The Source of Sanctification: Human or Divine?

Review of The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson BurnettBy ALEXIS NEALMistress Mary, quite contrary,How does your garden grow?With silver bells and cockle shellsAnd marigolds all in a row!So goes the nursery rhyme taunt sung to the central character in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s novel, The Secret Garden. And the shoe certainly fits: Mary Lennox is quite contrary. And little wonder: Born in India to wealthy British parents, she’s always been given her way in ev … [Read more...]

Angels Among Us?

Review of Ghost Brother Angel by Grant SchnarrBy COYLE NEALGhost Brother Angel by Grant Schnarr is utterly without redeeming spiritual value. (And no, that’s not a phrase I throw around very often. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve only used it once.) To be fair, never in the book does he claim to be a Christian, though he does so on his blog. Nor does he ever crack a Bible or speak with a Christian about what is going on in his life, which may explain why there are so many the … [Read more...]

City at the End of Time

Review of City at the End of Time by Greg BearBy COYLE NEAL “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” –Hebrews 11:10What does this verse mean to a non-Christian? That’s the question engaged by Greg Bear in City at the End of Time. Basically, if Martin Heidegger, Albert Einstein, and Karl Barth had a Buddhist baby, this is the book that baby would have written. And that sentence should tell you whether or not you’ll like the story. If yo … [Read more...]

What Lincoln Can Teach the Tea Party

Review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric FonerBy PAUL D. MILLERAbraham Lincoln was a racist who believed Africans were intellectually inferior to whites and should not have equal political rights with their racial superiors. He opposed immediate abolition and favored only gradual emancipation, coupled with compensation for slave owners deprived of their property, and followed by the deportation of ex-slaves back to Africa, or colonized in South America. His … [Read more...]

Real Marriage

Review of Real Marriage by Mark and Grace DriscollBy COYLE NEALFirst, the basics: this is a book about marriage. Real Marriage, not that fake stuff you see on TV. And, apparently, not that fake stuff you read about in most Christian books either. At least, so the back of the book claims. "This is not", we are assured in letters that are both bold and italicized, "one of those books" that "assume the author did it right", "barely mention friendship", or "use 'intimacy' as code for 'sex.'" … [Read more...]

Vocational Stewardship for Fashionable Christians

A Review of Kingdom Calling:  Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy ShermanReviewed by Paul D. MillerThere is so much to admire about Amy Sherman’s Kingdom Calling:  Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good that its flaws, omissions, and oversights were grating.Sherman’s basic argument, extending the line of thought covered by Andy Crouch in Culture Making and James Davidson Hunter in To Change the World, is that secular work is not less important than paid “full time mi … [Read more...]

True Grit, Old School

Review of True Grit by Charles PortisBy ALEXIS NEALMattie Ross is no ordinary fourteen-year-old. She has a head for figures, good business sense, excellent bargaining skills, and a stubborn streak a mile wide. Oh, and she’s looking for the guy who shot her pa.  See, her dad was gunned down in cold blood by a low-down no-account good-for-nothing by the name of Tom Chaney, and Mattie’s dead set on making sure he pays for his crime. Unfortunately, Tom Chaney fled into Indian Territory and jo … [Read more...]

Madam Bovary

Review of Madam Bovary by Gustave FlaubertBy PAUL D. MILLER[Spoilers] Emma Bovary is an idiotic, listless romantic who pines for love and meaning. She tries to find it in novels, marriage, motherhood, two adulterous affairs, Catholic religion, and opulent living. Crushed by debt, she commits suicide. The end.Despite its perfunctory plot, Madame Bovary is nonetheless engaging and Flaubert has some wonderfully descriptive prose. The characters have depth and the book kept my attention. … [Read more...]

Riders of the Purple Sage

Review of Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane GreyBy ALEXIS NEALYoung, beautiful Jane Withersteen seems to have it made.  She owns several thousand head of cattle, a powerful lot of land, the fastest, most beautiful pair of black racehorses in the state, and the only spring for miles around.  But trouble is looking for Jane Withersteen.  See, as a wealthy, unmarried Mormon woman, she’s quite the catch for the men in her community, and Elder Tull has had his eye on her for quite a while.  Ja … [Read more...]

Free of Charge

Review of Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace by Miroslav VolfBy JUSTIN HAWKINSThe greatest cause for joy in the life of the Christian is the fact that God has forgiven the presumably indelible stain of his depravity. It follows, then, that the Christian’s forgiveness of others ought to be quick and unhesitating, because it represents an opportunity to imitate the greatest act done on our behalf by our God.  Free of Charge, by Dr. Miroslav Volf, professor o … [Read more...]