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D Glover (northern bc, canada)

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God's Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible
God's Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible
by Vaughan Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.91
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What in the world is God doing?, Oct. 12 2010
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This is a good, solid introduction to a redemptive-historical reading of the whole Bible. Often, liberals tend to dismiss Scripture as irrelevant for our modern day except maybe for a few of Jesus' moral teachings. In reaction, conservatives tend to mine the Bible for quotes and boil it down to distill doctrines to shoot down the liberal's misuse and abuse of Scripture. While there is a way to do this properly, in such pursuits it can often be forgotten that the Bible is not a systematic theology or philosophy book or even a moral guide, though, as I said, rightly understood, it does all these things too. If the Bible is taken on its own terms, we see it is, above all, the story of what God is doing in history first to create and then, after humanity's rebellion, to redeem and renew the world and bring it back into submission to him and harmony within. This book is an accessible introduction to understanding the Bible as one coherent story. In writing this book, Robert's has done a masterful job of distilling Goldsworthy's lengthier writings that can intimidate many would-be readers. While I don't agree with all of his eschatology ("end-times" or last things), this is still valuable for the discerning reader who is as yet unfamiliar with viewing the Bible as a single story of redemptive history.

If you want something that goes into more depth but is still fairly accessible, try Goldsworthy Trilogy: Gospel and Kingdom, Gospel and Wisdom, The Gospel in Revelations or The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament.

Reformed Confessions Harmonized
Reformed Confessions Harmonized
by Joel Beeke
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 49.00
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4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Resource, Oct. 1 2010
This is a harmonization of arguably the seven most important and widely used/accepted reformed confessions and catechisms. By the very nature of the work, it is utilitarian. What I mean is that each of these seven presentations of the reformed faith is better read in its entirety and straight through if you want to understand what the original writers were trying to accomplish, what they were battling against and the over all tone and spirit of the works. That way you get the continuity and flow of the particular document and doctrinal system. However, this tool is meant for those who would like a handy way to compare each of these seven statements of faith with each of the others on a particular point of doctrine and it does this very well. If you find yourself flipping through various books of confessions and catechisms with a small army of bookmarks and a ratty note book, this is the answer to your frustrations. However, if you would like to read any or all of these great statements of the faith all the way through, get them individually. In this format, there is too much repetition and skipping around (again, not a fault, just that this is a book designed with a very specific purpose in mind).

Along with the helpful annotated bibliography and introduction, it might be helpful if future additions included footnotes as to where in other confessions these same doctrines might be found (like in the Genevan Catechism, Luther's Catechism, the Anglican 39 Articles, the 2nd London Baptist Confession of 1689, etc.). Of course it would be nice to see an updated bibliography too.

Notes From The Tilt A Whirl
Notes From The Tilt A Whirl
by N. D. Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.39
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5.0 out of 5 stars The world like you've never seen it before...but should have, Aug. 31 2010
Nathan Wilson has written one of the best books I've read in a long while, and, with a few notable exceptions, I try to only read good books. This is an aesthetic and experiential case for the existence of the God of the Christian faith and his interaction with and permeation of all reality. Nate looks at same world that we all do but through a set of eyes which are carefully and consciously working to retain childlike wonder instead of exchanging it somewhere along the way for the dull grey gauze that most of us have been trained to look through, the gauze which renders everything as a product of random chance and meaningless accident, stripping it all of its inherent magic.

This is an apologetic, a defence of the faith, but it is not a typical one and it is much more than that as well. Wilson's book reads more like a prose-poetry journal of someone who recently woke up from a deep sleep only to find he is inhabiting the mind and body of an overactive 6 year old but without losing any of the knowledge his adult experience has acquired. When Wilson looks at the world, he can't help but ask how such a bizarre place could have come into existence, and what kind of force must have been behind its formation. The finger prints are everywhere. Wilson challenges the reader to really live in the world with their eyes wide open and all their senses tuned to what everything is saying all around us at every second of our existence...there must be something behind it all and that something must be powerful beyond our wildest imaginings...also, they must have a really good sense of humour. There truly is magic everywhere.

While reading this book, I found myself spending more time with my children as well as paying much closer attention to their conversations with each other and with me. I've been saying "yes" to them more and "no" or "not right now" less than usual for things that involve me expending effort when I think I don't have the energy...and their energy ends up being contagious. I think if the spirit of this book is taken to heart by moms and dads reading it, the world of childhood will be a better place for kids and parents.

I think that trying to get into specifics about the content of the book would turn even a positive review into something that only takes away from the book, a little like a dry prose exegesis of a poetic song lyric. My only advice is to get this book and experience it (not merely read it) and as you do, take a page from Nate's journal and try to see the world through his eyes for a while. It's the same place you've been this whole time but it's likely not merely what you thought it was.

A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.17
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Happiness ending in regret, Aug. 12 2010
This review is from: A Moveable Feast (Paperback)
I appreciated this memoir of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley and their son Bumby, as they experienced Paris (and the occasional excursion to Austria and Spain) in the late 20s. In typical Hemingway fashion, he can make you feel as though you are right there in Paris, seeing what he saw, all the while describing it with sparse and plain prose.

There are many honest and unflattering sketches of other ex-pats Hemingway either knew or befriended whilst there, including Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others, and a shining description of the goodness Hemingway attributed to Ezra Pound.

This seems like the best time in Hemingway's life, when he and his truest love were poor and happy and in love, and they shared their little lives with their young son. But it ends with foreboding and tragedy, when Hemingway regretfully and painfully describes the lead up to his love affair with what was to become his second wife, and looking back, wishes the thing that he and Hadley had in Paris could have lasted forever. It could have, Hem.

For this reader, knowing already what was to come, even the joys of Paris Hemingway describes are flavoured with melancholy. While I can appreciate this work, it would be a stretch to say I really enjoyed it to any great extent. However, anyone with an ounce of imagination can learn a good deal about Paris in the years between the wars, and anyone with an ounce of humility can glean a good deal from Hemingway's character strengths and weaknesses.

Islands in the Stream
Islands in the Stream
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.89
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Good, the Bad and the Mediocre..., Aug. 12 2010
This review is from: Islands in the Stream (Paperback)
The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre... that order. I'd probably give this book 3.5 stars, somewhere between it was good and it was OK, if I could.

The first of the three sections of this novel is truly good. It introduces us to Thomas Hudson, a painter and a thinly veiled Hemingway, and his life on the island of Bimini. Hudson, like Hemingway, is an artist who is serious about his craft and about his work ethic. We learn of his life among the characters of the island, including the locals and his friends. The richest part of all is the visit of his three sons (by his first two wives) and the good times they share. There is good character development of all three boys, each so different from the others and each showing different parts of their father's personality. And there are the friends and servants of Hudson's, whom he loves and who play important parts in his son's lives, often where it is difficult for a father to enter. There is a tense shark attack and an epic battle with a monster marlin by the middle son, and there is a great deal of psychology of boys and men woven richly throughout. Hudson is a father who can't seem to love all-out, whole-heartedly, even though his sons need and want it. The feelings are there but the wiring in Hudson's head and heart shorts out a little and never conducts his deepest, truest self to his boys. Tragically, Hudson learns of the death of his two youngest sons and their mother (his second wife) at the close of the story.

The middle section of the book certainly has some good description and some realistic conversation, but overall it is one running conversation after another, mostly in the context of a bar where Hudson and his companions (who come and go) are drinking heavily, about very little of any importance. Hudson has just gotten wind of his first son's death (a pilot in WWII) and ultimately this accounts for the drinking but probably also for the attempts by Hudson to avoid any topic of significance in his conversations with others. Hudson's first wife and the only woman he ever deeply loved shows up and they have a rendezvous before Hudson can work up the fortitude to tell her of their son's death. They grieve and love together and she has to leave. All in all, a draggy and hopeless section of this story that doesn't live up to the first and last sections.

The last section follows Hudson and his crew as they conduct anti-submarine activities from his small ship (or large boat) in and around Cuba. The story is a game of cat and mouse in which Hudson and his crew is the cat and the surviving crew members from a German U-boat is the mouse. Hemingway builds tension in the hunt and between Hudson's crew members well. There are some really exciting moments and some truly touching interaction between Hudson and his crew, as they must try to overcome their differences and dislikes of each other to band together to find and fight the enemy. After the middle section this is a welcome change...there is actually stuff happening here, a plot. But it does pail in comparison to the richness of the opening section of this book.

All in all, I was glad I read this but the middle section prevents me from liking this book with anything close to whole-heartedness. And if you are someone who enjoys happy endings, none of the three sections of this book end that way. The reader is left thinking that likely, as the sons went, so the father goes. There is much tragedy and hopelessness in this book, which too is a fair reflection of Hemingway's own life.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
by Naomi Klein
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.19
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Shlock Doctor, Aug. 12 2010
As one reviewer has stated, this is "an important and well researched book". Unfortunately, that is as far as I can go with my praise of this imaginative fiction. That Klein has done a good job of research is clear and that this is an important book is evident from its impressive sales. However, this book is a convoluted mixture of reported historical fact and massive imagination. I am coming from a paleo-conservative, economic libertarian perspective (not finding the neo-cons to be either neo or truly con). I have no trouble admitting the greed, under-handedness and power-mongering of much of the political and military-industrial establishment and have no doubt that Klein's reporting of much of their greasy dealings is spot on. However, I take exception to her demonizing of the free market and its advocates, as though greed and power are vices unique to free market capitalism. If we did historical analysis by total tonnage, those who agree with Klein's socialist/communist/statist bias would be found responsible for far more human, social and economic carnage than the free market, any way you slice it.

I'm not defending the likes of Clinton, Rumsfeld, Bush, Chenney, et al, because Klein is right in saying that they have done much harm. However, none of these men were true sons of free market economics, as Klein's own book shows. Such actors were guilty of one intervention after another, both domestically and abroad. Their brand of intervention was free market in name only. There was nothing free about a market and a populace that was manipulated from the get go under their direction.

Klein has gathered and restated facts to a dizzying degree in The Shock Doctrine and I did learn a lot. However, her slip (slop?) shows when she attempts to draw conclusions from all the data. Thankfully she is not a policy maker. Unfortunately, I fear some policy wonks will be convinced by her elaborate fairy tale (certainly many amazon reviewers have been). What she has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt is that people are greedy and self-interested by nature and that if you give them too much power, they will hurt a lot of people to help themselves. However, we didn't need Naomi Klein to tell us that. The framers of the Constitution of the United States of America knew this far better and believed this far more than any modern day publishing phenom and that is why they advocated a truly free market with a strong governance by law and a very limited, very small government whose purpose was to protect the lives of individuals, their property and their freedom to employ themselves and their property as they so chose. The founding fathers knew people were self-interested and so they recognized that an economic system of individual freedom and ownership would automatically balance out people's competing self-interests, all within the bounds of a law structure that would prevent people from harming each other or stealing each other's property. In Klein's world, a big juicy government that controls everything has become the ultimate self interested party who crushes the enterprising individual by passing laws that repeatedly allow the state to plunder whomever and whenever they like. This is happening in socialist, communist and so-called democratic countries and has been for a long time.

It should be noted that Klein comes from a long line of left wing socialist and communist activists and politicians and is married to an Al Jazeera talk show host. Oddly enough, she seams to hate the free-market, industrialized, globalizing west and yet she chooses to live here rather than in banana republics, militant Islamic states, or Cuba, the nations she champions in her writing. At minimum, this should tell us that Klein comes by her extreme left wing heritage honestly and that she is anything but a dispassionate, balanced and objective reporter...and not a little hypocritical.

Klein obviously believes that Milton Freidman is the devil incarnate and that from his study on the University of Chicago campus, he pre-wrote the economic history of the past 40 years, using his army of demons (graduates) to go forth and do his dirty work. Friedman was not the all-powerful devil she makes him out to be and she reports again and again in her book that nation after nation who followed the Chicago school held back in areas (with some it was the energy or mining sectors, with some it was the infrastructure construction, with some health care, with some it was electricity and other services, with some it was the manufacturing or automotive sectors). This ought to lead any reader to the conclusion that Chicago economics was never really and truly tried. What failed was a sort of statist-Chicago hybrid, which was nothing like a truly free market, but Klein never considers the fact that it might have been the less than whole-hearted commitment to free market principles that caused the problems.

And Freidman was hardly a purist free-market economist, in reality. Any student of the Austrian School of Economics can tell you that the Chicago School is heavy on intervention and just can't resist sticking their fingers into the pie over and over and over...every pie they came across, whether artificially controlling inflation, arbitrarily printing money, or manipulating markets (say, precious metals). True free market economists would see the IMF, the Federal Reserve bank, and other national and global financial manipulation tools disbanded and would advocate a truly free trading climate both domestically and globally, something the Chicago school has yet to really do in theory or in policy.

To summarize, Klein gets enough historical data between the covers to make her meta-narrative sound compelling, but it's too tidy, like Uncle Milt held the strings to the world's politicians, economists and power brokers and made them all dance to his Windy City waltz. And it's naïve. There is very little understanding and differentiation of various economic schools of thought in her assessments and conclusions, no nuance, just huge sloppy brush strokes that paint every non-socialistic economic ideology with the same indiscriminate brush. This is a pretty engrossing read but in much the same way that a convoluted and complex conspiracy theory fiction is: with just enough plausibility to make it believable...almost.

For a clear-headed and concise refutation of Kleinian (and Keynesian) thinking, try Frederic Bastiat's "The Law" The Law by Frederic Bastiat.

The Law by Frederic Bastiat
The Law by Frederic Bastiat
by Frederic Bastiat
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.33
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Urgent read for every politician and voter!, Aug. 11 2010
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The Law is a refutation of the systems of socialism, communism and government interventionism written prior to it's publication or since. It is a logical, well-reasoned, effectively argued refutation which, in the opinion of this reader, truly does expose the unjust foundations of these economic systems and show them for the unworkable, freedom-crushing and ultimately counter-productive models that they are. All forms of statist government are based on a naïve understanding of human nature, thinking only (some) individuals are subject to corruption and not understanding that the inherent corruption of human nature only deepens with the power granted at the organized state level. This is a true classic of economics and politics and deserves to be universally read not only by all those in government but by every voter as well.

But more than just a negative refutation, Bastiat makes the positive case that the law has only one purpose: to preserve justice. Bastiat convincingly bases this assertion on self evident natural law. In order to preserve and ensure justice, the law must protect the safety of persons, their property, and their freedom to make choices as they see fit. Therefore the law's purpose is negative, serving as a protection against violence, coercion and theft. The law is not to be a positive force which prescribes behaviors, even if those behaviors are generally agreed to be good things.

In opposition to this limited role of the law, Bastiat shows that in socialist/communist states, the government has expanded the purpose and role of the law to include things it was never intended to. In order to do this, the government passes laws that extend far beyond the goal of justice and the law becomes grossly prescriptive rather than penal; the law legalizes behaviours for the state that, if they were perpetrated by individuals, would be considered theft and coercion. Some examples are things like social healthcare, (for example, health-conscious citizens paying for the medical bills of drug users, smokers, alcoholics and those who drive recklessly and don't wear their seatbelts), social welfare (those gainfully employed, paying with their taxes the living expenses of those who perennially refuse to work), forbidding certain behaviours because those who happen to be in power don't approve of them (certain religious practices, certain businesses because they would put a state sanctioned/owned company out of business, etc.). Basiat calls this legalized plunder. He shows convincingly that socialist and communist nations simply pass laws that make it acceptable to do at the state level what would be clearly seen as an injustice at the individual level. Legalized plunder is the correct term for the practices of wealth transfer payments and redistribution programs. Such policies make the law and the state that enforces it the worst enemy of the individuals who make up a nation. Contra this, Bastiat argues the true purpose of the law is not to enforce charity but simply to protect citizens and to ensure justice. As an aside, Bastiat is not saying there is no place for charity. He is simply saying that for charity to be charity, it must come of the free choice of individuals and not from a state-enforced policy. In the latter case, charity is no longer charity but enforced robbery (what if my state-enforced "charity" is going toward a cause that is diametrically opposed to my religious convictions or personal principles?).

Basiat's thinking penetrates through the jargon used by socialists and interventionists to show that, at its heart, such systems are based on an untenable and irrational belief in human nature. Basiat observes that politicians and policy makers place blind trust in the masses to make a wise choice of who to elect, and then once those politicians are elected, they take the reigns and make decisions on behalf of the people because the people cannot be trusted to know what is best for them. You can't have it both ways...wise enough to elect the right people but too dumb to understand what would make for the best economic and punitive policies. Thus, socialist/communist tendencies are alive and well within all of the world's democracies and so-called republics, where the social elites think they are ordained to be the saviours of the common masses.

Bastiat's book is a clear, concise and effective refutation of the form of government that all western democracies have become and a call to return to an era of small, limited government whose job it is to simply ensure people's physical safety from violence and people's free use of their resources as they see fit, punishing the robber and the thug. Though it was written in the mid-1800s, it is even more crucial today, in our era of huge government debt and deficits, massive bureaucracies, stifling taxation, and greedy and power-hungry politicians who bill themselves as the saviours of society. Sadly the state has become the robbers and thugs, succeeding beyond the wildest imaginations of the most successful criminals because the state can write laws which sanction their evil and greedy behaviours.

The Law can be read in one sitting but really should be pondered for some time afterward with one eye on the media, listening carefully to the news about the latest proposed government program or the cries of the manifold special interest lobby groups, both of whom see it as their purpose to take the hard earned money of and privately held resources of individuals and use it for their own pet projects and to further their own ideologies.

Old Man and the Sea
Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.87
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hemmingway and the critics, Aug. 5 2010
This review is from: Old Man and the Sea (Paperback)
This is my favourite Hemmingway work. I read it once in school and then again just recently. Some reviewers here have discussed the struggle and the characters, still others have spoken of the book's merits. I will say it is classic Hemmingway, with solid, tangible descriptions without ornament. In this work, Hemmingway simultaneously acheives economy and artistry, something few can do and no one I know of can do better.

But is this a metaphor? I had some fun thinking of a metaphor that might have subconsciously possessed this book while the author was struggling through a difficult time in his vocation...

Of course Hemmingway is Santiago in some part as all writers must put something of themselves into their characters or they aren't real. Perhaps the sea is life, fishing is writing, the marlin is a story, and the sharks are the critics, and money from fishing is, well, money form writing. The writer sometimes has spells of bad luck and unfruitful attempts at creating a story. People say the writer is unlucky or their career is done. But the writer struggles faithfully, attempting to create successfully again, having tasted success and being an adept at his craft, believing it is only a matter of time before things go his way again. And he needs to eat. Then, on a day when one expects only the familiar bad luck, all the while trying to maintain optimism, the author gets a bite and the possibility seems grand. After a long, hard fought battle which brings the writer to the end of himself several times, a great story is completed. The author is exhausted but relieved that his block is over and his luck has changed. He knows in his bones this is a great work. But then, as he is bringing it to market, the critics start to circle and pick his work apart. The author and the work he has struggled so long to create are inseparable. During the writing, at times the manuscript seemed like his enemy, but now it is a part of him, and when the critics attack his work, they attack him. He attempts to defend his work, sacrificing himself for it's sake, but there are more critics than he can handle and he can't deal with them all at once. They shred the work he has fought so hard to produce and in the end, only the few who really knew him in his prime see the prize for what it is and their respect for him is renewed and deepened. But the author knows the work is good, no matter what people might say. He must be able to stand before his own conscience with honesty. And despite all the attacks and the fact that his work is shreaded, he can sleep at night again with the tired satisfaction that he has shaken off his bad luck and he can really create again.

Or perhaps the great fish is the literary work, the fight is the struggle to produce a truly great work, and the sharks are a combination of the personal demons the author fights and his own exacting editing process. He finishes, not with a fat and fleshy prize that will bring good money in the market, but with a bare bones work that maintains the enormity of the scope yet with the economy that results from flogging oneself until every line has nothing left but what is absolutely required to tell the story. In this work is not the triumph of a happy ending but the more mature triumph of survival in the midst of tragedy.

It's a fun exercise, but ultimately, I think the metaphor in this book is there only because all good stories reflect real life. I don't think Hemmingway tried to write about "real life" and needed a vehicle by which to do it. I think he wanted to write about an old man, a boy, a big fish, the sea, and a great struggle, and I think he did it very well. I think he did it so well, we all see ourselves in the old man and our lives in the sea.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Hardcover
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10 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A new retelling of an old revision, Aug. 5 2010
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In the interests of full disclosure, I will say from the start that I am a Christian who is committed to the historical veracity and authority of the New Testament account of the life of Jesus, the Christ. I realize that this commitment inherently colours my perspective on both the Bible and the book I am currently reviewing but of course no more than Philip Pullman's admitted and overt anti-theism colours his take on the first four books of the New Testament (and the rest for that matter). There is a popular belief out there that says atheists approach religion and the Bible on a rational, objective, neutral basis where as subscribers to the faith are subjective and irrational. The foolishness of this can be seen on the face of it. I readily admit that Christians don't embrace or examine their faith with pure rationalist logic...far from it. However they are not devoid of logic either and the atheist embraces his or her secular-humanism with every bit as much faith as the most devout saint posses.

Also, right off the start, I want to acknowledge that I am aware that the cover of Pullman's book states loud and clear that, "this is a story" as if that disclaimer preemptively answers any criticisms to his reinvention of the gospel narratives. I realize this is a fiction, Pullman's own version. However, since he is presuming to deconstruct and reinvent something as pivotal and as immense as the life of the historical Jesus, he cannot duck out of criticism simply by saying, "hey, I told you this is a story". the book.

Unlike some of the reviews I've read, I was not wowed by the ingenious originality of this tale, mainly because there was very little originality to be found. In fact, much like my experience of The DaVinci Code, as I was reading I couldn't help thinking at least once a chapter how old and tired this all sounded. Like Dan Brown's shameless robbery of the central premise and many of the details of the authors of The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, Pullman turns the "de-mythologizing", pseudo-scholarship of Liberal theologians of the past two centuries into a fictional account of the life of Jesus Christ and the origins of the Christian religion. In this project he proceeds along the familiar lines of separating the supposed tiny kernel of historical Jesus (just a good Jewish moral teacher) from the vast and distorted post-Christ mythologizations of those who used Jesus as an opportunity to construct a cult to challenge the existing power structures and replace it with their own. Like a one man Jesus Seminar, Pullman seeks to sift out the probable historical events and teachings from all supposed glosses, inventions, edits, and manifold additions of post-Christ church leadership. The literary device he uses to accomplish this in a narrative work is to divide the historical Jesus into twin brothers: Jesus, a human, red-blooded, honest Jewish teacher of the golden rule with a keen perception of human nature, and Christ, his underhanded, lowlife, back stabbing, power-hungry alter-ego of a brother whom one can nevertheless identify with. I think this is the only original part of this book.

Pullman rewrites his way chronologically through the gospel story, systematically attacking one cardinal orthodoxy after another, from the virgin birth (a naïve Mary consents to sleep with a town boy because he tells her he is an angel messenger from God and she has been chosen for a special honour), to Jesus' miracles (which are just acts of kindness or bold statements that the growing excitement of the crowds turn into rumours and stories of the miraculous), to the death and resurrection (the body was taken by those who wished to perpetuate the stories of Jesus divinity in order to use them to accomplish their own political ends), and many things in between. Again, nothing particularly new here as the gospels were long ago sifted by those wishing to retain the title `Christian' but were embarrassed by all the super-natural baggage and salvation language that such a handle brought with it.

The true center of this book is the prayer of Jesus in the garden just prior to his arrest and trial. Far from the emotional struggle of the biblical account, where Jesus, knowing his vicarious death was hard upon him, desires in his humanity to avoid the pain and separation, but trusts his heavenly Father and famously declares "nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done", here Jesus' last prayer is an angry outburst of frustration at the silence and indifference of a God he has finally lost faith in. To call this a thinly veiled projection of Pullman's own feelings toward the God of the Bible would be gross understatement. It is yet one more example of the two controlling tenets of atheism: 1) there is no God, and 2) I hate him.

I must take exception to another reviewer's opinion as the prose in this book was anything but lyric and I believe Pullman himself would agree with me. Due to the nature of this story the plain, unadorned prose suited the genre better than flowery description which one never typically finds in mythology or in the Bible (but for the poetic books). From my perspective, however, the style was the only strength of this book and if zero stars was an option on Amazon, that is what I would have rated this book. Strictly considered, I found this to be a well written (from a technical perspective, genre constraints considered) fictionalization of some worn-out secularist liberal theological railings against the historicity of the Bible's accounts of Jesus life and works. That is to say, it was like an incorrectly balanced ledger, where all the numbers and totals are nevertheless written with admirable penmanship. But however aesthetically pleasing the handwriting might be, the sums will leave you in trouble with the tax man when he audits you.

This book is the rebellious attempt to remove redemption from the redemption narrative by a man who refuses to admit his own spiritual bankruptcy and need of the Jesus Christ he is trying to rid history of. But one recalls the age old maxim, that the Christian faith is an anvil that has worn out many hammers. For those wishing to read something from an intelligent pen that takes a very different perspective on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, try Malcolm Muggerige's JESUS: THE MAN WHO LIVES., G.K. Chesterton's EVERLASTING MAN, THE, C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity or, N.T. Wright's Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense orThe Original Jesus: The Life and Vision of a Revolutionary.

The Club of Queer Trades
The Club of Queer Trades
by G. K. Chesterton
Edition: Paperback
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4.0 out of 5 stars Truth is stranger than fiction, May 31 2010
In one of the most memorable statements in this collection of half a dozen short detective stories, Basil Grant argues against his detective wannabe brother, Rupert, that truth is stranger than fiction out of necessity since fiction is a creation of the minds of men. Chesterton implies that since truth is a creation of the mind of God, a mind unfathomable to men, it must therefore be stranger to our thinking than the fictions we human beings can create.

I can't help thinking that, of all the people creating fiction, Chesterton was one of the very best and his fictions some of the strangest. This collection of six short stories all relates to the mysterious Club of Queer Trades, where a person must not only invent a brand new trade but must earn their living at the unique occupation. While not as good as his Father Brown stories or "The Man Who Was Thursday" (in my opinion), Chesterton's first attempts at detective fiction are very clever and much fun to read. They are at once a spoof of detective fiction and a brilliant example of it, something probably only Chesterton could have acheived. If you can find an edition with his essay on the justification of detective fiction, it is also a gem.

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