Monday, June 03, 2019

Books read and reviewed in June 2019

1. A Wind in the House of Islam: How God Is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ by David Garrison  (Author)

Most encouraging and very informative on the history of Christian missions to the Muslim world as well as giving contemporary news. By nature somewhat anecdotal but what encouraging stories. Published 2014 so an updated edition would be most welcome. In particular the chapter on West Africa should be revised for it seems very weak compared with other chapters. There is no mention of the one missionary, Dr Miller, the only one to plant a church from Hausa Muslims in Nigeria, something neither he nor anyone else has ever repeated. I was struck by the contextualised approach first successfully done by Sadrach of Java which has great similarities to what I trued to do in Nigeria with Garba Adamu whose testimony I have related. This book has caused be to re-evaluate by judgement of C5 insider movements, particularly in the Arab and South Asian areas.

2. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence  (Author)

I am not surprised this was banned as pornographic when published. It is. Lawrence seemed determined to question moral standard, both sexually and the morality of the aristocracy. No wonder it was banned. And no wonder the England of the 1960s was happy with it. Lawrence had a grasp of the Biblical heritage. He could quote the Bible but there is little Christianity here except for the church bells and nonconformist chapels of the miners. The sexual morality is pagan - suited to post 1960 England. There is no respect for marriage vows. The upper class is uncaring despising the workers who produced their wealth. They are uncaring dilettante. Lady C wants self fulfilment as does her frustrated crippled husband. Mellors wants sex and gets it. All is riddled with a time when class ruled. Lawrence was obviously a rebel against it. He is a good writer but too sex obsessed. It would have been a better novel without the explicit sex for which it is notorious. It is a novel of despair where the only pleasure is sex. As the novel progresses there is more and more sex and the standard of writing declines. I shall not read more Lawrence.

3. Christ Crucified: A Sequel to Christ in His Suffering and Christ on Trial by Klaas; Zylstra, Henry (trans) Schilder (Author)

My copy is part of the three volume set reprinted in the seventies.Great reading for Lent but starting on this the third in the series I had to research the concept of ex lex. Outlaw says the dictionary but the author seems to invest it with greater significance. A very remarkable depth of theological and spiritual insight. This is the best I have ever read on the death of Christ. Remarkable exegesis and application. This was my review a year ago. I have now reread it and made notes which are on my blog

4.Britain Under Fire by Charles Whiting  (Author)

Mine is a 1986 edition. It tells how the home front won the war, the indomitable ordinary civilians who survived the bombing. How unprepared the country was comes as a shock as did the start of the London blitz. How in a way it all came about by a mistaken bombing of London at first, British retaliation on Berlin than the fury of the Blitz is a story new to me. The horror is well described. Infernos like hell on earth in the East End. Coventry destroyed so totally it shocked even the German bomber crews The lack of anti aircraft defences. it is all described in horrific detail. Bombing moved to Manchester, Plymouth, Liverpool and other cities. There was government anxiety over morale especially when many left bombed cities. Then came retaliation on Germany culminating in thousand bomber raids. Much information on the V weapons and how they were kept secret from the people on whom they began to fall. The best I have read on the Blitz.

5.The Word Detective: A Life in Words: From Serendipity to Selfie by John Simpson  (Author)

Johnson, the lexicographer, dined his profession as that of a harmless drudge. This editor of the OED is no such thing. He is a skilled and entertaining author. It you are fascinated by words and their origins this is the book for you, a veritable delight.

6. The Times History of War

I could not find this on Amazon. An overview of the development of warfare throughout history from ancient time s too modern. Well illustrated with many maps. When you look for specific wars you may be disappointed e.g. the British Civil War. Here is the broad sweep and many major campaigns.Good for the big historical picture.

7.The Complete Book of British Birds by Michael Cady & Rob Hume (editors) (Author)

For home reference not to take to the hide! Comprehensive and very well illustrated.


An encyclopedia of all things natural history in the British countryside.A good reference book but not of a size to carry round.

9. NIV Audio Bible in One Year Read by David Suchet New International Version (Author), David Suchet (Narrator), 2 more

Excellent. Suchet reads beautifully. Six CDs for the whole Bible. Daily readings from both testaments and the Psalms. My standard listening in the car now. Goodbye Classic Fm!

10. Britishisms: A dictionary of words, idioms, and phrases characteristic of British English by Lawrence Holofcener (Author)

To help Americans speak English. My wife does TEFL with Americans also teaching. This may be a help there for the Americans new to the Queen's English. Looking up some words of confusion e.g.homely I found it helpful. I did spot some words unknown to this native speaker e.g. cole, comfit, push-basket, cantrip - but then it says that is Scots not English.

11. Wild Life on Your Doorstep (Living Countryside S.) by Reader's Digest  (Author)

What the urban dweller may find in his garden and on her streets. Trees, plants, insects, birds and mammals too. There is more to life in town than people and buildings. Here is your natural history environment.

12. Culture Making by Andy Crouch  (Author)

Some very good insights into the nature of culture and how it may be transformed. The chapters on Gospel I found most interesting with some valuable insights as to how Jesus challenged the culture of his day and that Pentecost shows the start of a transformation taking the gospel beyond one culture. How the gospel came to change the Roman world is fascinating. The latter chapters on Calling did not had my attention so well but from this I learned how the theonolmst's is a backward step going against the flow of redemption history for it would enculturate the gospel back in Mosaic forms.

13.Anything Goes by Theodore Dalrymple  (Author)

I have found Dalrymple to b my favourite atheist. He has so much wisdom on a wide variety of subjects for he has seen the world in many places and observed England from places most people do not go. He is an apostle of personal responsibility and a trenchant critic of the social liberal intellectual consensus. I do wish though the original places where these essays were published was disclosed in the book.

14. Nigeria A Jubilee Journey

Produced by Shell Oil on the jubilee of their work in Nigeria. A beautiful pictorial record of the country as it was in 1988. I was pleased to see that a picture captioned Jos Plateau was an aerial view of our first home in Nigeria, 1970 to 74, Vom Christian Hospital.

15. Spoilt Rotten: The toxic cult of sentimentality by Theodore Dalrymple  (Author)

Sentimentality is hard to define but Dalrymple does a good job of describing its toxic effects. All to often I hear media interviewers asking someone how they fr=eel when they mean what do you think. Te feelings of interviewees are usually an irrelevance, Their opinions might be informative. Dalrympe's logic is devastating and he applies it over a wide spectrum for child rearing through to justice system to foreign aid. He is  an apostle of clear thinking and the suppression of mere emotion as a principle of action.

16.Reading for Preaching by Cornelius Plantinga Jr (Author)

Based on his Warfield lectures given at Princeton Theological Seminary. I presume this theologically liberal environment was why tis man from the Christian Reformed Church often refers to preachers as being female? He encourages preachers to enrich their discourses by being familiar with good fiction as well as factual writing. There is much helpful advice but he seems to assumes that preachers write out their full sermons than work revising and polishing them. Some of us are too lazy for this, or too short of time or too reliant on extemporising after executing the Biblical text. He also seems to assume there is preaching other than of the expository kind. But there is much wisdom here though I confess to reading and watching less fiction as I grow older.

17. A New Day: Moving On From Hunger, Anxiety, Control, Shame, Anger And Despair by Emma Scrivener  (Author)

A very frank, open and honest account from a young Christian mother who has experience various mental health problems. I found the first part, darkness's falls to be very open about a whole spectrum of problems suffered in the modern world. The Christian counsel, Life in the Light I find it much harder to evaluate not having suffered most of the problems where counsel is offered. But it seems wise and Biblical advice form the heart of one who has experienced many of these hurts.

18.Hans Rookmaaker by Linette MARTIN (Author)

I knew the author who wrote very well on this great man whom I also met once. His is a fascinating story from a privileged colonial upbringing through the Nazi invasion of Holland, prison camps, conversion to Christian faith by reading the Bible in prison. A brilliant student and thinker who set out to do what no-one had done before, the history of art from a Reformed Christian perspective. A fascinating character on an uphill journey. Full of biographical personal detail. Interesting how he was not a person who related to ordinary people well as he did to students. It is a pity there are no photographs.

19.The Garden Of England From The Air by Jason Hawkes  (Author)

Garden of England usually means Kent. But these superb aerial shots also cover locations in Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey and Essex. Beautiful photos making you want to visit some of these places.

20. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything 
You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall  (Author)

It does what it says in the title. It feels you how history and geography influence global politics. My only criticism would be its uncritical acceptance of global warming and its possible effects if arctic ice is melting. Most informative and educational. I now have a better understanding of facts affecting world politics. China is the big threat and the failure of the USA to counter Russian Arctic expansion also.

21. British Isles: A Natural History by Alan Titchmarsh  (Author)

Very well done if you are happy with the accepted old earth evolutionary view of origins. As a creationist I dissent as no-one was there to observe what happened in pre-history. It is all conjecture based on the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. But this is good to learn the accepted wisdom on geological ages.

22. Tracing Your Family Tree: The Comprehensive Guide to Discovering Your Family History by Jean A. Cole  (Author), Michael Armstrong (Author), 1 more

It does what it says and is a suitable primer on the subject.

23. Family History Book: A Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors by Stella Colwell  (Author)

A helpful guide. I think I need to go bak to Kew and the National Archives to do more as local records and Ancestry have been exhausted.

24. The Subversive Puritan: and freedom of conscience by Mostyn Roberts (Author)

Roberts gives a good history of Williams and his time putting him in context very well. He was a Puritan but a very unorthodox one who had a huge impact on political though, especially the separation of church and state. But Williams, unlike Jefferson, argued, lived and suffered for this as a Christian believer, unlike Jefferson. We are all indebted to Williams as a pioneer of freedom of conscience in a pluralist society. Williams wanted everyone irrespective of their religion or lack of it to have fun rights of citizens and participation in the affairs the state. So he fought the orthodox Puritans governing New England who banished him for sedition. He founded the state of Rhode Island journeying across the Atlantic to get a legal charter for Rhode Island. A very godly man who pioneered study of the native Americans and their languages. A peacemaker between warring tribes and races. A great man with great faults. He was not a member of any church in his new state and his views on church government are frankly heretical by any standard. Misunderstanding of the book of Revelation has a lot to answer for. Roberts final chapters on conscience, church and state, civility, pluralism and natural law are worthy of further discussion among Christians and others. The appendix on Williams and the conversion of Native Americans is of great interest for the history of missions. A real work of careful scholarship giving much information and food for further thought and debate. This is no hagiography. Like Luther we see a great Christian man, warts and all.

25. The Reckoning by John Grisham  (Author)

I have always thought that Grisham's best novels were those in the deep South. I have read all his novels and this one, set in the South again, is a return to his best writing after his more recent works which were not of this high standard. It is a real gripping page turner in three parts. A murder were the killer reuses to disclose any motive. Next we hear the war record of the killer and the description of life a a POW under the indescribable cruelties of the Japanese. That part is horrifically unpleasant. The third part is the consequences for the family of the murderer ending with disclosure as to the motive for the murder and a terrible twist which a reviewer will not want to disclose. Top class Grisham. he is the best in the genre. And once again his distaste for the death penalty is clear. So are the consequences of racism and adultery.

26. The Country Life Book Of The Royal Family by Godfrey. Talbot (Author)

The Royals from the Hanoverians up to 1980. Beautifully illustrated. Chapters on the Windsor Heritage, Victoria and Edward VII, George V and Mary, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth and Elizabeth II and her family.

27. Happy and Glorious by Marion Crawford (Author)

Marion Crawford was for 17 years, governess to the royal princesses. This was written and published just before the 1953 coronation. An insiders view of the royal family from the time of George V onwards. Well enhanced by photographs.


Not quite what the title says for this covers 1900 to 1995. A fascinating book with smoothing that made the headlines from football every year except 1916 to 18 and 1940 to 43. As one who has lived through more than half of the years covered it is great fore memories as well as history. With football one remembers events not dates - except for 1966. Unfortunately lacking an index I had to search the pages to find the dates of the Munich Man U disaster and Maradonna's chewing goal. A great read for any football fan.

29. Litter: How Other People's Rubbish Shapes Our Lives by Theodore Dalrymple  (Author)

As ever, Dalrymple is a delight to read, this time as to why England is so badly lettered compared with there countries and compared with its past. He is very good on causes but understandably baffled as to solutions in a work where s many people are not brought up to take personal responsibitity for their actions. Dalrymple does not litter and is appalled by litter because of what his mother taught him.  So many irresponsible people because of failing parenting.

30. John Player Art Of Cricket by Robin (1947-); Smart, Alastair (1922-1992) Simon (Author)

Once upon a time back in 1983, tobacco companies sponsored sport. Thank you to Imperial Tobacco for this book which also served as a catalogue for an art exhibition of the same name. Cricket art starts in the 18th century which was when British born artists began to flourish. Here the history of cricket, mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries is beautifully depicted and one see art, much of which is in private collections so only accessible here. 120 plated. Beautiful.

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