Saturday, June 25

A Place Called Blessing by Dr. John Trent and Annette Smith

When I picked up A Place Called Blessing I had no idea that it was written as a story to outline ideas brought up in the book The Blessing (co-authored by Dr. John Trent).  A Place Called Blessing tells the story of Josh, a child who is placed in foster care after his parents die in a car accident.  After a tragic event Josh is labeled as a troubled kid and therefore no one wants to take him in, though they gladly take his brothers.  After he hits the age of 18, he leaves to find work and ends up renting a room with Anna and Anna’s son, Mike (who Josh works with).

Josh is haunted by the tragedy in his life and feels at fault for it, even though Anna and Mike assure him that is was an accident.  Through the care they show him, Josh begins to realize that he isn’t a screw-up and seeks to find a place of true belonging in the world.

Friday, June 17

Is the Bible Reliable DVD set

from The Truth Project by Focus on the Family

How are we to know if the Bible is reliable, especially when it seems people are constantly bringing up ‘evidence’ or promoting thoughts that seem to imply that the Bible cannot be trusted.  Rarely do we hear about discoveries that may actually support the Bible as being historically accurate.  This has found to be especially true in Colleges, where Christians are often first exposed to people who not only disagree with Christianity but who may be openly hostile to it.

To help prepare students for the challenges they would face, Focus on the Family started The Truth Project, which in turn established TrueU.  True U is releasing several DVD sets to help high schools better understand their faith and to engage with skeptics and unbelievers in.  Is the Bible Reliable is one of those sets and focuses on looking at archeology and trying to discern if the Bible can be relied on as an accurate, historic document.

Star Wars: Knight Errant byJohn Jackson Miller

Vol. 1 - Aflame by John Jackson Miller

Aflame is the first book in a new graphic novel series from Dark Horse, set over one thousand years before Star Wars: A New Hope.  Kerra Holt is working with a group of Jedi in going behind Sith lines.    Things do not go as planned, and soon Kerra is the only remaining Jedi from a group and is stuck between two Sith brothers who are locked in combat with each other.  She has to find a way not only to avoid being destroyed by the Sith but also to help a colony on the planet she’s stranded on.

Knight Errant is the first the graphic novel I have reviewed here!  I don’t read many graphic novels, though I have enjoyed many of the few I have read.  If done well, I enjoy the visual style they can bring to the story, and that is one of the things I enjoyed most about Knight Errant.  I actually thought the story itself was pretty straightforward and actually pretty weak.  But since it was presented in more of a visual format, I still enjoyed it and made some of the more ridiculous parts a bit more palpable (including a scene where a character jumps from roof to roof….on moving spaceships).

Monday, June 13

Heaven is for Real

At the age of four, Colton Burpo had to have an emergency appendectomy.  The symptoms had been preset for days but had initially been misdiagnosed and Colton’s appendix burst days before he finally got the surgery.  Later, after the surgery Colton revealed to his parents (his father is a pastor) that during the surgery he went to heaven.  He tells about events he should’ve had no way of knowing, including details about his great grandfather (who he never knew) and about a miscarriage his mother had before he was even born.

The selling point on this book is of course that of a little boy seeing Heaven.  However, even the surrounding story kept my interest and at times was shocking, humorous, and heartwarming.  Colton’s father, Todd, wrote the book with Lynn Vincent, however he wonderfully captures his son’s personality to the extent that I could imagine Colton was standing beside me recounting the tale.

Saturday, June 11

The Lotus and the Cross by Ravi Zacharias

What would happen if two people, each one key to the following and faith in a different religion, were to have a conversation with each other?  Would the similarities be much greater than thought?  Or would the differences be vaster?  This is the scenario that Ravi Zacharias used to inspire this short book (97 pages), The Lotus and the Cross.   He imagines a conversation between Jesus and Gautama Buddha.

I read this book as a part of a World Religions class at my university when we started talking about Buddhism.  The Lotus and the Cross is written as a conversation, more like a play than a book, without description of movement/location.  They are addressing the concerns of Priya, who Zacharias read about in a paper while visiting and talking with Buddhist in countries where Buddhism has a strong following.  Priya was a young Buddhist woman who ended up in prostitution, contracted HIV, and ended up committing suicide through her frustration with life.  Zacharias wonders what Jesus would’ve told such a woman.  Then he wonders what Buddha would tell her.

Wednesday, June 8

Be the People by Carol M. Swain

"A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise"

What is America’s future?  Is the country moving on the right path, or the wrong path?  How do we get on the right path?  If you were to ask random people these questions, you’d probably get an equal number of random answers, some more similar than others.  The answers to these questions differ even more wildly if you were to ask conservatives, moderates, and liberals their views.  When it comes to politics, it seems that everyone thinks they are right and that those that disagree are not only wrong but potentially dangerous and are trying to destroy this country.  Really makes you want to run for a political office, doesn’t it?

In Be the People, Carol Swain, author, expert on race relations and immigration, and self described conservative, offers her take on America’s situation and proposes ideas on a path America should take.

Saturday, June 4

CHERUB: The Recruit by Robert Muchamore

Spies are among us, and they might now be who you think.  In the midst of World War II British intelligence created a whole new intelligence operation: CHERUB.  CHERUB has one extremely important qualification: you must be 17 years of age, or younger.  They reason that adults would never suspect children of being spies, so if they train the children well enough, they will can gather information which adults would find decidedly harder to discover.

James Choke wasn’t really your typical pre-teen.  He’s smart, but also a troublemaker, having strong potential to get in fights with other students.  His mother heads a ring of shoplifters, so even though she never does the actual work she pulls in quite a bit of money.  This means James also has unlimited access to the newest gadgets: his room is stuffed with them.  Along with his little sister, he leads a fairly happy life…until his ex-stepdad (father to James’ sister) shows back up, trying to weasel money from James’ mom.  She ends up accidentally overdosing on medication and alcohol and dies. 

James is sent to a children’s home and his sister ends up with James’ stepdad.  At the home James falls in with the wrong crowd and starts down a path that will quickly lead to jail time.  Before that that come true though, he catches the eye of CHERUB.  James has much of what they look for, above average intelligence, young, and parentless.  They take him on as their newest recruit.