Out of Sorts is my first read by blogger Sarah Bessey. The book details her efforts to reconcile the different parts of her experiences with church. Though she does not go into detail about the kinds of hurts she has sustained, we gather that there have been some; she also discusses various questions over the years that haven’t been completely answered. As with other reviews lately, this one comes several weeks after reading the book. When I first finished it, I might have felt more…Continue Reading “Reading Musings”

I learned about Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading in the blogosphere, where some homeschoolers have used it to great benefit as a springboard for literary study. It offers the detective as a metaphor for the attentive reader. In the same way detectives strive to solve mysteries, students of literature investigate books. Instead of focusing on suspects and a crime scene, readers piece together the basic clues of a book: protagonists and antagonists, setting and plot. After figuring out the basic structure…Continue Reading “Deconstructing Penguins”

After enjoying the Wednesday Wars, I forged ahead to Okay for Now, Gary D. Schmidt’s companion book written from the perspective of the Wednesday Wars’ narrator’s classmate. Doug Swieteck is a different kind of narrator than Holling Hoodhood, partly because his home life and social stratum are different. Holling’s dad is an architect, but Doug’s dad is a working class guy with a big chip on his shoulder. While neither narrator’s home life is warm or promising, Doug at least has a mother who cares…Continue Reading “Recent Reads: A Schmidt-fest and a memoir”

The Pursuit of God (A.W. Tozer). This was a clarifying read about the need to seek God personally rather than coast along being a good soldier in church. Tozer argues that evangelicalism promulgates a myth that once you “accept Christ” (an expression not found in the Bible, he points out), you have nothing more to do other than put in time waiting for Heaven. It has been several weeks since I read it, but I enjoyed the astringent quality of Tozer’s writing. He is very…Continue Reading “Recent Reading”

Somehow, I’ve never been able to read this book before. I’ve tried a few times but never gotten beyond the first few pages. Recently I tried again with the help of an audiobook version from the library. It worked, helping me to gain some momentum and push through the spot where I’ve run aground in the past. I found Mere Christianity to be a timely, clarifying, and inspiring read. It was timely, because I need reminding of the big picture of the Christian faith and…Continue Reading “Mere Christianity”

In A Life Observed, author Devin Brown offers a biography of C.S. Lewis for a new audience: “a generation who may know him only through the Narnia films.” Though I don’t fit into this category, I’ve enjoyed this retracing of Lewis’s spiritual development for several reasons. First, Lewis is one of my spiritual mentors. His books have influenced my thinking and my faith in far reaching ways — quite possibly more than any other writer. His ways of imagining spiritual truths are often the first…Continue Reading “A Life Observed”

Part of the reason I wanted to read this book is that the author is from my hometown. Jackie Roese was a year ahead of me in high school. I didn’t know her personally, but I knew who she was. It was a surprise to me when I learned that after high school, she became a Christian and married the son of my 6th grade Sunday school teacher. She Can Teach tells some of her story, including how in the years since then she attended…Continue Reading “She Can Teach”

I discovered Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife in this article about how our experience of our faith changes as we mature. The book explores that long stretch of years we call middle age — from around 45-65 — and the perspective shifts, professional landscape, brain chemistry, and changing values associated with it. I really enjoyed the book, despite a few aspects that bothered me. Do you want the good news, or the bad news, first? Since my overall…Continue Reading “Life Reimagined”

There are several great reviews of this book around, including this one that convinced me I wanted to read it. Ironically, I believe it was the idea of a listening God that interested me. Finishing the book, it’s the idea of a listening Janet that inspires me. How many of us listen well? Recently I commended someone for being a good listener, mainly because the person keeps quiet while others talk. This is one attribute of a good listener, but not the only one. It’s…Continue Reading “The Listening Life”

In Utopia Drive, the road weaves between times as its author searches the past for present answers. Though we may not be aware of the many utopian communes that have existed at one time or another on American soil, Erik Reece has compiled an introduction to several of them in this record of his summer travels in 2015. Setting out from his home state of Kentucky, Reece explores a number of experimental communities that tried out alternatives to the vision the rest of America was…Continue Reading “Utopia Drive”