Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review: To Light a Fire on the Earth

In To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age (Image, 2017), Bishop Robert Barron, popular radio evangelist, argues the relevancy of Catholicism in an age desperate for spiritual revitalization. The book reads like a conversation, an interview of sorts, with Barron being interviewed and quoted while John Allen, Jr., narrates the experience. Through this, we eavesdrop on their chats regarding aspects of the Christian and secular life and how, mysteriously, the Catholic faith calls Christians deeper into involvement with the world.

I read this book from a Protestant perspective; nevertheless, I have deep respect for the Catholic tradition. Barron made excellent points on how the universal Church ought to operate in the world and provides a fantastic approach to it. This book is a sequel to his popular primer Catholicism: A Journey into the Faith, and is useful for Catholics and non-Catholics alike who desire to go deeper in understanding how orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy.

Review: NIV Thinline Bible

Zondervan's newly updated NIV Thinline Bible (2017) is a revised edition of its classic Bible. There is nothing new about the translation; however, the way in which it is presented varies. Of most significance is the new ComfortPrint font, specially designed by the publisher for readability. The font is relatively large, at 9.4pt, and the words of Jesus are in read. It has a lay-flat design with a thumb index. It is leather and slim, measuring less than an inch in width. Finally, it has two ribbon markers.

Overall, this is a fantastic Bible. I particularly liked the font; it looks somewhat strange, but it is helpful. I did a test read through the book of Ruth and noticed that, somehow, my eyes navigated the page better. This Bible is shed of its study notes or additional end resources for a clean reading experience. The classic NIV translation is well-respected and balanced. For those looking for a simple Bible for study, reading, or church, look no further.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Review: Long Before Luther

As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, special focus returns to the questions on Protestant doctrine. How much different was it from the Catholic Church? Was a doctrinal split inevitable? In Nathan Busenitz's new book Long Before Luther: Tracing the Heart of the Gospel from Christ to the Reformation (Moody Publishers, 2017), the author seeks to answer the oft-asked question: Where was the Gospel before the Reformation? Through a careful examination of the development of the doctrine of justification, Busenitz shows the beautiful flourish of justification throughout church history.

Augustine is used as the "turning point" in the book; with the doctrine of justification examined in pre-Augustinian and post-Augustinian theologies. This subject may turn away some; however, the chapters are very short and easy to read. With a dense bibliography and extensive use of primary sources, readers are able to trace Busenitz' logical argument for how justification was not a Reformation invention, but rather a relative rediscovery of a treasure lost in history.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Review: They Came For Freedom

As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, it is easy to commercialize the American narrative. With flashy advertisements, holiday sales, and television specials, Thanksgiving can downplay the drama and severity of the events surrounding the founding of America. This is the problem that historian Jay Milbran seeks to solve in his new novel They Came for Freedom: The Forgotten, Epic Adventure of the Pilgrims (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

This book reads as a novel but serves as a textbook. Divided into three sections, the plot follows the plight of the persecuted pilgrims from Europe to the New World. It portrays this adventure as nothing short of harrowing—a radical, dangerous escapade with people passionate about seeking religious freedom. In an age with the secularization of church history, this novel is a reminder of the true spirit of Thanksgiving and should serve to give us a deeper appreciation of the trials endured for our religious liberties.

This book is well-researched and includes a bibliography, index, timeline, and primary sources. It is written in a narrative style with dialogue.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review: NIV Reader's Bible

Study notes, commentaries, and illustrations are helpful, but there comes a time when one simply desires to read the Word of God, uninterrupted. That is the solution presented by the NIV Reader's Bible (Zondervan, 2017), a single-column, wide-margin version of the NIV Bible without headers, verse numbers, and study aids. Chapter numbers are moved to the margin, and footnotes are presented at the end of each book. The end result is a seamless reading experience that lets the Word speak in its original, unencumbered manner.

I am in love with this Bible. Its lay-flat cloth design and thick pages, with a simple yet powerful color scheme, make this an excellent Bible for devotions or public Scripture reading. The large text and Scripture references at the top of the page still make finding verses easy. The Bible is also available in a leather design for a more professional appearance. In an age of distractions, this Bible is a welcome addition for my personal and public worship uses.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: Color Index XL

For designers who enjoy a handy reference to quickly finding colors, the Color Index XL by Jim Krause is a welcome addition to their creative bookshelves. Following its pocked-sized predecessors, the Color Index is a large-format version of the guide to matching colors in various schemes. It also includes a primer on color theory.

The design of the book is quite excellent. It is simple, non-intrusive, and pairs colors well with unique patterns. RGB and CMYK codes are included for designers to transfer into their works. As a graphic designer, I find much use in these resources for inspiration; although, quite frankly, a color scheme website may be quicker to navigate and access colors. Therefore, this may be a piece to peruse occasionally but may not be my primary go-to. Nevertheless, this large book will still remain a part of my toolkit.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Review: Boundaries

The acclaimed classic Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend has been reprinted for the first time since its original publication in 1992. This book has stood the test of time for a reason: The content is amazing. Cloud and Townsend take a psychological and theological approach to relationships that involves why one should set boundaries, how to set boundaries, and how to measure boundaries. This incredibly practical text would serve anyone well who wants to improve their relationships with others.

Not much is different in this edition with the exception of a new chapter: "Boundaries for the Digital Age." Here, Cloud and Townsend tackle the changing digital realm of communication and how to set boundaries within it. For those who are struggling with thriving in relationships—with friends, with family, with spouses, or with God—this is a must-read. I highly recommend this book, as we all can benefit from living more unified in a fallen world.