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The End of Many Books

The Inner Game of Tennis

by Tim Gallwey

I’d had this in my queue for a while. I almost did NOT get it when I found out that Bill Gates claims it as his favorite book. But I listened anyway.

It was…fine? Interesting? Encouraging? A helpful sort of distracting while I was walking up and down steep hills?

It definitely doesn’t acknowledge total depravity, as Gallwey claims that our inner/intuitive Self 2 is naturally good and just needs to stop getting lectured by the conscious/judgy-pants Self 1. That said, sure, there’s a way to overcorrect with constant self-criticism that would hinder improvement. Don’t do that.

2 of 5 stars

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The End of Many Books

Summer Lightning

by P.G. Wodehouse

It’s been a few years since enjoying my last Wodehouse novel. This one has much ado about the Empress of Blandings.

It wasn’t quite as fun-on-every-page as some of my previous reads, say, with Jeeves. And sometimes I did have trouble keeping track of the different antics of Mr. Fish, Mr. Carmody, and Mr. Baxter. But I got what I came for, including some new delightful analogies:

  • “a face like the Soul’s Awakening”
  • “a man who ought to have had the liver of the century”
  • “a look which would have aroused pique in a slug”
  • “acting like a barbed-wire entanglement in the path of true love”

as well as some vocabulary entries in my commonplace book:

  • nobble
  • tocsin
  • chatelaine

3 of 5 stars

Categories
The End of Many Books

Eggs Are Expensive, Sperm Is Cheap

by Greg Krehbiel

This was my second read, a constructive tangent part of my prep to preach Titus 2:4-5 and 6. I’ve also got a planned message on the biblical/religious reasons to resist sending our daughters into combat/war/police work.

The title is the main idea is the value proposition that does the work of the book. It really does demand consideration, biologically, economically, familial-y, civilizational-y, and morally.

The author references the Bible at one point, but his arguments aren’t Christian, even if Christians have enough general and special revelation from which we might say a lot of similar things.

This might not be the first book off the shelf for addressing the distinct glories of men and women, but is a good and provocative and practical resource about God-given realities.

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The End of Many Books

Bed and Board

by Robert Capon

I’ve only read a couple things by Capon, but, man, he makes me care about caring more.

Bed and Board is very good. The Supper of the Lamb is very great. One significant difference, that really has everything to do with the writer rather than the writing, is that Bed and Board is directly aimed at marriage and family, and Capon himself divorced his wife, who had given him six children, after 27 years.

Now anyone who teaches/talks/writes probably can say better than live, and yet, a certain line is crossed where one’s walk undoes a significant portion of one’s talk. 

Anyway, knowing all we do, the pages are still profitable, and encourage faithful pursuing and practicing of the right thing. Highly recommended, even with above caveats.

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The End of Many Books

Life in the Negative World

by Aaron Renn

Good categories are good. A good category is clear, and as simple as it can be. It’s good to know what we’re dealing with.

Renn’s categories work.

The title of the book is the third category: Life in the Negative World. It is a timely book, as in, it concerns current events. It also has local concerns, for those swimming/flailing in the waters of Western Civ, and maybe most for those in America.

Positive world refers to when being a Christian made things better, so much so that you might identify as a Christian even if you didn’t follow Christ as a disciple. Society/culture/business/neighbors treated you better as a Christian.

Neutral world refers to when being a Christian didn’t matter. It was one option among many options. It didn’t help or hurt to identify as one. Of course, tolerance of alternative/opposing belief systems is mostly a Christian idea, but tolerance could be a virtue (for a while) even if people couldn’t connect it to a transcendent principle.

Negative world refers to when being a Christian is bad, when Christians and Christian churches become a scapegoat for society’s anxieties.

Renn makes the case that we are in the negative world now. There is compelling evidence that this is mostly true.

Renn also provides some basic counsel for what to do in the negative world, counsel that is more optimistic that The Benedict Option, and less optimistic than evangelicals living in their pretended hopes of still being in the positive world.

It’s worth reading no matter your quibbles. I am recommending it for our men’s group at church. Realizing that we, as Christians, need to build more in negative world is better than thinking we need to be all battle all the time.

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The End of Many Books

A Small Cup of Light

by Ben Palpant

My favorite Spurgeon sermon is “The Christian’s Heaviness and Rejoicing.” It’s from 1 Peter 1:6, and Spurgeon distinguishes two types of trials, those external and those internal. You could have both at the same time, sure, but heaviness might be a God-given trial inside even when there’s nothing extra-wrong on the outside.

A Small Cup of Light describes the frustrations and doubts and questions and struggles related to a physical problem(s), but the physical issues, as debilitating as they were, were not the most difficult, even paralyzing.

Sometimes you just need to hold on. Sometimes you can’t fix it. Sometimes the trial is of your faith, not a trial where your faith is strong. These are hard. Palpant’s testimony is good, and in no way easy. It’s hard to explain to those who haven’t been under the heaviness, and this is as reasonable and encouraging attempt as could be.

4 of 5 stars

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The End of Many Books

Israelology

by Arnold Fruchtenbaum

Don’t buy this beast of a book. That said, I don’t know of any other book that would be better on the subject. It’s a dilemma. Ha!

People have a lot of thoughts about “the Jews,” especially the kind of social-media posters that the algorithm puts in my Twitter timeline. Providentially, Israel and Hamas went to war (this recent round) in-between when I started and when I finished reading this book. But that conflict is only one reason why Israel/Jews are a current concern.

But Israel/Jews are a permanent concern to God, even eternally so. The LORD made multiple covenants with the nation/people of Israel, and He either changed His mind or He still has fulfillments of His Word to bring about.

I am not Jewish. To my knowledge I don’t have any Jewish neighbors. But I do want to care about what God cares about. It’s not obvious to me that a lot of Christians are trying to do that.

Anyway, Israelology is a repetitive book, which is one reason that it’s a thousand pages long. It was originally a doctrinal thesis, and academic things are more academicy if they’re tedious, right? Once Fruchtenbaum gets past his definitions (and demolitions) of what he thinks are erroneous positions things get better.

Premillennial Dispensationalism (which is what Israelology seeks to demonstrate as true) is the red-headed stepchild of the Reformed world. For that matter, the Truly Reformed wouldn’t even allow a Premil-Dispy to identify with Reformed colors. Fine.

As I said, this book is repetitive. For my taste Fruchtenbaum overstates his case on occasion, and that’s coming from someone who likes spicy rhetoric and bitter drinks.

Israel is a subject God cares about. His promises and provisions for the Jews, past and present and future, are all over the Bible. Israeology is indeed an appropriate subject for systematic theology. But that same Bible has a lot to say against dualism/pietism and this-world-is-badism, which Israelology the book misses. So don’t buy it unless you really need to, but if you do need to, you really should.

3 of 5 stars

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Unburdened Reverence

Just as being healthy in faith, in love, and in steadfastness is not limited to older men (Titus 2:2), so being reverent in demeanor is not limited as a good only for older women (Titus 2:3).

I think we learn much about the practice of reverence by the drip-drip-drip of weekly communion. It is inescapable; around the Table we learn one type of reverence or another.

We know that there is an unworthy manner of participation (1 Corinthians 11:27), with drastic consequences (1 Corinthians 11:29-30), so especially around the Lord’s Table we take care. How we take care, how we behave ourselves here, becomes a measuring stick for practicing reverence elsewhere.

Reverence has been boiled down to seriousness, on the solemn side, flirting even with isolation and self-focus. “I will be serious. How dare you not be serious, evidenced by that smile on your face.” We think we prove our seriousness by putting our heads down and closing our eyes, afraid to make any sounds.

And who would say that blurting out isn’t selfish, or that fools aren’t focused on themselves? Indeed. But…

The only Supper that should’ve been so cheerless was the only one eaten before Christ died, and so the only one eaten before Christ rose again. Every Supper since remembers the finished work, the forgiveness purchased, with the Son of God risen again to fulfill His intention for His Bride (Ephesians 5:25-27).

So let your reverence be relieved and unburdened, in shared and uniting supernatural joy, full of the peace of God that passes the understanding of men.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Making – or Breaking – Households

We’ve started sorting different groups in Titus 2, which, regardless of particulars, making divisions at all offends some today who want to define all their identity all by themselves. But God made male and female, and for that matter, He made young to grow old. He knows our stock strengths, He knows our typical sins.

Like men, women can be stereotyped, because they are a class, and Scripture shows us how it’s done. There are virtues naturally embodied by women, there are snares naturally tempting to women.

Women, by God’s design, make or break households and generations. Yes, God made men heads of house, God holds husbands and fathers accountable first, but that doesn’t change Eve’s power, or the power of her daughters.

Everybody feels it. Solomon had wisdom—and courage—to write these proverbs.

  • “a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain” (Proverbs 19:13)
  • “it is better to live in a corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 21:9; 25:24)
  • “it is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman” (Proverbs 21:19)

By the time we come to Proverbs 31, we see the queen mother warning and instructing her son about what will make his kingdom great. She says,

Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. (Proverbs 31:3)

A sinful woman — through her discontent, her selfishness, her anxiety, her fault-finding, her trivial disagreements, her hammering words — destroys families, nations, even generations. Ladies, fear the Lord, and confess your sins.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

A Table for Our Health

While specifically written for older men (Titus 2:2), being “sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” would be healthy for all Christians.

If your faith was fragile, if your love was out of shape, if your steadfastness was questionable, how would you increase them?

Among other things, our regular remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice at the Lord’s Supper should help.

Faith is personal, but in an accomplished fact, and even more, in a faithful Person. Trust Him who is the resurrection and the life.

Love is also personal, and when we wonder what it looks like, we look at the cross first. You are loved, nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ. His Spirit dwells in You, so love as you’ve been loved.

As for endurance, none of us have resisted sin to the point of bloodshed. And the only man ever to finish His race without giving in to temptation is Jesus. Jesus, who is the “author and finisher of our faith” (KJV), “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Remember Jesus, remember the joy He promises.

Here is a Table for our health, as believers and as the Body of Christ. Believe! Love! Hold on! Christ who is your life will return for you.