Archives For Book Reviews

The Unlikely Disciple

andyallen —  August 17, 2011 — Leave a comment

The Unlikely Disciple | A Sinner’s Semester At America’s Holiest University
Kevin Roose

I’ve seen a few people refer to this book online over the past year and was really intrigued by the premise. The author, Kevin Roose, decided to do his college ‘semester abroad’ at Liberty University, an ultra-conservative Christian university. Roose is not a Christian, but wanted to better understand the people his age who lived so differently because of their faith.

My line of work is immersed in the American Evangelical Christian Subculture. I love a fresh perspective. I believe it’s important to see how church and modern Christianity is perceived through fresh eyes from the outside. This book does a good job of that.

I was definitely impressed that the author was intentional about not presenting a disparaging view of Christianity even though he has different beliefs. He was honest about the things that he disagreed with and found either hypocritical or inconsistent. His observations are both profound and insightful.

The book itself is an enjoyable read. The story is interesting and effectively takes you on Roose’s journey. There is a lot of humor, some ugly realizations and even a touch of romance along the way.

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UNTITLED | Thoughts on the Creative Process by Blaine Hogan

As creatives, we’d like to think all of our art comes through inspiration. Sometimes that’s true…but I believe most of the time it’s just freakin’ hard work.

I really appreciated the way that Blaine Hogan looks at the creative process in UNTITLED. He pulls no punches and leans into the fact that we have to be real about the challenges and intense work that it takes to create and experience good art.

From clearing up the fact that it’s more than just creating cool ideas (execution of the dream creates the art)…to correcting the assumption that eccentricity breeds creativity (eccentric quite literally means “off center”)…Hogan is consistent in his message that we need to be observant, organized, determined, hard-working, self-evaluating, brave, vulnerable, and honest in our efforts to create.

This eBook is a quick read and well worth the time you’ll put into reading it. It’s the kind of book that would be great for creative teams to read and discuss together.

Get this eBook on HERE

Publisher’s Info:

The blank page.

It has so much power.

Some days it’s terrifying, sometimes thrilling, but mostly it’s just plain old scary.

It is the reason many people never finish that novel, or complete that project, or follow through with that one thing they used to dream about.

Sadly, it is the reason many people never even begin.

Blaine Hogan’s manifesto, UNTITLED: Thoughts on the Creative Process is here to change all that.

As an artist who has designed t-shirts, made light fixtures, created performance art in alleyways, performed on big and small stages all across the country, acted on network television, and is now a creative director at one of the largest churches in North America, Blaine walks you through the creative process of attacking the blank page, executing vision, finding the importance of contemplation, fighting the battle with resistance, and learning from your failures.

Blank pages be gone!

*I was given this ebook to review by The opinions in this review are mine alone and are not the opinions of the publisher.

Put Your Dream To The Test ::: John C. Maxwell
(10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It)

I’ve read bits and pieces of Maxwell’s writings over the years, but never actually sat down and read one of his books all the way through. While this book isn’t breaking new ground, per se, it is a solid compilation and practical approach to pursuing and realizing your life dream.

Each chapter is an exploration of a question the author is posing to the reader. The questions challenge you to make sure that you’re approach is based in reality rather than just pie-in-the-sky hopes. In fact, at the back of the book there is a practical study guide called “My Dream Map”. It walks you through the 10 questions and offers exercises for you to work out the concepts introduced throughout the book.

Each chapter also includes a real-life story of someone who has followed their dream and succeeded. I thought this was a great addition to the content because it took it beyond theory and showed real-world application.

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I Knew Jesus Before He Was A Christian…and I Liked Him Better Then

Now there’s a book title!

To be honest, I was a little cautious diving into this book. I wondered if it would be another one of the “I love Jesus but I don’t like church” books that Christian publishers have been churning out over the past couple years. It wasn’t. I was pleased to find the author’s approach and tone to be fair, conversational and engaging.

The heart of the book is a compare and contrast of the Jesus that is described in the Bible -vs- the Jesus that a great deal of modern Christianity presents. I found myself very intrigued by the discussion of Christian faith and religious expression in the pre & post Constantine eras. Shelly contends that there is a clear distinction of the church that grew organically pre-Constantine and the church that has grown organizationally post-Constantine.

A good portion of the book looks at what church could be like if we approached it in the way Jesus modeled it. In an honest assessment of the modern American Church, I agree that we see many flaws and ways it has failed in living out the true message of Jesus in our world today. Within institutionalized or establishment religiosity there are gaps between the Gospel message of scripture and living a relational faith that is compassionate and authentic.

So long as church is a place or a series of events on certain days and at certain times, it will continue to have minimal-to-decreasing influence for changing the world.

I am still processing a lot of what I read in this book…I like a book that makes me think. I appreciate that it isn’t a ‘bash the church’ book and that a balanced look is given to the reasons the church is where it is today, as well as some of the ways we can be different as we look to the future.

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Here are a few of my ‘non-review’ reads over the past few months:

HEAR NO EVIL ::: Matthew Paul Turner
I’ve been a fan of MPT’s blog for a while now and I can proudly say that we’re close friends on Twitter.  I even had the privilege of meeting Matthew (a fellow WV Artist Associate) at the World Vision Artist Conference this year.  This book is a quick read of personal stories and anecdotes from MPT’s life growing up in an uber-fundamentalist Christian home and church.  Although my experience wasn’t quite as extreme as his, reading this book definitely brought back memories of what it was like growing up in a conservative Christian environment.  I appreciated MPT’s wit and ability to humorously explore his journey from indoctrinated belief into an understanding of God’s love and grace for humanity.  It’s a quick, fun and easy read.  Check it out on Amazon HERE.

This is the final book of Larsson’s trilogy.  I read the first two books late last year and finally got around to finishing up the series.  It was fun to continue on with many of the same characters from the first two books.  The stories, although unique on their own, do build on the previous book and it leads to a very gratifying payoff as this book closes out.  My only complaint is that there were several sections where things were slow and it took some work reading to stay with it and not get bored.  All in all I really enjoyed the characters and plot lines.  There was plenty of intrigue and suspense that built throughout.  Check it out on Amazon HERE.

I first read this book several years ago but I’m always up for a quick refresher course.  There is a lot of great info in this book for musicians trying to find their way through some of the business and practical aspects of being a full-time muso.  While I think some of the thoughts are somewhat dated because of the advent of digital music and the internet, there are still some great foundational things to be gleaned.  If you’re considering the leap to doing music full-time, or you’ve been at it for a few years, this book would be a solid read for you.  Check it out on Amazon HERE.

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP ::: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I have heard a lot of friends talk about reading Bonhoeffer so I figured I would give him a go.  This book was written in 1937 but many of the concepts in his writings have helped shape Christian theology and faith for people worldwide.  I found it intriguing that a good deal of his writing on people’s attitudes about church and the way churches were operating actually have a lot of relevance today.  The main challenge for me in this text was that it is written in a fairly academic style.  I enjoy reading more conversational authors so it took a lot of concentration for me to wade through this book.  There is a great deal of depth to his writing and if you’re wanting to dive a little deeper into your faith then you may find this to be an interesting read.  Check it out on Amazon HERE.

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