Friday, June 17, 2016

Discussion Questions for “The Horse and His Boy”

Here’s the latest set of discussion questions in the Summer Reading Project. Previous postings here on The Book Den explain the program and include discussion questions for the first two books in C.S. Lewis’ classic adventure series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Please check them out here and here.

As we have said previously, you may not need any conversation starters other than the general questions that work the best for any book discussion. Those questions, of course, include the following. Did you like the book? What did you learn from it? Were there any characters, incidents, passages, or even single lines that made an impact on you? Were there things in the book you had questions about or disagreements? What were some of the most memorable things about the book?

But if you think any of the questions below might add a bit to your discussion, please use what you like.

Questions for Kids (and adults)

1) What made Shasta decide to run away from Arsheesh?
2) What was Bree’s real name?
3) It wasn’t easy for Shasta to learn how to ride a horse.  But he stayed with it.  How about you? Is there something that has taken you a lot of time and practice to learn?
4) Aravis was also a runaway. Where did she flee from? Why? How?
5) There was a strange place outside Taashbaan that people thought was haunted?  What was it called? Was it really haunted? What kind of animal did Shasta meet there?
6) How did the travelers disguise themselves before going into Taashbaan?
7) Talk about mistaken identity!  Who did the Narnians think Shasta was?
8) Who was Sallowpad?
9) What did the travelers have to cross before getting to Archenland?
10) How many times in the story does Aslan show up?  Can you remember each time?
11) Aravis thinks she was “lucky” to have escaped the lion’s attack with only ten minor scratches.  But what was really going on?
12) Aslan tells Shasta that he has waited long for him to speak.  Maybe that should remind us to pray more, to talk to God, and tell Him what’s on our minds. What do you think?
13) What did Duffle and his brothers serve Shasta for breakfast?
14) Describe what the flag of Narnia looked like.
15) What was special about the pool at the Hermit’s house?
16) How did Shasta do in the battle?
17) Why did Bree want to wait a while before entering Narnia?
18) Who is Corin?  Who is King Lune?  Who is Cor?
19) What was Prince Rabadash’s new name?  How did he get it?

Questions for Adults (and kids)

1) Bree was a free horse, a Narnian who disdained to talk “slave’s and fool’s talk.”  It provides an interesting perspective on how one’s noble and liberated position in Christ should show itself in one’s conduct, even one’s speech.
2) Did mere accident bring Shasta, Aravis, Bree, and Hwin all together.  Or does Aslan’s role in the event suggest something about God’s sovereign purpose?
3) Calormen children were taught storytelling as part of their basic education? What do you think about that?
4) Aravis’ escape plan included drugging the maid even though Aravis knew
(and was even glad) that the maid would be unjustly punished.  How is this brought up again in the novel?
5) What’s the one traffic regulation in Calormen?
6) “Easily in but not easily out, as the Taashbaan lobster said in the lobster pot.”  What was the raven referring to here? Do you see any practical applications?
7) We all need to avoid being like the self-centered Lasaraleen who was “much better at talking than at listening.”
8) Why did Lasaraleen think Aravis should marry Ahoshta Tarkaan?
9) What do you think about the father-son relationship of the Tisroc and Prince Rabadash?
10) Consider the contrast between the poetry of Calormen and Narnia.  The first (according to the Vizier) is “full of choice apophthegms and useful maxims.”  While Narnia poetry is that of “barbarians” being “all of love and war.” (By the way, an apophthegm is a real thing. It’s a brief, sometimes cryptic, but more often obvious saying, as in, “The sun will come up tomorrow.”)
11) Bree saw terrible treachery in “an attack in time of peace, without defiance sent.”  Remember, Lewis was writing this novel just a few years after WWII which had started by the Axis Powers doing exactly that in Poland, Austria, and at Pearl Harbor.
12) Shasta’s dismounting to face the lion was impractical and unskilled, but it was certainly brave and thus praiseworthy.  As Bree said later, “He in the right direction.”
13) What do you make of the Hermit of the Southern March?
14) “If you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” Do you find this true?
15) Consider the advice the Hermit gave Bree about losing his self-conceit.  It was wise counsel indeed.
16) Aravis mistook Aslan’s mercy for luck.  So did Shasta.  But they both realized eventually just who it was that was involved in their protection
17) One of my favorite images of all the Narnia books is Shasta realizing how dangerous his journey had been when he was walking along sheer cliffs in the fog. After he realized that it had been Aslan who walked alongside him, he remarked, “But, of course, I was quite safe…He was between me and the edge all the time.” I love the sense that stimulates in me of God’s strong and ever-available protection.
18)  Here’s another stirring line from the novel, one particularly relevant to spiritual warfare.  “All swords out now, all shields up to the nose, all prayers said, all teeth clenched.”
19) “Do not dare not to dare.” What’s Going on with this statement?
20) Consider Aslan’s scratching Aravis’ back. What might this suggest about sanctification, the gaining of wisdom through experience, and the discipline of the Lord towards His children?
21) Think about Edmund’s urging mercy be shown towards Rabadash.  Edmund said, “Even a traitor may mend.  I have known one that did.” What’s he remembering?
22) Aslan “seems to be at the back of all the stories.” Is Lewis saying something more than it initially seems here?

Discussion questions for the other books in the series will be posted as we go along. Look for those dealing with Prince Caspian in just a few days.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Discussion Questions for “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”


Repeating The Challenge

“One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” (C.S. Lewis)

Claire and I are organizing a summer reading project of C. S. Lewis’ classic series, The Chronicles of Narnia. We did this a few years ago when I was preaching at Faith Bible Church and things went very well, including a group discussion of the books at a barbecue dinner party we hosted for everyone involved. That party was a grand success: grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, a large cake beautifully decorated in a Narnia motif, and a scintillating discussion among readers from ages 14 to 82.

Well, we’ve decided to ride into Narnia again this summer. We’re inviting people from the church we now attend (Community Bible Church) but since the program is actually self-propelled, we figured a few of our Facebook friends might be interested too. We are making available a few discussion points and questions that might help you, especially if you’ll be reading them with your kids and/or grandkids.

What do you say? Are you ready for the adventure?

Reading order for the Summer Reading Adventure

1) The Magician’s Nephew
2) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
3) The Horse and His Boy
4) Prince Caspian
5) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6) The Silver Chair
7) The Last Battle

Discussion Possibilities for C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe

(Previous guides have been posted earlier on this blog.)

You may not need any conversation starters other than the general questions that work the best for any book discussion. Those questions, of course, include the following. Did you like the book? What did you learn from it? Were there any characters, incidents, passages, or even single lines that made an impact on you? Were there things in the book you had questions about or disagreements? What were some of the most memorable things about the book?

But if you think any of the questions below might add a bit to your discussion, please use what you like.

Questions for Kids (and adults)

1) What are the names of the four human kids featured in the book?
2) Who is the first of those kids to go into Narnia?
3) What did the White Witch use to win Edmund to her side?
4) Edmund acted badly in the beginning of the book, but he was even worse as he got closer to the White Witch.  We all need to be very careful of who we hang out with, don’t we?
5) What happened to Tumnus, the fawn who helped Lucy?
6) What animal helped guide the children to the beavers?
7) The White Witch is dangerous and powerful, but Mrs. Beaver was confident that Aslan was going to put everything right, including saving all the Narnians.  This is similar to the faith we can have in Jesus eventually setting everything right, isn’t it?
8) What kind of animal was Maugrim?  What was his job with the White Witch?
9) What gifts did Father Christmas give to Peter, Susan, and Lucy?
10) What happened to make Edmund feel sorry for someone else “for the first time in the story”?
11) What did you think about the battle?

Questions for Adults (and kids)

1) Why were Peter and the other kids sent out of London? (A quick study on the children sent out from the great cities of Britain to protect them from the Blitz is in order…and it would be an excellent point of history to share with your young readers.)
2) The wardrobe which provides an entrance into another world has a looking glass on the door.  Hmm. Do you recall any precedent?  (Think Lewis Carroll)
3) Consider the drama that is packed into this brief line which describes the dead, drab effects of evil: “Always winter and never Christmas.”
4) Though Tumnus had been in the pay (and fear) of the White Witch, he found the moral strength to do the right thing for Lucy.  There’s always the chance to start again.
5) Edmund’s fanatical passion for Turkish Delight is a vivid symbol, not only of addictive fixations but of the lying nature of sin which always promises satisfaction but never delivers.
6) Edmund is hooked so badly (on Turkish Delight, on his ambitious zeal for power, his desire for revenge on his siblings) that he’s willing to turn them over to the White Witch. Goodness, talk about the blindness caused by sin and its ability to warp even one’s most natural affections.
7) When Edmund was caught by his siblings in his lies, he could have repented, apologized, and started over.  But what did he actually do? What about us?
8) “Aslan is on the move.”  How does that line move you?
9) The mere mention of Aslan’s name thrilled the children.  But Edmund’s thrill wasn’t a pleasant or uplifting one.  Why?
10) Another of the most popular and profound lines of the series is Mrs. Beaver’s description of Aslan.  “Of course, he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.”
11) In chapter 8, C.S. Lewis attempts to underscore the White Witch’s evil origins by connecting her lineage to Lilith, a figure from an aberrant Jewish tradition.Let me be honest, I think it’s a mistake to legitimize this character in any degree. And, for me, it’s the biggest flaw in the whole series. However, in Lewis’ defense, I’ll say two things: A) He certainly had no idea that the modern era (especially through Kabbalah, New Age, and other pagan influences) would put the obscure Lilith back into play. And B) It’s an example of Lewis cramming all kinds of disparate folklore characters into the same story. I mean, he’s got giants, fauns, wraiths, and two dozen other types of folklore and fantasy creatures from different eras and countries…plus Father Christmas! (It reminds me of the Renaissance Festival we attended with my youngest brother and his wife last year where we saw people dressed up in all kinds of costumes inconsistent with the true Renaissance, including cuddly animals and characters from Star Wars!)
12) Edmund’s bad attitude distorted his imagination, making him feel slights from others that were not actually happening.  Sin infects everything.
13) Father Christmas gave gifts to Peter, Susan, and Lucy which were “tools not toys.”  What do you think about this idea?
14) “Battles are ugly when women fight.”  Hmm. Was Father Christmas being a sexist curmudgeon with that opinion…or is he onto something important?
15) What do you think about using this extended greeting next December?  “Merry Christmas!  Long live the true King!”
16) Consider that Peter didn’t feel brave before his first battle.  In fact, he thought he was going to be sick.  “But that made no difference to what he had to do.”
17) Aslan rescues Edmund by paying his penalty, actually dying in his place.  The symbol of Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners could hardly be clearer.


Discussion questions for the other books in the series will be posted as we go along. Look for those connected with The Horse and His Boy in just a few days.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Discussion Questions for "The Magician's Nephew"

The Challenge

“One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” (C.S. Lewis)

Claire and I are organizing a summer reading project of C. S. Lewis’ classic series, The Chronicles of Narnia. We did this a few years ago when I was preaching at Faith Bible Church and things went very well, including a group discussion of the books at a barbecue dinner party we hosted for everyone involved. That party was a grand success: grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, a large cake beautifully decorated in a Narnia motif, and a scintillating discussion among readers from ages 14 to 82.

Well, we’ve decided to ride into Narnia again this summer. We’re inviting people from the church we now attend (Community Bible Church) but since the program is actually self-propelled, we figured a few of our Facebook friends might be interested too. Beginning with this post, we will make available discussion points and questions that might help you, especially if you’ll be reading them with your kids and/or grandkids.

What do you say? Are you ready for the adventure?

Reading order for the Summer Reading Adventure

1) The Magician’s Nephew
2) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
3) The Horse and His Boy
4) Prince Caspian
5) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6) The Silver Chair
7) The Last Battle

Discussion Possibilities for C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew

You may not need any conversation starters other than the general questions that work the best for any book discussion. Those questions, of course, include the following. Did you like the book? What did you learn from it? Were there any characters, incidents, passages, or even single lines that made an impact on you? Were there things in the book you had questions about or disagreements? What were some of the most memorable things about the book?

But if you think any of the questions below might add a bit to your discussion, please use what you like.

Questions for Kids (and adults)

1) Why was Digory so sad in the beginning of the book?
2) What kind of animal did Uncle Andrew use for his experiment to send something to another world?
3) What do you think of Digory’s Uncle Andrew?  What kind of person is he?
4) Who rang the bell that awakened Queen Jadis?
5) The queen was so selfish and mean that she was willing to destroy her own city and all its people to get her way.  Throwing a temper tantrum is an ugly thing right?
6) What is the name of the ruined city that the wicked Queen once ruled?
7) How did Queen Jadis come into London?
8) Polly is willing to forgive Digory and help him even though he got them into a big mess.  Shouldn’t we be quick to forgive too and not just blame?
9) What happened at the lamp post in front of the apartments where Digory & Polly lived?
10) How did Narnia come into existence?
  11) What did you think of the cabby?
12) What was the horse’s name?  What new name did Aslan give him?
13) What special gifts does Aslan give Fledge?
14) What would you do if you had a winged horse?
15) How did Digory’s mother get better?
16) How important was it for Digory to keep his promise to Aslan about the silver apples?

Questions for Adults (and kids)

1) Andrew Ketterley and Queen Jadis believe that rules and morals which apply to other people do not apply to superior types like them.  Ever see this in real life?
2) Andrew Ketterley wants to mess with magic and change the world, but he doesn’t want to risk his own comfort.  Isn’t this true of other social engineers?
3) Digory faces profound temptation twice in this adventure.  How does he fare?  Can you identify?
4) Evil often masquerades as beauty as it does in Queen Jadis.  What do you think about this? What do you think Lewis wants us to recognize?
5) The Queen is described as “terribly practical,” meaning that she has no regard for anything or anyone she can’t exploit for her own ends.  We must be careful to be servants of one another, not users of one another.
6) Digory’s mother’s condition “no help in the world.”  Isn’t that also true of us and some of our problems?  So aren’t you glad there is another world from which supernatural help can come?
7) Aslan’s song was exquisitely beautiful yet Andrew Ketterley hated it.  So did the Queen.  Can you think of any biblical parallels?
8) “Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.” This observation about Uncle Andrew has wide applications.
9) Aslan requires a confession of Digory yet when that confession is humbly made, Aslan’t grace abounded.  Sound familiar?
10) Aslan knows Digory’s sin has resulted in evil entering Narnia and that will mean real trouble.  But most of that trouble, Aslan says, will fall on him.  What do you think about this?
11) Consider this line: “Aslan isn’t one to make bargains with.”

Discussion questions for the other books in the series to be posted as we go. Look for those connected with The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in just a few days.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Year (So Far) in Books: Concerned Primarily with Lewis and Dumas

This year’s reading has, to be quite honest, presented quite a challenge.  Sure, there have been some fun, escapist reads along the way (a John D. MacDonald, an Arnold Bennett ghost story, a couple of Ngaio Marsh mysteries, a Mary Roberts Rinehart thriller, and a few others), but most of this year’s books have been in keeping with the New Year’s resolutions I’ve been making for awhile now; namely, to spend more of my evenings with the really quality stuff.  That means the best history, theology, and classic literature.

The theological books read thus far this year have been profound and helpful. There have been a few I had never read before but, as is usual, a lot more which are re-reads. 2016’s list so far includes Heaven by Randy Alcorn, The Snakebite Letters by Peter Kreeft, Fool’s Talk by Os Guinness, Manalive and Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, and I’m still slogging through Augustine’s Confessions.  Perhaps I should also include in this category also the “space trilogy” of C.S. Lewis: Out of the Silent PlanetPerelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

Other books? The cold war novel by Commander Edward L. Beach, Cold Is the Sea, was very good as was Jeff Shara’s Civil War story, The Smoke at Dawn.  I also enjoyed The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, Twelfth Night by Edward deVere (aka William Shakespeare), and a reprint of a 1955 classic I picked up in Estes Park, Colorado – Bob Flame, Rocky Mountain Ranger.  Oh yes, there was another truly exceptional book that Claire and I enjoyed via CDs that played while we drove to San Antonio, Texas in our “When Swing Was King” road trip.  It’s a book Claire and I both highly recommend for fun, inspiration, family values, history, and…did I already mention, fun?  The book is Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.

But the most extensive reading so far in 2016 has been my tackling again the immense series of Alexandre Dumas’ d’Artagnan adventures: The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years AfterThe Vicomte de BragelonneLouise de la Valliere, and finally The Man in the Iron Mask.  3,282 pages of swashbuckling action, mystery, patriotism, romance, international intrigue, history (as liberally re-interpreted by Dumas), heroism, humor, and, of course, virtuous and undying friendship.  After going through these books again, Dumas’ place as one of my five favorite authors is more secure than ever. Indeed, Dumas’ place is so secure that my next project is his 1844 classic, The Count of Monte Cristo.  That's another 1,240 pages. Whew!  

But in the midst of this next Dumas novel, the selection for two months of the Notting Hill Napoleons, we are riding into another grand adventure…a summer reading project of C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. We have invited readers of all ages from our church to join other friends in this fun and inspirational series, complete with discussion guides, quizzes, and a couple of parties where we can talk about what we’re experiencing in Narnia. 

By the way, if you’re interested, just let us know.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

On Re-Reading G.K. Chesterton's "Manalive"

“A wind sprang high in the west, like a wave of unreasonable happiness.”

This wind, appearing in the first line of G.K. Chesterton’s short novel, Manalive, is a boisterous wind, blowing hats to the tops of trees, blowing Innocent Smith over a high garden wall, and eventually blowing clean apart the na├»ve (even nasty) worldviews held by the assembled cast of characters.  Furthermore, it is a wind that brings life and joy and purpose, proving in the end that the happiness it carried was, in fact, not unreasonable at all.

Chesterton foreshadows this explosion of good and jolly sense early on when he tells us this “was the good wind that blows nobody harm.”  Yet it was resisted at first by the two young couples into whose moribund company Innocent Smith suddenly appears and then more forcefully by the experts in materialist philosophy who end up prosecuting the uniquely adventurous hero of the novel.

Along the way, Chesterton’s wit and wisdom are on wonderful display.  So too is his artistic temperament, his poetic skills, his chivalrous ideals, and his moral courage. Manalive is a classic of inventiveness and fun. However, amid the riot of revelry and the kaleidoscope of color, there are quite serious lessons being taught. The reader will find himself challenged by the novel’s exhortations about love and marriage, contentment, modern philosophy, common sense and appreciation, the rule of courtesy, Christian apologetics, the ingenious thrift of the Swiss Family Robinson, democracy, property, the overreach of science, socialism, Christianity as a “creed of wonder,” spiritual homesickness, patriotism, and more.  I recommend Manalive heartily. No surprise there...I’ve been doing so for 30 years.

And yes, one can one re-read a work often and still find fresh enjoyment and profit. C.S. Lewis, perhaps thinking of Chesterton (one of his literary influences), once wrote, “One must read a good book at least once every ten years.” I wholeheartedly agree.  In fact, there are a dozen or more of my favorite books (Randy Alcorn’s Heaven, Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring trilogy, Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story, C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, history books by Walter Lord and Samuel Eliot Morrison, and yes, Chesterton’s Manalive) that I couldn’t possibly wait for ten years to get back to.

This time around, I had particular motivation to glean relevant truths from Manalive for it is one of a series of books I’m reading with friends this spring.  It’s a project meant to sharpen yet further our understanding and appreciation of key books by reading them together and then sharing with one another our responses.

And so with my latest reading of Manalive, I’m pleased to tell my partners in the project that I was moved on several points: 1) to dedicate myself anew to keeping spontaneity and romance, appreciation and gallantry in my marriage; 2) to review until I can clearly recall in detail Innocent Smith’s use of the pistol to illustrate the value of presuppositional apologetics; 3) to relish Chesterton’s unique skills in describing color and paradox and careful perceptions of everyday life; 4) to appreciate anew how strong a theme in Chesterton’s work is Christianity serving as man’s true and desired home; and 5) to better appreciate the gifts of everyday life, to see with more wondrous eyes the beauty of plain things.

Postscript 1: The first books in this spring reading project series were C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy; the next up (at least, in the original plan) is Francis Schaeffer’s The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century. The invitation to participate in this reading project, by the way, can be read here. And the resultant review of the space travel series can be found here.

Postscript 2: Reading often creates its own spin. Reading one book prompts you to read another that you hadn't planned on. That's certainly happening with this project. There were things in Out of the Silent Planet that caused me to go ahead and read a book given to me as a Christmas gift, Os Guinness' latest book dealing with Christian apologetics, Fool's Talk. I found it very good. And upon finishing Manalive, I found myself following up by re-reading one of G.K. Chesterton's best on apologetics, Orthodoxy. It too is terrific and the "combined weight" of reading these various titles dealing much with the same issues was of tremendous value.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

On C.S. Lewis and Os Guinness' Latest

“In the biblical view the issue is not modern versus postmodern.  Both these views are partly right, and both are finally wrong.  Nor it is rational argument versus story or reason versus imagination.  In fact it is not either-or at all.  The deep logic of God’s truth can be expressed in both stories and argument, by questions as well as statements, through reason and the imagination, through the four Gospels as well as through the book of Romans.  This is one reason why C.S. Lewis has had such enduring appeal.  At times he was coolly rational, as in Mere Christianity, while at other times he engaged the imagination brilliantly, as in The Screwtape Letters or The Chronicles of Narnia.  There is a time for stories, and there is a time for rational arguments, and the skill we need lies in knowing which to use, and when.” (Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk)

Fool’s Talk by Os Guinness is an excellent book on practical apologetics which discusses the relationships of apologetics to evangelism, lifestyle, presuppositions, confidence, hypocrisy, culture, asking questions, and more. I found it very helpful, especially because I read it right before attending a L’Abri conference in Rochester that dealt with the same subject.

I heartily recommend the book even though you may find things you disagree with, things he treats too lightly (or too heavily), things he repeats too often. I did. But overall I found the book stimulating, informative, and challenging.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Here's Spring's Reading Project

Dear friends,

Last summer I tried the experiment of inviting several friends to join me in reading Randy Alcorn’s Heaven and to write up their reactions to the book to be shared with others via email.

The initial response was positive but, except for some terrific reviews from Dr. Greg Gardner in Great Britain and Jim Bingham from here in the States (which were so good I posted them on Vital Signs Blog), I have little idea how others fared but I retain the hope that some of you were moved to read Alcorn’s wonderful book and thereby grow in your anticipation of the triumph and delight that waits for us all at the end of the age.  And I’m delighted with those results of the experiment that I know worked.  For instance, Greg and Jim had not read the book at all, but now have put it among their “must read” recommendations. That’s terrific.  Also, my pastor read our posts about the book (links to them had appeared on my Facebook page) and he was moved to ask me to teach a Sunday School series on Heaven.  Terrific again.  And finally, a third blessing -- through the resultant correspondence, other book recommendations from some of you were passed on to me.  Greg suggested Peter Kreeft’s old book, The Snakebite Letters and Pat Osborne suggested Os Guinness’ new book about apologetics Fool’s Talk.  I liked them both an awful lot. Both were provocative, well-written, and very helpful. I enthusiastically second their recommendations.

Therefore, with these positive benefits from that first experiment – and with high hopes that another invitation might involve more of you this time around – I am sending along a spring project for you to consider.  This one is a bit more open-ended in that it allows you to participate in 2 ways.  1) I am sending along titles of few of the books I’ll be reading this spring.  If you’re interested, choose one or more of them, read along, and drop me a line…or a longer review like Jim and Greg did. I would love to post them on Vital Signs Blog or The Book Den.  And, of course, even if you aren’t going to write anything up, you might still find the reading list of interest as you consider your own spring reading. 2) A second option is to send along a title of a book (or more than one) that you are currently reading.  Reviews of a few sentences would be extremely valuable to others but even a quick thumbs up or down would be helpful too.

I’m sending this to some of the same guys I did last year along with a few others.  I’m hoping many of you join in on some level.  Thanks for considering it.  And thanks for saying a prayer for the project’s success – that Christian men are stimulated to use their time wisely, to do the work of reading spiritually-enriching books, and to encourage one another in our common adventure in Christ.

So here’s my booklist. They’re all classics.  And all except the Augustine, they are all books I’ve read before. I do a lot of that.

Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength (C.S. Lewis)
Manalive (G.K. Chesterton)
The Church at the End of the 20th Century (Francis Schaeffer)
Saving Leonardo (Nancy Pearcey)
Confessions (Augustine)

Of course, if you’re busy with other things or, for whatever other reasons, you’re not interested, that’s cool. We will keep in contact at other times and over different matters. But, of course, you can still lift up that prayer!




Thursday, January 07, 2016

Last Year's Reading: A Top 20

Among the many books read last year (as is normal for me, many of them were re-reads), I've whittled down a Top 20 to pass along. All of them are highly recommended.

They are listed in the order I read them.

1) Snow by Calvin Miller. A heartwarming Christmas novel from a great preacher, writer, and friend.

2 & 3) Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen. Classic novels from one of the genre's best.

4) The Forgotten 500 by Gregory A. Freeman. A fascinating (sometimes infuriating) history about the rescue of Allied air crews from behind enemy lines in WWII.

5) The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. One of my favorite fantasy novels, full of adventure, heroism, and inspiration.

6) Fire Over England by A.E.W. Mason. An exciting historical novel dealing with the Spanish Armada's plans against England.

7) Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. The title is self-explanatory. I found this book most instructive, challenging, and, because I agreed with many of his observations, rather comforting too.

8) The Gentleman from Indiana by Booth Tarkington. This was one of my favorite novels from this year's list of reading from the Notting Hill Napoleons, our longstanding literary club.

9 & 10) The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan and D-Day: The Sixth of June by David Howarth. Two excellent histories of the Allied landings in France during WWII.

11) I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norm Geisler & Frank Turek. Apologetics of the finest (and most practical) quality.

12) Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L. Beach. A fine WWII novel about submarine warfare in the Pacific written by a highly acclaimed Commander of the U.S. Navy.

13) The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers. A very moving WWII novel dealing with a German national fleeing from a Nazi concentration camp.

14) A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer. One of the most life-changing books for both Claire and I, we re-read this every few years.

15) Knight Without Armor by James Hilton. This is a wide-ranging novel about the Russian revolution. It is written by one of my favorite authors, yet it's quite different in subject than his other works.

16) The Christmas Room by Denny Hartford. A realistic yet uplifting novel about the lives of people involved in one way or another with Villa Vista Care Community, a nursing home.

17) Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. It's not my favorite Dickens novel but then he's never written anything but quality stuff.

18) Dawn’s Early Light by Walter Lord. A detailed history of the War of 1812 by one of my favorite historians.

19) Miss Bishop by Bess Streeter Aldrich. A lovely, inspiring novel about character, education, duty, small town life, the changing social scene of America at the turn of the century, and a life well lived.

20) Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Besides the Bible itself, I recommend this Bible study book on heaven more than anything else. An enlightening, exciting book that will change your life.