Saturday, March 03, 2007

Books read in March 2007 (9)

1. Honouring the People of God: 4 (Collected Shorter Writings of J.I.Packer)by J.I. Packer

Packer is the best living theologian from the evangelical Anglican tradition. He is also a gifted writer, moving the reader's mind and heart. Here he honours Luther,Calvin, Baxter, Whitefield, Lloyd-Jones and Schaeffer with biographies. He also writes on the history and theology of Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, Cranmer, Baxter, sola scriptura, inerrancy, predestination, justification, Arminianism and 20th century British theology. Ordinary Christians will need some perseverance with some theological articles but the biographies are more accessible. Particularly moving are two gracious tributes to Lloyd-Jones. The two men parted company in the sixties yet Packer graciously calls him the greatest man he ever knew.

2. Eyebrows on Fire- Bristol and Abolition' Barb Drummond, available by mail order : send £4.50 to PO Box 2460. Bristol BS3 9WP See link on post title.

This booklet is unique being the only one with a picture of a namesake of mine, John Weeks. on the cover. Until the author informed me I did not know of this portrait and grave in Bristol cathedral. John was, as is written, an unusual man. I have not heard of any other publican in the forefront of anti-slavery campaigning. Now I cannot as yet claim any link to this Weeks other than the name but a man famed for his hospitality, a man who knew Burke, is a man after my own heart. Bristol, the author admits is well known as one of the three British ports which prospered from the infamous triangular trade. But here she recounts John and other Bristolians opposed to this iniquity. They aided Clarkson and helped in other ways, even, as in the case of John, on the stage.

3. Valley of Vision by A. Bennett
The late author was known to me as a lecturer at All Nations Christian College . His lectures were not memorable but his book is. This is at least my second time of reading it. I recommend it as a devotional guide for Christian prayer. Puritans were usually against set forms of prayer. The prayers here are more according to Puritan theology than to there practice. A young Christian may have to study to understand them. The language is thee and thou but this is an excellent collection of reformed, Calvinistic spirituality. In language, Bennett is not Cranmer but he has given us a great aid to devotion.

4. What They Didn't Say: A Book of Misquotations by Elizabeth Knowles

The author has a wide definition of misquotation. "Play it again,Sam" and Elementary my dear Watson " were never said but we are told how close they are to a less memorable source. Horatio never knew Yorick well. Burns has schemes that gang aft agley, not plans. Another sort of misquote improves upon the original making a more pithy saying. All sorts of misquotes are here save for what I take to be the commonest of all. It is the love of money, not money which is the root of all evil. Why leave that out from this helpful little reference work which could help end many an argument

5-8. Madame Petite, Mr Trouble, Mr Happy, Mr Cheerful - Roger Hargreaves

I have two grandchildren in Canterbury which is closer to France than to London. perhaps this explains how it was then when I picked up a book to read to my granddaughter I found it was in French. I ploughed on, understanding some from remnants of schoolboy french 45 years ago. I do not think Sahara understood it but she liked the next three volumes I read to her.

My memory is that her father was in his infancy, Mr Happy and his elder brother, Mr Chatterbox. I think Hargreaves had a brilliant idea, an idea better than much of his storytelling as the tales seem very thin at times. I am left wondering how Miss in English became Madame across the channel. Something cultural i do not know. I shall have to ask a native.

9. Have I Got Views For You - Boris Johnson

Boris is the living proof that the age of the English eccentric is not yet over. These days journalists become politicians and vice versa but no-one has done it with the eccentric humour of Boris. He is enough fun to make one reconsider voting Conservative. He writes with originality, good style and much humour. He is a one off.
The book is arranged topically going from politics to who are the British, Literary Heroes, foreign affairs, personal interviews, manners and morals etc. I found myself longing for the dates and sources to be put by each chapter for the book is not chronological. I think it would have been better arranged chronologically and not by category as the articles span 1995 to 2006.
Highlights are finding his daughter to be Belgian not British, his flight in the Americans' top fighter plane, his horror at the death of a stag together with his defence of hunting, his incompetence with a shotgun and the one piece of British journalism I have read in admiration of Dubya Bush. Boris is a man for clear blue water. If only Cameron was. He confirms to me one reason why I never passed on to the Conservatives approved candidates list. I had more than a whiff of Euroscepticism about me when interviewed in the same hotel as Boris.
I love his self deprecating humour. Why did he agree to go on the TV show from which he got his title? Honest Boris says, a thousand pounds, enough for a family holiday. Have we here that rara avis, an honest politician? He is certainly the only one who is such good fun.And to think all this for the grandson of a Turk.

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