April 2011

JRF’s #12 – Confessions by Augustine of Hippo

April 30, 2011 // 0 Comments

This book written between 398-400 AD by probably the most influential early Church father, Augustine of Hippo, is widely recognized as the first Western autobiography. Part journal, part autobiography and all parts worship, Confessions lets the reader peer into the window of Augustine’s prayer closet as he recounts back to God the spiritual, physical, intellectual, and emotional journeys that they have walked together. His writing is deeply theological, philosophical, honest and passionate…and at times hard to follow.  Seeing this work not as a traditional, chronological history or autobiography but as a series of fervent prayers ignited by Augustine’s memory and discernment of God’s loving hand in his personal history helps to keep pace with and more fully appreciate Augustine’s writing style. Although I have read about Augustine and interacted with excerpts of his writings before, this was my first time reading a complete work of his.  I understand why he has been so influential.  While many things flew over my head I constantly found myself being challenged and encouraged.  Many sections of this book were filled with pages of emotional sentences ending with question marks.  Questions like, “By what tricks and suggestions does the enemy lure me to desire some […]

Mark’s #17 – Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

April 27, 2011 // 0 Comments

I have my bachelor’s degree in Economics, which means I know enough about economics to know that I know very very little about economics.  Nonetheless, this refreshing look at economics and quantifiable human behavior was a fun read for me, as well as a reminder as to why I enjoyed studying economics in college. While the subtitle of this book certainly overstates it’s aim (is it really possible to explore the hidden side of everything?),  the authors did do a great job of showing how ‘conventional wisdom’ is often just plain wrong. Levitt is a highly sought after economist and professor of Economics at the University of Chicago.   In his relatively young career, his trademark has been to ask different questions and apply economic theory to life situations that are not normally considered in the scope of economics.  So for example, in this book, the authors ask provocative questions such as, “Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?” And, “How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents?” Chapter one asks the question, “What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?”  Answer: Given the right conditions and incentives, we’re all tempted to cheat. […]

Mark’s #16 – The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

April 27, 2011 // 0 Comments

This book marks the third legal thriller I’ve read this year, and the first Michael Connelly book I’ve ever read. Though I enjoyed the first two legal thrillers, by Randy Singer and John Grisham, I have to say that this is the best,  most believable, well-written, most suspenseful of the three. Since it is a thriller/mystery, I don’t like to go into too much plot detail. Briefly put, the story is a first person account of  defense laywer Mickey Haller, aka- The Lincoln Lawyers.  Traveling in his Lincoln through Los Angeles’ rougher neighborhoods to meet with various clients who are criminals and convicts, Mickey is a shrewd lawyer and businessman.  Like most defense lawyers, Mickey spends most of his time either working out suitable plea deals, or trying to expose the cracks and flaws of the prosecutions case against his clients. Connelly does well to lead the reader to have uncomfortable feelings about, what many would consider, a sleazy defense lawyer, while still drawing the reader into wanting him to succeed. As a defense lawyer for some of the worst criminals in southern California, Mickey realizes the vast majority of his clients are guilty as charged – but he’s not […]

Brad’s no. 3: Radical by David Platt

April 23, 2011 // 0 Comments

Radical is a powerful and convicting book that I recommend to all Christians lving in a wealthy nation.  Growing up in the church and attending Bible college, the teachings never shied away from the dangers of loving money.  Upon reflection, however, this was always done in the context of the wealth of our country.  What David Platt aims to do in Radical is shift the paradigm of our thinking to view our prosperity in light of the world’s plight and — most importantly — in light of our earthly purpose for eternity.  Guilt is not the intended response.  Instead, it is a call to love Christ with reckless abandon.  To follow the model of Jesus by loving the world at our own expense.  The greatest dangers to Christianity are never external: persecution, want, suffering, and the like are shown to galvanize Christ followers, separate out the chaff, and provide a platform on which God’s amazing grace and mercy can be lavished on his children.  Instead, Western Christianity celebrates our ease of life and thereby grows complacent with mediocrity.  Radical calls us to trust God and his promises, even when they seem dangerous or foolish by worldly standards. The title of […]

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