Saturday, June 5, 2010

Book Log: May 2010

45.  Beyond Smells & Bells:  The Wonder & Power of Christian Liturgy.  6 out of 10 stars.

I hate it when you have high expectations for a book and then it just crashes & burns.   That's how I felt with this book by the managing editor of Christianity Today.  I must admit, I fell for the title.  But, as my Grandpa used to say, that paper will hold still and let you put anything on it you want.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm a liturgical kind of guy--when it is done right & well.  But I was hoping for a book to be able to give people that gives a biblical rationale for the different parts of the worship service.  But I was disappointed.  This book was at best a feel good explanation that probably satisfies very surface questions of what does the liturgy does for me.  There were a couple of good quotes, such as...
"The liturgy lives out a story in a story-deprived world...By participating in the liturgy, we're doing more than 'attending a service.'  We are entering a story--a story in which we also play a role.  We are the people who have indeed been gathered.  We ar ethe people who share in Go's very life.  We are sent forth to proclaim God's story and to invite peole into the grand story." 

46.  When Helping Hurts:  How To Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...And Yourself.  8.5 stars out of 10. 

This book is an excellent resource that would serve people well on a number of levels:  short term & long term missions, mercy & social justice ministries, as well as Christians who desire to make a dent in the issues of poverty that surround us.

The contribution this book makes is in its understanding of the creation & fall grids through which we should view the issue of poverty.  Building on the work of Bryant Myers, Walking with the Poor, the authors concur:
"Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable.  Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings."  
Basically, the book rightfully contends that poverty is much more than the lack of economic resources.  Economic, social, political & religious systems are broken.  The Gospel address all of these, and seeks to heal humans in each of these realms.  The book addresses the god-complexes of the Western rich as well as the shame & feelings of inferiority that the poor carry with them.  The book is well worth the read for any Christian that wants to help and have their help really help. 

47.  Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne.  7 out of 10 stars.

I read this book to the family after meals and we had a good time following the adventures of the cool Mr. Phileas Fogg, his servant Passaportout, and their perils around the world.   I must say, even though I consider myself fairly educated, I don't think I have read a book in my whole adult life that contained so much new vocabulary for me.  I take comfort in the fact that my brilliant and educated wife didn't know what half these words meant.  It's hard to fathom how my son, Jason, read this book when he was 10.

At any rate, we had an enjoyable time, and even though we knew Mr. Phileas Fogg was going to make it around the world in 80 days, we were still surprised and delighted with how the story ended.  If you are going to read through this book, keep a dictionary close by!