sane person who has read his systematic all the way through without having been compelled by someone higher up in the power structure of academia.
This leads me to the thesis of my review. Tillich was not a theologian or as some would no doubt suggest, a philosopher. I cannot put my finger on exactly what he was. The most honest and least vitriolic (though this book simply begs for vitriol) description I can provide of this book is that it is vague. Tillich seems to want to make some universalist and yet subjective statement about courage and anxiety, but he never pulls the trigger on it. He dances round and round the subject, leaving the reader both tired and queasy.
This leads me back to the question of Tillich. Is this book the work of Tillich the theologian, Tillich the existentialist philosopher, or an undefined, wholly other Tillich? I don't know. However I do believe I know who Tillich was writing for; and I believe this is the key to our question about Tillich, meaningful as part of understanding the book, and of the utmost importance to you as you consider whether or not to buy and read this book. It is my sincere belief that this book was written for that all too common half-breed that is found in our universities: the Liberal Academic (those who are too lacking in honesty to be true scholars and yet still fearful enough to admit their own atheism).
Tillich is still widely read by captive audiences under the tutelage of these academics. This ensures why this book is still read and discussed. This notwithstanding I urge you to take my honest and heartfelt advice: don't read this book unless one of them forces you to.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2013 2:09 PM BST

The Carmelite Way
The Carmelite Way
by John Welch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The riches of the Carmelites, 3 Nov. 2000
This review is from: The Carmelite Way (Paperback)
If you have ever opened a door for the first time and been blown away by the vista that presented itself to your vision, then you will begin to understand what it is like to read The Carmelite Way by John Welch.
Welch manages to present an amazing overview of the history of the Carmelite order. In this book, modern Christians are confronted by a form of Christianity that is altogether different from what we see in most of the traditions that are prevalent in today's world.
The Carmelite story is rich and colorful. It is a story of a spirituality with roots that come from a fountain on a mountain (Mt Carmel) in the desert-and the saints that first sojourned there. It is a song that sings beautifully of the themes of failure and renewal.
Welch gives not only a great overview of the history of the Carmelites; he also delves into the riches of Carmelite teachings and thought; outlining a path for the modern pilgrim.
I know of no better introduction to the Carmelite tradition. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the life of and through the Spirit.

Visions of Gerard
Visions of Gerard
by Jack Kerouac
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.43

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars looking back..., 3 Nov. 2000
This review is from: Visions of Gerard (Paperback)
Of all the writers of the twentieth century, this guy, Jack Kerouac, spoke most eloquently to me in my teen years. Visions of Gerard was the first of his books that I read. Whatever else one thinks of the author, it must be noted that in this book there is a sweetness rarely matched elswhere.
Kerouac has a talent for uncovering the true secret serenity that lies waiting behind the pointless muchness and manyness that often occupies our time as we toil under the sun.
Kerouac's love for his brother is palpable in the pages of this book. The beautiful poetry of Kerouac's prose is like the free flow of a fountain sounding forth admiration and love for Gerard.
Kerouac's Buddhism permeates the story as well. What I once found fascinating, I now regard as misguided. Although Kerouac failed, as we all must, to understand many of the inescapable twists and turns people encounter in life, ("Samsara" in Buddhism) and although he ultimately drowned in the "stuff" of life, this book shows that he had a spirit free from the poison of hate. This, I must admit, is not only noble, but worthy of emulation.
Altogether, I believe that Visions of Gerard contains a good deal of beauty and much that is admirable in character. It is a book worth checking out.

Out of the Silent Planet
Out of the Silent Planet
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Paperback

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing adventure., 3 Nov. 2000
Once again, I have fallen in love with a book by C.S. Lewis. "Out of the Silent Planet" takes its place alongside "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", "Till We Have Faces", "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", "Mere Christianity", "The Great Divorce", "The Screwtape Letters", and "The Last Battle" as books Lewis has written that I believe everyone should read.
I am astounded by Lewis' creative imagination. The planet of Malacandra is a profound idea expressed beautifully. I do not wish to go into too many details because discovery is the real joy in reading this book. However, I must say that Ransom is one of Lewis' most complex and compelling (if somewhat ambiguous) protagonists; and of my favorites.
I thoroughly enjoyed Out of the Silent Planet. I sincerely encourage you to acquire this book and read it. It is an amazing adventure.

A History of Israel (Old Testament library)
A History of Israel (Old Testament library)
by John Bright
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.10

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In DEPTH..., 3 Nov. 2000
A History of Israel is an in depth (and I mean DEPTH) journey back into time. Taking the reader back to the very edge of the mists of prehistory, John Bright then lays out, in a point by point fashion, the whole sweep of time in the near east up until the appearance of a certain Galilean who forever changed the world.
A History of Israel is very in depth, very packed with useful information. Bright has written a wonderful book. It did (as most history books are likely to) set off my anti-scholarship allergy a few times. However, it is very worthy of being read.
I give this book a very high recommendation. Bright's presentation is clear, at certain points even lively. It thoroughly deals with the developments in each time period. It delivers the reader to one heck of a destination-one of eternal significance-that beautiful moment in time where the Messiah asked a very pointed question that many are still in need of answering: "Who do you say that I am?"

Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers
Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers
by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars gorgeous book, 3 Nov. 2000
Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers is a gorgeous book. It is a series of ridiculous juxtapositions; my favorite of which being the wonderful illustration for "goats never shave." The pictures for "Moose don't go bowling" and "Fish don't eat bagels" made me laugh.
My wife (who is very practical) says that the book is "useful" because after you read the book to a child, you can then give them a sheet that says something like: --blank-- don't wear --blank--. The child may then fill in the blanks and draw their own ridiculous picture-thereby expanding their imagination.
Underhanded schemes and ulterior motives aside, this book is cute; and worth a look.

Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.75

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The struggle of being human, 3 Nov. 2000
This review is from: Us (Audio CD)
Desires, relationships, communication, the struggle of being imperfect humans in an imperfect world...Grace, and what it means to love and live in this world. All of these things echo throughout this collection of songs. "US" is one of my favorite recordings. It has a depth that few others in my collection have ever even come close to matching.
The music varies greatly in sound and style; with all of it working to great effect:
The pulsing rhythms of the percussion on "Love to be Loved" flow as a gentle undercurrent working in combination with very understated keyboards. The way the instrumental music on this song serves as a canvass for Gabriel's whisper-like vocals is pure genius. The song itself is about cutting loose the habitual need for human love. It is a musically gentle yet emotionally searing exposition on the pain caused when a relationship dies.
The "Blood of Eden" contains some of the most beautiful lyrics ever written in English (just my not-so-humble opinion). It speaks of the human habit of constantly starting to love, to seek union, without taking stock of our true selves and our true motives. It speaks of coming to the realization of who one really is with beautiful language: "I caught sight of my reflection, I caught it in the window; I saw the darkness in my heart. I saw the signs of my undoing. They had been there from the start." It speaks of our wanting union. The song begins by focusing on the union of women and men. Upon deeper reflection the song moves on to speak of a deeper need for union than the marital framework provides: "I can hear the distant thunder of a million unheard souls, of a million unheard souls-watch each one reach for creature comfort for the filling of their holes." One should look at this particular song in the context of the main theme of this album: relationships. In the context of the language of these songs and the theme of relationships, it is notable that the way in which the "Blood of Eden" speaks of the desire of union between people is much the same as it (and a few of the other songs) later comes to phrase the desire of union with something higher-namely: God. The desire for union with God is wholly natural. It is what we were created for. It is the only way can truly be fulfilled. However, when we begin to put God-like expectations on our relationships with others, we are bound to fail. It is desire of this kind of union, that of one person to another with expectations that only God can fulfill, that is at the root of much of the pain expressed in this album-and if we are honest-our own lives.
"Washing of the Water" is a song that I can relate to in a very deep way. It is possibly my favorite track on the disc. For those who have found themselves adrift in the seeming nothingness of this life, this song speaks eloquently of how hard it is to finally find freedom in that very sense of what can only be termed as "adrift-ness". The very river we are drowning in can lift us up when we pass through the roar and ceaseless motion of our daily lives. Having done this one may enter into the silence; where we are able to hear that still, small voice. It is then, and only then, in that total surrender to our loving Father's will, that we grasp the direction and purpose of this life. In this peace, in this truth we are finally at rest and capable of not only laying aside our pain, but upon further consideration of it, to realize that it too is joy.
"Secret World", the final track, serves as a retrospective summation of the theme of relationships that permeates the entire recording. The summation is not a statement but a question that each of us who has ever experienced the death of a relationship would do well to ponder over: "in all the places we were hiding love, what was it we were thinking of?"
The other tracks of the album are wonderful as well. "Kiss That Frog" is endearingly humorous. "Come Talk To Me" heroically kicks off the album and contains some great lyrics. "Steam" is a typical Peter Gabriel expression (dare I say celebration) of lust. "Only Us" is a powerful statement of self-awareness and the journey back to the land we once called home. "Digging in the Dirt" combines the beauty and rage encountered when we make that self-discovery. "Fourteen Black Paintings" is a truly beautiful musical/spoken word piece about the temporal reality of humanity.
This album confronts the listener about the challenges inherent in being human. It is one of my favorite albums. It leads one to cry out for grace-and that cry, when answered, leads us to fulfillment. I give this disc my highest recommendation.

Clown of God
Clown of God
by Tomie dePaola
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.62

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerfully moving story, 3 Nov. 2000
This review is from: Clown of God (Paperback)
The Clown of God is one of the most powerfully moving books I have read in a long time. This is the story of the adventures of Giovanni, a poor boy whose ability to entertain brings him renown.
The book is full of beautiful illustrations. Tomie de Paola brings real love to the pictures. Giovanni, the people he meets, and the Italian countryside come alive in de Paola's renderings. The visuals in this book dance with color and emotion. However, there are things that run deeper than pretty pictures in these pages.
Henri Nouwen once wrote:
"There is a deep hole in your being, like an abyss. You will never succeed in filling that hole, because your needs are inexhaustible."
Nouwen essentially said that the only solution in this life is to work near the hole. To avoid the twin temptations of dwelling in your pain or working so much that you drown your pain out with the noise of an overly busy life.
Giovanni is representative of all those who get caught in the snare of these temptations. He carries the hole, yet denies its nature. In his youth he believes his hole to be mere physical hunger. Allowing the rumbling of his stomach to overpower the groaning of the Spirit, he begins performing in order to try and fill his hole. Unfortunately, treating the symptom never cures the disease. As Giovanni grows older he avoids his hole by allowing the din of worldly success and the cheering of the crowds to drown out the insistence of the still, small voice... Get the book and witness it for yourself.

The Crown and the Fire: Meditations on the Cross and the Life of the Spirit
The Crown and the Fire: Meditations on the Cross and the Life of the Spirit
by N. T. Wright
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquence and Insight, 3 Nov. 2000
The Crown and the Fire by N.T. Wright is a book well worth not only reading, but contemplating for some time.
As the extended title says, this book is a collection of "Meditations on the Cross and the Life of the Spirit." Each of these meditations are wonderfully instructive. One reason why is that none of them come at a given topic from the same perspective. Each piece is not only well thought out, but also thought in a totally different way from the others.
The first half of the book is a collection of meditations on various bystanders at the crucifixion and their reactions to the suffering and death of Jesus. My two favorites are: "Son, we have sought you sorrowing", and "What I have written I have written". The former speaks movingly of Mary's role as Theotokos, the God-Bearer. The piece beautifully illustrates the role of Christians, more accurately-the call of Christians to be Theotokoi, God-Bearers, in the world of today. The latter shows just how radical the message of Jesus was and is. It clearly illustrates how the call to follow the Savior has always been and will always be one that leads to conflict with the world.
The second part contains six pieces on various topics such as the call of God and the groaning of the Spirit.
My favorite piece in the second half is called "The New Creation". Which is a reflection on John 21 and what it means to live as a New Creation. This piece contains a wonderful passage:
"The word became flesh, said St John, and the Church has turned the flesh back into words: words of good advice, words of comfort, words of wisdom and encouragement, yes, but what changes the world is flesh, words with skin on them, words that hug you and play with you and love you and rebuke you and build houses with you and teach your children in school."
I wish I could express the depth and insight of some of these reflections here. Unfortunately, I am ill suited for the task. Since I cannot, you'll just have to buy the book and see for yourself.

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