Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Books read in May 2019

1. Cricket Grounds From the Air by Zaki Cooper (Author), Daniel Lightman (Author), Ian Hay (Author)

This is a beautiful book on the county grounds with stunning aerial views. It also gives the records up to 2010 for the counties' performances and their players. Then there are facts about famous players for each county. One serious commission though has been that of Trueman and Hutton from famous Yorkshire plates. That reduced my rating to four star.

2. The Queen's Church - The Story of Knaresborough Parish Church by Arnold Kellett (Author)

The author was a former mayor of Knaresborough and a Methodist writing the history of the local parish church and much more. For here is the history of the town through the ages even before the start of the present church building in the 12th Century. It has an tomb with a headless body and a very anti-Cromwellian inscription.

3. Knaresborough (Archive Photographs) by Arnold Kellett (Author)

A great pictorial record of a picturesque Yorkshire town with photographs from the middle of the 19th century up to modern times. The most remarkable one is the exhibition of a V2 rocket 

4. A Walk Around the Snickelways of York by Mark W. Jones (Author, Illustrator)

A fascinating walk through the unknown pathways of York but totally impractical as a guide for it will not fit in the pocket. When I walk through a place I want to know the history. It is conspicuously absent here.

5. Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses by Theodore Dalrymple  (Author)

Dalrymple is an atheistic social conservative and I love this book. He has much in common with Jordan Peterson, the wisdom of those who tell people not to cry 'victim' but to take responsibility. He certainly did despite being brought up in a family where his parents never spoke to one another and split up. He is a man widely travelled who understands our culture and those of others he has visited. The first section on Arts and Letters is brilliant on Shakespeare and modern art but it would be even better with some illustrations, particularly Gilray. Then society and politics is brilliant on so many topics, Diana, Italy, France, malnutrition, sex, Soham, Ray Hunniford, Islam and Africa after Empire. On legalising drugs I am surprised he does not critique Methadone free on demand.Like Peterson he is eminently quotable and I want to read more from him. Well done good Doctor - a physician for the mind of the supposed intelligentsia.

6. KEEP SMILING THROUGH: HOME FRONT, 1939-45 by Susan Briggs  (Author), Introduced by Vera Lynn (Contributor)

If there is one thing I regret not asking my parents it is more questions about what it was like to live through the war. This book serves to fill that gap. It recreates well much of the wartime atmosphere, evacuees, black out, rationing  and bombs.  Very well illustrated but lacking an index and n mention of C S Lewis's famous broadcasts.

7. Following Jesus: Essentials of Christian Discipleship by Andrew M Randall (Author)

This is a primer for those young in the Christian faith and an excellent one too. It will also benefit those further along the way of Christian discipleship. It is well written, simple but profound by a widely read pastor who is gifted teacher. Do not be put off by an introduction about American football - a strange start for a Scottish Presbyterian. There are seventeen books recommended for further reading, one for each of the chapters and appendices. I have only read two of them but from those know the recommendations will be as helpful as this whole book. Andrew is the moderator of our International Presbyterian Church and his gifts are here for blessing of the wider church .

8.Truths for the People: Several Points in Theology Plainly Stated for Beginners by William Swan Plumer (Author)

A reprint from the 19th century intending to present Christian doctrine to new Christians. But the style is too dated for it comes from an age with a culture that was in name Christian, not one with diversity f religion and many rejecting all faiths. The quotes are KJV. It is from another era and if one wants to teach a new Christian doctrine one would nt choose this book. What it teaches is fine but the presentation is from another age.

9. Maturity: Growing Up and Going on in the Christian Life by Sinclair B Ferguson  (Author)

I did not realise at first that this is a revised and renamed publication of 'Add to Your Faith: Biblical Teaching on Christian Maturity published in 1980 and which I read with profit. That book was a blessing and this enlarged and revised, I cannot recommend too highly. Sinclair is one of the finest contemporary theologians in Scotland but he is no dry academic. This is practical pastoral counsel for all Christians, young and old. Read and digest and you will be challenged and encouraged in you Christian life. A gifted expositor who explains the Bible well in an attractive style enhanced by good illustrative stories. 

10.You Must Read: Books That Have Shaped Our Lives by Various (Author)

Thirty two Banner of Truth books recommended by 31 men and one woman., American and British, in tribute to Iain Murray and his wife on their diamond wedding and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the publishing trust. I have read over half the recommended titles, books from the 16th century writers to the present. Some chapters have informative biographies of the recommended authors too. And encouragement to read helpful Christian books.

11.Prosperity and Poverty: The Compassionate Use of Resources in a World of Scarcity (TURNING POINT CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW SERIES) by E. Calvin Beisner  (Author)

My attempts to read on economics have not been at all enjoyable until I read this book. Beisner takes seriously the general equity of Biblical law. He is no theonomists but applies Biblical principles to economics and is a good exegete. He gives a Christian view of economic justice and denies that it demands equality, it teaches equity. To prosper man must work harder and smarter. He explains value and price, money and inflation. Among the promoters of inflation are governments increasing the money supply under political demands for short term fixes. Fractional reserve banking is also critiqued and exposed as inflationary. He does not call for a return to a gold standard. His work on limited government is very helpful. He does not talk about sphere sovereignty but clearly Biblically demonstrated the limited function of government. He critiques price controls, wage controls and subsidies.He shows the causes of poverty and moves to defining better the deserving poor to use the old terminology. He shows how they may be helped by individuals, families and churches. Profound, practical and well written. Radical politically. It is from an American perspective. He does not take health cares are nor details of taxation. Read it and learn better stewardship and politics too.

12. Born Slaves: The Bondage of the Will (Grace Essentials) by Martin Luther (Author)

Top marks to the publishers and Clifford Pond who produced this modern abridgement of Luther's seminal work, The Bondage of the Will. It is clear and easy to read. The force of Luther's Biblical logic is overwhelming. He wiped the floor with Erasmus. I loved Luther's ending apology for the seeming bitterness of his language. I suspect this modern version may have toned down the invective of a more forthright age. The context of this historic work is given and also its relevance for today. Armnianism is indeed close to Roman Catholicism in its synergistic semi-Pelagianism.

13. Minute Book Kept By The War Committee Of The Covenanters In The Stewartry Of Kirkcudbright: In The Years 1640 And 1641 by War Committee of the Covenanters (Creator)

This was published by J.Nicholson in 1854. The Covenanters records appear to have been kept locally as a manuscript then published over 200 years later with additional notes explaining the text in historical context. Found it helpful when researching the life of Samuel Rutherford who was minister at Anwoth and a spiritual leader in the Covenanters stand against the English imposition of episcopacy on Presbyterian Scots.

15. Up The Garden Path by Norman Thelwell

A delightful collection of quintessentially English cartoons satirising gardening. I particularly loved the wife with the black eye saying the neighbours are creating the fence. Not a horse in sight.

16.  THE SOUL OF SCIENCE (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) by PEARCEY  THAXTON (Author)

This is a brilliant book to be read ny all Christians who have to confront an unbelieving world that thinks science has all the answers in life. The history and philosophies of science are examined proving nothing is constant. Even this reviewer with a science degree from the sixties was never taught anything about quantum physics, non-Euclidean geometry or DNA. But more importantly I dined a science degree with no education whatsoever as to the historical development of science much less any philosophical critique. Science was a given no to the questioned. This book answers all of that in some detail and depth. Not an easy read but most informative and rewarding. Being published in 1994 their subject not covered is climate change.

17. Ealing A Concise History (Amberley Local Books) by Jonathan Oates  (Author), Peter Hounsell (Author)

It does what it says in the title. Ealing though is not the present London borough but the area defined by W5 and W13 postal districts.. It recounts the history from Saxon times to publication in 2014. It is fairly comprehensive and one does get a good feel for the growth of Ealing and changes in population, government, occupations and transport. The parish church, St Mary's is at the centre of Ealing life for centuries. The turbulence of the 16th and 17th centuries is shown thought Reformation and Civil War. The growth of various denominations is given and the advent of non-Christian religions though there are notable omissions. The political coverage is good but little is said from recent decades except for two ill fated proposals, Uxbridge Road trams and an elected mayor.  It would be improved by an index.

18. Gloria!: The Archbishop's Wife by Abidemi Sanusi  (Author)

Gloria Kwashi is a remarkable women, the wife of the Archbishop of Jos, Ben now GAFCON's General Secretary. Sunusi writes well and cleverly tells Gloria's soy from her standpoint and also that of her husband and those she calls her womb children. They are six but her adopted family number over 300 now. The story goes from her as a baby delivered on the roadside and expected to die to an ugly dark skinned child never expecting to marry. Her mother was abandoned by her polygamous father. Gloria came to living faith in Christ as a student. She quit study to nurse her dying mother. Then she was encouraged to leave office employment to study theology as her fellow employees found her forthright Christian faith rather uncomfortable. Studying theology she met fellow students Ben, a man from a much wealthier and sophisticated background. The courtship was very unusual. She rejected him. He persevered and she was to accept him when he was in his first pastorate. They lost their first home and all their possessions when Muslims rioted against Christians. Ben was offered a Ph.D scholarship n USA but turned it down when asked to be bishop of Joe. He faced a very difficult task. Here I dissent from what the book says about the Angican church, CMS and other missions in Plateau State. The account is one sided Anglicanism. I deny that SUM had a cosier relationship with the British colonial administration than did the CMS. But Ben persevered with radical change in Plateau Anglicanism and Gloria started to take in orphaned children, This couple legally adopting over 300 children is a thrilling story. One thing that surprised me is this book makes no appeal for funds for the orphan work.  It does contain two terrible accounts of thugs seeking to kill Ben. The first time he was away from home and Gloria suffered an horrendous sexual assault. The second time Ben was miraculously protected from the men who found him and were set on his murder. A remarkable story of faith and works. I hop the author will now give us a similar biography of Ben.

19. The Noble Liar: How and Why the BBC Distorts the News to Promote a Liberal Agenda by Robin Aitken  (Author)

A brilliant exposes from a BBC insider. Auntie has turned into the wicked stepmother of social liberalism. With a charter guaranteeing impartiality the BBC peddles fake news by refusing to broadcast those of us who are social conservatives. Aiken's thesis is that the BBC peddles the noble lie that social liberal values are what matter. It is in the hands of a self perpetuating elite, an hereditary meritocracy. Those of us who dissent are ignorant bigots, unthinkingly adhering to out dated social mores, especially Christian ones. The only place where I think Aitken's analysis is incomplete is on the reasons for the decline of Christianity. He does not consider the loss in the church of the authority of the Bible because of liberal theology, higher criticism etc. When the church no longer proclaims the gospel of sin and salvation through Christ alone she has become a mere social club that cannot transform society. Aiken paints a grim picture of the UK going to the liberal dogs but he does see one hope. Brexit may mark a turning point for the common man revolting against the liberal, supposedly intellectual elite. They are the ones dominating our media, especially the BBC which is funded by our taxes.

20. The Book of South Wales, The Wye, and The Coast by Samuel Carter Hall (Author), Anna Maria Hall (Author)

Facsimile reprint of a Victoria tourist guidebook of 1861. Illustrated by many fine woodcuts. Fascinating to see the world through Victorian eyes. Full of contemporary detail and replete with history. See South Wales as she was over a century and a half ago.

21. AA Touring England by Automobile Association (Great Britain) (1988-10-03) 

Road atlas with town plans and illustrated car tours throughout the country. Good but rather too bulky to carry. To be kept at home and taken in the car for trips.

22. AA Secret Britain

Fascinating facts form all over Great Britain - the two countries and the principality. Particularly goo with a lot of detail on London. This is delightful tourist trivia. Keep it in the car as you tour.

23.AA Illustrated Guide to Britain by Various (Author)

Good to have in the car as you tour but too bulky to carry with you on a walk. Lots of fascinating educative facts. But Culloden was never Scots against English. It was Highlanders and other Catholics, like Irish, against Lowland Scots and English.

24.  501 Great Days Out in the UK and Ireland by David Brown (Author), Arthur Findlay (Author), Jackum Brown (Author)

I regard this as a book of suggestions to peruse before you go on holiday to any places in the whole of the British Isles, UK and Ireland. Another touring book that does not fit in the pocket. It briefs you for your journey so you can take it in the car.

25. Village Walks in Britain Ring-bound by Automobile Association/Ordnance Survey (Author)

The joy of this is that it is ring bound. You can tale out individual pages and take them on your walk. Points of interest are described on each walk. Length of walk, terrain and parking are given.

26.  Information is Beautiful by David McCandless  (Author)

Visually stunning and fun to peruse. But much seems trivial. Facts are not merely out there and objective, How we perceive their importance affects what we prioritise. The authors seem pretty committed to anthropogenic global warming as a great threat. Science goes into futurology with grave economic implications for us all. Nothing is as certain as our observations may point us to believe.

27,. Through the Year with William Still by David Searle (Editor)

I have read several such books but this is one of the best. Compiled from Still's daily notes for his congregation it is of great continuing usefulness from a masterful pastor. Reading for daily family devotions my wife thought the fact that Still was a bachelor showed through in his treatment of Eve in the fall.

28. The Cromwellian Gazetteer: An Illustrated Guide to Britain in the Civil War and Commonwealth  - By Peter Gaunt  

A great resource beautifully produced with many fine illustrations.. One could use it as a travel guide as one tours all the British Isles to see places of significance in the civil war, not only battles and sieges but where the significant participants lived and died, One sees how the whole of the four countries were affected in this time terrible upheaval.  A great resource for the history of 1642  to 1660.

29. The Knife Went In: A Prison Doctor on Britain's Dark Side by Theodore Dalrymple (Author)

Dalrymple is a wise man full of insight as to human nature and its failings. He is a man who swims against the flows of political correctness and psychiatry. A caring physician frustrated as I am by all encompassing bureaucracy. Often critical of the police, sympathetic to prison officers and lawyers. With much compassion for criminals but above all a sense of human responsibility for one's actions - unless you are under the control of madness. More about murderers than one might want to read.

30.The Few by Kaplan P & Collier R (Author)

Summer 1940 and the Battle of Britain. Introduction by a pilot who flew in it. Examines the build up to war, declaration, the fall of France, radar, the battle and aftermath. Their first hour and the finest young men. Special mention for the bravery of the Poles. Beautifully illustrated and full of good quotations. 

31.Travellers' Guide to the Battlefields of the English Civil War by Martyn Bennett (Author)

I do not know why this is called the English Civil War here for it covers all the British Isles and its countries. Nine years of chaotic kingdoms torn apart by war. This is the military story of battles and commanders. Well illustrated. Helpful maps and it is indeed a traveller's guide for it gives details of the relevant museums too. 

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