Earthly Battle and Cosmic Battle

A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War
Joseph Loconte

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2015.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Bedeviled: Lewis, Tolkien, and the Shadow of Evil
Colin Duriez

Paperback: IVP Books, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle]

A Review by Amy Gentile.


“The further up and further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.” In a beautiful little parallel, The Last Battle ends much the same way The Chronicles (according to the published order) begin: on one end, a Wardrobe opens up to a world beyond Lucy’s wildest dreams, on the other, the characters find themselves drawn up into layers upon layers of Aslan’s Land, an imaginative portrayal of heaven.

This, too, is the first phrase that comes to my mind when I think about The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings themselves. These two series have captured the imagination of generations of readers. And yet, though they have been a part of my life since my childhood, I’ve found that they’re the best sorts of stories to revisit every few years, to crawl into “further up and further in.” Each time I’ve learned more about these books’ contexts (Lewis’s studies of medieval astronomy, Tolkien’s love of language, etc.) my eyes have been opened to new things in their pages, and I’ve been able to journey deeper into their richness.

To that end, A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War by Joseph Loconte, and Bedeviled: Lewis, Tolkien, and the Shadow of Evil by Colin Duriez, are welcome additions the list of works that have profoundly shaped my understanding of the stories of Narnia and Middle Earth. Both books spend a significant amount of time discussing the impact of The Great War (WWI) on Tolkien and Lewis—both of whom served in the war—and on their writings in particular. Both Loconte and Duriez develop the ways in which Tolkien and Lewis took their experiences of war and the circumstances of their era, weaving them into narratives that addressed a cosmic battle between good and evil.

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Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out:
(Marilynne Robinson, Flannery O’Connor, Bonhoeffer, MORE)

Via our sister website Thrifty Christian Reader
To keep up with all the latest ebook deals,
be sure to connect with TCR via email or on Facebook


Gilead: A Novel

Marilynne Robinson

*** $4.99***

Other books by Marilynne Robinson that are also on sale… 




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Resisting Consumerism.

A Review of 

The Year without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting
Scott Dannemiller

Paperback: WJK Books, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Leslie Klingensmith


The “Year of…” premise for structuring a book is getting stale.  They are everywhere.  I suppose they have always been around, but the past few years it seems as if there is a new one every week.  The Year of Living Biblically (A.J. Jacobs), The Year of Biblical Womanhood (Rachel Held Evans), and Sabbath in the Suburbs (MaryAnn McKibben Dana) are recent examples of the theological subgenre of this type of book.  I  read and enjoyed them all.  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver) takes the same idea and applies it to eating only home grown or home raised food for a year.  Susan Maushart’s most entertaining The Winter of Our Disconnect operates within a different time frame (six months), but is the same premise – one family living without electronics so they can relate more genuinely to each other.  A quick search on Amazon reveals a number of other titles built around the same idea: Do something (or not) for a year, enlist the support and/or participation of your family, and write about what it was like for you all and how it changed your life in the longer term.  All of the books I have listed are enjoyable, thought provoking reads that I have recommended to friends.  However, lately I have noticed myself rolling my eyes when I spot another “Year of…” book on display at the local bookstore.  We human beings are all too capable of taking a good concept and running it into the ground until it is not retrievable.

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Really enjoyed the Neighborhood Economics conference in Cincinnati this week, and left with much to think about!

What is Neighborhood Economics?  Peter Block has described it this way:

“Neighborhood Economics is an idea committed to accelerating the flow of capital into resident driven entrepreneurial enterprise. It calls us to shift how we think about ending poverty. It brings the world of social investors, community builders, community philanthropists, residents and local neighborhood leaders into the same conversations. This is what a systems approach to economic and racial justice is going to require.”

I came away from the conference with a hefty list of books that I hope to read (or re-read). 

Here are some highlights from that list:

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JesusInTheNameOfTheGunI’ve been traveling a lot over the last few weeks, so am still processing the entries in our Worst Christian Book Covers of 2015 contest.  I hope to post this list next week.

But in the meantime, I discovered this (comic book) cover this week that should have been a contender in last year’s competition…

For a taste of these comics, watch the video below…
(WARNING: Not for the faint of heart or the easily offended!)

Seems to me that these comics strike some deeper and uncomfortable truths about who Americans think (or hope) Jesus is…

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This poem, written in the wake of 9/11, is a striking read in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

Thanks to Cynthia Wallace for bringing it to my attention!
This poem can be found in the collection of the same name:

The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004
Adrienne Rich

Paperback: Norton, 2006
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)


The New Asceticism: Sexuality, Gender and the Quest for God

By Sarah Coakley

Read an excerpt from this book (via Google Books)


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Delicious and Desirable, but Incomplete?


A Feature Review of 

The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reaclaiming a Lost Vision
Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan

Hardback: Baker Academic, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Adam Joyce


When talking with pastors, you sometimes hear how the work of theology—reading, writing and research—is a luxury. Seminary provided the space for it, but accumulating ministry pressures mean book spines remain uncracked, theological memories remain dormant, the conference room supplants the study, and the balance sheet replaces Barth. Theology (especially academic theology) appears inapplicable to the practical and immediate concerns of ecclesial life.

In The Pastor as Public Theologian, written by theologians Owen Strachan and Kevin Vanhoozer, the aim is to revive the theological portion of the pastoral vocation. Strachan and Vanhoozer argue that many churches and pastors have forgotten what pastors are for, too often viewing them as CEOs, entrepreneurs, activists, therapists, or celebrities. And while the pastorate has undergone changes throughout Christian history, the multiplication of pastoral roles is a sign of mission drift and confusion.

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Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out:
(Dorothy Sayers, Christena Cleveland, Alan Hirsch, MORE)

Via our sister website Thrifty Christian Reader
To keep up with all the latest ebook deals,
be sure to connect with TCR via email or on Facebook



The Mind of the Maker:
The Expression of Faith Through Creativity and Art

Dorothy Sayers

*** $1.99***



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This week marked the death of one of the most important social and theological thinkers of the last century, Rene Girard.

Receiving his PhD in history, Girard began his academic career by teaching French literature, and it was his work in literary theory that would guide him into the study of scripture, theology and society.

At the core of Girard’s work is the concept of mimetic theory, i.e., that our human desires take shape by imitation, by desiring things that others desire. But these desires lead us into conflict and violence because there is a scarcity of the thing desired.

In remembrance of Girard, we offer the following introductory guide to his work (which focuses particularly on his theological work).


Introduction to Mimetic Theory:

This is a great, half-hour video in which Girard lays out the basic components of his mimetic theory. It is a good place to start engaging Girard’s work, as it is clear and relatively concise…

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