Monthly Archives: May 2012


JRF’s #8 – Towards Spiritual Maturity by William Still

I had never heard of Scottish pastor William Still but three things attracted me to this book:

  1. - It was short
  2. - I liked the title
  3. - Sinclair B. Ferguson recommend it with these words, “He remains the person whose ministry has made the deepest impression on me.”

I am glad I picked it up.  I had been unaware of how I had let my confidence in God’s sovereignty allow me to drift into a lazy apathy.  Still called me back to the battlefield and showed me how God’s sovereign work on the cross was both the reason I am at battle as well as the power against the enemies within and without that rage against my soul.  The Cross of Christ wages war against my sinful flesh and protects me from the very real Satan.

I particulary appreciated Still’s chapter entitled The Military Training of the Christian Soldier which laid out the truth that at times we need to know how and to what Refuge we are to retreat from evil, at times we are able to stand firm against the onslaught of the Evil One, and how and when we are to advance against the forces of Darkness with the Truth and Life of the Risen Savior.

I will be chewing and digesting this one for years to come.  I encourage you to dig in yourself.




JRF’s #7 – The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

This is the Temple of Doom of the John Carter series.  Dark, creepy, adventurous and awesome.

Picking up ten years after A Princess of Mars ended, John Carter is finally transported back to Barsoom (Mars), eager to be reunited to his beloved princess, Dejah Thoris.  Yet when he wakes up he is in a dark corner of Barsoom that he has no knowledge of.  He soon finds that he must battle his way out of the very center of the holiest city on Mars, the headquarters of the diabolical cannibalistic false deity that holds the planet under her spell.

Action packed and ending with a heart-wrenching cliff hanger, this book makes for an entertaining read.


I’m not one to try to read too deep into these kind of books but at many times I wondered if Burrows was making a subtle attack on religion in general through this book.  A Princess of Mars seemed to be critiquing communism at times, an ideaology which was gaining a lot of traction at the time of its writing.  I could see the theme of exposing false mythologies and traditions in The Gods of Mars as Burroughs way of commenting on the modernization of his era.  Again, these are only my conjectures.






Mark’s #18 – Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

From the back of the book:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

‘Well, I’m a panda,’ he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. ‘Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.’

Who knew there could be a witty, engaging, and entertaining book about punctuation?  This is that book.

Author Lynne Truss, a self designated grammar ‘stickler ‘, helps readers learn the proper use of all those different points of punctuation in the english language.  Along the way, she points out some of the most common errors and their grammatically tragic consequences (see Panda illustration above).

This book is a rallying call for a return to proper punctuation usage in an internet and texting age that seems to be racing to destroy thoughtful and grammatically consistent use of the english language. There is even a Punctuation Repair Kit included, which is full of stickers of commas, colons, semicolons, and question marks for sticklers to correct public punctuation errors.

*I realize I probably misused some punctuation in this post… Sticklers, feel free to point these out.


Mark’s #17 – Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

This relatively short Crichton book is unique and engaging.  Chrichton sets up the book to be an ancient travelogue manuscript in the year 922 A.D. from an arab courier of the caliph of Baghdad.  As inspiration, Chrichton used both the story of Beowulf and  Ahmad Ibn Fadlans personal account of his actual journey north and his experiences with and observations of Vikings.

As a muslim, Ibn is appalled by filthy and barbaric vikings who conscript him into their journey northward to battle the ‘eaters of the dead’ – a terror that plagues the men of the north, a near-human (Neanderthal men by Chrichtons account)  army of creatures that invade each evening when under the cover of darkness and mist.  For several weeks, and several battles and adventures, Ibn is transformed into a warrior like his viking counterparts.

While not Crichton’s best work, the books unique perspective and short length make this a worthwhile summer read by the pool or beach.



Mark’s #16 – Time and Again by Jack Finney

Simon Morely was an illustrator for a local ad agency in New York City when he was approached by a government agent with “the opportunity of a lifetime”.  The top-secret government program which enables Simon to step into New York City 1882.  While there, Simon gets caught up in uncovering a historical mystery as well as a romantic interest.

I’m a fan of time travel movies and books. As such, I discovered that many people consider Jack Finney to be the preeminent author in the genre (he’s written several books and short stories about time travel).  Naturally, I was excited to read this ‘classic’ time travel book…

I was disappointed at first.  The story seemed to move slowly and the time-travel details seemed vague, if not nonexistent (I like the theories and details).  However, I persevered and continued to read… I’m glad I did.  The strength of this book is found in the story of Simon’s life in 1882.  The author does an excellent job of transporting the reader to what New York City must have been like in 1882.  Along the way,  there are several illustrations and photographs provided by Simon to help the reader ‘see’ NYC.

While the time-travel details, conundrums, and paradoxes are a bit scarce, the plot, characters, and surprises make this book an enjoyable and rich experience.

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