Sunday, September 24, 2006

Books read in September 2006 (15)

1. Crusade, Commerce and Culture by A. Atiya

Atiya reviews the relationship between Christendom and the world of Islam over the centuries. He seems to be a fair commentator though he seems to gloss over the sufferings of those who have to live as dhimmis. No place here for Armenian genocide.There have been good and bad Christian and Islamic governments and warriors. What is evident is that the great weakness of both sides is disunity. The shameful sacking of Constantinople by western "Christians" was one of the most disgusting acts in history.

2. Church After Christendom by Stuart Murray

Murray is an Anabaptist and it shows in his dislike of Christendom and what he calls its residual toxins in the church. He is looking for a prescription for church in the post-modern era. Some of his prescriptions are good. Church must be effective in mission and community and have discipline. Other parts are more questionable. He gives no primacy to preaching and seems totally pragmatic in terms of church government. If you are of a Reformed tradition and believe in Scripture regulating all of life you will not be happy with a book which is short on "Thus saith the Lord".

3. Bleachers by John Grisham

If it was not Grisham I would not have read a novel about American Football but I do not believe he deserves the negative reviews he has received. I put them down to dislike of the subject and the change of style. British reviewers are the more critical. One may not understand the football and yet still appreciate this book. It is about commitment, making choices, leadership, the transitory nature of fame, self-control and the difficulty males have in expressing love for one another. A short but interesting read. But I still think American Football is a cross between grevious bodily harm and chess.

4. The Firm by John Grisham

Recruited by the Mob and the FBI, such is the nature of Grisham's hero. Being a bright lad he trusts neither and outwits both. One again Grisham has written well. He keeps the reader gripped. I found the build up concerning the nature of the Firm to be really menacing. They are almost as diabolical as in Devil's Advocate.

5. The Testament by John Grisham

I first was recommended to Grisham as a Christian author of legal thrillers. This is the fifth book of his i have enjoyed and the first where I recognise his Christian faith as really explicitly expressed for it is the first I have read where, by the grace of God, someone's life is turned around. The man in question is a twice divorced alcoholic lawyer about to be disbarred. His life is changed when in the middle of the South American swamps he meets a missionary who does not care that she is about to become the richest woman in the world. Her grasping relatives, cut out of their father's will are the perfect illustration that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, as is the life of their billionaire father. There are some things money cannot buy. Grisham shows they include personal fulfillment, happiness and good relationships. Once agin Grisham grips you right to the end.

6. Cromwell and the Interregnum: The Essential Readings (Blackwell Essential Readings in History S.) by David L. Smith

Recent studies of Cromwell have vindicated him from the charges of being a self-seeking, hypocritical regicide and military dictator. The papers in this book confirm the Lord Protector as a deeply and sincerely religious man who in line with the Puritan theology of his time, sought to discern God's will by the unfolding of providences. His providentialism may account for some of the apparent lack of firm, clear political strategy in these years. Motivated by the desire for godly reformation, Cromwell was impatient with Parliamentarians who were in the way. A man of no denominational party, Cromwell was not averse to Presbyterianism being established for a while but he wanted liberty of conscience for the godly, he valued spirituality over formal church structures. He was no dictator, ruling with his council of state and not always insistent on his own way.


7. The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Falloden by Viscount Bryce: Uncensored Edition by Arnold J. Toynbee

Turkey wants to be part of the E.U. but remains in denial about the holocaust that is part of its history. Here are the contemporary accounts of the witnesses to genocide. They include most damningly of all, the testimonies of Germans who witnessed these horrors. Turkey was Germany's ally at the time. Many witnesses were American missionaries or Armenians who escaped. Toynbee who helped compile this report for the British Foreign Office wrote that his study of the genocide brought home to him the reality of Original Sin. That is another thing Muslims deny.


8. A Time to Kill by John Grisham

Grisham's first novel did not sell very well when first published but caught up with the success of his second. I did find it a bit slow when the accused sacked the hero lawyer but apart from this and pehaps a rather simple and improbable ending, it is gripping stuff as usual. Basically the book is about race. Can a poor black get away with killing two whites who raped his daughter in Mississippi where whites would get away with killing a black rapist?


9. The Runaway Jury by John Grisham

This thriller is a very well written piece against the evils of cigarettes and their manufacturers who will go to any lengths to avoid responsibility for the harm their products cause. It is classic Grisham courtroom drama. Right to the end you do not know why the jury is being manipulated nor can you be sure in which direction. One thing is certain. You cannot get yourself to try the trial you want in the U.K..


10 The Partner by John Grisham

The eighth Grisham I have enjoyed and I thnk the best so far. Plenty of ingenious twists as the hero tries to get off charges of murder and theft. Surprises abound but the best is kept to the end. The biter is bit. I think the Christian morality of Grisham shows through when the hero confesses to being always fearful of his persuers and when in the end the betrayer is betrayed.


11. The Brethren by John Grisham

I have now read nine Grishams in a month and this is the least satisfactory for it is not up to his usual standard. Normally the author can make you side with his criminal heroes even when they are murderers, but his three convicts, all ex-judges, are singularly unappealing when their scam is blackmailing homosexuals still in the closet. The involvement of the C.I.A. seems highly unlikely in the pushing of a presidential candidate, murder and injustice. I was expecting a twist at the end but there was none. In this book I think the author has left his own Christian moral framework. Has he concluded that we live in an amoral world?



12. A Painted House by John Grisham

Grisham has left the courtroom for 1952 rural Arkansas. A poor farming family with a teenage son in Korea hire hill folk and Mexicans to pick their cotton. The seven year old son of the farm tells his story with more ability than is possible for a boy of his age but that is I think the only flaw here. This is more novel than thriller but the young lad does witness two murders. Once again Grisham is describing a very Christian community. They are all Baptists or Methodists. I think the author's Christian standards are shown in his restraint in describing any sexual encounters. A delight to read.

13. The Summons by John Grisham

Grisham interests me for I like to see how his novels bear the stamp of his Christian faith. This one is a good exposition of Paul's observation to Timothy on the nature of loving money. In this case it leads to deception, fear, arson, burglary and family strife. It also gives us a tense thriller. Grisham, a lawyer, certainly portrays both the best and the worst of his old profession.


14. The King of Torts by John Grisham

I have decided that Grisham is at his best in the country, not the town, in the South not the North. So a novel based in Washington DC centred on the most venial of legal practices, mass tort law, is not his most attractive book. It is an improbable story of poor lawyer becoming very rich quickly after he meets a man who later turns out to also cause the nemesis of the riches. As in The Brethren we have a tale where most of the characters are really unattractive. Greed, the love of money and the fleeting nature of riches are the main themes.



15. The Broker by John Grisham

   I believe this is the author's first venture into a European setting and into espionage. The central character is taken from prison by the C.I.A. replete with presidential pardon, to lve in Bologna, Italy where he is eventually to serve as live bait with the C.I.A. waiting to see which countriy's assassins will search him out for the secrets he has. There is a thrilling chase when he realises he is being persued. Up until that point the story is not so gripping. Once agian Grisham keeps his hero surprisingly chaste . He does though love Italian food.

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Is Islam Dying? Europe Certainly Is

Christianity in Western Europe has virtually ceased to exist. The spirit of secular relativism that originated from the French Enlightenment has persuaded Europe (including Europe’s churches) to commit a protracted, two centuries long suicide, the symptoms of which were visible in Communism, National-Socialism and moral relativism in general.
Man is a religious being and needs religious faith. If European Christianity had still been healthy today it would have proselytized, it would have reached out with missionary zeal to the millions of Muslims who migrated to Western Europe since the 1970s, it would have offered them Christ. Instead, it’s churches became bastions of religious relativism. Europe offered the newcomers only cultural decadence, from which decent people want to shield their children, and spiritual emptiness, which one can only despise.
The Europeans, who lost the missionary zeal to reach out to the immigrants, also lacked the zeal to pass on their own civilization to their offspring. Worse still, they lacked the zeal to have offspring. Since demographics is the mother of all politics, it is, barring a miracle, certain that Islam will become the old continent’s dominant religion.
Unless Europe rediscovers its will to survive – and it may already be too late (though as a Christian I do not exclude miracles) – soon furious Islamists may be holding sway over Europe in much the same way as the Taliban did over Afghanistan, removing all visible remnants of pre-Islamic culture. - Is Islam Dying? Europe Certainly Is
From the desk of Paul Belien on Wed, 2006-09-20 23:11 http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1360

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dorset coast


Dorset coast, originally uploaded by maigemu.

English summers can be beautiful.

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Sitting on Grandad


Sitting on Grandad, originally uploaded by maigemu.

Sahara comfortably seated on Dorset beach.

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Zac and Auntie Miriam


Zac and Auntie Miriam, originally uploaded by maigemu.

Baptism day with cake .
It was a good day though I cannot say I am a fan of the new, nor the 1662, Anglican infant baptism liturgy. Neither are covenantal.

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The monstrous regiment


The monstrous regiment, originally uploaded by maigemu.

I may have a sister and four visiting females cousins, but my toy is mine

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Well held by Auntie Debbie


Well held by Auntie Debbie, originally uploaded by maigemu.

The family gathered to celebrate Zac's baptism. A fine day with lunch in the garden.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who me a skinhead?


Who me a skinhead?
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Now six months old.

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Its my big day


Its my big day
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
I have been baptised. Now for serious play.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Accident spot


Accident spot
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
The plaque at Harrow on the Hill, tells why this is not the spot to have an accident. See the next posting below.

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Take Heed!


Take Heed!
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
This is the site of the first fatal car accident in England, 25 February 1899, by Harrow School.

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Harrow School


Harrow School
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Our friends Trevor and Jean Wells at the Shaftesbury Memorial

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Memorial to Lord Shaftesbury


Memorial to Lord Shaftesbury
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Near this spot Lord Shaftesbury while yet a boy in Harrow School, saw with shame and indignation the pauper's funeral, which helped to awaken his life-long devotion to the service of the poor and oppressed. So reads the inscription.

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Byron Memorial


Byron Memoial
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
One of three memorials we have found at Harrow on the Hill. This one, in the churchyard, marks the spot where Lord Byron admired the view and was inspired to versify.

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Grand Junction Canal


Grand Junction Canal
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
The Grand Junction Canal runs near our house linking the Grand Union (Brentford to Birmingham) with the Thames in the Pool of London. It is over 200 years old. Soldiers were ferried south on it for the Napoleonic wars. Produce and coal were taken to London and reuse removed thence by canal. The narrow boat belongs to an aunt and uncle of my son in law. They live on it in summer.

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White Africans?


White Africans?
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Our friends the Meiners were missionaries in Kenya. We were at a church fancy dress party.

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Our pastor and his wife


Our pastor and his wife
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Yes really, but it was at a church fancy dress party.

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Milton's Cottage


Milton's Cottage
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Milton's Cottage is the only extant home of John Milton, the great est English poet , in Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire. It was in this cottage, described by Thomas Ellwood as "that pretty box in St. Giles, Chalfont", that Milton completed Paradise Lost, and the idea of Paradise Regained was put to him. www.miltonscottage.org/about_miltons_cottage.htm

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Leaving Hergiswil


Leaving Hergiswil
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Last boat in the evening leaving with Stanserhorn in the distance. Our last evening there too.

Verdict on Switzerland, beautiful,clean, efficient, expensive and unfriendly. In two weeks only one person spoke to us beyond the line of duty, and she was French-Canadian married to a Swiss. We went to a reformed church. No-one greeted us before, during or after the sermon. I said I would try the Roman Catholics the next time :-(
How did such an unwelcoming nation make a tourist industry? Only from beautiful scenery.

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Alpine horn on Stanserhorn


Alpine horn on Stanserhorn
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
On our second peak of the perfect day, after ascent by funicular and cable car, we were treated to traditional music making. The highest peak behind is Titlis.

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Katy and Lake Lucerne from Pilatus

It was not until our last full day in Switzerland that we had the perfect cloudless day for being on the mountain tops. So it was back up Pilatus.

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Pilatus Railway across the cliff


Pilatus Railway across the cliff
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Having enjoyed the ascent once and having a free pass and perfect weather, we did it again the next day. See the train on the cliff and not the ascent angle.

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Lucerne from Pilatus


Lucerne from Pilatus
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
From the lower cable car. I took lots of these on the descent.

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Katy on top of Pilatus


Katy on top of Pilatus
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Beyond are the Alps across to the Eiger.

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Pilatus incline


Pilatus incline
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
The 48% slope of the world's steepest railway
You can see one train ahead of us.

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Pilatus Railway


Pilatus Railway
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
This railway, over 100 years old, originally steam powered, is the world's steepest with a 48% incline. Here are three carriages at the start.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wiggis from Rigi cable car


Wiggis from Rigi cable car
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
One goes half way up Mt. Rigi this way, then to the summit by rack and pinion. The last photo of the funicular was on the hill on the left. Pilatus, with cap of snow is in the distance.

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Funicular


Funicular
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
One of the delights of Switzerland is the railway system. It runs on time no matter what the incline. This funicular climbs 10o0 feet above Lake Lucerne. Here up and down are passing. This is a rack and pinion system pulled by cables.

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Pilatus Hotel


Pilatus Hotel
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
What a difference the sunshine makes. The hotel is named after the mountain. Unfortunately our room was on the side, by the trees, so lacked a view of the lake. Later it snowed on the mountain so when we went up by the railway we went into the snow. The train goes up from the left at the back of the peak. The cable car comes down from the right.

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Englelberg


Englelberg
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Taken rom the Titlis cable car, the first of three up the mountain. The last was the first one in the world to rotate as it ascends.

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On top of Titlis


On top of Tiltis
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Sunshine in the snow above the clouds on our third full day in Switzerland. I was hoping you could click on the image and go to more from the day but the imaging service wants me to pay for the facility. But if you click you will se more from the day on the site. This photo is at above 7000 above sea level. Cloud kept coming and going obscuring the view but I will post one more from one of the three cable cars on the ascent.

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First Tuesday


Brienze
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
A traditional village streeet in the town near Interlaken, which is the home of Swiss wood carving. We went on to Interlaken where we enjoyed a fondue for luch. From there we went to Grindelwald by train. Unfortunately the Eiger was hidden in clouud. Click on the photo for more views from the day.

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Lucerne's ancient bridge


Lucerne's ancient bridge
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
Katy on the bridge on our first full day in Switzerland. Click on the photo to see more from that day.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

September beard


September beard
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
On top of Mount Pilatus, Switzerland, nearly 7,000 feet above sea level and a perfect day. In the distance, Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau

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September profile


September profile
Originally uploaded by maigemu.
On top of Mount Pilatus, Switzerland, nearly 7,000 feet above sea level and a perfect day

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