Recent Reads

When I was in Madrid we spent an afternoon walking around one of the huge museums there.  I love the old paintings with biblical themes, but I was surprised at how many of those paintings featured nudity.  At least one pastor does not approve of such art.  In my opinion, this is an instance of Americans being a bit too uptight.

I have read a few places about sex-selective abortion.  In many cultures parents want to have a boy, so if they find they are having a girl they may abort it.  This puts pro-choice advocates in a tough place.  Simply put, how can you argue that abortion is a right but be opposed to sex-selective abortion?  Yet many pro-choice advocates are also feminists who cannot be happy with so many choosing to abort girls.  Or, as Ross Douthat points out:

This places many Western liberals, Hvistendahl included, in a distinctly uncomfortable position. Their own premises insist that the unborn aren’t human beings yet, and that the right to an abortion is nearly absolute. A self-proclaimed agnostic about when life begins, Hvistendahl insists that she hasn’t written “a book about death and killing.” But this leaves her struggling to define a victim for the crime that she’s uncovered.

 

Craig Blomberg writes a thoughtful post on baptism and the attitudes of many young Christians today.

I am becoming a big fan of Roger Olsen’s blog.  Good stuff!  As Roger Olsen explains why he defends controversial books, we are beginning to get the first book-length responses to Rob Bell.  Here is a review of Erasing Hell by Francis Chan.

As for other recent reads, I picked up the fifth book in George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series on Tuesday, A Dance with Dragons.  I am about halfway through and so far I am disappointed.  I think there is a temptation that authors fall into when they write series of books and that is to get too much detail and thus to lose the forest for the trees.  This is seen clearly in movies.  How many times do we see a movie that tells a simple story set in a complex world that produces sequels seemingly focused more on the complex world than the characters we enjoyed in the first?  I think The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean both fall into this: great first movie, but in making a grab to be “epic” they lost something in the sequels.

The interesting thing is that the truly epic movies that are able to be epic stay focused on the simplicity.  Throughout the seven Harry Potter books we glimpse a complex, many faceted world, yet the author keeps us focused on the characters of Harry.  If George Martin had written Harry Potter, but book 4, which would not be out yet, we would have point of view chapters from Dobby the House Elf, the ghost in Gryffindor Tower, a muggle who lives next door to the Dursleys, a witch in Nebraska, and the Minister of Magic.  It may be interesting to experience the world of Harry Potter through all these eyes, but it would lose its magic.

I guess the point is that, at least to me, a good book combines simplicity and a character driven story with a complex world that we glimpse parts of but do not need to know every detail of.

 

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