Prince Caspian

prince-caspianThe Good Quote: There were two parts of this book I really liked.

1: When back in Narnia they found that some of the animals weren’t good, talking animals anymore, like they had been in previous trips. Instead, some had gone wild, and it was hard to know if an animal wanted to talk to you – or kill you. Then Lucy said, “Wouldn’t it be dreadful if some day in our own world, at home, men started going wild inside, like the animals here, and still looked like men, so that you’d never know which were which?”

Good question.

2: Not long later Lucy can see Aslan the Lion, but the rest of her company can’t see Him. Aslan lets Lucy know they needed to go a different direction, but the company can’t see Him, and they disagree. It just isn’t the logical, safe way to go. So, they take a vote, and Lucy loses. Of course, their direction almost gets them killed, they change direction and Lucy gets to see Aslan again. That’s when things take a surprising turn.

“For a long time she was so happy that she did not want to speak. But Aslan spoke. ‘Lucy,’ he said, ‘we must not lie here for long. You have work in hand, and much time has been lost today.’

‘Yes, wasn’t it a shame?’ said Lucy. ‘I saw you all right. They wouldn’t believe me. They’re all so—‘

From somewhere deep inside Aslan’s body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Lucy, who understood some of his moods. ‘I didn’t mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn’t’ my fault anyway, was it?’

The Lion looked straight into her eyes.

‘Oh Aslan,’ said Lucy. ‘You don’t mean it was? How could I–I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you all alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that . . . oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?’

Aslan said nothing.”

The illustrations of following Christ throughout the series are remarkable. Love it.

The Bad: This is CS Lewis. He doesn’t write bad. But did he know how to quilt, or sweat copper pipe when he had a leak under the sink? I’m guessing not, and that makes me feel good. A man shouldn’t be good at everything.

The Ugly: The truth at the  end of the above quote. It goes on to say,

‘” You mean,m’ said Lucy rather faintly, ‘that it would have turned out all right–somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?’

To know what would have happened, child?’ said Aslan. ‘No. Nobody is every told that.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Lucy.

‘But anyone can find out what will happen,’ said Aslan.”

And that is the beautiful truth.

 

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The Horse and His Boy

horse_and_his_boy_by_elandainBest quotes from Narnia!! This is my son Micah’s favorite book of the set — it’s somehow different from the rest.

The Good Quote:

I say!” said Aravis. “I have had luck.”

“Daughter,” said the Hermit, “I have now lived a hundred and nine winters in this world and have never yet met any such thing as Luck. There is something about all this that I do not understand: but if ever we need to know it, you may be sure that we shall.”

It reminded me of the first of all the Star Wars movies, when the origional Obi Wan said, “In my experience, there is no such thing as luck.” But CS Lewis wrote it first.

The Bad: This is CS Lewis. He doesn’t write bad. But I’m guessing he would have been lousy at skydiving, had he tried it, and that makes me feel good. A man shouldn’t be good at everything.

The Ugly: There are continual rumors about making this book into a movie, but it never seems to happen. That’s just ugly.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

lionwitchwardrobewallpaper1024Best quotes from Narnia!!

I received the Chronicles of Narnia for Christmas from my daughter, having worn out our old set reading them over and over to our four kids. So, I thought I’d do The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly book reviews on these, some of my favorite books.

 

The Good Quote: “Is–is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. . . Aslan is a lion–the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe?” . . .

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

 

The Bad: This is CS Lewis. He doesn’t write bad. But I bet he was lousy at auto-mechanics. And that makes me feel good. A man shouldn’t be good at everything.

 

The Ugly: Turkish Delight. Immediately addictive chocolate. That’s flat evil.

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain

voodoo-mtThe Good:

A 24-year-old girl from the States goes to live in Haiti and lives. And God changes her life. And her community. Sometimes there is nothing more unbelievable than the truth. Fiction could never been this crazy. I’ve been going to Haiti since 2007, and this book brings you as close to being there as you can get short of a plane ticket.

This is a MUST read.

 

The Bad:

The restavek system, voodoo, crime, humidity, fake orphanages, child slavery. . .  But not the book, the book is terrific – about a young girl moving to Haiti and watching God work to defeat the restavek system, voodoo, crime…

 

The Ugly:

The Son of God Orphanage was the ugliest part of the book for me – even worse than the voodoo. At least voodoo is what it is, it doesn’t pass itself off as light. Anyhow buy this book, it’s the first time i’ve found myself crying while reading in a LONG time. If you want to know more before ordering here you go!

http://www.respirehaiti.org/

Meanwhile, I’ll be back in haiti soon, at a ministry we believe in. Someone needs to write it a book! http://mcmhaiti.org/

 

Interrupted

interruptedInterrupted: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, by Jen Hatmaker

The Good:

In spite of the current LGBT controversy around Jen Hatmaker, this is a good book. Not great maybe, but it has some terrific humor, combined with some convicting truth that make it a worth-while read. It is one of the best books,on helping “the least of these” in our own community, that I have read.

For those who don’t know, Jen’s affirmation of LGBT relationships resulted in her books being pulled from LifeWay Christian Stores. I support LifeWay in that, but it doesn’t take away from the good teaching in this book. The problem is that now it is difficult to recommend Interrupted, when you don’t know where the author is going with her life and theology. Most who start down this road of accepting most of the Bible while reinterpreting parts, end up reinterpreting most and accepting parts.

But, back to the book, I absolutely loved this quote she put in by Soren Kierkegaard “Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. ‘My God, ‘you will say, ‘if I do that my whole life will be ruined.’” She followed that quote in a new paragraph with, “Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”

 

The Bad:

Jen makes a point of sacrificing for people like the disciples – world changers, but also for people like Judas. We may be willing to be broken for future martyrs, gospel writers, and world changers, but it is much more difficult to be willing to be broken for a Judas. I thought that was a great point, convicting and true. However she ruined it, in my view, when she then talked about Judas being at the first communion. She says on p. 62 that “Judas was at Jesus’ table, eating the broken bread that was His body.” Actually, by this time we know Judas had left. He was out rounding up the Pharisees to come arrest Jesus, not eating with him. Had she stopped with Jesus washing Judas’ feet, that would have made the point.

So, either Jan didn’t do her research, or she is stretching the truth in order to make her point. Neither one makes me rest easy. I love her point, that we don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated by those we are caring for. But, Judas wasn’t there, and saying he was ruined the chapter for me.

 

The Ugly:

If you are a guy, Jen Hatmaker may be a new name to you. But she has 670,000 following her on Facebook. That’s more than John Piper with 431,000, double Tim Keller with 295,000, and triple the largest church in the United States, Life.church with 215,000.

This gifted a writer, with this large a following, can do great things for Christ. Jen already has. We have lost so many to liberal theology after getting a following, Jen deserves our prayer support to do exactly what she wrote. “Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly.”

I can recommend the book, but not the author. . . yet.

But having said all that — here is another great quote.

interrupted_page-28

 

The Fir Tree: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

fir-tree-01By Hans Christian Anderson

Illustrated by Sanna Annukka

The Good: It’s awesome — if you don’t mind a depressing Christmas. It is Hans Christian Anderson, after all. The illustrations, the gold foil on green cover, the cool classic Christmas tale – it all works together to make this a keeper. We will be setting it out with our Christmas decorations, for older kids and adults to pick up and read. I’m not sure younger kids would connect with the geometric artwork or story as well as older ones.

The Bad: We tend to read and watch stuff with our kids where everything turns out alright, despite our actions. As a result, we can inadvertently teach that regardless of how we live, everything will be OK. Anderson is much more real, but prepare yourself – and if reading to a young child it might be best to prepare them – for an unhappy ending. The benefit of this type of writing is that it encourages some deep thinking when reading alone, and discussion when reading to others. I think it’s better to prepare for reality than to ignore it. This story is a classic for a reason.

The Ugly: Not the book – it’s gorgeous. Not the story – it’s classic. It’s the truth being told that is ugly – to look at life now and enjoy what is beautiful about it, because in the end we will all be ash. It’s a good thought to remember at Christmas, to enjoy life now, but a bummer to remember we only have so many Christmases left. On the positive side, as a Christian, I figure this life is as bad as it gets, and the day I’m burnt up I’ll see my first Real Christmas.

I received a free copy of this book from blogging for books for an honest review. I chose it because of the cool looking cover, and am glad I did.

Danielcooley.com

AllBks

Avenue of Spies

avenue-of-spiesAvenue of Spies; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:

I liked this book so much I read the endnotes. And I NEVER read endnotes. It brings you into the lives of the French resistance so that you want to know more – I just didn’t want it to end. So when you are reading it you don’t want the war to end because that will mean the book will end, which is pretty sick when you think about it.

The subtitle gives a fine overview – A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris – good enough.

Avenue of Spies is a page turner, but not a thriller. It’s gritty, and tells the truth in a blunt way, but stopped short of being graphic, which I appreciated. I want to know what happened, but I’d rather not relive it in my mind. It was more like watching a train wreck than being in one.

 

The Bad:

The Gestapo, the Milice, the SS, the deportations especially of the women and children just as freedom and the end of the war was knocking at the door, the torture, the French citizens that didn’t join the resistance…

 

The Ugly:

The ugliest part of this story, for me, was the end of the war. Both the story of the ship Thielbek, and the lack of guilt of some of the Gestapo and SS officers. Some of the jerks lived to a ripe old age. Although I believe the Bible and in the doctrine of Hell, I’m ordinarily surprised that a loving God would have such a place. Not so much anymore.

 

The Truth:

I was given this book to review it, otherwise I wouldn’t have read it. I thought I knew about WWII and the French resistance. I didn’t. I’ll now be loaning this book out and recommending it to others. My review is honest, in spite of getting the book for free – I don’t want to end up with the SS in the afterlife.

total cover w back jpeg-004

One of the Few: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

1-of-the-fewThe Good: I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I should have read the subtitle, “A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview.” That is what this book is all about. If you enjoy military stories and difficult philosophical questions, you are weird. You’ll also enjoy this book.

The stories sucked me in, and the worldview issues Jason Ladd deals with are well-covered. In both instances he defines his terms well, so even without a military or college background you call follow along without any issues. Thankfully he also used Harry Potter illustrations, so I could relate. Jason is extremely well-studied; some terrific quotes are included. If you are wondering what to read next, simply going to his bibliography would be a good place to start looking.

He also has some great quotes of his own. One from early on, talking about growing up he said, “The wrecking ball of divorce has no less momentum when the children it smashes are grown.” He seems to me to write like I would expect a marine to write – in your face. It was refreshing.

The Bad: The only “bad” part of the book I could find was when some of the stories didn’t seem to fit the truth he was illustrating. Sometimes it felt like a stretch to me. I would enjoy the story – be convinced of the truth – but didn’t always see the connection.

In the book, our modern world, media, and culture come out looking foul. The emasculation of men, lies about religion, the promotion of porn – Jason helped me see through the fog and realize just how bad our culture really is.

The Ugly: Here is my only real complaint. 99% of the book is honest, clear, in-your-face marine stories and truth-telling. Then, just a few times, Jason switches into preaching mode. Leave out the sermons and it gets 5 stars. As it is, it gets 4.5, a high recommendation, but 20 fewer pages and it would be tops. I just hope Jason the Marine isn’t mad at me.

I received One of the Few for free, in exchange for my honest review. It did save me the $16.99 Amazon new price, but I still told the truth. It would have to be a free $20.00 book for me to lie about it.

danielcooley.com

AllBks

The Bride(zilla) of Christ: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

bridezillaThe Good:

This was an unexpectedly beneficial read. I was expecting horror stories of fist-fights in the foyer, worship wars over the contemporary bagpipe harmonica band, or maybe pastors become crack addicts to make it through board meetings. Admittedly, that would have been a fun read, but less helpful. Bride(Zilla) did give plenty of honest stories, enough to know the authors had been on the receiving side of plenty of church hurt. But, the book offers hope for the church and ourselves, pushing back hard at the idea that all the hurt is caused by others, leaving us off the hook. Other than being convicted (how dare they), I loved the book.

The Bad:

I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more practical help for “What to Do When God’s People Hurt God’s People,” (the subtitle). Gluck and Martin did emphasize that the gospel has the power to reconcile severed relationships, and pushed back hard on the idea to simply run away to solve our problems.

The book also jumps around a bit, hitting on some tangents that seem to be big issues for the authors. The church not focusing on singles is one. And the idea that that the church has become a place of entitlement for spoiled believers is another. It was a bit of a tangent, but the chapter on entitlement was one of my favorites, helping to me to think through why we do what we do, and how we might unintentionally be enabling the entitlement mentality at our church. Here are some quotes from that section. . .

“There’s a lot of talk these days about entitlement…. The disease of entitlement has historically had just as much of a hold on the church as anywhere else… Let me get straight to the gist of this chapter: the overflow of an ungrateful heart is consumerism…  We attend church to be served, not to serve. We attend church to be won over, not to worship. We attend church to complain, not to confess… we simply attend, and we believe the church should attend to the space that we’re paying tithes to fill… The problem, of course, is that consumerism in the church creates causalities.”

The Ugly:

As a pastor, I can say with some experience that there are times when church sucks – and times when it is the most wonderful, powerful, life-changing place on the planet. This book had to focus on the ugly side of church, but somehow, for me, it ended up being medicine for healing some of the old hurts, and helped me realize how I was part of the problem.

I loved this encouraging line: “The hurt is not the deepest thing. Grace is deeper still.”

I was hoping I’d get a new car for writing this review. Had that been the case, I might have lied. However, all I got was a book free from the Blogging for Books Blogger Review Program. As a result, I was honest. Dang it.

 

 

Don’t Buy This Book

essentialsOfTheHeartSusan Weagant has updated her book, Essentials of the Heart. I was asked to write an endorsement. Here’s what I think.

Don’t buy this book. It will make you think about where you are, and where you would like to be, and give steps to change – you don’t want that. You’ll get engrossed in the stories, and then hit in the heart by the scripture woven in. The next thing you know you will want to make the changes suggested, and you will start down the path to a life of fulfillment. Trust me, it’s much easier to stay stuck. Put the book back.

Daniel Cooley

 

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