Thursday, July 17, 2014

Strange Grace - A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Strange Glory cover image
                I had heard a little about and had read portions of the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life prior to reading the new biography written regarding his life by Charles Marsh. But I had not encountered quite so thorough a treatment of the details of his tale until my recent selection. This book was offered to me for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at from the Crown Publishing Group and since I enjoy reading biographies, I decided to give it a try.
                If you are unfamiliar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life, a little background will be helpful before you even begin. Bonhoeffer was a German Pastor and Theologian who was executed during World War II for his "crimes against the state". The book discusses that portion of his life, and the rest of it, quite extensively, so I won't delve into the story for now. But, I will state that it was his courageous stand against the Hitler regime and the means he was willing to go to which would finally earn him the execution he received.
              First, the book does what a biography should, which is thoroughly cover Bonhoeffer's life with complete chronological investigation, And, it is to be commended for that point. However, I feel that this strength is also it's weakness, as it made the book extremely long for me, and I found it hard to finish once I had started, when I normally am a diligent reader.
               Second, perhaps you may feel differently when you read it, but, I did not find the theology Bonhoeffer espoused clearly differentiated. Many famous theologians and professors are mentioned throughout the tale, and while I had heard a few of their names before, I was not able to understand where that put Bonhoeffer's beliefs because of his interest in these leaders. I also felt like Bonhoeffer's faith wavered in where he DID stand at times throughout his life, so a clear place where he landed was not readily identifiable on the theological map.
               But, last, the story does need to be heard. I found the descriptions of Hitler's rise to power and how it progressively affected the Christian believers to be eerily parallel to the build-up occurring presently in the western world. It would do good for everyone as a Christian to study this history, realize the time we're living in, and like Bonhoeffer of old, determine what we are willing to live for and to die for, prior to no linger being given a choice. I hope that if you read this selection, it will sober you to the truth that makes men free, the truth that is only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Simplify by Bill Hybels

Product Details
                Do you remember a time when life felt so much simpler to you? Maybe you can't or perhaps your recollection of your toddler years has faded into the distance. And, if so, you're not alone. Most people I know find life anything but simple. And, whether Christian or non-Christian alike, this lack of simplicity affects everyone and can have a dramatic impact on our ability to function and enjoy our lives. Bill Hybels new book Simplify, addresses the quest for simplicity and offers helpful suggestions on moving into a less stressful and easier way of living.
              As many people already know, Bill Hybels is the founder and pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in the suburbs of Chicago, which is one of the largest churches in the United States. He has authored several other books, but the book Simplify is written after many years of intense living and the discovery of the lack of simplicity in his own life, which he details throughout the book. I received this book for free from the book review program for bloggers, available at I was not required to write a positive review.
              The chapters are arranged with contrasts as their emphasis, and build a case for ten principles to unclutter your soul. The titles address topics such as "From Exhausted to Energized", "From Anxious to Peaceful", "From Drifting to Focused" and many others. The issues addressed are real life, practical issues. You will find many things that you have encountered in at least some of the areas that will be applicable to your own journey toward simplicity. And there is a wealth of suggestions in the pages of the book.
             I am, however, a tad bit torn on how to rate it. Can you benefit from it? Yes. But, in spite of that, I didn't find it to be as enjoyable of a read as I would have hoped. Perhaps it was too simplistic (pun fully intended). I wasn't intrigued by the contents and did not find it to be personally impacting. Though, as I said, there are benefits that can be derived from the contents. If you choose to read it, you may find it contributing toward a simpler life. And, for that reason, I hope that others will find it to be a blessing to your life.