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Dr. Rosenblatt is famous – “Two in a bed” September 22, 2006

Posted by fajita in Book Reviews, Family Science, Sex.
3 comments

One of the profs who teaches in the Family Social Science program I am enrolled in has just released a book that is getting a ton of press. The book is called, “Two in a Bed.” He’s been featured in the NYTimes, on radio and TV shows (Good Morning America methinks) and even in some international media outlets.

Amazon will share the table of contents with you here, an excerpt here, and a you can buy it here.

Hearts & Minds: A book preview August 11, 2006

Posted by fajita in Book Reviews, Parenting.
1 comment so far

My buddy John Alan Turner has teamed up with Kenneth Boa to write a parenting book. It comes out in October. I was lucky enough to get the intro and chapter 1 forwarded to me.

I look at many parenting books with some skpeticism. They either tell you “the way” to parent or give you totally unrealistic stories and examples that end up being discouraging rather than helpful. Since I virtually know John Alan Turner and have concluded that he’s not an idiot, I figured he might go a little deeper than formulas. I also got a peak into what he’s thinking by reading his blog, which is something you should do as well.  

It was good and I believe takes on the topic of parenting where it should be taken on: with the parents. It’s too easy to be a child-centered parent and to be child-centered while trying to teach parenting. What that approach does is to assume either parents are always right in the way they lives their lives or assume that the parent’s character has nothing to do with the children. Parenting is about parents and how they deal with their kids, not about how kids need to be controlled.

I will buy this book becuase it promises to dig deeper than behavioral approaches to parenting. It’s not the behavioral techniques are all bad or cannot work, but if parenting is synonymous with children’s behavior modification, then we might as well buy us a robot or a pet and forget about having children.

This book promises to be thoughtful and useful at the same time. There appears to be some philosophy in it, but practical philosophy. Don’t let that scare you away. In fact, it should attract you because of the current philosophical shift occuring in America and in many parts of the globe right now will impact you and your children.

Anyway, order this book now and be rewarded in October when it is released.

Click here to get it.

The DaVinci Code: A Book Review June 28, 2006

Posted by fajita in Book Reviews, Christianity, DaVinci Code, Philosophy/Religion.
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I am the last person on earth besides Mark Elrod, the read this book. Forgive the 1000 day late review.

Dan Brown’s skill as a writer capable of drawing the reader to the next page is unquestionably fabulous. The success of The DaVinci Code is proof of that.

Now, some might say that it is the content of the book, the controversy therein, that has given him rise to fame. It is not. He’s such a good writer that he presented the already existing controvery in such a way as to catapult the controversy into popular culture in a way Elaine Pagels only wishes she could do. What Brown says in his book is most certainly found in many other places and at many other times. Most or none of his ideas are all that original, I am sure. Rather, it is his presentation of the “facts” through fiction that has catapulted him to stardom.

What is originial is the way in which makes a story from the “facts.” Brown is obviously most intelligent and may just have an enduring novel on his hands. He did what every good writer does: hit major themes (religion, sex, murder, crisis, disillusionamnet, etc) and weave them into a suspenseful tale that pushes the reader into a “what next?” mode that keeps the pages turning.

After reading the book, I understand what all the fuss is about. The way in which the characters readily undo Sophie’s “faith” (which frankly wasn’t much to begin with), and convince her of a new faith was impressive. Not that she adopts paganism, but rather that she becomes more accepting of it – more accepting and sympathetic toward pagan sex rituals, those her grandfather was deeply embedded into.

But beyond that, Brown uses his characters to place cracks into the faith of long held beliefs by Christians. He makes his characters sound so convincing that you begin to believe that he believes what he is say through his characters. That’s really good writing. What Brown believes personally, I don’t know, but if he did believe all of this stuff in this book, I wouldn’t be surprised. If he doesn’t believe it, then I am even more impressed with him as a writer.

What Brown does that so infuriates some Christians is that he privileges voices that Christians have traditionally marginalized and marginalizes the traditional Christian voice. And he does it with surgical precision. And that’s the thing about a book – you can’t talk back to it, leave comments (like you can to a blog), or really have any say.

That is frustrating for Christians not to have a say, especially with something as powerful and successful as this book.

Some might think that Brown has an axe to grind against the Catholic Church, and he very well may, but that is beside the point. What Brown has successfully done is given rise to a cottage industry of DaVinci Code Books. I am not sure how they are selling, but one thing is for sure, people are talking about faith. People are thinking about the Bible. People are thinking about church. Brown has got people talking baout things that they were not previously talking about. He may have done it better than Mel Gibson did as couple years ago with The Passion of the Christ.

Or, it is possible that all the DaVinci Code functions as is an ink blot that says more about the reader than it does about the book. Maybe all it has done is to firm up people’s pre-existing resolve. Wellll, could be, but I bet there are some who have always had a bunch of questions and are now finally freed to ask them because of Dan Brown’s book.

I say thatnks to Dan Brown for his efforts and his conversation starter. I just hope that Christians can act like Jesus and not like idiots in response to this book.

If you want a smart person’s take on the book,

check this out—–> The Gospel According To The DaVinci Code

Praying With The Church: A Book Review June 10, 2006

Posted by fajita in Book Reviews, Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion.
4 comments

Scot McKnight of The Jesus Creed fame brings us another treat with Praying With The Church. In this highly accessible book, McKnight draws the reader into the world of prayers from the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions in such a way that makes entering into foreign ecclesial turf a comfortable experience. In a sense, he gives us permission to wander outside of our zone of prayer comfort without the seeming requirement of weirdness.

McKnight, a master teacher, provides early on a metaphor which makes understanding the differences between praying in the church and praying with the church. It is a metaphor that reappears in just about every chapter at just the right times. After using this metaphor to set the stage, he goes on to make a convincing case that Jesus prayed many of his prayers at regular times, mostly from the Psalms, the prayer book of his day, and that we should do the same.

The gift of this book is threefold:

1. Dismantles (gently) most objections to praying prayers other people have written. For people who have grown up praying spontaneously in public and private, there are usually reasons why they don’t pray their prayers from books or any pre-written prayers. Whether it is skepticism about the sincerity of praying someone else’s prayer or discomfort in reading a prayer or fear of being "too Catholic," McKnight enters into those objections gently, but fearlessly. Another objection people have to pre-written prayers is their concern that it is meaningless repetition. Not only does he make a great case for these prayers not being meaningless repetition, he makes a case that our spontaneous prayers become the very same thing. In this part of the book I felt like he had been spying on me. It is not the repeating that becomes meaningless, but rather what we invest into the pray that make it meaningless. Another fear people have is that they might feel they have to give up their current way of praying in order to pray with the church. Not so. McKnight anticipates all of these potential objections and loosens up the reader to consider trying a new way of praying.

2. Introduces prayer resources from Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions – and Phyllis Tickle. By the time the reader gets through this book, he or she will know right where to go next in order to enter into praying with the church on a regular basis. Although McKnight does not go into deep detail about any of the prayerbooks from these traditions, he give enough to get a feel for what direction one might want to take as a first step.

3. Provides clear and simple tips for getting started. The final chapter outlines nine needs we have in praying with the church. These nine needs free the reader to begin praying with the church without fear of failure or like they are giving up the good things they have going on already in their prayer world.

Finally, Praying With The Church honors Christianity in its various expressions without blurring lines between denominations. There is a very generous tone in the book toward all forms of Christian practice, privileging each of them for their meaningful contributions to the Christian discipline of prayer.