Thursday, November 10, 2016

Review: Can Man Live Without God by Ravi Zacharias

Synopsis: In this brilliant and compelling defense of the Christian faith, Ravi Zacharias shows how affirming the reality of God's existence matters urgently in our everyday lives. According to Zacharias, how you answer the questions of God's existence will impact your relationship with others, your commitment to integrity, your attitude toward morality, and your perception of truth. (from the online description)

Review: Ravi Zacharias is perhaps the foremost Christian apologetics of the current age. This book is a written transcript, edited for readability, of his many lectures on the nature of Christianity. Zacharias's work is intellectual, but accessible to someone who isn't well studied in philosophy or ethics. While he tends to wander, and it may take him a few chapters to get to his original point, but every paragraph is worth reading. He moves the reader through a philosophical look at some of the questions against Christianity and how to logically counter those questions.
But rather than expound on the details, I’ve included a collection of my favorite quotes from the book: 

“Antitheism provides every reason to be immoral and is bereft of any objective point of reference with which to condemn any choice. “ pg 32

“If life itself is purposeless, ethics falls into disarray. As Dostoevsky said, if God is dead everything is justifiable.” Pg. 39
“That scrutiny in search of truth is demanded before one submits to the  claims of any religion. But here is the point: Why is that same scrutiny not given to the thinking that directs a life lived without God? In short, where is antitheism when it hurts?” Pg. 50
I say to you with emphasis that the older you get, the more it takes to fill our heart with wonder, and only God is big enough to do that.” Pg. 89
The answer is both subtle and daring. The fundamental problem Jesus was exposing to Pilate and to the world is not the paucy of available truth; it is more often the hypocrisy of our search. Truthfulness in the heart, said Jesus, precedes truth in the objective realm. Intent is prior to content. The most provocative statement Jesus made during that penetrating conversation was that the truthfulness or falsity of an individual’s heart was revealed by that person’s response to Him. The implication was uncompromising. He was, and is, the truth. What you do with Him reveals more about you than it does about Him.” Pg. 98
“Realistically, what passes for love today would be more aptly described as self-gratification or indulgence.” Pg.  105
“Once  true love is understood, the world is opened up to a heartwarming truth. Love and sacrifice go together, and in the spending of love is the enriching of the spirit. The more one consumes love selfishly, the more wretched and impoverished one becomes.” Pg. 107
“D.H. Lawrence was right when he said the deepest hunger of the human heart goes beyond love – Jesus called that “beyond” worship. And Wolfe was right: there is that sense of cosmic loneliness apart from God. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly” (John 10: 10 NKJV). In Christ that loneliness is conquered as the hungers of the human heart are met and the struggles of the intellect are answered.” Pg. 112
“It is absolutely imperative to understand that when an antagonist of the Christian faith poses a question of the Christian, he or she must, in turn, be willing first to justify the questions within the context of his or her own presuppositions. Second, he or she must also answer the question on the basis of those presuppositions. In other words, the questioner is also obliged to answer the same question. An attitude that says, “You can’t answer my question, and therefore I can believe whatever I want to believe, “ is intellectual hypocrisy.” Pg. 126

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-8499-3943-7
Year Published: 1994
Date Finished: 10-7-2016
Pages: 219

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Synopsis: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. (from the inside of the cover)

Review: The premise of this story intrigued me, in particular, the use of the vintage photographs. Originally, Riggs wanted to do a picture book of the strange photographs, but after collecting them, a story immerged and he wrote this book.
My other reason for picking up this book is a bit more personal. My best friend went to high school with the author, and I spent time in Sarasota, where the author grew up and where the first part of the book takes place. Riggs described Florida as only a true Floridian can. The nuance is impeccable. It was like being back in the fine city.
As for the story, it was complex, amusing, scary, and suspenseful. Riggs accurately depicts the mind and actions of a teenage boy. Told from the viewpoint of Jacob, we follow him from Sarasota to the small island near England, as he searches for answers to the death of his beloved Grandfather. There, he finds pieces to his past, his family – and himself.
With a delightful macabre, a lighthearted strangeness, and a ghoulish heart, this story explores prejudice, history, family, and what makes us who we are. This story is complex enough for adults, but tame enough for middle-school aged readers. Worth reading, particularly for a chilly winter night. 

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None (although it spend many weeks as a #1 New York Times Bestseller)

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1
Year Published: 2011
Date Finished: 10-7-2016
Pages: 352