It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review with Blogging for Books. I’ve had my most recent book, It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell, sitting on my bookshelf almost all year. I just haven’t had time, or motivation, to pick it up until recently. When I did, I simply could not put it down....Read More
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review for Blogging for Books. I’ve had the book St. Peter’s Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found…and Then Lost and Found Again by Thomas J. Craughwell sitting on my bedside table since I moved into my new house…and for months in my old house before that....Read More
I recently read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I had bought it a while back on Kindle because it was on sale and after I started it I devoured it. And by devoured, I mean that I read it in two days, staying up until 4am to finish it because I just couldn’t put it down.Read More
Twelve Apostolic Women by Joanne Turpin
This review was originally published in Spiritual Uprising Magazine's May 2014 issue and is reprinted with permission. I encourage you to check out Spiritual Uprising at www.up-ministries.org/spiritual-uprising-magazine.html
I started reading Twelve Apostolic Women by Joanne Turpin as part of my Providence Circle. The goal was that we would read the book chapter by chapter and then get together to discuss. While we haven’t been able to meet as often as we would like, I have read the book on my own.
I think that this book has great insight. For those Christians who are bothered by the seemingly male-dominated quality of Christian history, reading a book about twelve women in the New Testament and learning about their role in the Apostolic era is eye-opening.
Turpin’s writing is good. You can tell in reading her work how much she has studied the Apostolic era—the research she has done into ancient Christian tradition (most of which have been forgotten by all but the academics in the Church) is phenomenal. Most Christians know little about Salome, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, or Tabitha. Most of us have never even heard of Prisca or Lydia. Turpin tells the stories of these women with devotion and full belief.
My primary critique of this book comes from her lack of citations. She will say something and cite it in tradition, but usually never mentions which text to find the story in. She puts complete faith in obscure texts that the Church has never claimed to be true or infallible. Like many Catholics, she tries to get rid of the discomfort of mystery by giving credence to unsubstantiated traditions. Yet, her work allows the reader to connect with scripture in a whole new way. In addition, while some of the traditions she cites might be suspect or have been completely cast off by most Christians (the stories of Mary’s childhood, for example), she also uses finds from modern archaeology to help her tell the story—and that works beautifully.
Turpin’s book is not only educational, but spiritual. She includes great discussion questions that are useful both for a group reading and a personal reading. Each chapter ends with a prayer, making it a great choice for spiritual reading.
In the end, while I would caution readers new to the study of Biblical History to not take everything Turpin says as fact, I would definitely recommend this book as a great read for a group or personal spiritual reading.
When We Were on Fire
by Addie Zierman
I received this book for free from
for this review.
In her memoir about life as an evangelical teen in the WWJD-ridden church of the ‘90s, Addie Zierman reminds us all that sometimes you don’t have to be in a cult to experience a brain-washing, manipulative, and abusive cult-like atmosphere.
When We Were on Fire
, Zierman is open and honest about her past. Her writing goes back and forth between telling her story in first person and setting up the scene in the second person, making the reader feel like they are Addie in the story. An unusual but well employed writing style, Zierman helps the reader to relate and identify with both the painful and wonderful experiences about which Zierman writes.
While it’s hard to write a review about someone’s memoirs, I can say that I think this book is brilliantly written. Zierman puts her soul into it, openly sharing the pain and joy of her life with the reader.
I relate to a lot of what she writes. While the Evangelical Church of the 1990’s is well known for brain-washing, no faith tradition is completely free of that experience. What stuns me about her story is how deeply Zierman’s wounds impact her later life. Her memoir is like a combination story and warning: “Find a way to deal with this before you find yourself in my shoes. Work it out. See a counselor before you’re drunk and tempted to cheat on your husband because Church People are coming between the two of you.”
The one thing that really gets me about Zierman’s writing is that she holds nothing back. She is blatantly honest about driving drunk—no apologies, no self-defense. She just states it, the same way she states that as a child sanctity was measured by how many WWJD bracelets you wore. It is a brutal honesty, an honesty that, in my humble opinion, should be forgiven and loved rather than judged. This book is her confession in a sense—and it ends as all Christian stories should end, in hope and resurrection.
For more information about this author, see her website at
To read the first chapter of this book for free, visit http://www.convergentbooks.com/book/when-we-were-on-fire/
When We Were on Fire
a solid 4/5.
When I chose to read Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics by Thomas J. Craughwell, I did so mostly because I tend to think that relics are a little on the weird side. And, since I am a Roman Catholic and I work in ministry, I thought that reading up on this unique tradition in the Catholic Church, perhaps I would be able to relate to it better.
This book, while it doesn’t talk that much about relics in general, did help me to understand this unappreciated tradition a little better. The author reminds us to think about how we relate to our own familial “relics.” For example, is it really so strange to treasure things belonging to a saint when we treasure in our own families the things that belonged to our ancestors: grandma’s china, grandpa’s pipe? And then there are the first class relics—but is it strange to treasure the bodies of saints (or body parts) when there are plenty of families that have their ancestors’ cremated remains in their homes? Or, when we visit graves of deceased friends? Craughwell makes it seem that relics are really a natural part of the human experience. Catholics just seem to talk about them a little more than most.
In addition to giving me a greater appreciation for relics, I think that the real strength of this book is that it gives you an opportunity to learn more about saints. Craughwell writes a little blurb on each saint discussed, tells you why they were thought important enough to honor their remains. Then, he tells the (sometimes humorous) tale of how their remains ended up where they are, or how claims about the remains were made. When talking about one of the many saints that apparently have multiple sets of remains, he gives both accounts, never taking a side.
This book is interesting and is a great opportunity to learn more about both Saints and relics. It is exactly what the title makes it sound like: an encyclopedia of relics. If you’re looking for a more clear theology or better information on why we honor relics, this is not the book for you. However, if you want a little information on relics, a little information about saints, and a few laughs, I highly recommend Thomas J. Craughwell’s Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics.
(This book was provided free of charge by Waterbrook Multnomah for reviewing purposes.)
As you might recall, I'm doing a program called Blogging for Books. I was given the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that Just Can't Stop Talking to review. Here are my thoughts:
I’ll start with the good and then go into the bad.
The book Quiet was an interesting read for me as an introvert. I think it helped me to understand myself better and to see how my own talents can make me a better leader, even in an extroverted world.
As a leader, I found the reading even more interesting as it explored the ways in which groups accomplish, or don’t accomplish, their tasks. An interesting reflection on the nature of human interactions, this book is a good read for anyone interested in learning more about those interactions.
The book, however, is not a “fun” read and I found it difficult to motivate myself to finish it in the midst of graduate exams. It’s certainly not what I would choose to read in the evening when my time is limited—there are so many more interesting books to read.
So, in the end, while I would recommend it as a great resource for introverts, extroverts wanting to understand introverts, and leaders wanting insight on leading large groups, I would not recommend this book as one to curl up with. Perhaps it would be better as a resource than as a book to read cover to cover.
My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir
by Colleen Carroll Campbell
I’ve finished book number 78 for 2012, My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell.
This book is Campbell’s memoir of her spiritual journey and about the six women saints who have become her patronesses and closest friends. She intertwines the stories of these women saints with her own story, telling the reader how they have given her hope, guidance, and strength on her own spiritual journey.
To begin, I have to say that I think this book hit me personally very strongly, as some of her own struggles are struggles that I share—particularly a father with Alzheimers. Because of this connection, I found myself reading Campbell’s memoirs with a box of tissues sitting next to me, taking short breaks when my eyes were so filled with tears that I couldn’t see the page. For me, hearing how she found comfort in Therese of Lisieux’s similar experiences of a father with dmensia were personally helpful and I will take her thoughts and shared experiences to prayer.
I also related to much of what Campbell writes in a professional way. Her memories of college life correspond well with my experiences as a college campus minister. She writes that for her it seemed “better to be labeled shallow, stuck-up, drunk, or debauched—anything but devout” (page 22). If you have encountered this and struggled with it or been mystified by it, then I think this book is for you.
At the very beginning of the text, Campbell sets the stage by telling about an experience she had in college where she looked around her and asked the same question I see many of my students asking themselves, “Is this it? Is this all there is?” She walked away in hopes of finding a satisfactory answer. I think that this book is an answer and it is one that can help readers move forward in their own spiritual lives. I think that readers who have had similar experiences to her, whether it is an exact experience, such as a father who struggles with Alzheimer’s, or simply the wider experience of trying to determine what it means to be free in a world bound by the chains of sin or to be feminine in a society that seems to stand against femininity (both themes continued throughout the book), will find in Campbell’s memoirs a story of hope and also an idea for how to move forward in their own lives.
As a spiritual memoir, Campbell’s writing is insightful and prayerful, a good book to read when you are in your own moment of questioning. As a book, Campbell’s writing is clear and alive. She truly captures the reader, inviting them to walk with her as she tells her story and also those of the women saints—Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Faustina, Edith Stein, Mother Teresa, and Mary, Mother of God. The parallels that she draws between her own life and those of the saints are insightful. The lessons she learns are encouraging. And throughout she brings to life for the reader the many characters of her tale—her mother and father, husband, and friends—in such a way that the reader is bound to love them as she does.
I highly recommend this book.
For more information on Colleen and her writing, visit her website: http://colleen-campbell.com/
The first chapter of the book can be found at Amazon.com.
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.
I’ve fallen behind in my blogging, so I thought I’d give a quick update on my reading challenge.
100 Book Challenge—Book #19 The Dairy and Gluten Free Kitchen by Denise Jardine
Aunt Marie bought me this cookbook for my birthday this year and I loved it! It helped me find a lot more ways to cook gluten free. I’ve marked several recipes and hope to make them soon.
Book #20—Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
How can anyone not love Little Women? I’ve never read it before, but I had seen the movie as a child. The book far outstrips anything a movie could give. I love the moral lessons and the religious nature of the novel, I hadn’t expected quite so much of it. I now see why it’s a classic book for little girls to read.
Book #21—Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Again, I hadn’t read the book before, but I’d seen the movie. It was my favorite movie as a kid (introduced to me by my Hannah) and that movie was my first introduction to Austen. I love Austen and am in a quick way of being a most devout fan. I’m now reading Pride and Prejudice.
Book #22—The Suicide Club by Robert Louis Stevenson
I had read this in high school, but the content had become fuzzy. A short novel, it’s a compilation of three short stories. It’s quite good and a fun read. A little confusing because of so many characters having code names, but I was reading it in the hospital while Dad was sick, so that might contribute to the confusion.
Book #23—One: How Many People does it take to make a difference? by Dan Zadra
Someone bought this for me for graduation and I finally got to sit down and read it through. This is a fantastic book, a good book to read when you’re down or questioning your importance in the world. It helped remind me that God made us all for a reason. I loved the book so much that I bought another book by the same author. See below.
Book #24—The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu
This was a book that has been sitting on my shelf for some time and I finally got around to reading it. It’s like a precursor to Percy Jackson (really, I have to wonder if Reardon got some ideas from Ursu). It features a set of cousins who must venture into the underworld to save the world. Great book, highly recommended.
Book #25—The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
I have been wanting to read this book for sometime. I started it as a kid and never finished it. Finally got around to it and LOVED it! It’s a great mystery story. I had a lot of fun figuring out the ending. Lots of twists and turns, great characters, and a good story of redemption and giving back. Well written children’s book! Recommend.
Book #26—Five: Where will you be five years from today? by Dan Zadra
I loved this one just as much as One. I recommend it for those who are currently trying to discern their future. It helps focus. Also, great inspiration for making your bucket list.
100 Book Challenge—Book #15 The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
I had meant to read The Great Divorce for some time, and after prodding from our professor, Dr. Cavadini, this summer, I thought I might as well. My dad bought it for me for Christmas a couple years ago and I just hadn’t taken the time to read it yet.
The book is about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory and, like Lewis’ ideas about the afterlife portrayed in The Chronicles of Narnia, the image of death and of God is unlike traditional theology, yet so fitting and so good. I love it.
If you haven’t read it yet and would like a nice, short read, go for it! It’s lovely language, as always for Lewis.
100 Book Challenge—Book #14 The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I’ve already written about the impact that reading this book has been having on me. I can’t say this enough: it is a FANTASTIC BOOK! I’ve been meaning to read it ever since I saw an article on it in Whole Living back in January 2011. Then, last week, I saw it on the shelf at Meijer and bought it. I feel like God must have really wanted me to read it, because I’ve been trying not to buy new books (I have too many to read as it is). But this one was a blessing.
The author spent a year trying to be happier. This isn’t the story of someone who went out trying to change the rest of the world. Instead, she is trying to change herself to make herself a better friend, wife, and mother, similar to the movie If a Man Answers. And I have to say, her work is admirable.
Each month, she focuses on a different aspect of her life to work on and comes up with resolutions that she checks in a very Franklinesque manner. She does research on happiness and on each area, which I admire. She’s a true bibliophile and seems to love reading, writing, and just books in general as much as I do. I think I’ve found my literary soul mate.
Also, even though she’s agnostic, she has a deep love for St. Therese of Lisieux. So, I have to give her credit for that.
She loves quotations and lists. I have to admit, part of the reason I love this book so much is because I feel like it makes me feel more normal.
She makes a list of her “12 Commandments” (a practice I think I need to take up) and a list of “Secrets of Adulthood” that she has learned in her life.
I highly recommend this book. Please, please read it.
100 Book Challenge—Book #13 Living Your Strengths by Albert L. Wiseman
I’ve already written about how fascinating I find the Strengths Finder test. The book, which I had to buy in order to take the test, is very helpful as well. In addition to showing how knowing your strengths can help in ministry, it also gave stories of different people and learning to use their strengths as well as providing Bible verses for each strength to pray over.
It also gave me a deep desire to learn more about the strengths finder and look into strengths coaching to go along with spiritual direction. It might be a good idea for our retreat center.