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Profile for Fr. Robert F. Lyons > Reviews


Fr. Robert F. Ly...'s Profile

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Fr. Robert F. Lyons "Priest / Sci-Fi Buff" RSS Feed (Bargersville, IN USA)

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Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars but excellent for personal meditation and relaxation, July 14, 2014
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This review is from: Awakening (MP3 Music)
Very enjoyable track. A little tricky to put a meditation to for group use due to its length, but excellent for personal meditation and relaxation.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Handsome Item, July 22, 2010
This table has served as our family prayer altar since my wife and I returned from our honeymoon. It was a gift from one of her co-workers, and they could probably have never guessed what we intended it for. We keep a Bible and Prayerbook for each member of the family in the drawers, with plants and an icon on the lower shelf. It's quality is pretty darned good for 'put it together yourself' furniture, and when assembled it has the look of a custom piece twice as expensive. We mixed with some other dark colored wood pieces, and some complimentary (but not identical) motifed candlesticks from Pier One to create a wonderful focal point for our devotions, and for our front room!

My main regret is that some of the accompanying pieces of the collection seem to have been discontinued completely, making it difficult to pick up more complementing pieces in the future.

The Church Planter's Training Manual
The Church Planter's Training Manual
by Fred G. King
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Dated, June 28, 2010
I have owned my copy of this book for nearly a decade. There is some interesting material for reflection, particularly on the personal life of a church planter, that is extremely helpful, but for the most part, the material included seems dated and somehow fails to bridge the gap between providing theory and practical advice for an individual seeking to become a Church Planter.

Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch
Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch
by Kerrick Thomas
Edition: Paperback
86 used & new from $0.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical Advice from a Slanted Perspective, June 28, 2010
I usually find reading books on Church planting to be rather short on practical advice and rather long on pontificating. "Launch", while written from a slanted perspective (Evangelical mega-church in a mega-sized city) contains the most practical advice I have ever read in a book on the topic, and I have read plenty. While I share other reviewer's concerns about the heavy use of attendence numbers as a barometer for Church health, I also understand that the goal is not to develop a small group, or even a cadre of small groups, but a larger body in which smaller groups will naturally coalesce. This is an undertone throughout the book that I think many are missing.

Further, while the authors encourage you to 'think big' and remind the reader frequently that God is 'bigger than you can imagine', there is a subtle reminder that seems to flow with those thoughts which reminds the reader to pray and plan based on local realities. New York is not Small Town USA. Aiming for 300 may be an NYC benchmark of success, but perhaps 75 on launch day is a 'big thinking' goal for Small Town USA. I don't feel that the book goes too far afield in saying that you have to be forming a mega-church, though that is obviously what the authors felt lead to do.

All in all, this was the most interesting Church planting book I have read, filled with humor (at times self-depricating humor, which I tend to find enjoyable), practical advice, and real encouragement for those who are struggling with the next step in planting a thriving congregation for Christ.

Opening Prayers (Scripture Related Prayers for Sundays and Holy Days: Years A)
Opening Prayers (Scripture Related Prayers for Sundays and Holy Days: Years A)
by International Commission on English in the Liturgy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.00
36 used & new from $0.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Resource, June 19, 2009
In the past several years, many resources have become available to those desiring to provide a more thematic approach to the praying the Scriptures of the modern three-year Eucharistic lectionary (i.e., the modern Roman lectionary and its various cousins, including the Revised Common Lectionary). "Opening Prayers" from ICEL and the Canterbury Press fits the bill.

To be sure, there are a few collects that could still use some tweaking to make them more chant friendly or to allow them to flow a mite-bit-better in the American idiom (these prayers were originally drafted in the UK), but on the whole it provides a refreshing take on praying the Scriptures that is deeply rooted in the appointed readings of the day.

These collects are not mere reassignments of existent collects (not that there is anything wrong with such an approach) - the are all, each and every one of them, completely new. As such, they will probably not appeal to liturgical purists who want to tie the historic collects of the western liturgy into the new lectionary. (For such a resource, I would recommend a copy of the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary which assigns the historical collects to the three year lectionary based on similarities of theme, or the "Propers of the Year" volume from the Lutheran Service Book (LCMS, Concordia Publishing).)

"Opening Prayers" manages to balance mild horizontal inclusive language (phrases like 'sons and daughters' and 'your children' are used and feel just right) with unswerving confessions of God in traditional idiom. It avoids issues that plague the collects of Revised Common Lectionary Prayers and Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Leaders Desk Edition), both of which suffer from (the former moreso than the latter), at times, vapid texts which carry little inspiration and bear utterly musical or repetitive qualities whatsoever. (ELW has some gems, 'diamonds in the rough' that need to be polished to shine brightly, but RCLP has nothing worthwile).

Several of the collects in particular stand out: the Easter Vigil and Trinity Sunday collect for Year C are the two best in the book, with Ordinary Time 27b coming in a close third. One outstanding feature is that, while a basic conclusion is used in Ordinary Time, one with thematic implications is generally used (with a few exceptions) throughout specific seasions. Thus, the doxological conclusion of collects in Advent have an emphasis on Christ 'whose coming is certain, whose day draws near'. In Paschaltide, Christ our 'Passover and peace' is praised... outstanding features that one might miss with a cursory glance.

If you are looking for a series with collects for the three-year lectionary, this is the volume for you.

Inherit the Stars
Inherit the Stars
by James P. Hogan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
20 used & new from $0.04

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A tightly told tale..., September 20, 2006
When a 50,000 year old human is found on the surface of the Moon, it's sure to cause a stir. The stir becomes, at times, a fracas, in James P. Hogan's "Inherit the Stars," a 1979 release that began his Giants Trilogy. I ran across this little gem on a shelf at a used bookstore, and was intrigued enough by the cover that I decided to give it a try.

Hogan manages to create a very consistent feel of scientific study and exploration, both in the laboratory and in the far reaches of the Solar System, with a tightly written storyline that flows quickly.

The personages in "Inherit the Stars" are often a bit cliché: the quintessential problem-solver, the defender of science-quo, the skilled government manipulator - but the mystery of the storyline allows one to forgive the clichés and accept them for what they are: vehicles to tell the tale.

Throughout the book, one finds them self guessing elements of the truth, and in the closing of the book we find the truth to be revealed... but the struggle for the truth is an omnipresent feature of this book.

People of a spiritual background who have issues with evolution may find difficulties with this tale, particularly in a scene where the interaction of a divine power is dismissed outright. Science fiction, though, is not for the thin skinned... and the story itself draws on many disciplines to provide a complex story that is most satisfying.

There are some items of the story that are nothing but scientific quackery... and they will be plainly obvious to anyone who bothers to do a bit of research. But on the whole I can recommend this novel without hesitation.

Star Trek: The Original Series: Crucible: McCoy: Provenance of Shadows (Star Trek (Unnumbered Paperback))
Star Trek: The Original Series: Crucible: McCoy: Provenance of Shadows (Star Trek (Unnumbered Paperback))
by David R. George III
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
37 used & new from $0.99

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Celebrating forty years of Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, September 13, 2006
In the classic Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever," Doctor Leonard McCoy -having accidentally injected himself with an overdose of powerful medication - fled the starship Enterprise and, after traveling back in time to Depression-era New York City, prevented the death of social worker Edith Keeler. Keeler's vitality energized the pacifist movement in America and effectively destroyed the future that Leonard McCoy knew. Only the intervention of James Kirk and Spock saved McCoy and the future that they knew.

Except, they didn't.

In Provenance of Shadows, the first book of the fortieth anniversary Crucible trilogy, David R. George III paints a picture of two lives, struggling to find purchase in an ever-passing existence.

In the `restored' timeline (i.e., the story we know as Star Trek), Leonard McCoy returns to duty shortly before the events depicted in the episode "Operation -- Annihilate!" and we follow the good doctor's loves and losses, professional triumphs and personal sorrows, for close to a century. In the `altered' timeline, we follow the life of Leonard McCoy the lost... lost in a time that is not his own, unable to practice his passions, and fearful of altering the timeline.

But all is not well in either timeline as Leonard McCoy must deal with the echoes of his past: the loss of his mother, his painful relationship with his father, and an ill-fated marriage. McCoy, in both timelines, holds his secrets close to his vest, hiding who he truly is from those who love him, and often from himself.

If I have any complaint concerning this book, it is actually the `restored' timeline's attempts to cover such an expansive life in brushstrokes. We learn a great deal about Leonard McCoy's life in the familiar timeline, but the glimpses we get only serve to whet the palate for further adventures and stories (for both McCoy and the rest of the crew) set in some of the `lost years' of the crew of the Original Series. These fleeting glimpses, however, often raise more questions than they answer (at least for this reviewer), and as a result lead me to want to see those details filled in. While it in no way detracts from the mission of the book, the brevity of the snippets was a bit distracting to me on an individual level. Others may find it to be far more palatable. After all, the mission of the story is to share the broad story of Leonard McCoy from the time of his encounter with the Guardian of Forever through the history we have of him.

In one respect, George is able to take a greater deal of latitude in dealing with McCoy's life and details, because (as he notes in the foreword) he deliberately decided to use only the televised details of McCoy's life as the basis of the story. In another, however, he has total freedom, because the details of McCoy's life in the altered timeline are completely open to interpretation.

George, while weaving a masterful tale of what McCoy's twentieth century life would have been like, does so in such a manner that the circumstances of world affairs - details that lead to McCoy's continued presence in the twentieth century - don't undermine the character work that Provenance of Shadows attempts to be. In the best tradition of Star Trek, the interweaving tales featured in Provenance of Shadows uses technology, politics, and adventure to explore the human condition in a way that serves the story without overriding the prose. Ultimately, the `altered' timeline accomplishes this far more effectively than does the `restored' one, but both lives remain eminently readable to those interested more in a character piece and less in a space-based shoot-em' up.

Of personal interest is the interplay between Leonard McCoy the Humanist and the religious townsfolk he encounters in the south of the 1930's. George incorporates a typical southern Church into his story in credible way... something of a second town center where people go for comradeship and support just as they would go to town hall for assistance in temporal things. George's positive portrayal of a small-town Church in the midst of a Star Trek tale is most gratifying.

Shockingly, in the spirit of confronting social ills of the times, Provenance of Shadows also has a deeply riveting exchange that nearly sends McCoy packing again when he discovers the true nature of his community's attitudes towards others.

There is just so much within Provenance of Shadows that it is nearly impossible to truly review the book without spoiling the entire story. Needless to say, this -the longest ever- Star Trek novel is a unique and worthwhile beginning to the Crucible trilogy and the fortieth anniversary celebrations of Star Trek.
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Last Full Measure (Star Trek Enterprise)
Last Full Measure (Star Trek Enterprise)
by Andy Mangels
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
29 used & new from $3.59

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Moral Tale... Barely Star Trek, August 21, 2006
In the wake of the Xindi attack on the planet earth, Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of the Enterprise have been assigned the challenging task of neutralizing a Xindi super weapon that is being prepared for the annihilation of the human race. Along for the ride is a troop of space-marines, the MACO's. The MACOs view the crew of the Enterprise as soft and undisciplined, while the crew looks upon the MACOs with discomfort and concern. The cauldron is set boiling as separate missions expose Captain Archer, Major Hayes, Lieutenant Reed, Corporal Chang, and Ensign Mayweather to the best and worst of one another, and themselves.

In a quest to discover the location of hidden Xindi weapon construction bases, Captain Archer, Major Hayes, and Lieutenant Reed embark on a shuttlepod journey to the planet Kaletoo to track down a Xindi supplier.

Later, Ensign Mayweather is assigned to track down an odd emission reading at the edge of the Kaletoo system - and to take a squad of MACOs with him.

In the interweaving tales both sides of the 'sharks and squids' competition (mirroring the inter-service rivalry of modern day naval/marine contingents) learn valuable lessons about one another and grow in their (grudging) appreciation of the gifts and talents that both bring to the table in the fight to save the human race.

Last Full Measure is a very, very satisfying read. The writing duo of Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels manage to do an outstanding job of laying out several supporting crewmembers who one grows to care for by the end of the story, interweaves the work with a large amount of Star Trek backstory (particularly in the Prologue and Epilogue), and offers up a satisfying moral and interpersonal relations tale.

Sadly, however, while the novel is excellent, it goes to confirm in my mind a wide gap between Star Trek and the Enterprise series.

Star Trek, at it's purest form, is both a social commentary and a space adventure. This book manages to capture both elements well, and yet still manages to fall outside the pale of what, in my mind, constitutes a Star Trek story.

Conflict and the occasional poor decision needs to be a staple of good storytelling, particularly when one is attempting to create a sympathetic hero-figure. Sadly, in the tradition established in the televised episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, Captain Archer continues to be depicted as an (at best) inept spacecraft commander, ill suited to the demands of tracking down the greatest threat to Earth that the human race has faced in a century. For most of the story, I had a very difficult time accepting Archer as a Starfleet captain, a position I grew to feel more and more during the third season of the television series. While Archer is well written given his previously established mindset, I have to admit that he is a commander I would never have followed into battle.

Ensign Mayweather gets a good portion of development in this particular story, and the insights gel well with what we observed of him on-screen.

The shining element of the story, however, is Lieutenant Malcom Reed. His reflections, his personal deliberations on right and wrong - particularly given his assignment as the Enterprise's tactical officer - are most satisfying, even if the internal dialogue that he has is criticized by some reviewers as being nothing more than ham-handed political commentary on the Iraq war. Reed's was the single-most compelling element of a very good story, and given my own personal views on matters of justice, integrity, and militarism, I found myself utterly sympathetic towards him from the outset.

Martin and Mangels also use the novel to set forth the beginning elements of an Enterprise relaunch (using the framing material to do this quite well), and to place the events of Enterprise squarely into the Star Trek universe... while the actual tome convinced me more than ever that Enterprise is not truly Star Trek.

Last Full Measure is good military sci-fi, and a compelling moral and personal tale, one that I would commend to all those looking for a morality tale and an action-adventure rolled into one; but it is barely Star Trek. This is not the fault of the authors, however, who have provided an excellent story to those interested in the investment.

Captain's Glory (Star Trek)
Captain's Glory (Star Trek)
by William Shatner
Edition: Audio CD
14 used & new from $11.62

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining enough on it's own merits... but still a difficult novel., August 21, 2006
Captain James T. Kirk takes to the spaceways once again in "Star Trek: Captain's Glory" a cross-generation tale that wraps up the third "Shatner-verse" Triology penned by William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

Captain's Glory opens up with a massive assault on the Federation's primary lifeline that prompts a wide-scale rush to find a way to ensure the Federation's survival.

In the process, Captain Kirk's young son goes missing, and the authorities become less than helpful. Kirk uses his son's disappearance as a source of strength as he faces the Totality, an utterly alien power that threatens to undermine all life in the galaxy.

Now, I have to admit that the tale is entertaining taken on it's own merits, but even for me as a science fiction fan, it is nearly impossible to suspend my disbelief for all of the thin tie-ins that the authors once again use to try to make the story far more significant in the life of Jim Kirk than it really is.

Sadly, however, the story also goes on to cross-pollenate with the new "Titan" series of novels, as well as the crew of the now-returned USS Voyager. There are too many stones in the pot, too many stories to try to tell... it's hard to do justice to any of them. Captain Riker was, in my mind's eye, written totally out of sync with what we know of him, and the entire story seemed to once again focus on Jim Kirk saving the galaxy... not that one expects much more from one of Shatner's Star Trek novels.

In short, fans of the existant Star Trek novel series may have a difficult time with this novel, but it has enough entertainment value to be of interest to the casual Star Trek fan.

Firestorm (Star Trek, Book 68)
Firestorm (Star Trek, Book 68)
by L.A. Graf
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
124 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-rounded Star Trek adventure..., August 18, 2006
Many Star Trek fans decry the third season of the original series for such episodes as "Spock's Brain" and "Plato's Stepchildren", and some include "Elaan of Troyus" in the mix of episodes to avoid. Regardless of your view on the episode, this follow-up by L. A. Graf is a most satisfying Star Trek adventure.

In the story, a Federation geology team is observing the largest known supervolcano in the Federation when their observations fall under the harassment of a mining operation run by the Elasians. The encampment also is the temporary home of Israi, the Dohlman of the Elasians. As arrogant as ever, Israi agrees to speak only with the Dholman of the Enterprise, a 'duty' that Captain Kirk places squarely in the lap of Lieutenant Commander Uhura.

However, not all is as it seems. Geologists question the claims of the Elasian miners, Kirk questions the date of their planetary claim, and traitors lurk in the midst of the Dohlman as a fleet closes in on the planet, the Enterprise, and the Dohlman.

This story flows so wonderfully well that it is a joy to read. The arrogance and self-righteousness of the Elasians from the original episode are perfectly conveyed, while at the same time Graf builds out the Elasian culture into a distinctively evolved one based on fierce devotion to the Dohlman and the bond created by the famous biochemical tears that Elaan used several years earlier to hold sway over Captain Kirk.

While Kirk and Spock get their fair share of story-time, the main focus is on Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov as they struggle to overcome a situation that could kill them all.

The settings of the tale are vividly described, and the narrative, while brisk, leaves out nothing that is needed to follow the story and vividly envision the dire settings one is taken to by Graf.

This is yet another classic novel that I passed over when it was first released as being too 'boring' for my tastes... but which I can now highly recommend to anyone interested in a story with good action, a great plot, and excellent writing.

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