A reader of this site recently asked me to explain how I determine whether a book is good and worthy of recommendation or whether it is not. That is a fair question and I was surprised to find that I had not addressed it in the past. I will take on that challenge today. It will be helpful to assume that the book in question is meant to address the Christian life, falling under the broad categories of Christian Living or Spiritual Growth or something similar (I would have very different questions to ask of a general market book or of a Christian biography). Here are five questions, plus a bonus, that I ask myself as I read.
Udo Middelmann, via Ray Ortlund:
The Enlightenment brought to the discussion of life the proposition that the human being has matured to the point that he must become independent of any outside information about life. . . . Independence from church and state eventually led to independence from God and creation as well….
…knowing that it is important to occasionally decompress and unwind, I have found Hawaii (second time here) to be the ideal place. There is something about palm trees and aqua blue water, swimming with sea turtles in Waimea Bay and drinking guava nectar that rejuvenates me. Along with light reading. Last time I came, I worked through Eric Mataxes’ amazing biography of Bonhoeffer. This time I decided to do something lighter, so I made the mistake of throwing in Brueggemann’s Like Fire in the Bones–Listening for the Prophetic Word in Jeremiah.
I’m really writing because Chesterton has me thinking about the nature of true optimism, pessimism, and patriotism. That seems appropriate given that yesterday was Constitution Day in the Cayman Islands and we’re coming up on Independence Day tomorrow. And all of that during a presidential election, which only adds to the delicious irony of learning about American independence and patriotism from a Brit!