Enough is enough. The stack must be mitigated. I owe it to Crossway and Baker to at least mention that they sent me a couple of books, I added them to my stack, I failed miserably at consuming them in a timely manner and now I have to rearrange the literary rampart to retrieve them, review them, and reassess my reading strategy.
I suppose the best way to attack a library pile would be alphabetically.
So first: “Anyone But Me: 10 Ways to Overcome Your Fear and Be Prepared to Share the Gospel” by Ray Comfort. I love this guy. I’ve binge watched his evangelistic Youtube videos and followed his work with Living Waters Ministry. Our family has even handed out copious amounts of his tracts. But I’d never read one of his books. Can I just say, his message loses just a tiny bit of attraction without the New Zealand accent?
Although the accent may be missing from the book, the blunt, methodical, somewhat sarcastic style remains and is an easy going, albeit sometimes uncomfortable, delight to read. Ray Comfort can pierce your conscience with daggers and make you like it at the same time. This book is full of great stories that illustrate practical methods of evangelism but makes you squirm for liking the stories so much while having very little intention of learning the hard lessons from them.
But that discomfort is a good thing. As he says on p136, “Pain and discomfort often lead to action.” I can’t imagine anyone finishing this book and not being changed by it.
And now “An Introduction to John Owen” by Crawford Gribben. I’ve read biographies of puritans before and loved them. In fact one of my most recommended books ever is the 2-volume set “Memorable Women of the Puritan Times” by James Anderson. I thoroughly enjoyed Iain Murray’s “New Biography of Jonathan Edwards” and consider Leland Rykan’s “Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were” a must read for everyone. So I truly believe reading ABOUT the puritans can be a weighty delight.
Gribbon’s take on Owen however, I found neither weighty nor delightful. One would benefit far more from just reading another book BY Owen then this one ABOUT him. The format however was intriguing. Gribbon divides Owen’s life into four sections: Childhood, Youth, Middle Age, and Death and Eternal Life. As one would expect the author chronicles all the major events, both personal and political, of each of those eras. But Gribbon further utilizes that framework to introduce some of Owen’s writings by cataloging their subject matter according to these relative life stages.
For example when writing about Owen’s birth and childhood, Gribbon takes the opportunity to survey Owen’s writings on baptism and the education and catechizing of children. And when delving into his latter years he covers Owen’s writings on suffering, grief, the resurrection and the glories of heaven. This format added just enough interest to the otherwise dry compilation of facts to make the book bearable but not much more than that.
So with the obligatory reviews out of the way, what’s left in my personal reading pile? To begin with there’s Thomas Sowell’s “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” for going to war against our homeschool hating governor, Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” for reading on the water whenever I’m near some, and Joe Rigney’s “Strangley Bright” for reading with the women of Sheologians book club. Plus there’s all the stuff I’m reading aloud for the younger boys: “Story of the World,” “Exploring Creation Through Zoology,” Ogden Nash’s “Zoo” plus “Ave Ogden” cause if you’re gonna read Nash ya might as well do it in Latin. Then there’s all the High School material I have to cover for the older boys: German, Government and Econ, American Lit, History… it all adds up. Attack the stack, people! Tolle lege! Veni, vidi, vici and all the rest. Whatever. Just read. It’s good for you.