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Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies)
Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies)
by Bill T. Arnold
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $30.19
98 used & new from $29.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Great primer. Vivid Images. Helpful in-text tools., May 13, 2011
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This book follows the same structure and format as Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies), its companion volume in the Encountering Biblical Studies series. And like the other volumes in this series, this book serves as a helpful primer on the subject covered. Arnold and Beyer have provided students and teachers with a well organized, colorful, accessible, engaging, and detailed introduction to Old Testament history, theology, and culture.

The authors note in the preface, "Illustrative materials such as charts, maps, and graphs comprise approximately 20 percent of the volume. The color format makes the book more 'user-friendly' to a generation that has experienced much in the way of technological improvement. We want to give students the feeling that 'they are there' as much as possible, to help them see the images the Bible so carefully paints." This aspect is especially helpful in a volume on the Old Testament since many readers are so removed the world of the Ancient Near East.

POSITIVES:
- Well written and well organized
- Lots of helpful "focus boxes" and other in-text tools (e.g., the classic formulation of the Documentary Hypothesis, Leviticus on sexuality, the chiastic structure of Psalm 8, etc.)
- Thoughtful "Review" and "Study" questions at the end of each chapter
- Suggested further reading at the end of each chapter
- Detailed glossary of OT people, places, doctrines, etc.
- Robust multimedia interactive CD-ROM that includes study questions, reviews, audio/video clips, interviews with the authors, maps, images, and more.

NEGATIVES:
- CD-ROM is PC only (not Mac friendly)

Overall this book is great; there are very few negatives with this volume. It is more detailed than its New Testament companion, and its arguments are more fully defended. Like Encountering New Testament, this volume is accessible and interesting for the novice, and is detailed and engaging for the experienced student.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2013 1:02 AM PDT


Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies)
Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies)
by Walter A. Elwell
Edition: Hardcover
86 used & new from $12.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great primer. Vivid Images. Helpful in-text tools., May 13, 2011
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This volume, like many in the Encountering Biblical Studies series, serves as a helpful primer on the subject covered. Elwell and Yarbrough have provided students and teachers with a well organized, colorful, accessible, engaging, and detailed introduction to New Testament history, theology, and culture.

The authors note in the preface, "The goal has not been to produce a running biblical exposition. In other words, this is not a commentary or a commentary survey--for that see D. A. Carson, New Testament Commentary Survey. We have sought rather to provide enough theological and thematic discussion to do justice to most major New Testament themes, without necessarily generating this discussion out of verse-by-verse or even chapter-by-chapter explication."

POSITIVES:
- Well written and well organized
- Lots of helpful "focus boxes" and other in-text tools (e.g., a list of the OT Apocrypha, a family tree of the Hasmonean Dynasty, a timeline of important dates in Paul's life, etc.)
- Thoughtful "Review" and "Study" questions at the end of each chapter
- Suggested further reading at the end of each chapter
- Detailed glossary of NT people, places, doctrines, etc.
- Robust multimedia interactive CD-ROM that includes study questions, reviews, audio/video clips, interviews with the authors, maps, images, and more.

NEGATIVES:
- Less than 100 pages (of a 446 page book) on Paul and his writings
- End of chapter summaries seemed a bit weak
- Lacked strong defense against opposing positions
- CD-ROM is PC only (not Mac friendly)

Overall this book is great, yet it is not as thorough as its Old Testament companion: Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies). Encountering the New Testament is accessible and interesting for the novice, and is detailed and engaging for the experienced student. The chapters "The Middle East in the Days of Jesus", "Modern Approaches to the New Testament", and "The Modern Study of the Gospels" are especially helpful.


First the Egg (Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Awards))
First the Egg (Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Awards))
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.12
143 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars An obvious classic!, May 8, 2011
This book is an obvious classic.

The story is clever and engaging. The art is rich and subtle. And it works well with young children of various ages. My younger kids love it!

Laura Vaccaro Seeger has written a dozen or more children's books, many of them named Child Magazine Best Book of the Year and ALA Notable Books. First the Egg received the Caldecott Honor as well as the Theodor Suess Geisel Honor.

This short book is a fun and fast read and can be re-read many, many times. I highly recommend it for younger children.

Read and enjoy.


The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories
The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories
by Frank Rose
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.62
83 used & new from $0.01

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Was Not Immersed In This Book, May 4, 2011
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Rose's new book, The Art of Immersion, provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look into the conception, creation, and promotion of many products of popular media from Christopher Nolan's film The Dark Knight to Xbox's Halo; from George Lucas' Star Wars suite to the Nine Inch Nails' album Year Zero; from ABC's Lost to Evan Williams' sites Blogger and Twitter.

Yet for all of its contemporary pop culture references and social media anecdotes, The Art of Immersion feels quite dated. His thesis ("A new type of narrative is emerging--one that's sold through many media at once in a way that's non-linear, that's participatory and often gamelike, and that's designed above all to be immersive.") is obvious to even the most technologically un-savvy reader. Nearly everyone, from Topeka, Kansas to Tokyo, Japan has understood that intuitively (if not explicitly) for 10 years.

I enjoyed reading the first few chapters in which Rose discusses the transformation of media and the creation of increasingly immersive worlds through the advancement of the technology, content and delivery method of newer forms of media. Rose outlines a rough sketch from the invention of the printing press and moveable type to the advent of the motion picture to the seductive glow of the living room television to the immersive and participatory "deep media" of the Internet. Yet as I continued to read, I kept waiting for the book to "start".

Each new chapter felt like a slight regurgitation of the one before it; each felt like an introduction to the theme, yet the book never fully developed the theme. True to his subtile, Rose answered How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way we Tell Stories. But each chapter begs the questions: WHY? What effect does this have on our culture? Are there any positive or negative consequences? What can we expect for the future of media? Etc. Rose's point that media has changed to be more immersive is obvious and could have been articulated clearly in an introduction. I hoped he would go deeper.

The Art of Immersion is interesting at points and offers its readers great tidbits about their favorite television shows, films, music, and websites. But it left this reader wanting more.


Say the Magic Words : How to Get What You Want from the People Who Have What You Need
Say the Magic Words : How to Get What You Want from the People Who Have What You Need
by Lynette Padwa
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from $2.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Helpful for the Inexperienced. Yet Promises More than it Delivers., April 28, 2011
Padwa's book is a helpful guide to navigating sometimes-complicated professional situations. Yet the subtitle, "How to Get What You Want from the People Who Have What You Need," over-reaches and promised more than the book delivers.

This book offers tips on speaking to and dealing with:

- Hairdressers
- Waiters
- Desk Clerks
- Landlords
- Doctors (and Pediatricians)
- Nannies
- Teachers
- Therapist
- Realtors
- General Contractors
- Lawyers
- Local Politicians
- IRS Agents
- Car Salesmen
- Auto Mechanics
- Nursing Home Staff
- Funeral Directors

I wish she would have added: Pastors, Massage Therapists, Lawn Care Workers, Principals, Loan Officers/Bankers, Professors, and Potential Employers.

POSITIVES:
- Good examples of typical conversations between a person and specific professional.
- Helpful statistics (including pricing, etc.).
- Strategic questions to ask when dealing with a professional.

NEGATIVES:
- Very basic information.
- Many of her suggestions and observations are obvious, common sense.
- The book feels fairly disjointed from chapter to chapter, and sometimes even within a chapter.

This is a helpful book for the novice or inexperienced, but it doesn't delve as deep as you likely want it to (or as the subtitle promises).


Bose IE2 Audio Headphones
Bose IE2 Audio Headphones
Price: $99.95
18 used & new from $74.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best In-Ears. Period., April 28, 2011
I've gone through several pairs of in-ears. These are the best.

After using a few other brands and models, I finally settled on these. The competitors either had poor sound quality, were uncomfortable, had low volume, or weren't as durable.

I recently had my backpack stolen (with my MacBook Pro, headphones, etc.). My Bose In-Ears were the first things I replaced. I use them everyday. I can even fall asleep with them in. I wouldn't use any other brand or model.

I highly recommend these. Buy and enjoy.


Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know
Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know
by Wayne Grudem
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.48
170 used & new from $0.65

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for new Christians. Not for skeptics., April 28, 2011
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Grudem's Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine is my "go-to" book for questions on almost any point of doctrine. It is thorough yet accessible, easy to read yet well referenced. I love it.

His Christian Beliefs: 20 Basics Every Christian Should Know is helpful as well, but for very different reasons.

POSITIVES:
- Perfect for new Christians.
- Lots of helpful Scripture references.
- Great questions for review and application (at the end of every chapter).
- Helpful appendices on Historic Creeds and Suggested Further Reading.

NEGATIVES:
- Not great for non-Christians (or skeptics) because much of what is written leaves a skeptic's questions unanswered.
- Not great for mature Christians. I find myself going back to his Systematic Theology often because Christian Beliefs doesn't provide a full defense for many of its arguments.

I would highly recommend this for new converts, but don't think it's as helpful for skeptics. For the seasoned Christian, Grudem's Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine is a must!


Happy Easter Tree
Happy Easter Tree

5.0 out of 5 stars A fun new tradition!, April 23, 2011
This review is from: Happy Easter Tree (Misc.)
My in-laws sent my family this tree as a gift during Easter.

It's a great size for the kitchen or dining/breakfast room. And it makes Holy Week all the more special.

The kids had a blast putting on the ornaments, and we look forward to planting it outside after Easter.

This will no doubt become a new tradition in our family. I highly recommend it.


Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money
Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money
by Geneen Roth
Edition: Hardcover
183 used & new from $0.01

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geneen Roth and King Solomon, April 20, 2011
In her new book, Roth recounts the devastation she experienced after losing "thirty years of retirement savings" in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme at the end of 2008. This event, among others, forced her to reevaluate her relationship with money. Lost and Found serves as a helpful companion to Roth's #1 New York Times Bestseller, Women, Food and God. She admits, "My relationship to money was no different from my relationship to food, to love, to fabulous sweaters: Because I was never aware of what I already had, I never felt as if I had enough. I was always focused on the bite that was yet to come, not the one in my mouth. I was focused on the way my husband wasn't perfect, not the way he was. And on the jacket I saw in the window, not the one in my closet that I hadn't worn for a year."

Roth's statemet reminds me of a statement in the Old Testament: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income" (Ecclesiastes 5:10). King Solomon, the likely author of Ecclesiastes, notes that chasing appetites is often like chasing smoke: once you grab it, it evaporates. We never become fully satisfied by what we consume (eating, spending, etc.).

Lost and Found is divided into two main sections: (I) The Way We Eat is the Way We Spend and (II) Cash and Consciousness. Roth is characteristically open, honest, and confessional. She speaks candidly about her mistakes, fears, bad habits, debt, and shame. She offers helpful suggestions for her readers to enjoy a balanced view of money (and of life). Roth shines a bright light on what many of us want to keep hidden: our irrational tendency to overspend (indulge, binge), feel guilty (ashamed), and then retreat into a siege mentality (hoarding, self-deprivation, etc.) when it comes to basic purchases. This, as she notes, produces significantly negative effects on the health of our relationships, emotions, and of course, our finances.

Lost and Found is a well written, fast-paced book. This is a great introduction to Roth's life and work, and also a helpful resource for those who want to gain control over their addiction to consumption.

In 2009, Timothy Keller published a very helpful book that deals with these topics as well. His book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters, provides a distinctly Christian perspective on the dangers of money (food, family, etc.) as an idol.


God Wants You Happy: From Self-Help to God's Help
God Wants You Happy: From Self-Help to God's Help
by Jonathan Morris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.02
89 used & new from $0.01

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Self-Help to God-Help., April 19, 2011
In the book of John in the New Testament, Jesus says, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).

In a culture dominated by self-actualization, pseudo-spirituality, and chronic selfishness, Father Jonathan Morris offers a better (and more biblical) way of "being happy" than the scores of self-help books that promise readers a better life (A BETTER YOU!).

Father Morris makes a distinction between mere self-help and God-help, yet understands that they are intimately connected. He writes, "Genuine human flourishing ... almost always has something to do with our good choices (positive self-help) and always has everything to do with God's grace (God-help). Any effort to divorce one from the other is a dangerous detour into philosophical narcissism (pursuing self-help without recognition of God) or religious irrationalism (expecting God to do what he wants us to do for ourselves)."

This book is divided into two main sections: the Problem and the Solution. The problem, of course, is thinking that a person can ever be truly "happy" separated from his or her Creator. The solution is submitting oneself to his or her Creator and resting in His faithfulness, which alone can produce lasting joy. Happiness then is a by-product of a life with God, and living a life of "faith, hope and love". Father Morris notes, "Authentic happiness is unearthed first by discovering who we are within a universe whose existence is explicable only by the existence of an eternal Creator; happiness is then cultivated as we build a relationship with that Creator, as his son or daughter dearly loved by him." In an interview with Glenn Beck, Morris adds, "If we start thinking that, in ourselves, we can find our own happiness completely separated from a loving God and Father and Friend then I think we're going to go down a road that is ultimately self-destructive and deceiving."

This book is a helpful encouragement and correction for those stuck in a constant cycle of struggle/frustration/depression/self-help/struggle/frustration/depression. Father Morris, pointing to Jesus Christ, offers true Shalom, which cannot ultimately be found from within (self) but from without (in God).

Morris notes that in even dark and confusing seasons, God is not absent or unaware. There is purpose in trials and an understanding of (and trust in) God's promises provides "happiness" in spite of a person's current circumstances.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is the chief end of man? Answer: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." As a Reformed Baptist, I disagree with Morris' theology at various points, yet I commend his overall thesis (and argument): God wants you happy.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2011 11:13 AM PDT


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