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Rodge (Ontario, Canada)
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The Rise Of Christianity
The Rise Of Christianity
by Rodney Stark
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.62
40 used & new from CDN$ 7.12

5.0 out of 5 stars A game-changer and a classic, June 29 2015
Rodney Stark's sociological study of how Christianity grew in the Roman Empire has become a sort of classic, maybe an open secret, at least in some circles. This book studies different aspects of Christian growth, showing how a steady 40% per decade growth rate could have resulted in huge numbers of Christians in three centuries. He looks at how the role of women would have given Christianity an advantage over paganism. The imperative to love and care for one another would have given Christianity a decided advantage in times of plague. He also looks at how martyrdom could have played a role in sealing commitment. He doesn't get into theological or spiritual reasons for Christianity's spread, which is perhaps the downside of the book - obviously he did not intend to get into that.

This is an extremely provocative and enlightening book that does not accept the general assumptions or ideas of the past but rather provides some discipline and focus to thinking. This approach has the advantage of filtering out some prejudice as well. Highly recommended reading

Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours
Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours
by Robert C Pozen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.94
37 used & new from CDN$ 17.22

4.0 out of 5 stars Common-sense ideas and the need for discipline predominate, June 29 2015
This is not earth shattering stuff, just a lot of common sense ideas mixed with the reminder that discipline is what it will take to get it all done. Not a must-read if you're well-versed in productivity, but a good reminder that the point is to get the right work done, not face time or maximizing hours. If you have a family, you should make a point of making sure you're around when they're growing up.

What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster
What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster
by Jonathan V. Last
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.94
31 used & new from CDN$ 2.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining book on a gloomy subject., June 15 2015
Jonathan Last entertains us while providing a gloomy picture of our future without progeny. He provides a lot of statistics to support his conclusions, though he may be misleading at certain points. Perhaps most remarkable, he doesn't provide a lot of hope for motivating higher reproduction in the future, other than religion. The secularized, it seems, will not be motivated to have more than 1 or 2 babies. If we're still around by 2050 we'll have a better idea of how right he is.

Calvin
Calvin
by F. Bruce Gordon
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from CDN$ 56.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent balanced biography of Calvin, June 15 2015
This review is from: Calvin (Hardcover)
This biography does about as well as can be expected in teasing out and telling a nuanced but compelling account of the life of a great man. He was not an easy man to like that is clear; nonetheless his towering intellect, carried forward through time in his commentaries and of course the Institutes, provided a foundation for many Protestant projects up to this day.

This book avoids making Calvin out to be a saint or a demon, primarily by putting him in context. He did not tower like a colossus over Geneva but rather had to fight pretty much every day for what he thought was right. This fighting nature of course led to some unsavoury events and we are shown where Calvin treated people very badly, as well as his affectionate side.

The litmus test for a Calvin biography might be how it handles the execution of Servetus. This book gives probably the best contextualized account. Calvin does not look good in the incident, but at least we understand what happened. As so often, Calvin's entanglements in the politics of the day led to him endorsing what today would seem barbaric. And of course, Calvin did not have the last word, as was so often the case.

This book did not make me a fan of Calvin, but now at least I understand him and his times a little bit better.

Reading Genesis 1-2
Reading Genesis 1-2
by J. Daryl Charles
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.39
25 used & new from CDN$ 18.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Strong presentation of various interpretations of Genesis 1 & 2, June 11 2015
This review is from: Reading Genesis 1-2 (Paperback)
This book focuses on interpretation issues of Gen 1-2. Issues of science only come up tangentially - this book focuses on the text itself. We get five interpretations and each interpreter responds to the others. All the presentations are very good or excellent and the book does not give them category labels. Todd Beall's view is obviously a "young-earth" view but the others fit somewhere on a spectrum. Tremper Longman is theistic evolution/evolutionary creation. John Walton seems to try to side-step the whole age/evolution question and the other two are old-earth or make allowances for that interpretation. I got a pretty good sense of the strengths and weaknesses of each case in this book, but I wouldn't say this book changed my mind as to which interpretation I prefer. This is an excellent book moving forward an important evangelical conversation.

Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence from Science and the Bible
Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence from Science and the Bible
by Alan Hayward
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.29
7 used & new from CDN$ 33.29

4.0 out of 5 stars A decent contribution to the creation evolution debate, June 1 2015
Alan Hayward's foray into the creation and evolution debate probably won't provide shocking new insights to anyone. He stakes out an old-earth creationist position, first attacking Darwinism from the mouths of nontheist scientists, then attacking the "young-earth" positiion from the geological evidence. His final summation is reasonable enough. Without knowing more about the debate I can't warmly embrace or reject his position, but as a statement of a position it is quite ok. It mainly depends on the attacking of alternatives, so that is it's main weakness. As far as interpretations of Genesis 1 are concerned, Hayward provides some novelty but he doesn't provide much evidence for his parenthetical idea, which might be a nifty solution to the conundrum if true.

Up from Slavery
Up from Slavery
by Booker T. Washington
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.50
78 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring autobiography, May 25 2015
This review is from: Up from Slavery (Paperback)
This is a historically significant account which clearly takes a deliberately non-confrontational approach to the problems of white-black relations in the south. Washington puts an optimistic spin on most things which hindsight clearly does not justify. Nonetheless, Washington's character itself seems to be unquestionably strong as he finds his way to success along a path that was clearly not paved with gold - he was not given a silver spoon. His story typifies the black struggle to succeed in America with its significant disadvantages. Obviously many blacks were not as successful as Booker T. His story manages to inspire nonetheless.

The later chapters of the book have more public relations and less human interest than the first part of his narrative. It is in the selected quotes from newspapers and the like where the political and financial aims of this book become more apparent.

Thieves' Road: The Black Hills Betrayal and Custer's Path to Little Bighorn
Thieves' Road: The Black Hills Betrayal and Custer's Path to Little Bighorn
Price: CDN$ 9.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating background of conflicts with Sioux in USA, May 20 2015
Once again, the title of a Terry Mort book might mislead you into thinking you're picking up an action-packed historical adventure (see The Wrath of Cochise). Once again, though, we have a background study which is fascinating in its own way, but hardly has the character of a narrative. The main events of the book are Custer's trips into the Black Hills looking for gold. Not much really happened on these trips, although they incidentally did find gold. What's more significant is the motivation for the trip and of course the consequences for the Sioux of the discovery of gold. Mort covers the angles very well, and I think if you give him time, you'll find this background study well worth the read

Hitler 1889 To 1938 Hubris
Hitler 1889 To 1938 Hubris
by Ian Kershaw
Edition: Hardcover
12 used & new from CDN$ 24.14

5.0 out of 5 stars A well-balanced, readable and convincing account, May 13 2015
This first volume of Kershaw's Hitler biography is not pleasant reading, but it is certainly readable and enlightening. This first volume takes us from Hitler's birth to his regime's demilitarization of the Rhineland. Kershaw walks a fine line between showing Hitler's importance to the process and also how factors outside of his control enabled him to rise to the top in post WWI Germany. To some extent only Hitler could have done what he did, but it could only have happened in the situation Germany was in at that time. The economy was not working for most people, the governments of the day were inept and the conservative nationalist elites were actively undermining the democracy of the Weimar Republic.

Lots of worthwhile analysis - if you think you know Hitler, this volume will give you some surprises. Of course, if you want to know more, this volume is an excellent place to start

Two Kingdoms, Two Loyalties: Mennonite Pacifism in Modern America
Two Kingdoms, Two Loyalties: Mennonite Pacifism in Modern America
by Perry Bush
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A political and cultural study of Mennonite evolution on non-resistance/pacifism, May 4 2015
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This is a fascinating study of the evolution of Mennonite relationship with the government, particularly in connection with war. Bush carefully maps out the path from the end of WWI to the Mennonite response to Vietnam, showing how Mennonite identity came to coalesce around their identity as a "Peace church" particularly as the more liberal wing jettisoned visible markers of division and as the Mennonites became a less rural people. The book's main weakness is that it is too much a political and social history and does not explore religious motivations very well. The book does not really address Mennonites on their own terms but looks at them as a social and political object of curiousity. This is a significant limitation rather than an undermining fault, however. This book is still tremendously valuable as a political, social and cultural study.

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