Monday, June 04, 2018

Books read in June 2018

1. Eminent Churchillians by Andrew Roberts  (Author)

Magnificent informative history. The house of Windsor gave us three kings in the thirties who were all appeasers who distrusted Churchill - well the Georges did. Edward was supported by him so the next king and queen did not want Churchill as first minister. 

   Mountbatten was a conceited social climber without much talent except a genius for PR. His great preoccupation was his own ego. He only rose in the navy and the public sphere because he was royally connected. His own class detested him though the jack tars he commanded loved him. He was probably cuckolded by Nehru. The photo reproduced is most revealing. He claimed only 200,000 died during partition and he was not warned of likely disturbances. he was repeatedly warned and deaths mat mat exceeded 1,000,000. If he had not rushed partition and had brought in more troops it would not have been such a disaster but Mountbatten the mountebank emerged an earl.
   How the Tories who loved Chamberlain failed to back Churchill at the start of his premiership is a disgusting revelation. One knew Churchill had a battle in his war cabinet to fight and not capitulate after Dunkirk but his trials with the Chamberlainites were a revelation. Labour members cheered him in the Commons. Tories did not until whipped. 
   But this for me is a book of two halves. The latter three chapters were not so interesting.

2. A Nearly Infallible History of the Reformation: Commemorating 500 years of Popes, Protestants, Reformers, Radicals and Other Assorted Irritants by Nick Page  (Author)

The only laugh out loud church history I have ever read so one cannot but love it. Very entertaining and seriously informative too. A few minor quibbles. Luther was not the son of a mere miner but of a man who managed several mines. Page seems not to be a fan of predestination nor of the disposition of Calvin. He was not a bundle of laughs. Joy is indexed but once in the Institutes. laughter is not there but there are entries for happiness. On the whole he is fair to Calvin but there is no mention of his contribution to the rise of Swiss banking with his views on usury nor on the wider capitalist enterprise. His missionary concern is well attested. The purist were not against pubs or beer. They regarded beer as wholesome but fined drunkenness and regulated the opening of bars.

3. Ten Poems About Tea by Jill Perry (Illustrator), Lorraine Mariner (Compiler), Thomas Hardy(Contributor), Jo Shapcott (Contributor), Eavan Boland (Contributor), John Agard (Contributor), Sophie Dahl (Introduction

Varying strengths to the brews here. Some classic authors. Can be read over a cuppa or two.

4. Promise and Deliverance Vol. IV by S. G. De Graaf (Author)

John and Acts plus eschatology. This series remains my favourite on Christocentric covenantal hermeneutic.  It is among the few books I have repeatedly read. But I was surprised that Paul's storm at sea was located in the Aegean for he shipwreck was Mediterranean Malta. I found his commentary on Matthew 24 lacking for he fails to distinguish Jesus two answers. The one concerned AD70 and comes with signs. The imminent parousia is without warning.

5. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee  (Author)

This is the best novel I have read in a long time. I had given up on fiction but this is special and I will want her next book. The author is a Korean in USA. She writes about four generations of Koreans in Japan. It is a saga of awful racism but she even manages to have her characters sticking up for Japan and its people at times. The book goes from Korea under the Japanese from 1910 onwards up to present day Japan where generations of Koreans reside under gross discrimination as inferior, dishonest, dirty, despised people. The book is the most Christian content novel I have ever read. The hero is a Presbyterian pastor from what id now North Korea who goes to Japan and dies as a result of anti-christian persecution. His family goes from great poverty to great wealth. It is mixed up with a notorious Korean gangster, very rich but very kind. I will avoid spoilers and say little more of the plot except that if is moving and at times shocking, surprising, full of the unexpected. There are tears and tragedy. The Christian faith of members of the family shines through. Sometimes the language is rather obscene but the writer is American. There is quite a lot of fairly explicit sex but mot in an erotic way. Highly recommended for a picture of two the r cultures and a real epic read through the decades. You will learn a lot about things Korean. My one quibble is the lack of a glossary of Korean and Japanese words. I was a long way into the book before I looked up the meaning of the title.

6. Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo  (Author)

I spent twelve years in Nigeria and was pleased to avoid ever having got tp Lagos. Nigerians ask why and I reply that my Yoruba friend visited and was mugged so what chance would I ave. This book confirms that avoiding Lagos is wise. It is a jungle ed in tooth and claw.
   I really enjoyed this book and it held my attention though at times I wonder if the fiction was too far from reality or uncomfortably close.We start the story in the delta with the army brutally fighting lawlessness. Two soldiers erst and come to Lagos with a former rebel, a beaten wife and a traumatised teenage girl. Life in Lagos is very hard squatting beneath a bridge, paying for protection and impossible to find work. But the street wise youth in the part finds them a hidden abandoned apartment only for it to turn out to be the property of a government minister who, on the run with stolen money comes there only to be held by the disparate five who decide to use his ill gotten gains for good. They are aided by a journalist, who exposing the government corruption disclosed by the minister faces disastrous consequences. No more spoiler. Twists and turns and no happy ending for this is Nigeria,and the corrupt mess most evident in goings on in Lagos. 

7. Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present by Jonathan Gibson  (Editor, Contributor), Mark Earngey (Editor)

I reviewed Gibson's previous book with five stars. Once again he has struck gold. I was raised in evangelical Methodism, part of a free church tradition that despised set liturgy. I believe this to be a mistaken three centuries old reaction to the Anglican legal imposition of Cranmer's prayer book in 1662. Free churches in England threw out all written liturgy. In a different reactionary spirit, that os their understanding of the regulative principle, so too the Free Church of Scotland and other conservative denominations north of the border.This has resulted in liturgical impoverishment. Here one is reminded of the rich historic liturgical resources from Reformed churches. The preface and introductory chapters are most informative. I treasure the observation that in contemporary worship too many follow the bad example of Rehoboam and pay too much attention to the young. Here is an eduction, a treasury of devotion and resource for contemporary liturgy.

8.Alexander the Corrector by Julia Keay (Author)

fascinating biography of a little known man. Cruden's name is famous from his concordance - a monumental labour by a most talented author. But little else is known of him except that he was mad. The latter appears to be a slander brought about in part by his own reluctance to embarrass the love of his life. Four times incarcerated for madness and never with good cause according to this biographer. The first imprisonment in his native Aberdeen ruined his career aim of Christian ministry. It seems he had fallen for a very talented young woman of dubious character. Three times in London he is in madhouses, twice private ones at the instigation of individuals who felt threatened by Cruden. Seldom has one read of a life with so many trials, adverse providences. Crudens seems to have had immense fortitude and patience. Perhaps he was too keen to seek retribution in an unjust world. 
   He was a corrector of more than manuscript proofs. He took on the morals of a corrupt nation. The author shows good understanding of Cruden's theology but I am surprised to find no reference to the contemporary Methodist revival. Surely Cruden would have been better employed preaching like Wesley and Whitfield rather than his moralistic approach.
   One of those books with a tale stranger than fiction.

9. Sorry!: The English and Their Manners by Henry Hitchings  (Author)

More than the title says. Social anthropology and history of more than the English. An interesting survey of social mores.

10. The Unfolding - MP3 Timothy Brindle

Why is a hip hop MP3 among my books? This is extraordinary. I am no fan of the genre. I listen to none except this by a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary who give you a depth of theology and exegesis better than the average sermon. (Not that sermons in IPC as at all average.)
 A friend of the musician and fellow Westminster graduate introduced me to this and it sweeps me off my feat. The only problem is that it is music that demands 100% of the listeners attention, just like a good sermon. It is not for background sound. Great stuff.

11. The Prodigal God: Recovering the heart of the Christian faith by Timothy Keller  (Author)

Vintage Keller. Telling the story of the prodigal son. Brilliant exegesis and wide, profound application. At times one thinks he may diverge into eisegesis but it is all most edifying and challenging. We read it for family morning devotions.

12. The Clapham Sect: How Wilberforce's Circle Transformed Britain by Stephen Tomkins  (Author)

The story of the Christians in England who in the late 18th and early 19th centuries had enormous trans formative effect not merely in the UK but worldwide. First there is John Thornton, reputedly the richest businessman in England, evangelical philanthropist who bought up the advowsons of Anglican parishes so he could fill them with clergy of his persuasion like the Venns and John Newton. His son became a banker and influential MP, an independent in politics like his friends Wilberforce, the friend of prime minister Pitt. So their greatest enterprise was the abolition of the slave trade, then the abolition of slaver itself in the British Empire under the leadership of Buxton and the help of Stephens. But this is also the story of the founding of Sierra Leone, an enterprise to give a place to freed black slaves moved to Canada after fighting for the crown in the American war of independence. Clarksons and Macaulays were involved in this. In the realm of improvement of morals and the education of the poor were Hannah Moore and her sisters. It is a story of great perseverance against the odds. It is also very much against the background of the French revolution and war with Napoleonic France. A great record of what God did in one or two generations but also a warning that the next generation may go a different way. The one thing missing is any illustrations of the people involved.

13.1,000 Days on the River Kwai: The Secret Diary of a British Camp Commandant by H. C. Owtram  (Author)

I heard the author's daughter lecture on this so requested the book for Christmas. Her father was an officer and a Christian gentleman. From a well to do Lancastrian family of cotton mill owners he was a very capable leader to whom many owe their lives in surviving the hell on earth that was a Japanese POW camp. A fascinating account, horrific often, but one of perseverance, faith and hope.

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