Archives For On The Blog This Month

As Thanksgiving break approached, I had made mental plans to start the update process. After several years post-seminary of aggressive book reviewing, I needed a break. But, over time, the break became the new normal, while the reading habits stayed pretty much the same.

In all likelihood, I won’t completely catch up on reviewing books I received and read for review. However, you’ve got to start somewhere, so here we are.

Initially, I had planned to start up around the time of ETS national conference (week before Thanksgiving). But then I realized that most of the people who cared would be there and not really paying attention to blogs. Last week I had hoped to do a complete inventory of what needed to reviewed and/or read and then reviewed. However, the virus that had been lurking the last week of class decided to fully activate on Monday. Thankfully, my immune system came through in the clutch and after stumbling through two days of low grade fever (99-100ish), I finally sweated the virus out the night before Thanksgiving. Just in time for a food coma.

Post food coma I remembered that I was on break and so decided to just embrace it. Which brings us to today, when break is officially over.

With all this interim build up, I thought it might be helpful to at least start the review process later this week and review the top 17 or so books that I’m due to write about. Think of it as a kind of “what to buy that book lover for Christmas” list.

I am hoping that I can break out of what has been a kind of extended writers block. Some of it was no doubt due to over-thinking how to approach the book reviewing task in a way that is still relevant. At the end of the day, I realized I should just keep doing what I was doing because I received a fair amount of positive feedback about it, and it worked pretty well when I was doing it before. I’m not particularly worried about SEO or leveraging the blog for monetary gain. I just want to read well and write well about what I’ve read. There’s books out there you should know about, and as long as publishers are willing to send them to me, I’m willing to tell you about them.

So, in that vein, I’ll need to come up with a list of books to start with. Hopefully, I can put that together tomorrow or Wednesday and then start producing the goods later this week. And hopefully narrowing the pile down doesn’t itself become a Herculean task. So far I’ve read 150 books this year so you never know. If by chance there are books you know I’ve read that you want to make the initial list, be sure and say so!

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Earlier this year, I started doing an “On The Blog This Month” post. Today would normally be that day. However, I got behind last month on my plans and most likely won’t turn that around this month. There’s a few reasons for this.

First off, I probably went to a few too many spring training games. Six to be exact, although half of them were rained out (thanks Florida!). I had a fairly solid run during my spring break though. I saw a Braves-Phillies game (or most of one) at the Braves stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Then, I was able to get an Astros-Nationals game at the Astros complex, which has the best seats for the money (see picture). Two days late I made it to a Nationals-Braves game at the Nationals stadium, which was not entirely impressive. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the last season for both the Nationals and Astros in central Florida. They’re both moving south to share a complex in Palm Beach County. Lame.

Second, this Thursday, Ali and I are headed to California to chaperon the senior trip for the school I teach at. It’s been about 15 years or so since I was in the Bay Area and even longer since I was able to go to Yosemite. The second week of April is when our school does testing for grades 1-11, so I’m normally off. Last year that meant going to TGC for free, and the year before it was T4G in Louisville and working out some details for a Ph.D program I ultimate dropped out of. I could have road tripped up to Louisville again. Or, I could go to California for a week for free. For an additional $11, Ali could go too because they needed more chaperons, she had vacation, and I had miles. Easiest decision in a long time.
In light of all that, I probably won’t be doing too much blogging the rest of this month.  I’m simultaneously anxious and looking forward to not having books, a laptop, or potentially reliable internet for just over a week. I opted not to try to draft out posts ahead and probably won’t feel a compulsion to “catch up” when I get back. I’ve got a hefty stack of read and needing to be reviewed books. Maybe I’ll post on that before I leave and whatever seems most interesting will get reviewed first when I get back.

Lastly, I’ll be focused on some other personal writing projects which may or may not terminate in blog posts. I was hoping to be able to announce what it is for in this post, but it’ll need to wait until next month’s post most likely. April will be a very busy month for a variety of reasons (travel, wife’s birthday, second Underoath show, Death Cab, etc.). Hopefully it winds down a bit in May, but then there’s graduation and feeling all the feels that go with that. I still want to maintain somewhat of blogging regimen, but it’ll be touch and go for the next 6 weeks. At least now you know why!

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Hard to believe it’s been a month since the last On the Blog post. That’s because it has only been a little over 3 weeks thanks to a short month and a late post. Looking ahead to the rest of the month, I’ve got plenty more reviews to post. So much so that I decided to follow the format of this past Monday’s post 3 Books on The Trinity.

Often I’ll find after I’ve read or browsed a book for review I don’t want to do a full critical review. In the past, these titles usually end up in a New Books of Note post. However, I’ve decided these sorts of posts will be reserved for digital copies, or books that really just didn’t grab me. My general policy is to mention in 200-300 words any book that I request and receive. I’ve found though that there’s a type of book that I’d like to say more about, but not necessarily to the level of 1000-1200 words. Instead, I’ve like to post about these books in tandem with other similar books. This places them in conversation with other recently published works and I think adds value to the shorter review.

With that in mind, here’s the topics coming up this month:

  • Politics
  • Modern Theology
  • Jesus
  • Philosophy

Looking at the books pictured, I think you can figure out which three go in which week. There are a few outliers though. One is Sammy Rhodes book This is Awkward. I might give it a stand alone review, or write something about it elsewhere. Another, not pictured, is Ruth Tucker’s Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife, which might get its own review post. Also not pictured (because it was digital) is David Mathis’ Habits of Grace, which might end up getting its own post as well.

I was going to do a Reformation themed week later in the month, but decided against it. Instead, I’m going to pick up and continue the Theologians on The Christian Life series later this month and try to do one a week for the rest of the spring.

There are some series I’d like to pick up and continue. This includes the What Are/Is ______________? Some Recommend Reading. I really need to do a post on Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology. This month might be the month.

I also don’t want to fully abandon writing about book reviews or seminary study. My next two seminary posts will be Where Should I Go? and What Should I Learn? My next post for the book reviewing is probably going to be about reading and marking books.

All of this is to say that I’m trying to implement a principle from my devotional life into blogging. I’ve been teaching a spiritual disciplines class at church and we talked through this briefly this past Sunday. Basically, the idea is that you should have something fixed and something fluid (HT: David Mathis’ quote of William Law for this idea). With my devotions, I have a fixed reading plan (two actually) but I have flexibility to study more any given day. I’m working to implement that into my prayer life as well.

When it comes to blogging, I’ve tended to be one or the other. Over the spring and into the summer, I’m working toward having a fixed posting schedule at the beginning of the month, but being flexible about changing it up or adding to it as things come to mind. Or, as life provides opportunities to get out of the office and do stuff. I tend to make decisions based on what I’d regret not doing later and so that leads to things like driving to Tampa to hang out with your best friends for 24 hours before they move back to Tennessee instead of writing three separate blog posts on books related to the Trinity. Nothing wrong with either course of action, but I’d rather look back and say I took the trip and squeezed the writing down than vice versa. In the end, I think I accomplished both goals, so hopefully I can continue that trend into the coming months!