Saturday, January 07, 2017

Books read in January

It has ben too many months since I last posted book review. I have been through yet another prolonged bipolar down phase. It reduced my reading and destroyed my desire to review. I read quite a number of books but cannot now review them. But new year, new reviewing zeal so here we go

1.  Veterans: The Last Survivors of the Great War by Richard Van Emden 


Over the past three years I have read quite a number of books on WWI. None has managed to so well narrate the lives of ordinary people of the period. It is not just combatants but civilians too.  Published in 1998, the authors saught out the last survivors with WWI memories, people aged 90 to 100+.The chapter headings give a good summary. Joining up. Leaving for the front. Trench life. Dreams of home. The Battle of the Somme. Saving the wounded. Death, bereavement and loss. Log-term recovery. Women and the home front. Prisoners of war. Road to victory. Armistice and aftermath. I think my only minor criticism is the absence of memories from sailors and airmen, The people who lived through the conflict are now gone. One may personally regret not having asked them more. Like the old lady, a customer in my pharmacy who told me about the Zeppelin raids and an ex-policeman who at the outbreak of war had the family holiday ruined by his police sergeant father being recalled from leave. I also remember an old Methodist who had suffered as a conscientious objector.  This book has harrowing tales from those who experienced horrors we shall never know.

2. Logic On Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Paul D. Washer, Sinclair B. Ferguson, Ian Hamilton, Geoff Thomas, R.C. Sproul & John Macarthur. Amongs't the contributors are R.C. Sproul ....

Three DVDs, three photograph cards and a short book in this pack to commemorate the man generally regarded as the outstanding preacher in English in the last century. And English was his second language. A brilliant physician,assistant to the king’s doctor, a Harley Street practice, wealth and fame at his feet. The Doctor as he became known gave it all up, still in his twenties, to pastor a backwater mission church in South Wales. There he experienced such growth in response to plain preaching without gimmicks, that when his own Presbyterian denomination rejected him as principal of its theological college, he was invited by Campbell Morgan pastor of the prestigious West End Congregational church at Westminster Chapel, a short walk away from Buckingham Palace. When Campbell Morgan passed on, The Doctor was pastor until he retired. I heard him many times in my own London student years 1964 to 67. That was a formative part of my theological education. All his sermons were of the highest order and some, like the Sunday after the 1966 Aberfan disaster were unforgettable.

Most to the contributors here are family and friends, the latter mainly pastors influenced by the doctor. Hearing his voice again and these memories warms the heart and move one to desire to be a more spirit filled, prayerful preacher.

I have  four criticisms. The parts on the 1966 Evangelical Alliance meeting and the Doctor’s views the sealing and filling of the Spirit are not well handled. John Stott was at fault as chairman in the way he contradicted the Doctor at the meeting though I now believe there are reasons to perhaps show more sympathy for Stott’s views than the Doctor’s. On the filling of the Spirit I believe that Stott is right and the Doctor errs in calling the a sealing of the Spirit, a proper experience to be taught, which it is, but calling it the Baptism of the Spirit which it is not. The Doctor confuses terms which may end other, though not him, to confused theology. Thirdly,  nowhere are the Doctor's views on baptism stated. He seems to have moved away from a Presbyterian position on covenant children. My last criticism I have stated before. I am not happy hearing how wonderful the fellowship was on Sundays between services at the chapel. This lonely student was there three years and never offed so much as a cup tea. Nor did the Doctor encourage people to join in the body life of the church. He was happy to be the consultant physician of souls who did not do house visits.
"Defects through nature's best productions run, 
Our friend had spots, and spots are in the sun." - William Jay

3. How to be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life by Ruth Goodman

I would have given this five stars it is so good. But though she explore almost every area of Tudor life, she is very weak on one most important area. This was a time when life centered round religion. It was the time of Reformation. the time also of Bloody Mary and the burning of over 300 Protestant martyrs which promoted strong Protestant reaction afterwards. Christian faith was central to life.The reform of the church was often not popular, Holy days were lost so many holidays went. Prayers for the dead were banned so what could one do for the departed? Church attendance was compulsory. So I am afraid the author does not really give the reader a feel for this. She has it seems engaged in all things Tudor from ploughing to brewing but she does not seem have grasped Tudor Christianity. Hence my four star rating. But my one criticism apart it is a great read and wonderfully informative. Read and learn

4.Beware Beware by Susan Hill (Author), Angela Barrett (Illustrator)

A girl ventureson a wintry night only to find the wood is scary and home a great comfort. It will not take long to read to a child and you will both love it.

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