The Juice Bar

My muses, thoughts, ideas, and whatever

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My reading journal - August 2008

The Shack - Ernest P. Young - An OK primer's guide to a Arminian/Open Christian theology leavened with self-help inspirational sayings. The quality of writing isn't bad for an author's first novel, nothing any worse than what Dan Brown puts out. The portrayal of the trinity, I didn't find to be openly heretical, but a little too touchy-feely for my tastes. There were some well-done passages on grace and mystery, but repetitive passages about God cooking such marvelous goodies for his guest makes him sound a bit too much like Rachel Ray. All in all, I suppose this book can help someone who has experienced a great tragedy in their lives, but I wouldn't call it essential reading for most people.

Fieldwork - Mischa Berlinski - A richly detailed novel that explores the experience of two kinds of Americans discovering a new and strange world in Northern Thailand. An evangelist comes to the native land to set them free from their animist religion and tries to persuade to follow Christianity. An anthropologist comes to this land to learn the curious ways of this people. When a member of the evangelist's family is discovered to have been murdered by this anthropologist, an American journalist doing odd jobs in Thailand digs into the past histories of these two families to try to uncover the truth. Yet this murder mystery isn't the main point of the book, and the book is not a thriller. Rather, it explores what it's really like to be an anthropologist and to do slow painstaking fieldwork. The book covers the family histories in vivid detail, as well as the culture of this tribe of Thai natives, and holds all the mystery and fascination of an off-the-beaten-path travelogue. Well worth reading, as it presents the human and religious drama in all its messy complexity.

Auralia's Colors - Jeffrey Overstreet - My second time reading through this novel, and loved it again. The vivid details are a delight. I liked how the use of color is used to portray the transforming power of art and beauty. I'm looking forward to reading his next book, Cyndere's Midnight.


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