Archives For Book Reviews

February has been an interesting month. Ali quit her job of over 10 years, effective Jan 31st. For a little backstory why, you should read this. She’s been recuperating, and detoxing, and is now house sitting down in West Palm Beach before coming back to a new routine.

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of going away for Valentine’s when hotels around Disney are basically fighting for business. That meant two nights away for next to nothing. In that time, thanks to a generous gift card, ate at Sanaa for under $30, went to all four parks, and even made a Saturday morning run to Island of Adventures (just kidding we drove). It was also the first time ever that we didn’t have to worry about when we would get back.

Previously, we’ve had trips to Disney ruined by texts from Panera about orders that came in, or disasters on the horizon. We’d always have to make sure we got home early enough to recover for a potentially early Monday morning. Or, have to spend the better part of the weekend away recovering from a crazy week.

This time though, Ali was at school with me for Ask Anything Friday, and then we made our way down to Disney. We were able to just kind of go with the flow. Weird right?

It’s these more causal trips at Disney that get me thinking about psychology and sociology. As you might expect, it resulted in an article over at Christ and Pop Culture about Disney as a religious pilgrimage. You need to read the full article to get the flow, but here’s a teaser intro:

[O]ne recent article notes, “Disney operates as pilgrimage site, creating sacred space where people can transcend the ordinary.” Americans who might scoff at the idea of a medieval pilgrimage won’t think twice about traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to visit Magic Kingdom and see cartoon characters incarnated right before their ecstatic children’s eyes.

I’m hoping to write about the other parks in the near future, but haven’t quite worked out the details yet. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to our next trip that isn’t constrained by an insane work schedule. I’m also hopeful that we’ve made the right choice and that God is leading us on our own pilgrimage. If you’d pray for us, that’d be great. And even better, if you’d like to support us on a monthly basis, it helps make a years long dream a reality. You can do that here, and while you’re at it, subscribe to our newsletter. I’ve got some exciting news for later in March and you won’t want to miss it.

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It’s a New Year and time to resurrect philosophy Friday. Maybe not every Friday mind you, but many of them. In the past I had previously just posted videos with sparse comments (see here for instance). Now I’d like to actually do some philosophizing (with and without a hammer), as well as post about some philosophy books I’ve read or am reading. We’ll kick it off with a recent bio of Kierkegaard which pairs nicely with another book on him I’d recommend (this one).

First off, thanks to Zondervan for not only sending me a copy of Stephen Backhouse’s Kiekegaard: A Single Life, but also the sweet tote as well! I wasn’t able to make it to ETS and so missed out on coming by the Zondervan booth and perhaps getting the tote that way. I should probably use the tote to cart books around, but I’m pretty committed to using my biceps to curl a stack.

As far as Backhouse’s book though, I enjoyed it over coffee for a couple mornings before finishing it with zest. While each chapter moves more or less chronologically through Kierkegaard’s life, they each highlight a different theme. Kierkegaard is a complex figure, if you weren’t aware. And even if you were, it doesn’t change that there’s much to uncover in the mystery of his life.

I am by no means a Kierkegaard scholar. I just find him intriguing and have general grasp of some of his major ideas. Backhouse’s book helps you learn about Kierkegaard the man, and in turn helps you better understand Kierkegaard the philosopher. Though I read Mark Tietjen’s book first, I would recommend reading both of these in reverse order. They overlap at places but are ultimately complimentary to one another. Backhouse’s book doesn’t avoid dealing with themes in Kierkegaard’s writing, but they are not the focal point. By contrast, that is Tietjen’s focal point as he is trying to introduce Kierkegaard’s thought to new readers.

After reading both books, I think Kierkegaard represents a philosopher that evangelicals ought to pay a bit more attention to in coming years. That of course is different than saying “adopt uncritically.” But, it seems that much of what Kierkegaard was against in the Danish church has found its way into many American evangelical churches. One need only look at this book list to see what I might mean. By learning more about Kierkegaard’s life and context, I think we are better able to adopt his posture in some regards, without making some of the mistakes he made (and maybe avoiding pseudonyms altogether). In that light, take and read this great intro to Kierkegaard.

Over Christmas break, I was mostly reading books, but I saw my fair share of Tweets. The one above caught my eye, and also got me thinking. I’m not sure I properly qualify as a young academic, but I have had book reviews published in a journal. I’ve also done my fair share of book reviews (that page is out of date, but you get the idea).

I’ll keep this short, because 1000 words about why a tweet is wrong seems either petty or excessive (or both). I’m going to assume that because this is a tweet, it is reflective of in the moment thinking. Looking through the mentions, it seems to be prompted by Leeman reading a poorly constructed review of one of his professor’s books. I would assume as well this isn’t the first time Leeman has come across a shoddy review by a young academic, otherwise he wouldn’t think to make a new rule.

It is not entirely clear how to divide the reasons that come after “Either.” It could be a binary, in which case it would be a false dichotomy. To avoid that, let’s say there’s 4 elements. Young academics doing book reviews:

  1. Try too hard to prove themselves
  2. Are extra critical (probably in excess, because more is probably better in most cases)
  3. Miss the forest for trees
  4. Say nothing of value (presumably scholarly)

Having easily done several hundred book reviews since my time at Dallas, I will be the first to confess I have done all of these. It is hard not to think about #1 if the review is being published somewhere that receives a wider reading than your personal blog. My review of Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith, might be close to violating #2, but I still stand by it. It was also one of the few reviews I’ve done that was published in a journal. And, in a point I’ll come back to, there was professorial oversight.

#3 is certainly a danger if you’re not able to do synthesis and big picture thinking. The result is a review that provides a good chapter by chapter summary, but offers no overarching conclusions. And when that is done, #4 is also in play. Anyone can read a book, and with time and effort, summarize what each chapter says. But, without some kind of critical interaction, or evaluative comments, no scholarly value is imparted. Judging by the output of my reviews, you can rest assured many are guilty of #4, and some are surely #3, but I’d have to go back and figure out which ones. #4 is probably the biggest issue in book reviews in general, but if one were to take time to compile data, I don’t think it would be limited to younger reviewers.

All that being said, I don’t think this is a young academic problem. It is much more likely to happen with younger, less established scholars. But, one only has to subscribe to JETS or Themelios to find reviews that come from older academics that hit one of these 4 elements. Maybe the one the least likely to happen is #1, but then we have the sad tale of G. E. Ladd, who published books in pursuit of #1 and was devastated by a review from another establish scholar that violated #2.

If we look at this list as a criteria for editors to keep in mind, I think we’re much close to a new guideline. The age or rank of the academic involved shouldn’t have bearing on publication if the review does the following:

  1. Does not seem out to reinvent the wheel via book review
  2. Is appropriately critical (summarizes and evaluates)
  3. Describes both forest and trees where appropriate
  4. Adds value to the scholarly discussion of the book in question

We need more reviewers, young and old, who are capable of doing the above. And perhaps more significantly, are capable of realizing when you can’t do this with a particularly book. Perhaps this is the element that Leeman’s Tweet hits on. Younger academic reviewers may be less able to sense when they can’t fulfill the criteria. That is one reason why I appreciated the opportunity to do an independent study right before graduating Dallas that focused on writing good book reviews. It was overseen by Dr. Glenn Kreider, who helped me shape reviews that met the above criteria. The resulting reviews were divided between two journals. In each case, I was the primary reviewer, but because I completed it under Dr. Kreider’s supervision, his name appears as well.

If we’d like to avoid more reviews like the one Jonathan Leeman read, maybe we ought to have more seasoned professors like mine who are willing to shape the reviewing tendencies of young academics. If they produce shoddy reviews, it’s probably not because they’re young, but rather untrained. Or worse, they’ve had shoddy reviewers modeled for them by older academics who should know better.

As I look ahead to the reviews I’ll do this year, I want to be more clear about my limitations and strive to hit the criteria Leeman gave us. I want to be more selective, while still writing on many books. That probably means less full critical reviews, but hopefully it will mean better quality reviews when they’re completed. And also, thanks to Leeman’s tweet, I think I want to resurrect the series on doing quality book reviews.

Or maybe I’ll just review tweets about book reviews…

2016 In a Single Picture

December 31, 2016 — Leave a comment

2016 was an interesting year. On the one hand, Ali will tell you it was one of the hardest years of her life, and I could probably say the same. On the other hand, for me personally, it felt like what this picture looks like. Storms all around, but mostly moments of clarity (and that is perhaps ironic if you know where my location is in this screenshot).

The year began with us sharing a large house with our best couple friends, a teenage girl for whom the wife was a legal guardian, and the son of one of the elders at our church.

It is ending with us in the same house, but only still living with half of the couple.

2016 started off innocently enough. But then, my friend’s dad died in late January, and when he got back from Tennessee, he and his wife began fighting off and on for several months for the rest of the spring. Early May, we had to ask the teenage girl to leave for violating the lease, and then the wife left suddenly the following week and hasn’t been back. That began the summer. It ended with us having to ask the elder’s son to leave for reasons that need not be explained.

We also left the church after several years of sitting under poor preaching and watching leadership failures abound. We had poured out hearts out there for a few years, but despite being verbally appreciated late in the game, had never felt particularly valued (because we weren’t).

We also found out that Ali’s Panera was closing in early 2017, and their idea of a new job for her was one involving more hours and even more stress than she had been dealing with for the past 5 years. She had already decided to put in her notice and so they never formally made the offer.

So, moving into 2017, Ali’s job is ending, we’re living with my friend who has a mostly ended marriage but we’re not sure because his wife, who was Ali’s former best friend, doesn’t communicate and hasn’t served papers, and we’re short a roommate and looking for a church.

At the same time, God has been very faithful. We were able to have the closest thing to a vacation in our now 7 year marriage. It came right before we went through the roughest summer we’ve ever had. And it was also the catalyst that led to us sensing the timing of God’s call to begin raising support for more permanently working in student and college ministry. And now it’s also why we’re not particularly freaked out that Ali’s having to downgrade to a part time job.

2016 was basically a storm, but we’ve honestly been shielded from the brunt of it. Things could have been much worse, even as Ali had a much rougher time than I did. Many of the storms primarily affected other people very close to us and only secondarily ourselves. Yet there was still a significant amount of trauma, and mostly in our own home. As we look forward to 2017, I’m ready to focus on getting healthier in mind, body, and spirit, and preparing for long term commitments to ministry in Orlando. Ali would say the same. Because of that, I don’t imagine this will be the last year of storms. At the same time, I’m glad it’s over and am looking forward to what God has in store for us next year. We have much to be grateful for, but one thing is that 2016 is over.

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By Goodread’s measurements, I read more books this year than in any previous year. It honestly doesn’t seem like it, but maybe I’m misremembering how I spent my time. But, I read over 25 more books than my previous best for a total count of 188. While that almost doubled Challies Reading Challenge (I averaged 3.6 books a week compared to the 2 a week needed for completion), I didn’t actually complete it. The obvious reason why is that some categories listed below just didn’t catch my interest enough for me to read a book that filled that slot. I am satisfied with my level of participation though and ended with 90 of the 104 books read. If you’re curious how I read so much, watch a post about it next week.

As you can tell by my December totals, I’ve been on break. To be fair, some of the books listed below were plodded through over the course of several months and just happened to be completed this month. Vol. 3 of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics is case in point. While it’s the longest book I read this year, I didn’t read all of it this year.

Several books below you can expect a review for in the coming weeks. You’ll notice some themes, and that I went on an Oliver Crisp binge (more on that tomorrow).

That being said, here’s what I completed in December:

If you’re keeping score at home, I’m finishing out with 90 books in the lists below, and a new PR of 188 books this year.

Here’s the whole list, in case you’re curious (and even if you’re not):

THE LIGHT READER (12 BOOKS)

THE AVID READER (13 BOOKS)

THE COMMITTED READER (21 BOOKS)

THE OBSESSED READER (44 BOOKS)

(image via challies)

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I don’t always do themed reading, but when I do, it’s either Advent or Lent. This year, I focused my reading activities on books related to the person of Christ for Advent. In the spring, I’ll most likely do the same for Lent (working on my Amazon cart right now). I’ve actually covered a bit more ground than the books pictured, but these were (and currently are) the key ones that I’ve been reading.

Christ the Key

I actually haven’t started this one by Kathryn Tanner yet. I kept seeing it show up in footnote after footnote of other books I was reading, and finally decided to get it in my queue. It’s part of the Current Issues in Theology series by Cambridge University Press. Having already grabbed another title in that series (Webster’s Holy Scripture), I might be adding Oliver Crisp’s entry soon (see below). As we’re less than a week away from Christmas, I’ll have my work cut out with this one (especially because the chapters are long-ish and there are no headings).

The Word Enfleshed

I’ve been on an Oliver Crisp binge lately, having read this one along with Saving Calvinism (review soon), Jonathan Edwards Among The Theologians, and currently finishing Deviant Calvinism. Some of the work in this one is not new to Crisp’s prolific writings, but since it was one of the first books I’ve read from him, it was new to me. Of the 9 chapters, only chapters 2 and 9 are mostly new. Everything else was either originally published elsewhere, or is a newer iteration of something published elsewhere. Many of the themes are extensions of groundwork laid in his book that I mentioned above in the Cambridge series (it appears in the footnotes frequently). But, given the price of the some of the other published works, this is a great way to get a feel for Crisp’s writing (which is quite enjoyable and thought provoking) For those keeping up with current discussion in evangelical theology, this is not one to miss. Case in point, the first chapter is “The Eternal Generation of the Son.” Elsewhere, I was intrigued by the essay on compositional Christology (chapter 6), as well as the one on understanding the image of God in light of Christ (chapter 4).

The Person of Christ

This one is quite a bit older than the others (by about 20 years). However, it comes from a very solid series, Contours of Christian Theology, and is written by Donald Macleod. I’ve benefited from reading the entries in this series, and although it was never completed, it is worth the investment if you can get your hands on it. In some ways, these books have already stood the test of time. They are meant to give the reader a good grounding the in the basics of each doctrine they highlight and because of that, deal with key issues that remain issues even now. Again, if you’ve been aware of the discussion about the eternal generation of the son, there’s a whole chapter in here dealing with that subject and providing much theological wisdom for the debate. If you haven’t already, I might make it my aim to work my way through each title in this series.

The Incarnation of God

Because I enjoyed One With Christ so much, I decided to buy the follow up by Marcus Peter Johnson (co-authored with John C. Clark). This book has a bit of a systematic flow to it, starting with chapters on the knowledge of God and the attributes of God, moving to anthropology, hamartiology, atonement, union, and ecclesiology. The final chapter is perhaps the most intriguing as it ties the meaning of the incarnation sketches in the book so far, to our understanding of marriage and sex. In doing so, it provides a well reasoned theological account of why the Christian view of sex and marriage is a traditional one. Wasn’t particularly expecting that turn when I got the book, but caps off a nice little volume that systematically shows how the incarnation affects everything in theology.

God the Son Incarnate

I’m not quite done with this latest volume in the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series, but so far it has been solid. This is another series of individual systematic volumes that I would recommend as it complements the Contours series already mentioned. In this one, there is a bit more emphasis on epistemological issues (and even an entire volume on it), as well as a wider treatment of the particular doctrine. Stephen Wellum’s first section of the book covers those epistemological bases, before his second section tackles the biblical witness and provides a biblical theology of the person of Christ. In the third section, Wellum takes readers on a tour of the historical discussions, moving from Nicaea, to Chalcedon, and beyond. The final section then turns to contemporary challenges, particularly kenoticism, which takes up four chapters. I’m just pushing out of that into the home stretch and will finish up this fine volume later in the week as Christmas comes upon us. [UPDATE: I should have mentioned that I was able to read this book because Crossway generously sent me a review copy]

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Well, at this point, I’m gonna have to concede that I won’t complete the challenge. However, I might get close to 200 for the year, which would be a new PR. I didn’t add anything to the challenge this month, but I did enjoy what I read. The first three below are favorite authors, and several others I actually gave 5 stars to. You’ll hear more about them in the coming weeks. Until then, here’s what I read:

If you’re keeping score at home, I’m up to 75 books in the lists below, but I’ve read 162 new books total this year.

Here’s the whole list, in case you’re curious (and even if you’re not):

THE LIGHT READER (9 BOOKS)

THE AVID READER (12 BOOKS)

THE COMMITTED READER (17 BOOKS)

THE OBSESSED READER (37 BOOKS)

(image via challies)

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You may have noticed over the last week I kept posting pictures of the new ESV Reader’s Bible Six-Volume Set from Crossway. They were gracious enough to send a review set my way, and pictures seemed more apt to capture this Bible than my descriptions.

I implied in my posts that I was working through a reading plan. The particular approach, the Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers, was something I stumbled upon in Justin Taylor’s annual Bible reading post from last year. I modified it slightly by moving to a new volume each day and leaving Sunday open. Since we are talking about Bible reading rather than Bible study, Sunday might end up being a good study day. Or, Sunday could be a second round with a rotating volume each week.

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The first thing you notice when you crack open the Pentateuch volume is that there are periodic headings, but no chapter numbers. I was expecting no verse numbers and for the text to be laid out like a typical book. I wasn’t quite expecting uninterrupted text for page after page. Throughout Genesis at least, the toledot sections give you a good idea where the various headings show up in the text.

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This trend continues into the Historical Books. With both of these first two volumes, it really does feel like a more natural book reading experience. In the original version of the reading plan, you read back to back days in the Historical Books. However, I moved on to the next volume.

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In the poetry books, the Psalms are split up by actual psalm. There is also a move obvious division between the internal books of the Psalms. Job on the other hand is a little bit of a bear because the section with the friend’s dialogue runs without headings breaking it up. Both Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon seem much more readable in a single sitting in this format. Because you don’t necessarily have to start with the first book in each volume as part of this reading plan, I actually began with Proverbs (see previous point about Job).

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You’ll notice I did something similar in the Prophets by skipping ahead to the minor prophets. I’m going to try to read each in a single sitting on the days I read this volume. Then I’ll go back and pick up with Isaiah or Jeremiah most likely. That is part of the beauty of this plan, in that you don’t have to stick to consecutive books, you just are trying to read in different genres each day of the week so you are taking in the whole counsel of God over time. And if you miss a day, you just move on to the next volume.

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The headings return in the Gospels and make this volume the most user friendly for short reading times. Given the missing chapters and verses, you may notice more connections in the layout. For instance, the “sandwiches” in Mark might stick out a bit more when you read through with typical paragraph headings disrupting the text.

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Finally, the main thing I noticed in the Epistle volume is that each is treated like a unit and so has no headings. This appears to suggest you should read each epistle in one sitting, which is honestly a great idea. Once again, you don’t necessarily have to start right off with Romans, but you certainly can.

In terms of an overall assessment, I think ESV Reader’s Bible Six-Volume Set ought to find its way under numerous Christmas trees in a month or so. The $100 price tag is obviously high, but because of the aesthetic appeal and potential impact to your Bible reading, for most people it might be worth it. I received this copy free from Crossway but if I hadn’t, this would probably be the only thing on my Christmas list.

You obviously don’t need this particular multi-volume Bible to do the reading plan I outlined above, but it certainly helps. If you’re looking to change things up in your daily (or semi-daily) reading, definitely check out (and by that I mean try) the plan. And then decide whether the multi-volume Bible is something you’d like to invest in. Or, you know what? Just decide whether to invest in this Bible for yourself or someone who you know would love it.

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With Reformation Day upon us, I thought I’d do a reading roundup on several relevant books. As promised, I’m keeping to 7 at a time. For more explanation, see last week’s post. Unlike last week, 2 of these books (the bottom two pictured) are my purchases. The rest, I have to thank Zondervan, IVP Academic, Crossway, and Baker Academic for the hookup!

God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture (Zondervan)

First off, I was able to read the next volume in The 5 Solas Series (I also enjoyed this one). Matthew Barrett is not only the author of this volume, but the editor of the series as a whole. So far, this is the largest entry by far, and that’s because Barrett covers quite a bit of ground. The first part offers a historical survey of the attacks on the doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation to now. Then, in the second part of the book he presents a biblical theology of Scripture, from a mostly covenantal point of view. This might be the most distinctive part of the book. In the final section he takes up the typical topics related to the doctrine of Scripture (authority, inerrancy, clarity, and sufficiency) and clarifies what they mean and don’t mean, and then also deals with a modern objection (or two). Having just covered this section a few weeks back in our systematic class, I found this a useful read and look forward to the final two entries in this particular series.

Saving The Bible From Ourselves: Learning to Read & Live the Bible Well (IVP Academic)

Glenn Paauw’s book turns from doctrine to practice. Here, he is specifically interested in how we go about reading the Bible, and takes a publisher’s eye to it as well. The chapters are paired up to present, first a problem, and second, his vision for a solution. The chapters as a whole are arranged chiastically, which let me tell you, makes it attractive before you even start reading. To give one example of an issue Paauw sees, his opening chapters deal with how our published Bible tend to make the actual process of reading more difficult. There is quite a bit of clutter on a typical page of Scripture, especially in a study Bible. He proposes we give more attention to how this influences reading, something I’ll have more to say about later this week or next. To give an idea how the chiasm works, his final two chapters get even more focused on how the print within the Bible is laid out, so that it’s beauty is more evident.

This was a thought provoking and engaging read. My only complaint is that his underlying doctrine of Scripture seemed a little too friendly with Christian Smith, N. T. Wright, and Pete Enns. Might not be a problem for you, and overall doesn’t take too much away from his proposals. But if you’ve seen Smith’s Bible Made Impossible devastated in a review, you don’t necessarily like seeing anyone rely on it too heavily.

Theologians You Should Know: An Introduction: From The Apostolic Fathers to the 21st Century (Crossway)

This was a great beach read over the summer from Michael Reeves. It is also an excellent introduction to key theologians in a readable and semi-concise format. The first half of the book begins a brief overview of the Apostolic Fathers, and then chapters on Justin Martyr/Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. One almost suspects a theme towards the end there. The second half starts with Luther, then moves to Calvin, Owen, Edwards, Schleiermacher, Barth, and J. I. Packer. In each chapter, Reeves offers a mini biography and background for each theologian. He then touches on their theology, which he says will “amount to a fast job through each theologian’s major work(s)” (16). So, not only to get a idea of the context of each of these theologians, you are better prepared to read at least some of their most important writings, which is something you should certainly do.

The Voice of God in The Text of Scripture: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics (Zondervan)

Once again, you can have the privilege of reading the papers presented at the annual Los Angeles Theology Conference. This time, it’s from the Fourth Annual installment and the topic is the doctrine of Scripture. Previously, topics were Christology, the Trinity, and Atonement. Once again, a solid lineup of speakers with papers in hand. Daniel Treier kicks it off with an essay on an evangelical dogmatics of Scripture before Stephen Fowl does some theological interpretation of Scripture about Scripture in Hebrews. Elsewhere, Hebrews plays a key part in Myk Habets essay about reading retroactively. A pair of essays deal with historical biblical criticism, asking whether the voice of God can be found there in one, and a response to Plantinga’s critique of Troeltsch in another. All in all, I worked through this one pretty quickly the last two weekends and enjoyed myself immensely.

Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation: The Mediation of The Gospel through Church and Scripture (Baker Academic)

This volume by Matthew Levering is something I’ll need to come back to in due time. While this is a Reformation themed post, notice that in Levering’s subtitle, he speaks of revelation mediated through the church as well as Scripture. And well he should since he’s Catholic (of the capital C variety). As such, he and I would disagree here and there, but he seems to be reading all my favorite authors (including the two mentioned below) and writing copious footnotes interacting with their works so as to not clutter up the main text too much. I include it hear with the hearty recommendation that it is the work to engage (no pun intended) if you want to see a Catholic writer working with the fruits of evangelical scholarship, agreeing for the most part, but then putting their work in dialogue with Dei Verbum. I wasn’t able to critically interact with it at the depth I think the book deserves, but should a dissertation topic go this way, I know this will come in handy.

The End of Protestantism: Pursuing Unity in a Fragmented Church (Brazos Press)

This most recent book by Peter Leithart, as well as the following by Kevin Vanhoozer and two books I’m currently reading and enjoy. I have tried to read pretty much everything I can by both authors. With Leithart, I’m sure I’ll be provoked to deeper though, but if I’m reading well, will also not quite agree with everything. As I’m starting to gather more intersted in ecclesiology (for reasons I’ll explain later), this will hopefully prove to be a key conversation partner.

Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity (Brazos Press)

This latest by Kevin Vanhoozer is based on a set of lectures given at Moore Theological College last year. It’s Vanhoozer offering a chapter on each sola, giving historical context and contemporary expression. He sprinkles in theses on what a mere protestant Christianity should look like. What more could you ask for?

burger

April 13th was a big night for sports. Just ask Anna, she’ll tell you. It was also the night before our last full day in California. The following night would mark a week, as well as the end of the trip.

I had been before. Twice actually, both times when I was in high school myself. Now, I’m married and all grown up and chaperoning a senior class trip. My wife and I, along with 4 of the other 7 chaperones, have a van full of kids to keep track of. You might think this was no easy task, but surprisingly, you’d be wrong.

By April 13th, we were neither worn out, nor entirely ready to fly back across the country and resume normalcy. Instead, we were watching Kobe Bryant play his last game against the Washington Generals (deftly played by the Utah Jazz) and rack up 60 points in the process (which you can easily do if you take 50 shots in a game). On an iPad, thanks to Watch ESPN, we were also watching the Golden State Warriors beat the Chicago Bulls’ single season win total.

Like I said, big night for sports.

We’re in Monterrey, in a Hampton Inn just off Pacific Coast 1. We’re within walking distance of Monterrey State Beach, a Starbucks, and more importantly, an In-n-Out Burger. I would take advantage of this shortly after the games ended. I am, how you say, a fan of burgers. They put an In-n-Out in Dallas right before we moved. It was my last lunch in Texas. It was my first lunch on this trip to California. And it was glorious.

It seemed like we were always eating. Lunches happened later in the day. Dinners had fixed reservations. Continental breakfasts were at almost every stop. And yet, no weight was gained, though far too many sodas were consumed. It was probably due to walking 5-9 miles every day. Love will find a way.

Earlier that day I had logged just under 9 miles. This was conveniently split up between a walk to Starbucks, up and down Cannery Row, inside the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, and then all over Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Don’t be deceived by the name, there are no actual “Lobos.” Rather, there are seals (lobos marinos in Spanish) and in our case, a very active couple of otters in a cove. For the better part of an hour, and realistically their entire life, they were busy doing otter stuff. You know, diving for a clam or something similar, and then using a rock to crush it on your belly before eating it. Enjoy. Repeat.

There weren’t as many seals as we had seen earlier in the trip. Our first encounter was on Pier 39 in San Fransisco. Then at Moonstone Beach. Then again just up the road at San Simeon. And now here. Although, it was baby seal season, or something like that and so you couldn’t get too close (according to Federal Law at least).

This had not stopped me back at Moonstone Beach when I noticed a mom and baby seal out on a rock and realized I could get within 20 feet. I successfully made my way out there and took several pictures and videos before promptly falling in the water on my trek back.

I imagine the Pacific Ocean is pretty cold when it’s only about 65 degrees outside. I don’t know for sure though because I didn’t feel much of anything during the 15 seconds I was in the water before clamoring out to begin resuscitating my phone. All the bottom ports had been sucked dry before I made it back to the beach to retrieve my flip flops where I was told I was bleeding profusely from the knee by some observant high school girls. I said “oh,” followed quickly by a “can you dry my phone off?”

The upside was that we didn’t really have cell service at that point of the trip anyway (AT&T users at least). The downside was that the sunset that evening was amazing and my phone was stuck in a bag of rice. It is the one gap in my fastidious chronicling of the trip from start to finish. Guess I’ll have to go back next year.