Books · ebooks · The Gospel Coalition

Reviews I Didn’t Write

I love to read, but I do not have time to review every book; especially when there are so many good reviews out there already. So here are some great reviews of books I have read recently or are on my to read list. Hope you enjoy the reviews and then read the books!

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction: by Alan Jacobs 

It seems a rare accomplishment that a book on the pleasures of reading could actually pull off being pleasurable itself. But Alan Jacobs’ newest book, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, does just that. It is a marvelous manifesto of sanity in an age of jeremiads about the modern predicament of attention loss on one hand, and those proud champions of distraction singing the hallelujah chorus of a world devoid of long-form books on the other. “Read at Whim” is Jacob’s advice and motto for a new generation of readers. Read, Jacobs proclaims, for the sheer pleasure of reading; simply for the hell of it. And by all means, don’t get bogged down by the authoritarians who smugly look down their noses at those who aren’t reading the “right” books on the “list.”

Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History: By Christopher L. Bennett

In Forgotten History, Christopher Bennett returns to the world of The Department of Temporal Investigations, the quirky government body that oversees and regulates all the temporal, timey-wimey stuff in the Federation.  This story takes us to the very founding of the department by showing us flashbacks to the events that necessitated the creation of the DTI.  Much like in Bennett’s previous DTI novel, Watching the ClockForgotten History does an excellent job in explaining things from episodes of Star Trek that simply don’t make a lot of sense when considered in the grand tapestry of Trek history.  Oftentimes, people tend to forget that Star Trek wasn’t made with some kind of over-arching goal and narrative in mind; rather, it is a somewhat muddled hodge-podge of stories written over the course of 45 years by numerous writers.  Inevitably, something that writer B writes is going to clash with what writer A wrote years before.  In both this book and the previous DTI title, Bennett proves himself a master at bringing these disparate ideas together and creating a cohesive story from all the little bits that actually makes sense.  Forgotten History, for example, provides a valid reason why Starfleet crews aren’t always going back in time using the seemingly-easy slingshot-around-the-sun method.  It seems that it’s actually much more difficult than it seems, but then Mr. Bennett turns around and provides a perfectly cogent reason why Kirk and company are able to do it so easily in a Klingon bird-of-prey in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Another interesting so-called “ret-con” is the explanation provided for the alternate Earth featured in the original series episode “Miri,” other than the old fall-backs of “Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planet Development” or “The Preservers did it.”

What Money Can’t Buy: by Michael J. Sandel

Thinking morally about the economy is one of the most important topics of our time. In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael Sandel, professor of government at Harvard University, grapples with the tangible ethical issues where this question becomes most acute. He articulates important concerns in a clear and forceful way. However, he adopts a philosophical framework that limits his ability to connect morality to the economy. Even within that framework, his analyses tend to be one-sided and impressionistic. The result is a book that will no doubt gratify readers who already share Sandel’s assumptions and predispositions but probably frustrate those who don’t.

X-Wing Retrospective Part 1: Rogue Squadron: By Michael A. Stackpole

If you listen to podcast here at Tosche Station, (and if you do, great, if you don’t, why not?) you’ve heard that in honor of the coming latest addition to the fantastic X-Wing series, Mercy Kill, we’re presenting you a retrospective of the series.  It will provide a great opportunity for those of us who haven’t read the books in a very long time to refamiliarize ourselves with it.  That is actually my own situation—I love these books but somehow I haven’t read them for what must have been a solid decade.

abortion · atheism · Google · Government · Marriage · Mars Hill · Politics · porn · Republican · sleep · stress · Texas A&M · The Gospel Coalition · Tim Challies · tolerance

Owl Post 3-1-2012

I know there are a lot of links here; I have not had the time to share them recently, but they are all worth the read.

60 Second Summary: After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

The Gist: Since it is currently permissible to kill prenatal children because they are only potential persons and do not have full moral status, then we should be able to kill postnatal children for the same reason. Link

Atheist Alain de Botton Insists Society Needs Guidance From Religion:

Famed atheist Alain de Botton, also a best-selling Swiss author and philosopher known for challenging Richard Dawkins and what he calls his “destructive” atheistic theology, has in a recent interview highlighted many ways in which religion is useful even for secularists. Link

The Hope Amidst Porn In A Marriage:

The sin of pornography is not just a male issue. In fact, recent studies show that one third of people who are looking at porn are women. But, men are still the ones who primarily struggle with this sin—and implicate their wives in doing so. Link

The myth of the eight-hour sleep:

We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night – but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural. Link

Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant:

The notion of tolerance is changing, and with the new definitions the shape of tolerance itself has changed. Although a few things can be said in favor of the newer definition, the sad reality is that this new, contemporary tolerance is intrinsically intolerant. It is blind to its own shortcomings because it erroneously thinks it holds the moral high ground; it cannot be questioned because it has become part of the West’s plausibility structure. Worse, this new tolerance is socially dangerous and is certainly intellectually debilitating. Even the good that it wishes to achieve is better accomplished in other ways. Link

If Only:

Feeling inadequate and out of control of any number of life stresses, I feel small and weak. Instead of being humbled, I tend to reject the discomfort of my need, and become prideful. I demand control, believing that if I regain control, I will be restored. My wandering, grumbling heart searches for some end to my familiar fatigue. Link

There’s Lots of Yelling in Campaign to Break This Glass Ceiling:

COLLEGE STATION, Texas—This week, a student-body vote at Texas A&M University could make Samantha Ketcham the first female cheerleader—make that yell leader—in school history. Link

Don’t Assume: 

As one of our society’s most popular verses, it is also one of the most misunderstood. Too many people, non-Christian and Christian, take Jesus’ words to be a blanket rejection of all moral evaluation. But given that Jesus alludes to his opponents as dogs and pigs five verses later, it’s safe to think Jesus wasn’t condemning every kind of judgment. We see from the rest of the Gospel that Matthew 7:1 is not inconsistent with strong criticisms, negative statements, church discipline, and warnings about hell. Judgmentalism is not the same as making ethical and doctrinal demands or believing others to be wrong. Link

The Reasons Google+ Is Still a Ghost Town:

The Wall Street Journal has boiled down the failure of Google+ to make a dent in the social network dominance of Facebook, which we have noted for months to two simple stats: users spend about three minutes per month on Google+ compared to six to seven hours a month on Facebook. After all the hype and hope of being the next “It” social network, what happened? Link

Five lessons learned from the Republican presidential race:

Eleven states have cast their votes in the Republican presidential nominating contest. Ten more will do so in six days time, the biggest single day of voting in the GOP race. Now then seems like as good a time as any to take three big steps back and look at what lessons the first two months of votes have taught us about the Republican race. Link

Books · RightNow · The Gospel Coalition

Missional Life

I just finished this book and I find myself having to think through the issues it brought up a lot. I was going to write out a review, but I feel that this review on The Gospel Coalition website does a much better job than I could. 


What is funny, is that this review is what prompted me to read the book in the first place. My work is to helping people find missions opportunities and I thought that this would be a good read. So, I recommend this book; it is going to make you think and challenge you. Revel in that challenge, because how we portray the gospel to the world will benefit from deep thought and in rethinking our presuppositions to make sure that we are in line with the reign and will of God.    


Also please visit RightNow Trader Stories to learn more about missions opportunities. 

Arts · Movies · The Gospel Coalition

The Gospel Coalition: Art and the Cross



This is a video that I ran across called “Bad Art and the Tortured Beauty of the Cross“. Thought provoking and well done, well worth the ten minutes it takes to watch. It is also a good site to follow for book reviews, news and thoughts on the world today from many of the church’s most interesting minds. 

I have added a second video that further discusses the arts and the “Christian” bubble. 




Bad Art and the Tortured Beauty of the Cross from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.


Art, Conscience, and Theological McCarthyism from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.