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The Wake Up CallThe Wake Up Call -
9 April 2013

 

Like the smell of strong coffee wafting down the hall, we offer a few book-related thoughts and stories to jumpstart your day…

 

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“He who loves his dream of a community more that the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died on this day 1945
*** Books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

“I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.” – Charles Baudelaire, *** Books by Charles Baudelaire

Book News:

 

Thanks be to God for this new day, may it be full of beauty and grace!

 

The Wake Up Call image via WikiMedia Commons

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Garry WillsSacrifice and Belief

A Feature Review of

Why Priests? A Failed Tradition

Garry Wills

Hardcover: Viking, 2013
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Joseph Krall

 

Three days before the publication of Why Priests? A Failed Tradition (Viking, 2013), Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. His action comes after decades of dissent within the Catholic Church and massive revelations of abuse from within the Catholic hierarchy. At such a time, Garry Wills’s question – “Why do we need priests at all?” – is particularly pointed, and particularly relevant.

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Jacques Berlinerblau - How to be SecularWho is Fit for the Secular Kingdom?

A Review of

How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom

Jacques Berlinerblau

Hardback: HMH Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Matthew J. Kaul

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. I listened to a lot of Christian rock. One of my favorite bands was Audio Adrenaline. Audio A’s second album, and the one that introduced me to them, was called Don’t Censor Me. Listening to it now is a bewildering experience.

 

The album’s theme — remember, this is rock music — is a defense of what many would call “traditional values.” It’s full of rock-n-roll protest songs that call for a defense of the Christian family-values establishment. And no small amount of the Christian rock that I listened to (which is to say, the most popular Christian rock) took this form: in addition to several tracks on Don’t Censor Me, songs by the Newsboys and dc talk expressed similar sentiments.

 

What concepts help us understand such strange juxtapositions as rock and conservative politics? What’s the best way to understand what it means to headbang to lyrics like “You can take God out of my school / you can make me listen to you. / You can take God out of the pledge / but you can’t take God out of my head”? Who was I, as I was doing so?

 

In Jacques Berlinerblau’s terms, I would be a good little “revivalist.” What’s a revivalist? It’s tough to say, because he never defines the category. He’s not using it in the tradition sense of someone who works for or participates in a revival meeting. For Berlinerblau, the “Revival” (both terms are always capitalized, because they’re really scary) is simply the fact that religion hasn’t died off yet:

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My November Guest
Robert Frost

Robert FrostMy Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

 

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

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The Ladder of St. Augustine
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth LongfellowSaint Augustine! well hast thou said
   That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
   Beneath our feet each deed of shame!

 

All common things, each day’s events,
   That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasures and our discontents,
   Are rounds by which we may ascend.

 

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I’m very intrigued by this trailer video for this new novel that came out this week:

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel

Vaddey Ratner

Hardback: Simon and Schuster, 2012
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]





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Liberal Arts for the Christian LifeGlorifying the King

Liberal Arts for the Christian Life,

edited by Jeffry C. Davis & Philip G. Ryken.

Paperback: Crossway, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel

“When you see a book with Leland Ryken’s name, buy it; ask questions later.”  For the past 25 years this has been my mantra whenever anyone has wondered about books for the humanities.  Leland Ryken’s 1981 volume The Christian Imagination brought together essential essays linking a Christianly coherent liberal arts viewpoint for many.  Ryken’s small, exceptional 1985 introduction to a Christian interpretation of literature, Windows to the World: Literature from a Christian Perspective, stoked my own literary fires, lighting the torches of many of my students.  Ryken’s study Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure still stands as the most direct, accessible work on the twin subjects ever written.  Of course, his books on Bible teaching, the Puritans, Scripture as literature, and Christian interpretation of the classics add to the depth of any learner’s understanding from the pen of a world class scholar.  Over the last decade, Ryken has committed his attention to Bible translation.  The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (2002) gives explanation for his oversight of The English Standard Version (2001) including the first ever Literary Study Bible (2007).  Lest one would think Ryken simply a writer, he has spent 40 years at Wheaton College training students to properly understand English literature from a Christian worldview.  Consider the multiplicity of students who have had the privilege of Ryken’s literary erudition and expertise.  How many homes and churches have a broadened understanding of life having sat under Ryken’s tutelage?!

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John Leax - Recluse FreedomSomething About the Present Moment

A Review of

Recluse Freedom: Poems

John Leax.

Paperback: WordFarm, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by J. Ted Voigt
If you take New York State Bicycle Route 19 four miles north of Houghton College you arrive in the town of Fillmore, NY.  Once known only as Mouth of the Creek, it was later renamed for President Millard Fillmore[1]; this is the place where the poetry of John Leax happens.  It’s a small town with a Methodist church and post office, which can be found on any map.  What cannot be found on those maps, however, is the other place of Leax’s poetry: a place called Flat Mountain.

Flat Mountain, as far as I can tell, is more of a state of mind than a geographic feature.  Leax attributes the idea to Thoreau, but if Thoreau ever mentioned Flat Mountain, he didn’t do so on the internet.  Here’s the quote from the beginning of the fifth and most compelling section of Recluse Freedom, a section titled simply “Flat Mountain”:  “Existing nowhere and everywhere, it rises, as Thoreau said, where ever one is enabled to apprehend within the perpetual instilling of illusion the real.”

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Amy Julia Becker -  A Good and Perfect GiftComing to Terms with Life.

A Review of

A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny.

Amy Julia Becker.

Paperback: Bethany House, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Heather Grady.

Her birth story is like most others: the usual excitement and pain resulting in a 5 pound 5 oz daughter – Penelope Truesdell Becker. It is only after the family is called and mother recovering that the life changing words are uttered, “The doctors think Penny has Down syndrome.” And so begins A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny, the memoir of Amy Julia Becker, mother of Penny.

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Putting in the Seed
Robert Frost

You come to fetch me from my work to-night
When supper’s on the table, and we’ll see Continue Reading…