Pastoral Pummeling

An in-depth study of a Christian who had lots of depth: Carl F. H. Henry.

Pastoral work is incredibly difficult. Unlike the martyr who was thrown into the arena to face lions, bulls, the sword, and fire, the pastor is subject to long involved tortures and pains. It would be easy to shift the blame to the congregations. Certainly church work would be a lot easier if it were not for congregations; however, there are some real problems with that scenario.
The main troublemaker in my pastoral work is that one guy who makes it a habit of staring at me in the mirror. If only I could get him straightened out, the rest of the congregational problems would be greatly eased.
I have been reading from two books lately that provide some intense pastoral pummeling. (Pummeling is a fine sounding word that has reference to getting pounded with fists.) Both books have hurt my feelings, pride, and sense of accomplishment. Both have revealed my failings and lacking as a pastor and a Christian.
The first book is Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry by Gregory Alan Thornbury.  (Publisher: Crossway Books.)

In his day, Carl Henry (1913-2003) was considered to be the intellectual leader among evangelicals. He wrote a number of books, including a massive six volume set called God, Revelation, and Authority, still in print and also published by Crossway. He wrote, spoke, and commented on a large number of theological, philosophical, and cultural topics. He was mentored by Gordon Clark at Wheaton back in the 1930s.
Thornbury’s book is not a biography or a survey of Henry’s works.  He said, “In this volume, I intend to reengage Henry as a theorist of classic evangelicalism unapologetically through the lens of key texts in his written corpus.” Thornbury focused mainly upon volumes 2 and 4 of God, Revelation, and Authority and upon Henry’s 1947 work The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (reprinted in 2003).

This book is no morning devotional or evening light read. It made me aware of two things: First, how little I understand about Carl F. H. Henry’s life and thought. I have quite a few of his books. Most I bought last year from a used book dealer. I have glanced, thumbed, and scanned a few parts of the books. At least now I know something of the content and worth of these books.

The second thing I learned or was reminded of was the vast field of theology. I try to keep up with lots of historical books, catch up on lots of classic books, brush up on lots of educational books, and follow up on all kinds of books for school, ministry, and life. I live in constant danger of being injured by an avalanche of falling books. In spite of preparing sermons and reading various Christian books, I am way out of touch on many theological issues, controversies, and debates. That is not always bad. In many cases, some time with Charles Spurgeon or Martyn Lloyd-Jones is far more profitable than the latest theological hot potato issue.
But there is a place for a pastor knowing what he does not know. He has to at least be able to nod his head intelligently when he stands off side to a theological discussion.

At one time, someone must have said, “Who is this Kuyper guy and what is he trying to say?” Someone reading John Owen at the time would have needed to put the Puritans aside (for a short time) and plow his way through some Dutch theology.  Likewise, the old guys I sit with in the morning and learn from were once the dynamic young Reformers who were plowing new ground and challenging the way things were done.

The main part of Thornbury’s book is stated as follows:

Chapter 2 Epistemology Matters;

Chapter 3 Theology Matters;

Chapter 4 Inerrancy Matters;

Chapter 5 Culture Matters;

Chapter 6 Evangelicalism Matters.

I admit that I most enjoyed chapter 5 on culture. Like his mentor Gordon Clark and like his contemporary Francis Schaeffer, Henry sought to give Christian answers to the cultural disasters of his time. I guess epistemology would appeal more to the philosophy student, theology and inerrancy to the theology student, and evangelicalism to the church growth student. They are all reminders of how BIG Carl F. H. Henry was.

It is easy to look deep in thought when that is your life-long habit.

I have often talked, written, and thought about the great Calvinistic worldview thinkers of the twentieth century. From Kuyper to Dooyeweerd, from Machen to Van Til, from Rushdoony to Schaeffer, from Gordon Clark to Henry, with many others as well, God did not leave us without witnesses in the recent past. And He left us with many books that they wrote.

Most of the time we remember the past by two or three name associations. Hence, the Reformation was led by Luther and Calvin. The American War for Independence was the work of Washington and Jefferson. The Inklings were Lewis and Tolkien. But there are always more.   Paul and Silas did lots of evangelism, but there were many others, named or unknown, working near or alongside them. There are always those equally as talented, as totally devoted, and, in their time, often even more influential than the easily remembered names.
Carl F. H. Henry is just such a person. Does every man in the pew need to read Henry’s works or Thornbury’s study of him? I doubt it, but those of us who pastor, teach, and write certain need to take advantage of Thornbury’s offer to be the tour guide to a great monument to Christian thought.

Thornbury’s book pummeled me. That is, it left me battered and bruised. It made me realize how little I know and how much I need to do. It was a battering ram on the brain. This next book, Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp is currently battering my heart. It is subtitled Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. It should have been subtitled Maximum Pain for Pastors.  It is also a Crossway publication.

Dangerous Calling

Aptly titled book. Pastoral ministry is dangerous.

This book by Tripp is really good, really convicting, really painful to read. I keep trying to hurry through it. Do you hurry through the gauntlet or try to let some of the pain subside before you continue?

This book goes to the heart of pastors. Not to pastoral ministry, but to those weak, inconsistent, stumbling, sad men who carry the mantle of leadership in the church.

This is not a book about prayer, but it makes the reader pray. It is not a book about preaching, but I certainly hope it affects my preaching as it ought. It is not about leadership skills and church management, but it reshapes the way a pastor approaches life.

This book is mainly for pastors. But I keep thinking that it would be valuable for a larger group, perhaps elders, deacons, and church staff, to read in order to minister to and pray for their pastor.
I hope to say more about this book later, after the bruises and cuts begin to heal.

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Medieval Humanities 2013 in Retrospect

Can you even imagine a 1000 year period when the Christian faith marched, morphed, mobilized, and maintained the whole of civilization? When faith was centralized, not marginalized; when Church rebuked tyranny from the State; when the piety of a parish priest could shame the highest ecclesiastical office holders? Such were the Middle Ages. Medieval history has lots of rot, corruption, hypocrisy, pettiness, cruelty, and ugliness. It reminds us that this world is fallen. But Medieval history has lots of grace, restoration, progress, hope, mercy, and beauty.  It reminds us of the triumph, slow and unsteady, of the Gospel.

I have loved teaching through the Medieval Humanities course for the third time. (This was actually the fourth time since there was a pre-Humanities class many years ago.) Yet, I always feel more challenged, less prepared, more confused, less chronologically certain in Medieval Humanities than in any other facet of the four year program. (Next year, we do the American Story; after that, the Modern World: Reformation and Revolution; and then the Ancient and Classical World.)

Thankfully, each year through the curriculum clarifies and enhances my understanding. This year has certainly taught me a lot.

It all began in the cold northerness of the threatened Meadhall of Heriot.

Here are the books that the class read over the past school year:

1. Beowulf. I read the Seamus Heaney translation, and I am still unsure whether I like it or the Frederick Rebsamen translation best. One thing for sure, both I and the class really enjoyed this work. We also watched the movie Thirteenth Warrior in conjunction with reading the book.

2. Eusibius’ Church History. We read the translation by Paul Maier. Eusebius is vital to understanding the early era of the church. His writings are disjointed; his methods of research are uncritical; and he makes some great mistakes. But, there is much gold in Eusebius regarding the early history of the church and its leaders. We need to understand the faith of the martyrs and the importance of Constantine. We also read selections from Justo Gonzalez’ The Story of Christianity. Gonzalez is a better historian than Eusebius, but only because Eusebius fathered the study of Church History.

3. Augustine’s City of God. We only read from the first 13 books of Augustine this year, roughly half the book. But we did more intensive reading and discussion than ever before. Augustine is defining as a theologian and philosopher. We also read a few (too few) selections from Augustine’s Confessions.

4. The Rule of St. Benedict. This is a marvelous and beautiful handbook of the Benedictine Order. In conjunction with this, we had a very quiet and meditative St. Benedict’s day at school. The students were basically silent and devoted to serving others. In conjunction with this, we read a large selection of Psalms from the Wycliffe translation since the monks read or heard Psalms throughout the day.

5. Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization. I have long loved teaching and re-reading this book. Cahill surveys the history of the fall of the Roman Empire and the conditions of pre-Christian Ireland. The applications and insights from this book are many. We watched portions of a documentary on Patrick and a movie version of his life, neither of which are really satisfying.

6. Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. This was a defining book in Medieval history and scholarship. We read it together in class and discussed the philosophical and theological ideas from it. This was my first time through the entire book, and I loved it.

7. Bede’s The Ecclesiastical History of the English Church. This is where English history begins. This is not an easy book to push through, but it yields quite a bit to understanding how the faith seeps in and changes a nation. In conjunction with this, we studied the old Christian poem “The Seafarer,” Columbanus’ “Boat Song,” and the very first English poem, “Caedmon’s Hymn.” The students memorized Caedmon’s work, and most memorized it in the original Anglo-Saxon. Also, one student, Liz Woll, put the words to music, and it was sung at graduation.

8. Song of Roland. It does not get any better than this in Medieval history and literature. This is a great story of chivalry, knighthood, and war. It also highlights the Medieval conflict between Christian Europe and the Islam.

9. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as translated by J. R. R. Tolkien. This is another defining Medieval story. It upholds the highest ideals of knighthood.

10. Canterbury Tales. We read almost the entire work, and the students read the Prologue up to three times, in some students’ cases, in the original Middle English. This is the best picture of life in Medieval England. It is, as poet John Dryden noted, “God’s plenty.”  Everything good, bad, ugly, and beautiful about the era is found here. In conjunction with this, we watched the movie classic Becket, which explains who it was that gave Canterbury its significance as a shrine.

11. From Dante’s Divine Comedy we read Hell, which is often called The Inferno. We read this together. Most of the students had Dorothy Sayers translation, but I used the one by John Ciardi. I only wish we could have continued journeying along with Dante and Virgil through the end of this salvation epic.

12. Morris Bishop’s The Middle Ages. This is a fun and informative history of Medieval Europe. However, it focuses more on social history (knighthood, religion, towns and trade, labor, and architecture) than on political history.  I loved this book and look forward to another reading next time around.

We also read selections from Edith Hamilton on Norse mythology, an essay titled “The Six Ages of the Church” by Christopher Dawson, the Book of Acts,  and other short selections.
We watched several of the outstanding documentaries by Simon Schama from his History of Great Britain series. We also watched documentaries on the Crusades and King Arthur.

Add to that, the month of December was devoted to practicing and performing a Madrigal Dinner, It was titled “A Gift for the King,” and it was a play, a concert, and a meal that celebrated Advent from a Medieval perspective.

Post Script: Some students read The Lord of the Rings trilogy for both extra credit (partially) and for fun (mostly).

Never Enough About Kuyper

I must have read a biography of Abraham Kuyper for the first time somewhere after 1978. Kuyper quotes became my mission statement for life and teaching way back then as well. I am not alone.  Many people have been reading and quoting Kuyper for years.  It is amazing that a one-time Prime Minister of the Netherlands should be such a memorable  figure.  But it is not his political rule that most of us remember.

It’s the books.  Or rather, it’s the ideas in the book.  With many books to his credit, and some not yet translated into English, the gist of Kuyper’s teaching is captured in one life-and-mind-changing statement: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”

The development and expansion of Kuyper’s thought is still the subject of books.  Here are three that I just recently received and look forward to perusing and reading.

A weighty study of Kuyper’s thought and life.

The co-editor Steve Bishop is an e-friend of mine.  An Englishman, Steve maintains a web-site called All of Life Redeemed (http://www.allofliferedeemed.co.uk/). It is a goldmine of Reformational articles about Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, and other pivotal Christian thinkers.

This book consists of great thinkers’ thoughts about a great thinker.  The subsections reveal the vast labors of the man. For example, note these areas:

Kuyper, the man and his context

Kuyper the politician

Kuyper the church reformer

Kuyper the theologian

This is just the first section of essays.  Other topics include cultural trends, education, common grace, sphere sovereignty, science art and more.  Contributors include some great scholars, past and present, including Herman Dooyeweerd, D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, Harry Van Dyke, James McGoldrick, Vincent Bacote, and Danie Strauss.

On Kuyper is published by Dordt Press.

A new and lengthy biography of Abraham Kuyper.

There have been quite a few biographies of Kuyper over the years, and I have read several of them.  His life is dizzying.  He was, after all, a pastor, theologian, a co-founder of a political party, an office holder of several political posts, an editor and contributor of 2 newspapers, a founder of a Christian university, and a prolific author.  Most of the biographies have been rather short.  Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat by James D. Bratt is not only a new work by a capable Kuyper scholar, but a more thorough biography than most.  (I have the book, but have not yet peeked inside.)

For more on these two books and for a good discount on these works, check out this site:  http://www.capitalcommentary.org/abraham-kuyper/politics-and-prose.

A lengthy study of Abraham Kuyper’s definitive lectures in America in 1898.

Kuyper’s most famous book is Lectures On Calvinism.  It contains the six lectures he gave at Princeton University in 1898.  Anyone wanting a defense and explanation of the Five Points of Calvinism had best look elsewhere.  Kuyper is dealing with the wider ramifications of the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God over all creation.  Peter S. Heslam’s Creating a Christian Worldview: Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism is a book about Kuyper’s book.

Here is where it all begins.

A defining book on theology, history, and Christian worldview.

So Brave, Young, and Handsome

There is much to be said for reading plans, programs, and lists.  And there is something to be said for chance.  That is, some wonderful reads are the result of a book that one stumbles across, opens curiously, and enjoys immensely. 

A powerful and spiritual novel: Peace Like a River.

I chanced upon the novel Peace Like a River by Leif Enger some few years ago. My first thought was that the book was a western, and I don’t tend to read westerns. But it was like new, hardback with the dust jacket,  and really cheap ($2).  One weekend, I was ailing and weary and needing an easy read. So I picked the book up and hardly put it down until it was finished. 

Peace Like a River was a compelling and lyrically beautiful read. It was also a Christian novel, but not the type you find in the Christian bookstore with Amish people on the cover. The faith was portrayed with depth and in unexpected ways.  

My discovery of Enger and his notable book came several years after his book been published. As usual, I was behind the times. Only slowly did I realize that the book had been a best seller and that the author had successfully reached a wide audience.

After I finished Peace Like a River, I began telling others about the book and also looking to see what else Enger had written. As it happened, his second novel, So Brave, Young, and Handsome, had already made its way to the bargain shelves. (Note: I have very little money for books.) So, I picked up Enger’s second novel. Then I shelved it for several years. Somewhere along the way, I heard someone say, in passing, that Enger’s second novel was not nearly as good as his first. So, on the shelf it stood, waiting.

Over the past couple of years, I began reading more and more recent fiction (meaning, writers who published books after Faulkner and O’Connor died in the early 60s), and discovered the great writings of Bret Lott, Pat Conroy, Charles Portis, Louis Auchinloss, Anne Tyler, Tom Wolfe, and Marilynn Robinson. I had some really enjoyable reads and some that left me with questions. (One such question is, John Updike?) I realize that one cannot appraise an author very accurately with one read, but the reader has to start with one book.

I am not sure why, but a few weeks ago, I pulled So Brave, Young, and Handsome off the shelf  and starting reading. I think it was due again to the weekend-wearies, to that desire to read without challenge or effort. None of the other books I started had magnetic draws, so I thought, “Why not?” That is a fairly profound reason for reading a book.

So B, Y, and H is a fairly short book (less than 300 pages) with incredibly short chapters. At the end of a school year, with Chaucer and other Medieval studies beckoning, with Quintillian and Abraham Kuyper, and with a dangerously high stack of theological heavy weights, a short book with short chapters sounded good.

So B, Y, and H is a good read, a fun book, a light story that is well written. It may not match Peace Like a River, but it is a good book. It is the story of a writer, named Monte Becker, who published one successful book, but who has not been able to complete anything else in years.

Then an adventure comes along in the form of a man named Glendon, whose shady past and winsome personality favorably affects Becker and his family. Becker then leaves with Glendon who goes in search of his ex-wife in order to seek a reconciliation with his past.

A man on a journey, a man on a journey with a companion, a man on a journey with danger and adventure, a man who discovers his life story while on a journey: This encompasses whole shelves of great literature from The Odyssey to Huckleberry Finn and more. Add to that, the theme of redemption. No, this is not Flannery O’Connor or Les Miserables, but neither are most books.

Enger achieves what every writer–published, unpublished, would-be, could-be—would like to achieve: A good story, well written.  I hope he gets his next book out soon.

Best Books of 2012–Late Fee Added

It is now spring and I find myself somewhat overwhelmed on many tasks and behinds on many duties. In fact, I am now facing the ever quickly approaching end of the school year.  Where has time gone?

Normally, I post the best books of the (previous) year in January. And here I am making this post in May. There was a problem with my old blog site, and that entailed many efforts trying to revive that blog. The end result was starting a new blog—this one.  Other delays occurred here and there, and I actually forgot for a time.  But I must keep the tradition going, even if late.

The winner for best book of 2012 is

1.  Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson.  When I first learned of this book, I was quite excited.  It lived up to and even surpassed my expectations.  It deserves a full blog article or even a series.  Ferguson is one of the best historians of our time.  His defense of Christianity, which seems to be based on history rather than personal convictions,  was worth the price of the book. This would be a book worth reading, teaching, rereading, and thinking of often.

Profound, deep, moving history of civilization, primarily of the Western variety.

2. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate and The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power by Robert Caro.

I read the first volume of Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson over 25 years ago. Then I read the second one some time in the distant past. It was about 10 years before I got out the third volume to read. The reason: The fourth volume was out. Read them both and am convinced that volume 3 is likely the most important book on political history I have ever read.  Johnson was a political genius.  If anyone wants to be a political philosopher, read Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, the Federalist Papers, and so on.  If anyone wants to get into politics, read Caro’s still unfinished Years of Lyndon Johnson.

 

3.  Twenty Five Books that Changed America by Thomas Foster.

This book was simply too much fun to read, as are Foster’s other books, How to Read Literature Like a Professor and How to Read a Novel Like a Professor.  If I had my life to live over again, I would become a really smart teacher with a sense of humor like Foster’s.  Even the chapter titles are a hoot, for example, the chapter on Moby Dick is titled “I’ve Been Working on the Whale Road” and the one on Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses is titled “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Cousin.”  I would not enter an American literature classroom again without this book.

You don’t have to agree with Foster’s list to love his book.

4.  Bret Lott.  In this case, it is an author and not just a title.  For the third year, Bret Lott has reached the top ten, and I am certain that he was disappointed last year to come in second.  But placing on my list for three years in a row is quite a feat.  And, if he did not win the top honor this year, he has this honor: I read more books by him than by any other author. And, I have a few more waiting to be read.

The Man Who Owned Vermont.  A good story of a man whose life has broken down and who is trying to recover.  Lott writes about ordinary folks, and he writes about sinners.  Life for sinners is filled with graces that hint of Grace.

The Difference Between Men and Women: Stories.  Short stories are often puzzling to me, but this collection is rewarding.  Lott’s story that spins off of Faulkner’s story “A Rose for Emily” is brilliant.

The Hunt Club .  This novel is filled with murder, danger, suspense, and revelations. Quite a compelling book.  It introduces one of the most likable characters ever–Huger Dillard and another amazing character, his “uncle,” Leland Dillard.  Don’t read this one if you are looking for a calm read.
Dead Low Tide.  This is a sequel to The Hunt Club. This is another edge-of-the-seat read.
Fathers, Sons, and Brothers .  This book is autobiographical.  It is a pleasant, calm read.  You will learn or be reminded of a lot about being a father and a son or a brother.  This book was just too short.
Jewel.  This is, perhaps, Lott’s best book. It is quite powerful and beautiful. If you want to understand southern life and culture, read this book. But its focus is not the South. It is a testimony of a mother’s love, a love that endures and creates pain and struggles. Jewel’s daughter is a Down’s Syndrome child.

 

Faith, sacrifice, struggles, and love: Life in this world of grace and woe.

5.  The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson.  Thanks to Jeff Bruce and George Grant for calling my attention to the writings of Eugene Peterson.  Peterson is a bit off the straight and narrow path of orthodoxy I adhere to, but he is close enough to my convictions and good enough as a writer to instruct me often and a lot.  Peterson’s literary style is a delight, even when his content (occasionally) strays.  This is an autobiography that could be read and enjoyed by any reader, but it contains much that is helpful and practical for a pastor.

6. The Meaning of Marriage and The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller.  Keller has become another favorite writer.  I think he is one of the best Christian writers and thinkers around today.  I know, I know, I know that he has said this and that thing that is unacceptable, off base, confusing, etc.  My library is full of flawed preachers, theologians, and writers.  The Prodigal God  could be reread weekly with profit.  It is a really helpful discussion of the parable.  The Meaning of Marriage, co-authored with Mrs. Keller, is one I need to read often.

Great for devotional reading.

7. 1 Timothy by Philip Graham Ryken.  This series of sermons was the best help for me in preaching through 1 Timothy. Great devotional, theological, pastoral writing. This volume is part of P & R Books series called Reformed, Expository Commentaries.  I wish I had all of the series and all of Ryken’s books.  He is, by the way, the president of Wheaton College.

8. Young, Restless, Reformed by Collin Hansen.  I really loved this book. It fits my hopes and prayers for what I can not just read about, but experience. I recently reviewed this book, along with Letters to a Young Calvinist by James K. A. Smith and Killing Calvinism by Greg Dutcher.  This book is a travelogue of a journalist who surveys the current and growing trends among Reformed and Calvinistic types.

9. Here is another case of an author winning a slot for multiple books.  I got to know Pat Conroy this year by read four of his books.
My Losing Season.   This is an enjoyable and frustrating account of Conroy’s basketball career at the Citadel. Lots of rough language. Really enjoyable story at points.  My biggest frustration was that Conroy’s basketball struggles all look great from the viewpoint of an unathletic person.
The Lords of Discipline.  A page turner, read in a week, mostly at night until I got to the last third. Rough, too rough, language. Powerful story.
The Water is Wide.  This was one of Conroy’s first books and it shows.  This is an account of his year of teaching on Yamacraw Island off the coast of South Carolina.
My Reading Life.  I read and savored this book slowly, a little here and there. This is, overall, a great book about books by a man who knows books from the reader’s and writer’s angle.

10.  The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung.  This book was so good that I read it in  October and again in November.  I wish I had a box of copies to give away.

Convicting study of holiness. Read it twice, need to be reading it again soon.

What’s Next?

I currently have three really good books started.  That is not unusual and that is not all my reading.  I am referring to my night reading.  I have several books that are school related that I am reading; I have a whole stack of books I use for my sermons on The Sermon on the Mount; and I have other devotional and theological readings; and one book of poetry that I am halfway through (A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Houseman); and several other books I dabble in.

I am not a deep thinker or even a widely read person.  I just have a short attention span.

Back to the three books:  I am anywhere from 25 to 75 pages into these three works.  Usually, I have several books going, but I increasingly turn the focus on one book.  That is the current dilemma.  By early June, I hope to have dispatched all three of these books.

Amity Shlaes’ new biography of Calvin Coolidge

Some weeks back, I reviewed Ms. Shlaes’ book on the Great Depression, titled The Forgotten Man.  This biography of Calvin Coolidge is her latest book.  I, sorry to say, succumbed to the notion that Harding and Coolidge were incompetent, inactive Presidents many years ago.  Paul Johnson’s Modern Times jolted me toward a better understanding.  I am now really appreciating Coolidge.  Wouldn’t Ronald Reagan be enjoying this biography of his favorite President, if he were still around?

The Day of Battle

The second volume of a trilogy about the American army and the liberation of Europe in World War II

It was about two years ago that I read An Army At Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson.  I thought it was a really well done history on a neglected part of the U.S.’ involvement in World War II.  It was as good as anything that Stephen Ambrose or Cornelius Ryan had written.  I am now compelled to read the second volume of the trilogy.  (My reading needs often cause me to shy away from World War II.  I could get consumed with that part of history.)  Part of the compulsion is because volume 3 of the trilogy is coming out this month ( http://liberationtrilogy.com/.).  I am not normally allowed to buy a book in a series, if I haven’t finished the previous volumes.

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 covers the Mediterranean campaigns in the war.  Personally, I am dreading when the book gets to the invasion of Italy.  I am not sure that campaign was a wise choice.  Those men who fought at Anzio and Salerno and then up the boot of Italy were slugging it out in a most brutal campaign.  (Famous veterans of those campaigns include former Senator Robert Dole, who lost use of his arm in battle, and the highly decorated Texan and later film star Audie Murphy>0

A new and, as usual, interesting biography of Lewis

I have several biographies of C. S. Lewis and many books about aspects of the man and his writings.  I also have several books by Alister McGrath.  This book was irresistible.  Very good read so far.  I am jealous of my son Nick who got to hear McGrath lecturing on Lewis at Wheaton College.  And, as it turns out, McGrath will soon have another more scholarly book coming out on Lewis that analyzes the development of his thought and views over the years.

I can’t go wrong with these three books.