Archives For theology

Review: Lit! by Tony Reinke

By Nate LaClaire —  November 8, 2011 — 2 Comments

In Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books, former journalist Tony Reinke offers a theology for reading as well as practical suggestions for reading. Using scripture and a great deal of additional research, Reinke provides Christians with a deep, multifaceted look at the topic of reading.

Pastor C. J. Mahaney’s foreword does a thorough job at setting up the book by describing the important part that reading has played in his life and Christian walk. Reinke then begins the book by explaining what the title of the book (Lit!) represents: while short for “literature,” it also reminds us that “the glow of God’s creative power is all around us” (pg. 16) and, most importantly, emphasizes the fact that Christian readers are illuminated by the light of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). Therefore, says Reinke, we see God’s truth in all literature. The author then dives into the topic, covering everything from the biblical foundation for reading, to the benefits of reading non-Christian books, to Reinke’s own formula for determining what he reads, to finding time to read. He ends the book with a look at the five marks of a healthy reader.

If you’ve read my blog before, you probably have already determined that this book covers a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I love to read, although I go through periods where I fail to set aside proper time to do so. I found the theological portion of the book enlightening. Reinke makes many excellent points for why to read a wide variety of literature and how our faith relates to our reading. I also found the practical portion of the book incredibly helpful. His tips on reading fiction, reading non-fiction, choosing books, setting aside time to read, taking notes, and many other topics are very useful.

I urge you to read this book whether you enjoy reading or not. If you don’t enjoy reading, perhaps it will help you to find enjoyment in the practice and to grow in your faith as a result of it. If you already enjoy reading, I think you’ll walk away from the experience ready to grow your love of reading and with a new appreciation for the importance of it. I know I did.

In Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who are Sick of Porn, author and blogger Tim Challies addresses young, single men in an effort to help them discover God’s plan for sex and sexuality. He is writing to those who have grown up in a sex-saturated culture where pornography is far more accessible than it was as recently as when the 33-year-old author was growing up. Temptation is all around us and most of us have, he says, begun to give in.

Challies begins by discussing the problems that pornography causes in marriages, arguing that detoxification is necessary in order for a man to be the loving husband that God has called him to be. He then discusses the topic of breaking free from sexual sin, specifically pornography and masturbation, and addresses the most common myth about breaking free. Next, he delves into the “theology of sex” and how “self-centered sex” fails this theology. Finally, he digs into what detoxification involves and what freedom means. Each chapter ends with questions aimed at getting the reader/listener thinking about how the chapter applies in his own life.

I was impressed by this book. The author avoids being crude, a practice that is common in books on this topic, while being perfectly frank. Often books on the topic of lust are too explicit, painting pictures in a guy’s mind that do more harm than good, but he does an excellent job staying away from such talk. He also avoids giving lists of dos and don’ts, focusing more on the heart than on specific acts, which is good. Another refreshing aspect of the book is the focus on the theology of sex and how pornography and masturbation are in direct opposition to God’s plan for sex and sexuality. This ensures a proper biblical approach to breaking free.

I think that this is an excellent book for pastors to keep on hand and would recommend it to any man who is struggling in this area. It is easy to read, clear and concise, and covers both why detox is necessary and how to accomplish it.

Since I listened to the audiobook, a comment or two about the audio quality is in order. I found the recording quality to be excellent, but the narration left a lot to be desired. The book was read by the author, which I often like, but in this case I found disappointing. Challies could probably have delivered a moving talk on the topic had he not been tasked with reading the exact verbiage of the printed book, but because he was, the delivery was stiff and lacking emotion and sincerity. Narrating an audiobook must be extremely difficult and I applaud him for doing it, but the audiobook would have been greatly improved had a professional reader been hired.

Firestarter: Wonder

By Nate LaClaire —  November 11, 2010 — 2 Comments

I mentioned a few days ago that a friend has loaned me a couple of Don Miller’s books and that I have found them enlightening. Here’s a quote that caught my attention:

At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know the chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay. And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder.

— Donald Miller, in Blue Like Jazz (page 206)

I love that.

Do you take time to wonder?