Book Reviews

Reading List for February, 2021: Something Old, Something New, Something Sproul

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

Yet another book to add to my growing category called “why didn’t I read this before?” R.C. Sproul does a masterful job of putting high theological truths into accessible languages. His down-to-earth illustrations – using an NFL game to illustrate the beauty of holiness, for example – make the cosmic reality of God’s holiness come to life. His faithfulness to the biblical text helps dispel wrong ideas many have about this important subject.

Most importantly, his treatment of the subject brings the reader close to the awe, the wonder, and the terror of our Holy God.

This is not a difficult read, but it is a worthwhile one.

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve already used so many superlatives in describing Brandon Sanderson’s work, it’s hard for me to think up new words to describe the awesomeness of his books. So let me just say that “Oathbringer”, the third book in his “Roshar” series, is amazing, well worth the 50+ hours of listening time (mostly in the car, at the gym, or on the running track).

Things I love about this book: Hoid gets more air time. Lift is included in the main story. The major “Void Bringer” twist near the end, the transformation of Zeth, the further tie-ins to Warbreaker…

The list goes on.

If you like good fiction – especially of the fantasy genre – and have not yet delved into Sanderson’s books…what on Roshar are you waiting for?

Works and Days by Hesiod

What do you do when your deadbeat brother comes to you begging for money? You give him a rundown of Greek mythology, of course.

At least, that’s what Greek shepherd-turned-poet Hesiod did, apparently. His admonitions to his brother to make something of his life revolve around the actions and character of the Olympian gods.

In tone and theme, “Works and Days” is similar in many ways to portions of the book of Proverbs. In substance, there is a “great chasm fixed” between Hesiod’s fatalistic “quid pro quo” and Solomon’s “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”.

Theogony by Hesiod

In case you haven’t guessed from previous reviews, my Philosophy course is requiring a familiarity with Greek mythology. Hence, Hesiod’s “Theogony”, which is the go-to source for the origin of the Olympian gods.

One thing that struck me as I read (and which will probably find its way into a future blog post) is how Greek myth and evolutionary theory have at least one aspect in common – neither one can explain how matter emerged from nothing.

The Symposium by Plato

One of the more entertaining aspects of the Philosophy course I’m taking has been getting to know the ancient Greeks. Plato’s classic “Symposium” was no exception. Picture a bunch of bored guys sitting around trying to come up with something to do. Finally, one of them hits on an idea: why not have a philosophy-off? The one who makes the best speech on the subject of love, wins.

Indeed, the dialogue seemed a little “off” to me, until I realized I should be reading it as if everybody was a little tipsy – except for Socrates, who apparently could hold any amount of wine, and Alcibiades, who was rip-roaring drunk.

Socrates’ self-effacing way of eviscerating his opponents (“I’m afraid my speech won’t be as good as yours, because I only came prepared to say true things…”) is on full display, as are multitudinous illustrations of various key verses in Romans 1.

An interesting point brought up in one of my classes: Socrates clearly gets the best of the discussion, until Alcibiades shows up so drunk he can barely see straight. As the latter begins his well lubricated discourse he asks Socrates to correct him if he is wrong in any of his criticisms.
Socrates never does.

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