Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1 ★★★★☆

gulagarchipelago (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1
Series: Gulag Archipelago
Author: Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 626
Words: 265.5K

 

Synopsis:

Containing Parts I & II of Solzhenitsyn’s book, The Gulag Archipelago.

From Wikipedia.com

Structurally, the text comprises seven sections divided (in most printed editions) into three volumes: parts 1–2, parts 3–4, and parts 5–7. At one level, the Gulag Archipelago traces the history of the system of forced labor camps that existed in the Soviet Union from 1918 to 1956. Solzhenitsyn begins with V. I. Lenin’s original decrees which were made shortly after the October Revolution; they established the legal and practical framework for a series of camps where political prisoners and ordinary criminals would be sentenced to forced labor. The book then describes and discusses the waves of purges and the assembling of show trials in the context of the development of the greater Gulag system; Solzhenitsyn gives particular attention to its purposive legal and bureaucratic development.

The narrative ends in 1956 at the time of Nikita Khrushchev’s Secret Speech (“On the Personality Cult and its Consequences”). Khrushchev gave the speech at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, denouncing Stalin’s personality cult, his autocratic power, and the surveillance that pervaded the Stalin era. Although Khrushchev’s speech was not published in the Soviet Union for a long time, it was a break with the most atrocious practices of the Gulag system.

Despite the efforts by Solzhenitsyn and others to confront the legacy of the Gulag, the realities of the camps remained a taboo subject until the 1980s. Solzhenitsyn was also aware that although many practices had been stopped, the basic structure of the system had survived and it could be revived and expanded by future leaders. While Khrushchev, the Communist Party, and the Soviet Union’s supporters in the West viewed the Gulag as a deviation of Stalin, Solzhenitsyn and many among the opposition tended to view it as a systemic fault of Soviet political culture – an inevitable outcome of the Bolshevik political project.

Parallel to this historical and legal narrative, Solzhenitsyn follows the typical course of a zek (a slang term for an inmate), derived from the widely used abbreviation “z/k” for “zakliuchennyi” (prisoner) through the Gulag, starting with arrest, show trial, and initial internment; transport to the “archipelago”; the treatment of prisoners and their general living conditions; slave labor gangs and the technical prison camp system; camp rebellions and strikes (see Kengir uprising); the practice of internal exile following the completion of the original prison sentence; and the ultimate (but not guaranteed) release of the prisoner. Along the way, Solzhenitsyn’s examination details the trivial and commonplace events of an average prisoner’s life, as well as specific and noteworthy events during the history of the Gulag system, including revolts and uprisings.

Solzhenitsyn also states:

Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb, too. The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology. Ideology – that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes…. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations… Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.

— The Gulag Archipelago, Chapter 4, p. 173

There had been works about the Soviet prison/camp system before, and its existence had been known to the Western public since the 1930s. However, never before had the general reading public been brought face to face with the horrors of the Gulag in this way. The controversy surrounding this text, in particular, was largely due to the way Solzhenitsyn definitively and painstakingly laid the theoretical, legal, and practical origins of the Gulag system at Lenin’s feet, not Stalin’s. According to Solzhenitsyn’s testimony, Stalin merely amplified a concentration camp system that was already in place. This is significant, as many Western intellectuals viewed the Soviet concentration camp system as a “Stalinist aberration”

 

My Thoughts:

I started reading this book on March 13th. It took me until June 5th to finish. At under 700 pages I figured I could easily knock this out in a month, even if I only read it on the weekends. “Ha” and agains I say “ha!”

This was a dense book and mind you, it is the first of three. It is also dealing with very heavy material (not literally, it’s paper after all) but my spirit was weighed down after reading it, every single time. By the time I got to the end I could only read 5 or 6 percent each weekend. While nothing is graphic, if you’ve been reading any of my Quote posts from the last couple of months, you’ll know just how horrifying some of the stuff discussed in this book is.

Solzhenitsyn, thankfully, writes in a very dry, sardonic and sarcastic manner, which allowed me to distance myself from the words I was reading. That being said, he also writes in the most rambling form I have ever run across. I eventually just stopped trying to connect the dots and let him tell the tale in his own way.

He tells of his own arrest, his time in the sorting prisons and the time getting to the official Gulag camps. He also tells a lot of other peoples’ stories as well. It is horrible, sad and disheartening that people today want a form of government that leads to Communism that inevitably leads to places like the Gulag.

I am going to take a break of 2 months and read some other non-fiction, preferably of the theological bent, before I dive back into Vol. 2.

★★★★☆

 

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Ageing (A Very Short Introduction) ★★★☆☆

ageing (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Ageing
Series: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Nancy Pachana
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 144
Words: 38K

 

Synopsis:

Official Blurb

Ageing is an activity we are familiar with from an early age. In our younger years upcoming birthdays are anticipated with an excitement that somewhat diminishes as the years progress. As we grow older we are bombarded with advice on ways to overcome, thwart, resist, and, on the rare occasion, embrace, one’s ageing. Have all human beings from the various historical epochs and cultures viewed aging with this same ambivalence? In this Very Short Introduction Nancy A. Pachana discusses the lifelong dynamic changes in biological, psychological, and social functioning involved in ageing. Increased lifespans in the developed and the developing world have created an urgent need to find ways to enhance our functioning and well-being in the later decades of life, and this need is reflected in policies and action plans addressing our ageing populations from the World Health Organization and the United Nations. Looking to the future, Pachana considers advancements in the provision for our ageing populations, including revolutionary models of nursing home care such as Green House nursing homes in the USA and Small Group Living homes in the Netherlands. She shows that understanding the process of ageing is not only important for individuals, but also for societies and nations, if the full potential of those entering later life is to be realised.

 

My Thoughts:

This was so much better than that execrable Entrepreneurship. This was a literal snapshot about aging. Speaking of “Aging”, I could tell immediately that this was published in England, what with the “AgEing”. My goodness, they might as well be French, throwing in all those extra letters into words 😉

I do wish that the author had touched a bit more on Aging throughout history and from various cultures. Beyond a cursory acknowledgment that such things existed, it was never touched on again. I guess that is what this series is going to do, make you want to explore a particular area of the subject in more detail. I, however, wasn’t interested ENOUGH to go find other books.

She did spend a lot of time on dementia. More than I thought necessary, especially as she specifically stated that alzheimers/dementia only affects about 6-10% of the aging population. Regular memory loss is something quite different. If half the words she spent on dementia had been spent on Aging in the Past, I would have been a much happier camper.

I was satisfied with this read. I highly doubt any book in this series is going to go above 3 stars and honestly, I’m ok with that. I feel like I’m picking “healthy” chocolates from the box and never know what I’ll get. Forest Gump’s Momma would be proud of me.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Entrepreneurship (A Very Short Introduction) ★☆☆☆☆

entrepreneurship (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Entrepreneurship
Series: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Paul Westhead
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 154
Words: 38K

 

Synopsis:

A book in the A Very Short Introduction series. Paul Westhead discusses what Entrepreneurship has meant through time, what it can mean today and how Entrepreneurship is changing as the world shrinks and “Entrepreneurship” is defined by culture.

 

My Thoughts:

Unfortunately, the Quote Post I did last week did a great job of summing up just how this book is. It is written by a professor who studies Entrepreneurship and really appears to be for other professors or people who are already familiar with the Entrepreneurship industry.

Before I read this book, I defined Entrepreneurship as something done by Entrepreneurs, who are people who DO things. After reading this book, my definition has not changed one jot. It should have.

The author admits that his father was a failed entrepreneur and that is why he is a professor of Entrepreneurship instead of an Entrepreneur himself. He is someone who talks from their ivory tower (hello Saruman?) instead of doing anything. This was not written for someone completely unfamiliar with the subject and all its industry terms. As a field tech in the Land Survey Industry, I am quite familiar with “industry terms”. They have exact, specific meanings and convey a wealth of information to those who have learned what those terms mean. You don’t use those terms as an Introduction however.

The only thing that really didn’t rub me the wrong way was that at the end of the book was an extensive Bibliography of other books to read if this book hadn’t killed your interest in the subject.

I have a bunch of these VSI books in my Non-Fiction line up and I am desperately hoping the rest are not written like this. If they are, they are useless, a waste of time and a complete failure in being an “Introduction”. Paul Westhead should be ashamed of himself.

★☆☆☆☆

 

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Acts of the Apostles ★★★☆☆

actsoftheapostles (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title: Acts of the Apostles
Series: ———-
Author: Ellen White
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 570
Words: 155K

 

Synopsis:

A commentary going over the book of Acts and the various Epistles by Peter, Paul and John.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, this is the final book of White’s that I’ll be reading. Not because of any real disagreement on Theology or anything important, but because I simply cannot stand her style of writing. It isn’t even near the level of having your foot cut off, but more of having that pebble in your shoe for the whole day. At some point I realized the irritation was outweighing the good I was getting. There isn’t a hard line of demarcation in the text between her thoughts and the Bible, as she incorporates Bibles verses into her text willy nilly. That doesn’t make studying very easy for me.

I’m including a quote that I felt was the best paragraph out of the whole book:

It is no part of Christ’s mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan, and men actuated by his spirit, who seek to compel the conscience. Under a pretense of zeal for righteousness, men who are confederated with evil angels sometimes bring suffering upon their fellow men in order to convert them to their ideas of religion; but Christ is ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win by the revealing of His love. He can admit no rival in the soul, nor accept of partial service; but He desires only voluntary service, the willing surrender of the heart under the constraint of love.

I do want to make clear, so that it can’t be taken out of context, that not being compelled is very different from not being judged. God gives us Choice and He also has told us the outcomes of that choice. When you face God Himself at the Day of Judgment, your eternal fate will hinge on whether you’ve accepted Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God as your savior or not.

On a note that isn’t directly related to a review, I started reading my non-fiction differently. I was inspired by Matt who has what he calls his “weekend exclusive” reads. Since non-fiction is a different beast, I wanted to try a different approach. Instead of reading this straight through, I simply read this on Sabbath. So starting each Friday night until Saturday night, I would read non-fiction. My goal was to read 25% of the book each Sabbath. That had the effect of breaking up the book into managable chunks and made me more aware of keeping Sabbath. It also has the positive side effect of getting me to read more non-fiction (12-13 a year instead of 6 or 7).

★★★☆☆

 

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Pilgrim’s Regress ★★★☆☆

pilgrimsregress (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Pilgrim’s Regress
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 256
Words: 52.9K

 

Synopsis:

From Amazon and Me:

Here is the story of the pilgrim John and his odyssey to an enchanting island that creates in him an intense longing — a mysterious, sweet desire. John’s pursuit of this desire takes him through adventures with such people as Mr. Enlightenment, Mr. Mammon, Mother Kirk, and Mr. Sensible and through such cities as Thrill and Eschropolis — and through the Valley of Humiliation. John must then return to his home and head to the Landlord’s Castle, which is the Mountainside of the Island. On his way back John sees everything he saw upon his journey but through new eyes.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a very hard book to get into or to get anything from. I lumped this in with my non-fiction even though it is allegory. Most of the references in the book, to various philosophies and “isms” of his day, are veiled or are written with an expectation that the reader will be fully aware of said philosophies and be able to pick up on Lewis’s broad hints.

It had some interesting bits but overall I found it a bit dry and more circuitous than I preferred. If I were to ever re-read this, I’d probably go much slower and write notes down on paper.

★★★☆☆

 

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The Ministry of Healing (Non-Fiction) ★★★☆☆

ministryofhealing (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Ministry of Healing
Series: ———
Author: Ellen White
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 355
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

White reiterates how Jesus’ ministry was as much physical healing as it was a forgiving of sins. She then talks to physicians and nurses about how they should ministering to both soul and body in their duties. Finally, she goes over various healthful habits that the laity can do on their own to help keep themselves healthy, thus ensuring that they are able to reach out to non-Christians.

 

My Thoughts:

Most of my issues with this book are the same exact ones that I had with The Great Controversy. So no need to re-hash them all. With just a couple of exceptions. Those I will add right now.

White claims that cheese is completely unfit for human consumption. My guess is because the process of creating cheese is pretty much letting milk rot. Be that as it may, I vehemently disagree. I’ll agree that cheese can be unhealthy in terms of fat and cholesterol, but completely unfit for consumption? I don’t think so! I would give up beef before I give up cheese (and to be honest, I really don’t eat red meat any more. Turkeys and chickens for me). The second issue is her saying that pickles aren’t to be eaten either. I’m not nearly as big a proponent of pickles as I am cheese, but I regularly eat a small jar of Vlasic kosher dill spears every week. For me, they are a great way to get salt back into my system from the physical labor I do all day and get some yummy crunch. They serve a purpose and I am not just eating them for the taste (even though I do like the taste of dill pickles a lot).

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With that out of the way, I’ll talk some about what I do agree with. Just like in my Quote Post earlier this month, White directly addresses Appetite. All aspects of a Christian’s life is to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. A loss of self-control, which is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, shows that you aren’t as mature as God wants you to be in your Christian Growth. And a deliberate loss of control is a spurning of what God offers you. Overeating is a small thing in and of itself, but the consequences of a life of overeating lead to what we see in America today (obesity numbers ballooning up and causing all sorts of health issues) AND it shows that Christ is not in control of your life, your Appetite is. Gluttony isn’t something we hear preached about from the pulpit any more, but considering the typical American lifestyle, I think it should be. White wrote this back in 1905 and it is just as appropriate today as then, if not more so.

Alcohol. I am a teetotaler, someone who abstains from alcohol completely. I was brought up this way and nothing I’ve seen in in other’s lives, even Christians, makes me think that another option is open to me. White was part of the Temperance Movement of her times, which had a big hand in passing Prohibition back in the 20’s. Where White and I part ways is that she categorically condemns alcohol. That goes beyond what the Bible says. The Bibles tells Christians to NEVER get drunk but it does not forbid alcohol. However, the amount of people who can walk that line is small and from my own anecdotal evidence, should not be used to justify drinking at all. I don’t think Christians should drink. The negatives of alcohol far outweigh the positives and I have seen too many lives destroyed, or seen the collateral damage from such a self-destruction. It is like having a lion on the end of a chain attached to your wrist.

Finally, White goes over the importance of proper dress (both for modesty and health), fresh air, exercise and proper ventilation in any living quarters. A lot of the specifics are kind of like “well yeah…” to anyone who lives today, but it just goes to show how far ahead of her time White was. I also found that most of these things I was already doing, as I work outdoors at a physically laborious job.

To end this, I would re-title this something along the lines of “Aunt Ellen’s Big Book of Homilies”. Bits and pieces of wisdom but not something you should create any theology from.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions ★★★★☆

919259332f66a3c596f31577077444341587343This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions
Series: ———-
Author: David Berlinski
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 258
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The title really does sum this up. Written as a foil to Dawkin’s The God Delusion, Berlinski, a non-practicing Jew, shows just how shaky the ground is, philosophically AND scientifically, that many out-spoken atheists stand on.

Using humor, sarcasm and other rather ham handed approaches, Berlinski pokes the High Priests of Scyenze and lets the hot air out of them, much like a balloon. He doesn’t approach things form an angle of “They are wrong and I’m right” but more of a “their attitude is untenable given their arrogant, boasting statements about Faith and Religion”.

 

My Thoughts:

I had a hard time with this. Even while I agreed with much of what Berlinski wrote, I am not a fan of the style he uses, ie, poking the bear with a stick. The problem is, people like Hawkings, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc, NEED to be poked. They are arrogant, proud, boastful and self-centered and all of their might and effort is put forth proving that God doesn’t exist just so that they don’t have to kneel before Him. Reading this was like getting a splinter removed with a needle. It was necessary and good but you don’t like the process.

I was high lighting sentences left and right on my kindle but I don’t care enough to type them all out. Honestly, I don’t know if I was the target audience for this or not. Berlinski is an Evolutionist but realizes that the pat “We Have All the Answers” attitude put out by the scientific community as a whole is a bunch of bologna. He pokes and pokes and shows that no, they don’t have all the answers. In fact, some of the contortions they must go through make the planetary epicycles of Ptolemy look positively straight!

The biggest thing I got was that most of the people he mentions by name are arrogant blowhards and that Pride shapes how they think and how they approach existence itself. Pride is what led to Satan’s fall from grace and Berlinski shows how Pride is still blinding people today, even people of great intellect.

Recommended as a Counter Cultural Argument against the monolithic religion of our day, Scyenze.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

O Jerusalem! ★★★★½

ohjerusalem (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: O Jerusalem!
Series: ———-
Author: Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 745
Format: Paperback Edition

 

Synopsis:

A brief history of the events leading up to Britain’s departure from the Holy Land in 1948 and the war for survival that Israel then fought against 5 Arab countries.

Taken from newspapers, private journal entries, interviews, government documents, Collins and Lapierre weave a narrative of courage, horror, bravery, cowardice, ingenuity and turn what could have been a dry recounting by the numbers of the birth of a modern nation into something that had a face of its peoples.

 

My Thoughts:

My, my, what a good start to my first dedicated foray into non-fiction. I’d read this back in 2000 and just remembered that I’d really enjoyed it then. I thoroughly enjoyed it again.

I also enjoyed reading about events from both sides, both Israeli and Arab. Getting accounts from both sides allowed the authors to delve a lot deeper and to make connections that wouldn’t be possible without that knowledge. They also don’t fall into the trap of worshiping one side and demonizing the other.

That being said, they also don’t pull any punches. The Moslem Brotherhood is shown for the terrorist group it is. Anyone who watched the events of the Arab Spring in Egypt a couple of years ago will know their name. They’re as “moderate” as Hillary Clinton and President Obama. The authors also show how a splinter group of the Israeli military (the Stern Gang I think?) tried to pull a coup and caused the official army to have to fire on its own people, WHILE THE WAR WAS GOING ON.

It is amazing how politics played such a huge part. For all that the Arab leaders were talking publicly about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, privately they were dead set against such a war. But they wouldn’t keep their mouths shut and their people were ignorant savages and when you get that kind of combination, well, you get war.

There were very few footnotes or anything, but at the end of the book were almost 30 pages of sources and each chapter had its own little heading showing what sources were used to substantiate the chapter. Made me feel much better and that the authors weren’t pulling rabbits out of hats.

★★★★½

 

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Best Friends for Life ★★★★☆

bestfriendsforlife (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Best Friends for Life
Series: ———-
Author: Michael & Judy Phillips
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The Phillips tell 4 different true stories (with particulars changed for anonymity’s sake) about young couples they knew and how they proceeded through their dating, into marriage and how those marriages turned out.

The Phillips are convinced that “dating” has such an abysmal track record when it comes to marriages that last after dating that they want to explore other avenues. Their suggestion? Marry your best friend. Basically, make being friends with the opposite gender a higher priority than romance and really know what you want in a spouse instead of letting it all hang on hormones and feelings.

What does God, through the Bible, say about what is important in a marriage? The Phillips use very few specific Bible verses but count on their audience already having a decent grasp of Scripture. They are writing for someone who already wants what is best according to God’s will and is searching that out.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this originally back in 2000. At the time, I had graduated from Bibleschool. Mrs B was still in highschool and we hadn’t a glimmer of the others’ existence. I was mad to marry and was reading all the advice books I could get my hands on. I wasn’t going to be an “old” man like my dad when he got married. For the record, he was married at 28. I ended up being 30. Ironic isn’t it? So I figured if I could get all that advice then Mrs Right would fall into my lap and whammo, we’d have the perfect married life because obviously we’d have BOTH read all kinds of these books and know exactly what to do and what things to NOT do.

The funny thing is, I actually was friends with Mrs B long before we ever were romantically involved. I met her on Xanga, a blogging site (not sure how much traction it still has any more). She’d written a post about going to a medieval wedding and ended her post with “Have a good Sabbath”. I asked her what she meant by “Sabbath” as I was a Saturday Sabbath keeper and it turned out she was a 7th Day Adventist so she kept Saturday as well. We were friends for a couple of years online but figured we’d never meet. She was in California, I was on the East Coast. I didn’t like to travel and she had nothing to draw her to the East. But then a friend of mine, who I’d gone to Bibleschool with, decided he was going to get married. In California. He was in the Navy and would soon be shipping out in a Sub (subbing out?) and I didn’t know when I’d see him next so a group of us all went to California. I informed Miss Librarian and invited her as my plus one. Her brother, Sir Grumpsalot, came with her to chaperone and my friends were at the wedding, so it was safe all around. After the wedding that night, I asked her if I could court her. I called her mother that week and a year later we were engaged and 6 months after that we were married. Now, 10 years later, we’re STILL happily married.

Now, when I read this book back in 2000, I couldn’t have predicted this set of circumstances. In fact, I didn’t WANT those set of circumstances. I wanted somebody else. She has since gotten married to a wonderful christian man, has a family and is a bedrock of Faith for her family. But she wouldn’t have been right for me nor me for her. It took God to bring the correct Mrs Right into my life. That is what this book is about more than anything. It isn’t a hard and fast set of rules that the Phillips promise will bring you the right spouse. But they give solid advice about involving your parents, your friends, and most of all, not letting your hormones and feelings be in control. They are right.

They also give several examples of how people have changed what they’ve suggested to work for their particular set of circumstances. Some of the things they suggest simply weren’t viable for Mrs B and I, such as having family time with each other’s families while we were courting. The Phillips are very open that what they are suggesting isn’t the end and be all but they do strongly advise young people and their parents to put much more effort into the whole process than just “Oh, we’re in love”.

Reading this again, for our 10th Wedding Anniversary, it is uncanny how much God drew us both down this path in our relationship with each other. I for one am thankful for that. Our marriage is strong, we are happy and content with each other and while our lives together haven’t been what we’ve expected (Mrs B was diagnosed with crohn’s disease in ’10), our foundation of friendship has taken us through the times of hospitalization, lack of work, etc.

The book is a bit dated in regards to things they call out in American Culture, ie, what they considered a cliff is only a mere step compared to the moral cliff America has chosen to step off of now. It was eye opening and a good indicator of just how fast our country has gone down the path of immorality.

But ultimately, God Himself is in charge. He has taken responsibility through Jesus Christ and one day He will return and make it right again. I want to be ready for that and I hope you will be too.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Play the Man ★★★★☆

playtheman (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Play the Man
Series: ———-
Author: Mark Batterson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Synopsis taken from the book:

“Somewhere along the way, our culture lost its definition of manhood, leaving generations of men and men-to-be confused about their roles, responsibilities, relationships, and the reason God made them men. It’s into this ‘no man’s land’ that New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson declares his mantra for manhood: play the man. In this inspiring call to something greater, he helps men understand what it means to be a man of God by unveiling seven virtues of manhood. Mark shares inspiring stories of manhood, including the true story of the hero and martyr Polycarp, who first heard the voice from heaven say, ‘Play the man.’ Mark couples those stories with practical ideas about how to disciple the next generation of men. This is more than a book; it’s a movement of men who will settle for nothing less than fulfilling their highest calling to be the man and the father God has destined them to be. Play the man. Make the man.”

 

My Thoughts:

I read this book over the course of July for our men’s group at church. One of the reasons there were so many “man” posts in July.

It started out a bit rough. I felt like it was an updated version of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and I didn’t find that particular book at all helpful. But once Batterson got into the 7 Virtues of Manhood, things turned around.

The specific 7 Virtues didn’t really enter into the equation. I was more encouraged in how Batterson showed that being a Man of God was something purposeful, something you had to set your mind to. It was goal oriented and something that will last for your whole life. Just because I’ve done X, Y and Z in the past doesn’t mean I get to slack off and coast later on. A Godly Man is always striving after God and since God is Infinite, our striving will never end. Some days I might have found that thought discouraging, but not during this book. It reminded me of just how great our God is and how much He loves us.

Batterson also goes into Jesus as Man a little bit and that was good too. Too often I think of Jesus as a superman just gliding through His life, snapping His fingers and making everything work. It was good to be reminded that He had to learn to read, that He pooped His diapers (or whatever the equivalent was in 4BC) and that He had hormones too. And yet through it all, He was Perfect.

The final thing that really made this work for me was that Batterson isn’t trying to change the whole culture with some “7 Virtues” program. He doesn’t say that this book will change the whole nation if only we all follow it. He presents it as something that each man must do on his own and must pass on to his sons. He makes being a Godly Man that individuals responsibility. He looks at the building blocks. If the foundations are solid, you can then build a good house. He also practices what he preaches with his kids and I found that immensely encouraging as well.

★★★★☆

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