Author Archives: Rob Hickok

The Authors List – My Writing Roundup

This is a post to get my Authors List out on the feeds. Pages don’t generate updates to following readers, so I’m reposting it as an actual blog entry. The real page is here: http://lordandhearth.com/authors/ – I update as often as I read new books or come up with new commentary for stuff I’ve done in the past.

http://lordandhearth.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/b529b-carl_spitzweg_bookworm.jpg?w=299&h=561

Sorting is Fun

A Literary Sampler

Even More Highly Updated, Alphabetized and Tabled! Includes opinionated, reasonably inaccurate, unmistakeably misleading or exuberantly monotonous reviews of many authors and titles. In the package, you’ll find a long but incomplete list of authors who’ve crossed my path. Some are good, some abysmal. I haven’t commented on all, but those most notable (or not worth mentioning) should have something attached in the form of commendation or warning.

Edit on 9 August 2015: New Author: Krakauer.

Edits on 27 July 2015: New Author: Dalrymple. Updated Authors: Adams, Alexander, Anthony, Asimov, Brooks, Bunyan, Clemens, Constantine, Donaldson, London,  Rand.

New Feature: Coming up – Authors in progress and on my list to read.  Sam Kieth (One Man’s Wilderness), Zane Grey, Four new Carroll books (2 non-fiction), E. M. Forster, Upton Sinclair, James Joyce.

Use your ctrl-f function to search for names in the list.

Adams, Douglass (“Hitchhikers Guide”, Dirk Gently) The general interrelated mish-mash of all things is a concept to live by. Funny and sometimes very insightful dive into the intricacies of thought, not necessarily based on quality, rather quantity.Adams reflects my own tendency to come to conclusions based on apparently random input. One of the most formative books for my mind is his Long Dark Teatime of the Soul. Definitely recommended.A great companion read would be Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Both Pratchett and Adams are masters of blending funny and serious, parody and philosophical into a coherent story that just rolls along.
Adams, Richard (Watership Down) More cute animals, only they were pretty serious. I love this one too, just like Wind in the Willows. Saw the movie and got the book right afterward. Epic.(Shardik) was entirely off the subject of Watership Down, chronicling the evolution of an entire religion based on a bear of mythic proportions. Blood and terror in the guise of a few misguided choices, religious fervor and primitive superstition. Quite a mind-bender.
Aesop (Fabled to be great).
Alexander, Lloyd (The Black Cauldron) Another childhood memory that I frequently. It’s simple, but filled with plenty of Celtic mythology. Still as good as ever. I should read Westmark someday.A really good piece to read after this series is Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle.
Andersen, Hans Christian (Shoes and such).
Anthony, Piers (Isle of Woman, Incarnations) His books are good studies of people and relationships. I really enjoyed “watching” the people in these books.Isle is a pretty remarkable study of a family that spans generations from stone-age to future-age. The unique twist here is that each generation skips to the next epoch. Tom begets Harry, Tom is a cave-man and Harry is a village-dwelling agro. Harry’s kid is a city-slicker in Mesopotamia and so-on. The incarnations were definitely NOT representative of immortality in reality, but they were entertaining, both funny and thought-provoking.I love science fiction for its insane culture and social studies. Get a bizarre situation and throw normal people into it, stir, enjoy.
Appleton, Victor (Tom Swift)This series is like the Hardy Boys, only for nerds. I will maintain my opinion of the excellence of these books to any who ask. Okay, I was too nerdy for “The Hardy Boys.” These books, series I, II and III were what got me hooked on reading. I would not read my half-a-million words per week were it not for Victor Appleton’s stories.
Aristotle (Smart Guy).
Asimov, Isaac (Sci-Fi, math, history, science) His research skills are awesome. His insight is opinionated. Historical opinion, especially on the Bible must be taken with a grain of salt (or hallucinatory stuff, depending on how picky you are).Asimov has been a good companion over the last years. His work, though not quite in line with my worldview as far as society goes, has many times brought me to think hard about interaction with others.Much of his ideas regarding humans as a race are, as with Heinlein, worth the effort of fitting into our own thoughts. The Foundation series, and his Guide to the Bible (not from a Christian point of view, mind you) are thought-provoking and challenging. I have enjoyed the Foundation Trilogy a couple of times, and it is certain to remain on my shelf of rotating reads for the foreseeable future.
Aspirin, Robert (Sci-Fi) I have read all the Phule’s Company stories; a goofy collection of tales about a motley menagerie of misfits who conduct special military operations, led by their equally goofy genius commander who operates under the guise of a rich playboy. Truly cool, right in line with Pratchett and Piers Anthony. One step shy of Douglass Adams.
Bahnsen, Greg L. Postmil Theonomist. Read his Theonomy in Christian Ethics. Hard, repetitive, drowning in factoids. I remain convinced he was working too hard to prove what is still conjecture.
Baillie, John (Christian Devotion) Wonderful stuff, I need to read it again.
Baum, L. Frank (THE WIZ) A more delightful and whimsical set of books you’ll never find. All of them are fantastic, with nuggets of ingenious creativity throughout.
Bear, Greg (Darwin’s Children and Radio) Really entertaining. Definitely not believable (which I prefer for fiction). He and David Brin did some expansive work in Asimov’s Foundation universe, fitting new material that was barely discernible from Asimov’s writing.
Berg, Jim (“Changed into His Image” and “Created for His Glory”) I can only thank the Lord for this man’s work. Changed really did just as advertised. I read it twice and I’m different twice because. Conviction straight from the Bible. This resource is quite handy for drilling in basic piety, good practices and getting a decent perspective on how we should look as Christians.
Bonar, Horatius (Poetic Preaching) Fantastic work on the Christian life. His essays are immensely insightful and helpful. Highly recommended for sinners in need of a savior and Christians in need of a good, solid perspective of life and relationship with their God.
Bond, Michael (Paddington) Cute bear, ‘nough said.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (The Cost of Discipleship) Rocked my world in many ways. Showed me how carried away I can get and how vital my commitment is. This is a moving book that can shake jelly-fish Christianity. More people should benefit from this.
Bradbury, Ray (Farenheit) I’m hoping the world ends before this happens. It’s too easy to envision and too frightening and depressing to enjoy reading twice. I like the idea of brass pipes. Thought about making one someday to try it out (tobacco, fools). I was struck by the all-to-believable sympathetic individuals who turned on their peers as soon as the masses required. And it wasn’t a pat ending, either, when the results of the heroes’ plight were published.(Dandelion Wine) An unexpected treat I discovered, recommended by somewhere on the media globe. A look into the past, like an invisible visitor recording just what happened in ordinary lives, but very special lives.
Bradley, Marion Zimmer (Mists Of Avalon) Beautiful twist on Arthur and His Knights. It’s written from the viewpoint of the women in the legend, which opened up a lot of new territory for imagination. I really enjoyed the perspective, the well-developed background creativity that enhanced the old legend and the nicely integrated subplots. Epic books.
Brooks, Terry (fantasy) I read the original trilogy in the late ’80s, when I was thoroughly immersed in consuming sci-fi and fantasy. Fantastic, but I couldn’t keep up as Brooks just didn’t pull off epic, insightful, original or any of the other qualities I look for in fiction.I agree mostly with Brooks’ critics in seeing too much Tolkien in the books. I guess quantity is a mark of an author, but it’s not enough for me.His foray into the Star Wars franchise was about as awesome as the episodes for which he wrote (read: BLECH).
Brown, Dan (“The Davinci Code” and “Angels and Demons”) Made me want to travel to Europe and see all the old cathedrals and castles and such. He did a really good job of describing the setting. His ideas were junk, based on junk and really just suck, like junk. Here’s a tidbit about conspiracy theories: The more you ingest conspiracy, the more paranoid you become and the more your outlook becomes bleak and hopeless. Conspiracy breeds anti-Christ. It is too easy to lose sight of the truth, that there is a God, sovereign and real, who personally relates to man and really does run the show. If there is a conspiracy, it is that which is portrayed in the Bible. Creation, Fall, Redemption, Judgment.
Buckland, Raymond (Pagan) A big compendium of paganry. I no longer recommend this or other new-agery. Rhymes with sewagery.
Buffett, Jimmy (Parrots Normal Writers) I prefer the music but my Wife doesn’t, so the book is less offensive.
Bunyan, John Progressing. It’s an allegory, stiff and supposed to be inspirational. I sort of liked it, but when everything is forced into conformity with a set of facts, then set to melodramatic music, it sort of flops.The spiritual truths of the Christian life are best set to the majesty of Scripture itself.  I’m increasingly convinced that allegories centered on Scripture seem to fall flat. C.S. Lewis did fairly well, but he wasn’t going for what Bunyan was in the first place.
Burnett, Frances Hodgson (The Secret Garden) Yet another of those turn of the century (still almost 19th C.) novels that really get me. I loved the setting, the good capture of the time and place. And the theories of physiognomy that frequent these sorts of books.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice (Martian Chronicles) I picked these up because Heinlein mentioned them. No comparison, but I liked the Barsoomian jokes.
Cain, Susan (Quiet) Cain’s purpose in this book is to reveal the qualities of introverts, promote their value to relationships and business and to encourage introverts to work with instead of against their particular natures. I think this book is very valuable, relevant and pretty much does what it should. It doesn’t solve the problem of the introvert, but gives everybody some sense about what it means to be one, how do deal with one and how to be one.
Calvin, John (Institutes Of The Christian Religion) Fantastic insight into what Christians believe, from apologetics to doctrine in general. Call this man one of the great theologians of history and you’re just barely giving him credit.
Card, Orson Scott (Fantasy and Sci-Fi) The first I read by Card is the first Alvin story, which I vaguely remember as being a good one. Ender’s Game is a must read, in my opinion, and I don’t think that’s just a rule for the sci-fi fanworld.
Carey, Jacquelin (Kushiel’s Chosen/Dart/Avatar) I haven’t read #4. I don’t think I will any time soon. This series toys with a lot of eroticism, but not in the sticky, pulpy way of romances and such garbage. Too far off my moral scale. A few years ago I would’ve bent the spine, but I’ve changed. Still, it was good stuff. Some interesting religion and philosophy. Read for passionate scenes (by which I mean strong, intense, riveting, rather than erotic, though that is in there too).
Carroll, Lewis (Looking through Glass) Seriously, if your experience with Alice is via Disney or the mind of Tim Burton, you’re missing out. The flicks are great, don’t get me wrong, but the books go where none of the movies have gone before. Wonderful. And they are not to be confused with Oz stories. Where Baum is whimsical, Carroll is dark. Oz is quaint and peculiar, Wonderland is almost dark, surreal and freakish. But good.
Challies, Tim (The Discipline Of Spiritual Discernment) Wonderful book filled with the truth about judgment, what Christians can do to determine the truth in any situation. Very practical, sound and easy to read. Debunks the “judge not” series of unbiblical ideas people have used to defend their personal pet sins as well as our tendency to avoid judging said pet sins in others.
Chaucer, Geoffrey (Canterbury’s finest).
Chesterton, G.K. (Orthodoxy) Really nice. Sometimes we might wish some of his ideas were true, but then we’re all pretty much humanists in one way or another so of course we’d relate. Chesterton starts from what man feels and sees rather than from what Scripture says, which is precisely the opposite of what we should do when engaging in discussions of the orthodox.
Chödrön Pema (The Places That Scare You) Bodhichitta, a Tibetan Buddhist concept of enlightenment, is the primary focus of this book. I won’t say it’s entirely bad, either. The point here is to come to know the forces that cause us to lock-up at, run in terror from, or simply avoid by easiest means possible the things that supposedly suck. The philosophy tries to teach that there is no good or bad, but falls flat in that respect.My own take from Chödrön is the part about getting close to that thing that causes fear or other repulsion, get to know it and appreciate it. “Know thy enemy” is a good way to look at it without all the Eastern mumbo-jumbo.
Cherryh, C.J. (Faded Sun Trilogy) A beautiful story about a “soldier gone native.” I loved every minute of it. This story is epic like Dune and rolls like Star Wars. It plays on my love for the desert and desolation, the trials of survival and the often brutal way hardship strips down personality and thinking to sharp, clear essence.
Clancy, Tom (Military Stories) Good, very good, with believable and fast-paced plots. I loved Jack Ryan’s intrepid, less-than-perfect roles in really big events. Worth reading.
Clarke, Arthur C. (SPACE)
Clemens, James (Wi’t’ch Chronicles) Fantasy, Nasty, Scary, Nightmarish, Not worth reading. Freaky stuff loosely sewn together by plot and more freaky stuff. It’s better than any movies I’ve seen for horror and grotesquerie. If you like surreal, dark and horrid imagery, these are books for you. The first one drew me in with a horrid sort of fascination. Then I quit. Wisely.I’d correlate some small amount of Stephen King’s imagery with Clemens’ work. It connects in a way to scenes I remember from The Gunslinger (Dark Tower 1).
Clemens, Samuel (TOM and HUCK)
Collins, Suzanne (The Hunger Games) Normally, I should be ashamed to admit reading Teen Pulp. But this isn’t, really. It’s definitely reading for a younger crowd in language, but the plot and the characters, the meaning, definitely reach out to anyone who can read. Good stuff. Ray Bradbury would like it, I think.What sucks is that kids (and adults) have really taken to the characters, dressing and acting like both citizens and the main characters. This seriously makes me worry for the state of our society, that the stories are so attractive to people. Rather, Collins’ work should be awakening and somewhat repellent, because this stuff is only a few moves away on the game-board. She’s not far off from reality that could be.
Constantine, Storm (Wraiththu) Incredible. The sequel recently released was NOT up to standards. It’s almost a horror, definitely a sci-fi with a genetic mutation that represents true evolution and the exploration of what battles would truly ensue from introducing a “superior” version of human to the world. It could be a dystopian Mad Max sort of story, but without quite the dissolved culture and tech. Beautiful imagery, freaky sexual exploits. In three words: sensual, violent, epic.This book is also a tribal discussion. I believe it tackles a young culture in the throes of defining itself, in both pecking order and in traditions. With this in mind, the travels of the characters were intense and drew me in quickly. It’s probably fair to say Rice’s Vampire Chronicles are pretty similar.
Cooper, James Fenimore (Last of the Mohicans) The movie was better.
Creighton, Michael (Scientific Sci-fi).
Crowley, Alesdair (Pagan) Magical theory and rituals. Heavy philosophy and guidance. I no longer recommend this or other new-agery. Rhymes with sewagery.
Cunningham, Scott (Pagan) One of the most popular in the religion. I no longer recommend this or other new-agery. Rhymes with sewagery.
Dalrymple, Theodore (Our Culture: What’s Left of It) A British psychologist’s perspective on the state of affairs in his country from inside his work in prisons particularly and all over, generally. It’s definitely worth reading at least half-way through. There’s a point where Dalrymple goes way into the weeds and loses me, but I’m glad I read the parts I did. The rest at least got a good skimming. The author gives a good look into what we call the Nanny State, how economy, government and wealth of special social programs have enabled addiction, crime, poverty and general misery. Quite insightful.
Dahl, Roald (Peachy & Chocolate) A truly absurd, hilarious but moral sort of read. Dahl is in touch while remaining wholly out of it with his obtuse means of reaching an audience with thought-provoking messages. Definitely read him.
Dante (Infernal)
De Cervantes, Miguel (Tilts) The Don was a miracle of genius and eccentricity. Certifiably nuts and yet sober as a man who has seen beyond the pale. This guy knew how to live and to carry on, and his companion was just the counterpoint to his song. I loved reading this book for the flashes of wisdom, hilarious episodes and disappointing displays of humanity. And the end was just like I like ’em. Fade to cold, curtains.
Defoe, Daniel (Robinson Crusoe) I love these survival type stories. Funny that I’ve never seen Castaway (Tom Hanks). Swiss Family Robinson and tons of others found in authors like Louis L’Amour and Heinlein really get me going. This one was great, with a flowing story, filled with action and thinking. Worth a repeat.(Moll Flanders) I saw the movie and loved it. We still watch it from time to time, a movie on our old faithful list with Princess Bride and others like them. So I read the book. And it was great. A wonderful story. Filled with thought-provoking quandaries and sunny moments.
Dhar, Mainak (Crazy Zombie Stuff) I wouldn’t normally pick this sort of thing up, but I stumbled upon Alice In Deadland and after a page I was hooked. Weird it was, but there was a running thread of philosophy on modern government and economies that always makes for good Sci-Fi. I enjoyed it. Except they killed the Hatter off.
Dickens, Charles (Wonderful) I heard a dramatized reading of A Christmas Carol on NPR, and it was good. A well used hour of my time. Dickens is great and the big and small should have him under their belt.
Donaldson, Stephen R. (Covenants) Almost on a level with LOTR, but anachronistic in language and VERY VERY VERY repetitive with words like “hellfire” and other fancy things. I love books that have the scope of vision that Donaldson, Tolkien and Herbert all have. After #6, His sequels sucked. Donaldson repeatedly deals harshly with themes of personal tragedy, crisis and misery. He touches on unbelief and inability-to-believe in a way that really shocks the reader.Especially in Dondaldson’s (Gap Chronicles), sci-fi  explicit  manipulation and cruelty are readily available. He has no problem revealing the dirty underbelly of humanity, from shunning to vicious abuse. He’s lurid and abysmally tortuous in a way that is not at all wasteful.
Doyle, Arthur Conan (Elementary) Sherlock is awesome and I love the Good Doctor for his steadfast faithfulness to his intense and quirky friend. I look forward to the surprise appearances of Sherlock’s brother too. “The Final Problem” may be my favorite. I love bittersweet endings when the last man standing has lost something so important that the clouds draw in and he shuffles home in a colder, more silent state than has been described in previous pages. And then I read The Lost World. What a diversion from Holmes. And it was right up there in quality and plot. I enjoyed this one immensely.
Dumas, Alexander (Musketeers)
Edwards, Jonathan Theologian of great popularity, with pen of an Angry God at his disposal. Revival, baby!
Eliot, George (The Lifted Veil) An interesting light read, with introspective themes about character and interaction between people. Unhappy, I think, might be a way to describe it. But I liked his descriptive efforts. What drew me in at first glance was the main character’s uncanny clairvoyance and the rough, almost sci-fi sort of nature of the book.
Farley, Walter (The Black Stallion) The movie was cool too. Scope again.
Farrar, J. and S. (Pagan) Popular basic Wicca. I no longer recommend this or other new-agery. Rhymes with sewagery.
Fitzpatrick, Elyse Christian Counselor and Author. She champions the cause of parenting with grace rather than law. Seeking to represent Christ’s gift of salvation as a centrality in a world swirling with laws and demands is a fresh approach to living. It’ll make you think twice about all those rules.
Foster, Alan Dean (Flick, Parallelites, Spellsinger) This guy has a huge repertoire. If you have a love for Sci-Fi, especially on screen, you’ve probably run into something of his. Check out his bibliography on Amazon. I haven’t scratched the surface of his work, but the ones I’ve read are decent hours wasted in the right way.
Frank, Anne (Diary) How can one knock such an amazing tale. One of the earliest reads I can remember from my childhood, and it’s still good stuff.
Gemmel, David (Okay Fantasy) Never mind, he sucks. I can’t defend the writing. Just because there’s a lot of books doesn’t mean it’s good. Not as good as Terry Brooks, but falls into the same category – Quantity Ain’t Substitute For Quality.
Gibran, Khalil (Poetry of my dreams) Beautiful imagery. I can barely imagine writing poetry as beautiful as his.
Gibson, William (TECH) Invented cyberspace. Neuromancer is phenomenal in its twisting, out-of-nowhere images and events. Gibson is freaky and night-mare dreamish, but entrancing. More movies should come out. Johnny Mnemonic was a bust.There is some fantastic poetry to Gibson’s writing that transcends common science fiction. The closest I’ve seen to approach him is Tad Williams’ Otherland books, but that only in imagery. Gibson turns a phrase into multi-dimensional goldmines. It’s not a “meat thing.”
God (Bible) Version? Currently ESV but I’m not horribly picky. Picky applies more to “study notes and other brand-name content that is included with various Bibles. I don’t consider the Positive Bible, Femme Lib, Gay, Affirmative Action or (insert special category here) to be the Bible. TR is fine, so is the AV, whatever. Quit arguing about the typeset and translation and check the message contained. Oh, and it’s NOT a fortune cookie. I was raised with the Bible, tried for the longest time to ignore it and finally found that it was useless without belief. Now it’s the first, most powerful reference in my life.
Goldman, William (Princess Bride) My all-time favorite movie and the book is great too. I wish there was a sequel.
Graham, Kenneth (The Wind In The Willows) I loved the old toon-films and audio books. I read and loved the stories and they bring back memories as real as if I’d lived them.
Greene, Robert (48 Laws) More like the conspiracy theory stuff. I am not interested in control. It’s scary. I certainly don’t want to do it like the 48 expect. Servanthood, not mastery, is the game and I have a hard enough time with that. See commentary on Dan Brown.
Grimm, Brothers (Faerie Tails)
Grisham, John (Legal stuff zzzzzz…) “The Testament” was decent, but I’m not going out of my way to chase down more of the Tom Clancy of Legal Fiction.
Haggard, H. R. (Allan Quatermain) “I Got It!” The original Indiana Jones, only out of Africa with tons of epic battles and some echoes of Sherlock Holmes tossed in. I love these books from the 19th Century. They are full of rich details and intricate descriptions.
Harrison, Harry (Bil the Galactic Hero, Stainless Steel Rat) Pure gunk. I love it. Standing wager among my friends about making it through the entire Bil series in one try. Now if you want something with meat, Harrison has that, too. One of my most favorite is “The Turing Option” which he wrote with Marvin Minsky. A really good tale with some pretty fantastic technological discussion.
Heinlein, Robert (THE MASTER of Sci-fi and social ideas) Yep, he’s a humanist. He’s not Christian, but his work is entertaining, informative, and one can do much worse. I don’t keep up with most Sci-fi any more, but I’ll stick with Bob. I have yet to discover useless writing from this source.Some of Heinlein’s most influential works include “Time Enough For Love,” “Starship Troopers, (NOT THE MOVIE! LEARN HOW TO READ!)” “Number Of The Beast,” and “Stranger…” Seriously, social studies (Government, Society, Human History) should include a strong dose of Heinlein.
Hemingway, Ernest Author, Journalist
Henry, Matthew (Commentary) Easy to understand break-down of the Bible, so long as you keep in mind his culture vs. our culture vs. Bible times culture. I use it regularly. Can’t claim to have read it all, but large chunks have been chewed.
Herbert, Frank (Dune) Scope. The sequels were not as good, but the Brit movie that came out a while back, was really cool. The original Dune movie was okay because of innovation, not much else. The original book is still up there at the top as a seminal Sci-Fi work. It encompasses all the criteria for truly great fiction. Can’t be a critic unless this book is in your list of reads.Herbert has an intriguing recipe of mysticism, action, politics, culture and technology that just drill right into you. Dune is vaguely middle-eastern, but unique in many ways. Reading his books makes me think more carefully about the components and influences that authors bring to the table in their writing. Behind-the-scenes details really can make the stories live.
Herodotus Ancient Historian, dull and plodding, but what can we expect from a guy who set out to catalogue what was going on around the 400s BC? A good reference book.
Herriot, James (Veterinary stories) Beautiful stories of the old country. I loved the audio books. Just peaceful reading. Like Sherlock Holmes the Vet, sort of, only dark and stormy nights are more about getting out of the cold/wet, rather than catching the badguy.
Hesse, Herman (Siddhartha) Eastern religion. Not my cuppa any more, but it helped me get an A on my World Religion course this year. It’s still a worthy read. The human condition is so accessible from this sort of writing. Read it, digest it and look for what makes it so worthy.
Hickman, Tracy (Fantasy – Dragon Lance) From long ago. I read a LOT of Dungeons-&-Dragons themed pulp. The ones by Hickman were great. Easy, not much for depth, but still flowing story with little of the irritants that pulp writers will introduce (anachronisms, idiosyncrasies, poor literacy and other anomalous junk). You don’t have to be an amazing writer in my collection, just be good enough to tell the story and not biff it with bad grammar or irrelevancies.
Horton, Michael (The Christian Faith) This man has a lot of brains and they seem to work fairly well. He writes with depth at which I am consistently amazed. His systematic theology goes so far down the trails of connecting our relationship to God in light of covenant promises, His faithfulness and our inability to act that I think he drives to the Gospel on every page (and there are a LOT of pages). And that is about the thinnest shaving off the top regarding what is to be found in his Systematic Theology.
Hugo, Victor (Les Miserables) Fantastic book. Detailed, passionate and FAR more intense than the movie or the play. But both performances do a great job of distilling and capturing the book. I almost want to complain about the author’s asides about Waterloo, religion and social commentary, but that stuff, too, is worth reading. This guy knew how to set the stage and draw the reader in.
Hyde, Daniel R. (Welcome To A Reformed Church) URC Pastor, Author. If you want a quick, easy look into Reformed beliefs (i.e. PCA, OPC, URC, Catechisms, Westminster and 3-forms of Unity) this is a good one.
Jordan, Robert (Fantasy) Blech. I decided I don’t like this stuff. Popularity doesn’t guarantee quality.
Keith, Harold (Rifles for Waitie) This was another book from my youth. I still have the copy I first read. Wonderful. My daughter has to do a book report on it.
Keller, Tim (The Meaning of Marriage) Fine study in Biblical description of marriage. Yet another failure to capture the “to-do” list of how to be a good husband or wife. I am quite certain that a direct, Biblical approach is where the answer is to be found regarding leading, following, trusting and building or restoring a marriage.
King, Stephen (Gunslinger) I don’t really like any other works in his horror collections. I enjoyed Green Mile and Shawshank as movies. I see King’s frontier as a complement or pairing with Gibson’s scenes with Wintermute in Neuromancer – desolate, lost and miserable searches for the unknown.
King, Stephen (Gunslinger) I don’t really like any other works in his horror collections. I enjoyed Green Mile and Shawshank as movies. I see King’s frontier as a complement or pairing with Gibson’s scenes with Wintermute in Neuromancer – desolate, lost and miserable searches for the unknown.
Krakauer, Jon (Into The Wild) Story of Christopher McCandless’ death in Alaska. Krakauer is an outdoorsman who knows his stuff when it comes to hacking it in the wild. McCandless, from his teens, was obsessed with the same thing. The story is essentially a research project, similar to Born On A Mountaintop, where the author tries to track down the evidence of what McCandless was, what he was doing and how he died. Far more than a mystery novel, this is a look into the mind and life of one very eccentric, intelligent kid and a broad swath of types of people. Really worth the read, both because of the learnable stuff and the really good writing.
L’Amour, Louis (Westerns) History in every one. So many authors are overlooked because of their type-casting. L’Amour is a master of historical fiction. Read “The Haunted Mesa” and “The Walking Drum” back to back and then write your reviews. My first memorable story was “Down The Long Hills,” force-fed to me in the fifth grade, I think. I loved it and soon my Uncle Wilbur began flooding me with titles in periodic packages. Definite essentials include “Flint,” “Last Of The Breed,” “Education Of A Wandering Man,” “Smoke From This Altar.”
Lahaye, Tim (Left Behind et all) Blech. Trying to force Daniel and Revelation from the Bible into a believable story is for God, not man. The characters sucked, the scenes were repetitive and predictable (no pun) and the bad guys were stupid like Cobra from G.I. Joe cartoons. Over-armored idiots. We all know evil people are not stupid, why hope they’re not?
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn Theologian of Doctor Descent
Lawhead, Stephen (Historical medieval) He’s pretty good. Sometimes drawn out and not always temporally accurate in his use of words. Endings can be cheesy, but overall gets an A- for his stories. The best is definitely his Pendragon Cycle, but the Song of Albion series was okay too.
Lewis, C.S. C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, Lion Witch Wardrobe, Space Trilogy) He’s had some critics in Christian circles about his use of allegory, but I take the simple stance that fantasy is Fantasy. Look beyond what you see. Oh, and the evil witch is just that… EVIL. Quit crying about witchcraft.Friend of Tolkien, and amazing thinker, Lewis has inspired me greatly. Mere Christianity is an eye-opener for those of us new to the Way, as well as anyone who hasn’t found Him yet. The Space Trilogy and the Chronicles of Narnia are, simply… You’ve just gotta read ‘em yourself. Beautiful work, not in the immensity of Tolkien, but in a more direct fashion.
London, Jack Rough and flowing. Read The Road and The Call of the Wild. Both were really amazing. Totally different books from each other, they were both very much London’s work. Beautiful, in the case of COTW and starkly bright in The Road. Worthwhile.Then there was a remarkable juxtaposition of two worlds. The Sea Wolf, followed by Martin Eden are tales about a high society son drawn into a roughneck world and a roughneck drawn into a high society world. Of the two, Martin Eden is best. The Sea Wolf was great until the end flopped, far too easily wrapped and tossed.

Further disclosure. London has a knack for bombing the ending of his tales. Both Martin Eden and Sea Wolf are engaging and worthy stories, right up until the author tries to tie the loose ends and finish. At that point, the central character meets the terminus of his adventures with a resoundingly abysmal belly-flop. Despite the quintessential need for humans to know how the story ends, it would be better for London to have left off about the last 1/4th of both of these otherwise wonderful pieces of work.

Lovecraft, H. P. (Cyclopean Unnameable Depths of Indescribable Ten Foot Cone-People) The current “cult of Cthulhu is sort of a severely cherry-picked bit of Lovecraft’s broad scope of work. There’s a lot more than just Cthulhu in about 100 of his books. He’s definitely classifiable as weird as well as fitting into sci-fi, grotesque, gothic and horror genres. His vocabulary is rather limited as far as his ability to describe goes. Words are so recycled in his books that one can pretty much, after a few stories, predict which term is coming up next. In case of doubt, you can just insert cyclopean or blasphemous. If you need to guess what happens to any given character in any given story, a good guess would be that he faints somewhere along the line. In all, Lovecraft is an interesting read. More than once? Not likely. Not on my repeat shelf.
Lowry, Lois (Gathering Blue) I still don’t get why this sort of work is on banned book lists.
Lucado, Max (Beautiful) Watered down but still moving. I prefer hard-hitting doctrine to mushy-poetic motivational-preaching. If you’re going to hit me with God’s Word, it had better pack the PUNCH of God’s Word. Catholics and Baptists can have peaceable lunch together over this stuff.
Luther, Martin (Galatians Commentary and Concerning Christian Liberty) Powerful doctrine of the church, the minister, Christian living and much more. A most valuable read.
MacArthur, John (Too Many To List) Anybody who has been teaching the Christian faith for 45 years like this guy needs to be read. MacArthur has talked and written about just about all the controversies and issues we’ve had in the Protestant Christian world for decades. He’s meticulous and well-spoken in his work. Even with his position on baptism, eschatology and other particulars with which I don’t agree, Macarthur is a legendary asset to the church.
Machen, J. Gresham (Christianity And Liberalism) A great read that illuminates very well all sorts of troubles with the Church of Christ in today’s society just as much as when it was written. Cross-read with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and John Calvin’s Institutes.
Machiavelli, Niccolo (The Prince)
Mack, Wayne A. Biblical Counselor and Author
Mallory, Thomas (Le Morte D’ Arthur)
Marrs, Jim (Conspiracy junk) Falls under, maybe even below the magic stuff. This material causes serious psychological problems, undermines authority, deletes files pertaining to respect of people or organizations and in general plays havoc with society. See notes on Dan Brown.
Martel, Yann (The Life Of PI) What a weird book. It was definitely what I’d call a “summer read.” Throw away when finished. I enjoyed it, but can’t figure out what specifically made the book enjoyable.
Mathison, Keith (Given For You) An argument for the Reformed view and observance of the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. Mathison supports a “classical Calvin” viewpoint. I think this book is great information and filled with really valuable contributions to the Christian’s understanding of the Supper. He’s good on defending that it’s essential to observe the Supper. I’m better educated from reading this book. At first, I took Mathison’s work as a one-way argument for too much exclusivity over how the supper is observed. With further thought and prayer, I have come to the conclusion that there really is a right way and that improper views, though they do not exclude God’s means of grace, should be seriously approached, criticized when necessary and, as with all doctrine, be exposed for the church to continue progressing toward true Christian practice.
McCaffrey, Anne (Dragons) NOT on the same plane as Rawn. But they share the same cover artist, Michael Whelan, who gives them fair standing together.
McCoy, Edain (Pagan Fluff) Celtic tribal stuff. I no longer recommend this or other new-agery. Rhymes with sewagery.
Miller, Calvin (The Singer Trilogy) Beautiful poetic rendition of the New Testament. Allegory, hard to read for me, but pretty.
Millman, Dan (Oriental Philosophy) This guy captured a LOT of what we could be in terms of physical living and how we view things. Zen isn’t the way to go, but finding joy in details and service is a skill to be developed and a gift to be coveted.
Milne, A.A. (Pooh).
Minsky, Marvin (Sci-Fi) Turing Option was a great story about AI. True Sci-Fi explores the implications of a new situation, usually based on the arrival of a new technology. This book is decidedly just that. And it tests the heart of relationships and commitment. As superficial as fiction can be, Sci-Fi like this really digs a little deep sometimes.
Mitchell, Syne (Sci-Fi) The Last Mortal Man is a Creighton-esque sort of book with a lot of tech and near-future society. A reasonably good, if predictable, exploration of what a manufactured immortality would do to the world over time. I liked the quick-running plot and time taken to explore the moral implications of somebody “owning” the holy grail. Heinlein did better. This book also made me think of Greg Bear.
Montgomery, Lucy Maud (All about Anne) I have a thing for redheads. I have a thing for the old days (which I never experienced). Watching someone grow up has always been a fascination for me. Honestly, it’s a toss-up whether the books or the tv-series were better. I love them both. Back when “times were simpler” times weren’t necessarily simpler, but they were different, which makes them attractive.
Muir, John (Stickeen) Fantastic book along the lines of Call of the Wild. Loved it. A heart-touching story about a dog, rather mundane, that stopped being mundane very quickly in Alaska. Starts out with a pretty dysfunctional relationship that ends with a lasting, close partnering. I really enjoyed it. True story, too.
Murray, Andrew (Holy In Christ, Lord Teach Us To Pray) Dutch Reformed Pastor and missionary who wrote a few short books contemplating a number of subjects in the Christian arena. Very down to earth with practical words. Worth the read.
Musashi (5 Rings) Complement to Sun Tzu. Eastern religion and philosophy are very attractive. But they’re not in my book of recommendations. They deny the truth (easy, too, since they’re mostly about denial). The principles as applied to warfare are valuable, but people who read them for insight on running businesses or as guidance in life really should look a little less east.
Orwell, George (1984) Utopia finds us in Dystopia really quick. I really enjoyed how it started to smell bad pretty quick, but Orwell held back well enough that nobody could guess how horribly wrong the world had gone until the end. So sad. What a waste. An artistic tug-of-war with despair and hope threads through the book and you really feel it. I’d read it again.(Animal Farm) About how we got there from here. A hilarious misery of the people voting themselves bread and circuses which inevitably resulted in the self-licking ice-cream cone that is the ruling class, those people who own it all whether we like to admit it or not. Note: I’ve always wanted to use those two little terms together in a sentence.
Owen, John Puritan, Preacher, Theologian
Patchett, Anne (Bel Canto) An engaging story about a hostage situation in South America, involving a rather diverse group of people. Romance emerges from the terror and insanity of the story. Tragedy, engrossing, weird. An exploration of Stockholm-syndrome included.
Peretti, Frank (Piercing writer) I don’t like his stuff. It’s not cool. Very overdone Christian thriller.” Spiritual warfare forced to reality, much like the Left-Behind series was Revelation forced to reality. Things spiritual should stay there.
Phillips, Dan (World-Tilting Gospel) A prolific blogger who put out some excellent writing in 2010-2011. I read WTG in a couple of days and can’t really find anything worth griping about, except maybe it was too short. DJP is a witty but devoted theological writer with a keen grasp of Christian doctrine, making an edifying yet entertaining read – excellent for new Christians or as a gift for someone you’d like to share the Faith with. I want his Proverbs book next.
Piper, John (Don’t Waste Your Life, Think) Charismatic Semi-Calvinistic Preacher of Great Fame who has a lot of insight and encouragement from a just-plain-soap-box sort of stance. He puts passion into his work.
Plato Plato (Philosophical).
Poe, Edgar Alan (Pendulous Pen) I can’t say I liked reading Poe. The phenomenon I could call Shakespearablah applies (almost every book I was required to read in grade school ended up on my most hated list).
Pratchett, Terry (Funny Fantasy) A lot like Douglass Adams with a Fantasy theme. I love the stuff. Parody of just about every political or social situation around. His Tiffany Aching stories are some of the best I’ve read ever. Really. Pratchett can turn words so well that in one page the reader goes from helpless giggling to hollow-hearted wistfulness. Amazing how he can be so ridiculous and moving at the same time.See comments on Douglass Adams.
Rand, Ayn (Atlas Shrugged etc.) Very selfish philosophy. She portrays so much that’s just on the verge of being right (such as “all men are NOT created equal” and “minorities are NOT victims”), but humanism is still corrupt, noble as we might think it is. I still enjoyed the good guys’ victory, and she makes badguys very unlikable. She had a frighteningly good understanding of relativistic reasoning and passive-aggressive villainy.I had a recent discussion with a friend that had me concluding about how humanism is a better resource for ethical discussions than most other religions. I’m speaking of the informed, thoughtful and moral humanism I have siphoned from R. A. Heinlein, specifically. Christianity is bastardized by, especially in the Bible-based, religions that hold a deity in their belief framework. Humanism discards that, making the race central. This, while dead wrong, enables Humans to capitalize on God’s common grace in their relationships and ethics.

In attempting to further the race, ensure survival and prosperity, it seems quite natural that covenantal language, good government and loving neighbor are going to be prominent. This in contrast to Semitic or other religions that either promote a deity that falls short of God’s law, go beyond God’s law, or outright teach do what you will, since there is no deity.

Ravenwolf, Silver (Pagan) Example of pluralism at its worst. Anything is okay. Christian witches, all sorts of stuff. I no longer recommend this or other new-agery. Rhymes with sewagery.
Rawn, Melanie (Dragon Prince) Still my all-time favorite series. Competes with LOTR. I LOVE her imagery, detail, passion and everything. This is one of the stories I read at least once every two years. Soundtrack is the score from Last of the Mohicans. An alternative story, just as good though not the epic long, built-up joy of Dragons is the Golden Key (written with Jennifer Roberson and Kate Elliott), a fascinating new twist in fantasy that definitely makes for good times.
Renick, Marion (Marbles and Caddies) I was a kid when I read these, and I read them again recently. They are as good as long ago. Both Championship Caddy and The Shining Shooter are simple kid books from the 1940s. What appeals is that they are not bang-primary-colors buzzword, cartoony, rhyme-laden confections like their literary descendants today. When people wrote for kids 70 years ago, they sure seemed to have a different view of kids than authors now.
Rice, Anne (Vampires, dead people) Beautiful imagery and some deep thought circling deity and religion, powerful enough to make you think. Rice is queen of sensual, emotional imagery. She can tweak the conscience or stir the belly with color and vibrancy that leaps off the pages. And it’s good Sci-Fi, too, studying the affect of immortality and god-like powers on both regular people and the fantasy creatures themselves. It’s worth the read. Especially Memnoch the Devil, but you have to read the previous books in the series first.
Ripken, Nik (The Insanity of God) One heckova story about a guy who went straight to missionary heaven (or hell, depending on your perspective). It’s essentially the journal of a man who did trips in Africa and Asia. I found it entertaining, somewhat inspirational, but more a Christianized Quatermain story. I was repeatedly turned off by “God spoke to me” and mysteriously prescient encounters. Too much Holy Spirit Mysticism for my taste. The inspiration in this book is in doing rather than believing. Hearing God “speak” is not so trustworthy as many authors would have us believe. God speaks in His Word, not in our minds and ears, nor in visions and spectacular events. Overall, I still liked it – a moving tale with a valid argument for missions work.
Roberson, Jennifer (Cheysuli) Writes Books, fantasy, yay. Not. I couldn’t get into her with exception of that which Melanie Rawn mentions above.
Robinson, John J. (Freemasonry) Historical stuff intrigues me and this guy seems to have done good footwork. Problem is I lost interest in the topic. Oh well. Might come in useful someday, but I ditched my copy.
Robinson, Spider (Heinlein’s Twin) almost, especially now that he’s co-authored one with the Master. One thing I really don’t care for is that where Heinlein is literate, careful and conservative in his writing, what I’ve read of Robinson is more coarse and expletive-laden. I’ve always believed that to be able to cuss without using cusswords is one of the most valuable skills in human existence.
Ryle, J.C. (So You Think You’re Converted) A worthy read that begs the Christian to double up on all those things that brought him to Christ. It is well constructed to intensify the desire to flesh out the convictions and challenge the comfort levels of any Christian life.
Salvatore, R.A. (Fantasy and Star Wars) His Dark Elf and Icewind Dale stories were like the meat & potatoes of pulp fantasy. Gamers eat this stuff up, and Salvatore did a better job than most of his contemporaries.
Seuss, Dr. (Green Eggs etc…) Great Guy, reminds me of my brother. Actually, if Seuss were younger, it’d be a short stretch to convince me that he was my brother.
Shakespeare (Dead guy)
Shatner, William (HORRIBLE WRITER) Fair starship captain. He’s found his niche in commercials. You want the best of Shatner? Look no further: Rocket Man is it.
Shelley, Mary (Frankly Scary) Falls in with Poe under Shakespoopie
Smith, E.E. (Lensman) LONG-winded and hard to read. Maybe I’m too young.
Socrates (Dusty thinking) Philosophy is at odds with Christianity, but being able to argue, think, speak and comprehend are advantageous. I’ve recently begun to rethink my position on philosophy, wondering if it’s truly at odds with Christianity or simply another right-thinking system that is misguided by human self-interest.God gave us brains and means to think with them. We observe and come to conclusions that really are sensible. Often, our reaction to our conclusions is what is telling, not necessarily the facts or truths leading up to compiled observations. The jury is still out in this court.
Sproul, R.C. (Holiness of God) and Much more. This man has done a ton of writing over his lifetime and has probably benefited more people than he can count. I’ve read and studied through his Holiness of God a couple of times and it never ceases to draw me into new considerations of how vast the glory and awe of God can be for us little people.
Spurgeon, Charles Haddon (All of Grace and more) This man’s testimony to the Faith is incredible. If more of us could be like him…
Starhawk (Pagan) Another very popular author. I no longer recommend this or other new-agery. Rhymes with sewagery.
Steinbeck, John (Grapes of Wrath) I found this supposedly epic novel to be pretty much as good as the critics seem to suggest. I’m not sure I agree with all that is said about the book (i.e. The Great American Road Story). I love the way Steinbeck captures real conversation, avoids romanticizing the little stuff, yet still connects the characters (and so the reader) to what he was protesting. And one thing that stood out most, the importance of The Land. When Grampa died, it was not because of losing something he owned. He lost what he was. We have lost that as a culture, the being of something, particularly the land that should be so integral to us.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (Treasured)
Strobel, Lee (The Case For Christ) His associations may not be to my liking, but this book played a very powerful part in my salvation. My problems with God were dealt with directly by Strobel’s work in the book.
Sun Tzu (Art of War) See note on Five Rings.
Tchividjian, Tullian (Glorious Ruin) In line with Give Them Grace, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Tchividjian is writing to give Christians grace, hope, Gospel, grace and more hope. He looks at our miserable conditions and, unlike most Christian help-literature, does not toss our sorrows and losses aside as if we can overcome them. Nor does he slam the door on us with a pat “God is all-powerful” sort of platitude. He points sinners to God’s means of grace that carry us when we’re too broken to walk, too lost to see straight. Massive recommendation from me to anyone whether or not they have experienced “glorious ruin” in their own lives.
Thompson, Bob (Born On A Mountaintop) A road-trip style book about Davy Crockett that is part history-buff-sleuthing and historical biography. The author is engaging, frank and warm and willing to throw funny anecdotes right alongside cutting critique of silly legend. I really liked this one.
Thiessen, Henry (Lectures in Systematic Theology) I’m working on Hodge and Horton now. Both are really hard work.
Thoreau, Henry David (Walking) What an appropriate name for this book. Rambling on, starting with a walk and ranging to a discussion of life, humanity, the universe and about everything in between. Pretty engaging. (Walden) Better and more deliberate than Walking, I think. Really nice. Lots to think on. I don’t think HDT had much love for people, overall.
Thorsson, Edred (Runes) One more book on a magical system. Oracle or fortune telling, some religion too. I no longer recommend this or other new-agery. Rhymes with sewagery.
Tolkien, J.R.R. (LOTR and all else) He’s had the same attacks as Lewis, but I don’t get why. He didn’t claim Gospel content. He wrote a Beautiful story that defined fantasy, showed depths of depravity and heights of awesomeness rarely seen in fiction today. The movies were nearly as good. Put the imagination in me.I think Tolkien could be the seed of my love for languages and, to my discredit in many cases, magic. Tolkien didn’t preach Gospel. He wrote a very Catholic story of endurance and merited faith and intervening, nearly conveniently coincidental graces. It was still good, and valuable, just don’t look for Lewis’ redemption story in there.
Tozer, A. W. (The Pursuit Of God, The Attributes of God) An authoritative writer on Christian ideas. He put out a LOT. So much that his posthumous publication alone is a substantial library. Worth reading.
Torrey, R.A. (The Fundamentals) Motivating and convicting. A collection of some of the most thoughtful articles on what is important to Christianity today. More Christians should read them. They’re free, too.
Trevallion (Shibumi) Another Eastern Philosophy story but with some serious cool assassin stuff. I loved the garden and the peaceful scenes. Never heard of the Basque either, until this book. The hero could take out an opponent with a pen or a playing-card, even a coin. Very cool. Also, this book presents the first recorded “Volvo-Bashing” tournament in all history, including a very thorough reasoning for the event and how it is carried out.
Tripp, Paul David Christian Counselor and Author
Vonnegut, Kurt (2BR02B) Admitted, I can’t do a fair review having only read this short (SHORT) story. 2BR02B is just a dystopian quick-sketch of a perfect world with perfect means of maintaining said perfection. Perfection likely being less than attractive to readers (and one of the characters).
Verne, Jules (All Wet) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is almost a catalog of aquatic life forms. Almost. It’s frequently broken up by interludes of action, suspense and a good bit of speculative technology discussions. Good stuff. More recently, “The Mysterious Island” captured my interest. There is a sequel to 20,000 Leagues! And it’s good. Very intriguing and not a dull moment.
Walser and Westrup (The Mindful Couple) A psychologists attempt to give some help to couplse in the realm of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). The book teaches fairly simple and worthwhile principles for dealing with everything from the dreaded toilet-paper-installation-battle to wack-job inlaws. I really enjoyed it, both for the wake-up on things I should expect and face with my wife and also, surprisingly, stuff I need to work on with just plain me.
Warren, Rick (Purpose Driven Drivel) His work was poopy. I didn’t like the abuse of text from the Word. I am not a member of a corporation and my purpose is NOT to get along in society, though I would love to do so. How to read a Christian book in one simple sentence: Ask what the gospel is to the author and where it is found in the book.
Weiss, Margaret (See Tracy Hickman. Pulp).
Welch, Ed CCEF Counselor and Writer
Wells, Orson (World War)
Westminster Divines (Catechetically Correct) Seriously – these are a very thorough distillation of Christian doctrine. It’s an expression of generally orthodox beliefs that have stood the test of time in the Church of Christ. That they are all entirely subscribe-able for all Christians is doubtful, but they are so worth studying, that it would be a disservice to any Christian tradition to miss them.
White, E.B. (Trumpet of the Swan) This book really affected me; being one of the earliest I can remember reading. I wanted to Be the boy. I wanted to go to the warm springs in Montanabanana.(Web of the Spider) Not so much as the Swan thing, but still a good read. I think the pig needed to be roasted, but not until right after the book ended, which might well have happened. “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”
Wilde, Oscar (Photogenic) Sadly, it took a movie “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” to find out about this book. And it was worth the time. Good, tragic. Can’t say much bad about it
Williams, Tad (Otherland) Scope. Complex. Engrossing. Mastery of including just about every genre in writing. I loved it. The soundtrack is Deep Forest Comparsa. There’s a real theme of what immortality is worth to those who seek it, as well as a multi-faceted study of power, how it is gained, its manifestations and how it is wielded. Fantastic work. This story is a terrific exploration of a multitude of characters with very different hang-ups and quirks. Williams does a great job of teasing out cultural interaction. Put an aborigine, South-African black woman, Hispanic gangster teen, a white gamer kid with an incurable and lethal disease, a blind Frenchwoman, drunken Zulu descendant, and a dozen other unique oddities into a team and what do you get? Good Sci-Fi!
Wolverton, Dave (On My Way To Paradise) Still a favorite of mine, shocking, thought provoking and on a level similar to Gibson in it’s dreamy sort of style. If I could draw a line of comparison, this great story is sort of a cross between Neuromancer and Ender’s Game. And it works.
Wurts, Janny (Master of Whitestorm) Just plain classic stuff. Great story, great idea, well done. Surprising even when predictable. I love how Wurts keeps the suspense up concerning the background and motivation of Korendir, the hero of the story.
Wyss, Johann David (Swiss Family) Survival, invention, solitude, adventure. All you could ask for in a L’Amour but Disney made a movie about it. Interesting how the general 1800s survival sort of story seemed to arrive on the scene. Mysterious Island, Swiss Family, pirate-story type adventures all popped up in the vicinity of that century.
Zahn, Timothy (Star Wars, the morning after) I am a Star Wars fan. Of the original form that excludes JarJar, Teen Romance and other retarded filth that should never have perverted the minds of Lucas or the actors from whom I would have expected far more (Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson). Yoda and Vader are-were rolling in their graves to this day, though the movies are already three years old. Anyway, rant over, Zahn did a masterful job of writing what I think are three novels so good that they must be considered the only acceptable possible candidates for Episodes 7-9. That good.

The Sea Wolf

I’ve been out of touch with my writing side for some time. I doubt it’s coming back anywhile sooner. That said, I’m eager to at least throw some bones to the events around me.

I’m reading Jack London these days. I scored a free (actually free) collection of London’s works, purportedly complete, from Amazon last month, and cracked it open to discover the Sea Wolf. It’s a story about a privileged young man who gets press-ganged into service as a cabin-boy on the Ghost, a sealing vessel in the late 1800’s, or early 1900’s (not sure which).

The tale chronicles Humphrey’s growth from almost effeminate lifestyle to rugged, self-sufficient and hardened survivor thanks to the quintessentially amoral tutelage of Wolf Larsen, a virile, sailor of sailors who has incredible powers of both physique and mind, as well as utterly ruthless and particularly vicious moral convictions.

I won’t go further but to say that the philosophical and moral challenges in this story are profound and cause me to consider more carefully my own tenuous grasp of this mortal life which we all inhabit.

For my regular readers, The Sea Wolf is vitally connected to other readings of mine such as Shardik, Into The Wild, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (especially), and many of the survival stories I’ve read that are based in the late 19th century.

This is short, I know, and a tease of what’s in my mind, but I say again that my ability to write is not up to par with my thinking. Life is difficult enough that I can’t keep up on the keyboard what is running in the ether of thought.


Just Because It’s Sandy Eggo

Gotta share this one.

Apostles Creed Heady Doctrine, Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (Best IPA Ever), ACPC club pipe by Chuck Long, reading Jack London’s Sea Wolf. Can’t beat that with a stick.

what m i smoking


Christianity is not a religion of do and don’t. It is a religion of done – “It Is Finished.”

law-vs-gospel1“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

Could it be likely that the monumental impact of this verse is probably among the most missed in Scripture? If read as an epic tale of God’s interaction with his creation, the Bible should probably produce moments of awe and wonder, this one being one of the greatest. But we are too often lost in the verse-by-verse exposition that has become popular over the years.

Then we get distracted by the massive list of do-and-don’t commands surrounding this central point of “It is finished.”

The point of Christ saying what he said is not just, “whew, suffering is over.” or, “Obedience mission complete.” or even, “Covered all the prophecies.” That would be a religion of do and don’t, preached right from the Cross.

I know that there are threads upon threads of debates regarding the Law and how we interact with it. The case can be presented that our religion is one of do-and-don’t, however that is not what the Scripture seems to present. It is a religion of God Did It For Us. From the very beginning, the Creator has been responsible for doing what we cannot ourselves; making us, rescuing us, remaking us, preserving us, completing us.

So when Christ said “It is finished.” He changed the orders of things so that what we do and don’t do are products of what he did for us. Out of a changed heart, gratitude, peace with God, the working of the Spirit, worship and so much more, we are dedicated actors for the benefit of God’s kingdom, but not because of the rules.

The Gospel means “It is finished.” Can we believe any other thing to be saved? Can we go to church every Sunday to hear once again what to do and not do, expecting salvation? Do-and-Don’t is a legalistic religion. It says we earn our salvation. Christ earned our salvation and we must learn (and teach our successors) that our salvation rests in that.

John Calvin said in the Institutes that our hearts are idol factories. Martin Luther wrote extensively on Christian freedom and how all the trappings of works are but product of our salvation. And then, when these men, or the writers of the N.T. are giving instructions on what to do and not to do, they’re portraying what the victorious, faithful and saved life looks like. They’re telling us how we love God and ourselves, where to turn when sin rears up its ugly head and how it all works.

I think we can argue all day about the Law and that we really do have to do things but it’s when we fail to do things, when we sin in word, deed, omission and commission that we have to remember that Christ did them for us – It really is finished. Rest on that.


Things I heard About Christianity and the Bible

The following quotes and observations are a list I’ve compiled on page 0 of my Bible. Some are from my pastors, others from known speakers, authors or church Fathers. Still others are my own or those of other laymen who probably just got lucky with the right combination of words. All are paraphrased to some extent except where obviously direct quotes from writing. I find them all worthwhile, though just to read them they may not come out clear in meaning or intrinsic value. So I’ll try to spend some time on each as I can get to them. First, to record some of the lot.

1. Christianity is not a religion of do and don’t. It is a religion of done – “It Is Finished.”

2. Don’t just do something; Sit there.

3. The trinity is not a matter of common sense, but of revelation. – Rev Nutting, N. City PCA

4. Of course I realise it’s all rather too vague for you to put into words. On the contrary, it is words that are too vague. The reason why the thing can’t be expressed is that it’s too definite for language. – C. S. Lewis, Perelandra

5. Q: Why are there some who believe and some who do not?
A: Because there is a sovereign God who presides over all.

6. Don’t take the Word from the hands of the people. – Rev Michael McBride. Use the translation of the day.

7. There is not one square inch of creation in which Jesus does not lay his claim “Mine!” – Abraham Kuyper

8. Do we take the long view? What if the last two thousands years is just the beginning? – Rev Brian Tallman

9. They tried to kill us. God saved us. Let’s eat.

10. Never forget, the Devil is God’s Devil. – Martin Luther

11. Scrolls are expensive. When we read a passage, we must ask why it is so important that it made it to print. – Rev Brian Tallman

12. The new testament is concerned not so much about what happens when we die, but more when we are resurrected. – Rev Brian Tallman

13. The difficulty does not lie in believing in God but in believing God. – R. C. Sproul

14. Whatever God does – it’s right.

15. We are not blessed because of our faith and commitment to God and His promises. We are blessed because of God’s faithfulness and relentless commitment to His promise.

16. Go through the motions. There are many on their couches today, missing worship because they didn’t want to go through the motions. Go through the motions and God will meet you in the ordinary ways. – Rev Brian Tallman

17. I sometimes wonder if a tradition is like a creed. – Rev Brian Tallman

18. Man cannot have God as his Father without the church as his mother. – Cyprian

19. Most funerals put the honoree into heaven because most ministers – most Americans believe in justification by death. – Rev Brian Tallman

20. Tradition and historical church: Christianity is tied to a historical event with doctrinal implications.

21. God is so sovereign that he ordains his own interaction in time and history.


Things I Want To Do

This is a sort of bucket list. It was supposed to be a 101, but I haven’t got that far. Guess it’ll grow in time. I might get round to a lot of these. Some might likely go to the grave with me. But here they are, a bunch of things I want to do, both small and large.

In no particular order:

1. Make a hope chest for each of my girls.
2. Review all the beers I have tried.
3. Make a few really awesome pipes.
4. Find a job that is both rewarding and satisfying.
5. Reconnect with my distant family.
6. Write more.
7. Look forward to work.
8. Appreciate the depth of the Psalms and Proverbs I read every day.
9. Visit more of the fine breweries and restaurants where I live.
10. Read more.
11. Write more reviews of what I’ve read.
12. Teach.
13. Serve in church.
14. Unlose all my dear friends who are so far away.
15. Make more beautiful pictures.
16. Bring joy to my beloved wife.
17. Replace the precious books I’ve lost or tossed.
18. Buy my wife a beautiful home. Bang!
19. Grow my hair out.
20. Get out with the guys more.
21. Grow a fantastic, mixed-up garden that has hundreds of plants.
22. Discover the perfect beer and tobacco combination.
23. Sort all my music.
24. Find the time to listen to all my music.
25. Build a fantastic furniture collection for my Wife.
26. Make a really amazing piece of wood-work that is museum quality and worth a lot.
27. Live in the desert.
28. Find freedom to travel and see all the sights I’ve dreamed of.
29. Meet Heinlein and Harrison.
30. Write comprehensively on depicting the Faith I have.
31. Write on Covenant Theology and its implications.
32. Write on baptism and its vital part in salvation.
33. Take over Hoagies & Stogies, or start another variant.
34. Establish a routine theology and fellowship meetup with friends.
35. Own at least a couple of Michael Whelan prints.
36. Visit the Grand Canyon for a week.
37. Live on the frontier, frontier style, for a month or two.
38. Go on a cruise through the Caribbean, hitting all the good ports without having to stand duty.
39. Build a suitable “man-cave” for me, my work and my friends.
40. Maintain a fantastic garden for a long time (rather than a couple of years).
41. Take pedestrian tours through Ireland, Scotland, England and maybe France.
42. Own the Virginia Edition.
43. Take college classes that are stocked with fresh thinking and discussing (English, writing, literature, history).
44. Own a genuine Winchester lever-action rifle and a S&W six-shooter.
45. Bow-hunting.
46. Open a real bookstore.
47. Build a real hobbit door for my house.
48. Become a regular at a good pub.
49. Write a book.
50. Fish for an afternoon with Jimmy Buffett.
51. Camp at Four Corners or Mesa Verde.
52. Climb in the Superstitions.
53. Read Louis L’Amour in a canyon.
54. Houseboat on Lake Powell.
55. See Jimmy Buffett in Concert. (and shake his hand if possible)
56. See Sting in concert. Or see his musical, “The Last Ship.” (and shake his hand if possible)


Updated Literary Encounters

http://lordandhearth.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/b529b-carl_spitzweg_bookworm.jpg?w=299&h=561

Sorting is Fun

A Literary Sampler

Here are the latest additions to my list of read books, not necessarily books since the last update, but older reads as well. My opinions and updated comments ensue on my Authors List Page.

As of 20 January 2015:

New Authors: Cain, Chödrön, MacArthur, Mitchell, Muir, Renick, Steinbeck, Thompson, Walser and Westrup.

Updated Authors: Bradbury.

I’m always thinking more about past reads, returning to old favorites and taking on new works. I can’t claim professional critic status or even well-read, but I love digesting books both old and new. As my readers probably know by now, I can prattle on and on about most of them. Enjoy.

Again, the List is here: http://lordandhearth.com/authors/


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 230 other followers