Thursday, August 27, 2015

Where Christ Is Present



This religious book, edited by John Warwick Montgomery and Gene Edward Veith, both who contribute to it alongside other authors, commemorates the forthcoming fifth-century anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther. Its scripture comes from the English Standard Version of the Bible, with the publisher hoping to instigate a new Lutheran Reformation, the book dedicated to various individuals such as Dr. Howard Hoffman.

The first chapter, by John Warwick Montgomery, indicates that many don’t understand the importance of the Reformation’s anniversary, which commenced on the Eve of All Saints Day, 1517. He indicates that Jesus was a kind of “Jewish boy scout,” and analyzes the various Christian denominations, Lutheranism included, noting the problems with others while insisting that Lutherans take the scripture “exactly as it is.”

The second chapter, by Gene Edward Veith, notes the Counter-Reformation initiated by the Catholic Church in response to the Lutheran Reformation, with Luther, whom the Church excommunicated, not necessarily wishing to start his own alternate denomination, with Catholics today acknowledging that their faith was indeed in need of reform. Other denominations he analyzes, too, noting that Anglicans seek to be intermediaries between Protestantism and Catholicism, and that Wesleyans (with this reviewer being Methodist, although his beliefs lean more in favor of the Episcopal Church) believe good works play part in salvation, a perfectly reasonable belief.

The third chapter, by Cameron A. MacKenzie, tells the story of Martin Luther’s life, starting with his death as an evangelical, with some criticism of Luther brought to light such as the alleged freedom of man to commit sin, and his conflicts with fellow evangelicals. He also mentions debates about Christ’s alleged presence in communion and the nature of infant baptism.

The fourth chapter, by A. S. Francisco, notes that different denominations disagree on theology and practice, largely due to authority other than scripture, with Lutherans believing scripture is the sole source of revelation and authority, and Calvinists believing that Christ’s spirit alone exists during communion.

The fifth chapter, by Rod Rosenbladt, discusses whether salvation is earned or freely given, mentioning active and passive righteousness, the division of scripture into Laws and Promises, and bibliographies for more insight into different Christian denominations.

The sixth chapter, by Harold Senkbeil, examines the basic tenants of Lutheranism, such as Jesus being God and man, the amount of water necessary for baptism, the meaningfulness of infant baptism, the practice of confession and absolution, and so forth.

The seventh chapter, by Todd Wilken, preaches that baptism constitutes a boundary between God’s kingdom and Earth, with Satan’s realm allegedly not a true kingdom, Christians being dual citizens of Heaven and Earth, and that Christians have multiple vocations in addition to their earthly ones.

The eighth chapter, by Uwe Siemon-Netto, notes that narcissistic mindset threatens Christianity in America, with Catholics, for instance, viewing religious vocation as limited to priests and entries into monasteries, Lutherans allegedly allowing followers to delve into the realm of the secular without completely engorging themselves in its ways. The section presents various factoids such as Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler’s hatred of Christianity, most pregnancy terminations being the result of personal choice rather than things such as disability, and concludes with the statement that there is no authority except that from God.

The ninth chapter, by Craig A. Parton, focuses on Christianity and the arts, particularly with regards to composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, with Luther, for instance, very much believing that art and music had a firm place in Christian practice, touching upon the principle of adiaphora. He notes that Christian freedom derives from freedom from sin and death, with exercise of freedom best when exercised in favor to God and neighbors. The principle of legalism adds to music with certain prohibition, institutes such as Bob Jones University, for instance, forbidding rock music in worship service, and Bach himself having secular interests and clients.

The tenth chapter, by Steven A. Hein, notes that Christians may long for more fulfilling experiences, with the Law and Gospel being parallel, and that one is not saved by the cross and can “move on” five minutes later. Faith, he indicates, is attacked by temptation, with Lutherans believing faith presents them with a life regimen.

The eleventh chapter, by Angus J. L. Menuge, analyzes the cultural and aesthetic impact of Lutheranism, noting different types of Christian response to culture and indicating that art suffers injustice when we insist it must tell the truth about God without first confessing the truth about ourselves, some samples of Christian art presented.

The final chapter, by John Warwick Montgomery, concludes the main text, indicating that at the point in the book the benefits of Lutheranism are plain, and notes the paradox that conservatives in one denomination can be liberals in another, and suggests more conservative subsectors of Lutheranism such as the Missouri Synod over the more liberal Evangelical sect, in which women and homosexuals can be ordained as clergy.

After the text are biographies of the contributors, with Francisco, for instance, being a student of Arabic and Islamic theology, MacKenzie being ordained as a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod clergyman, and Parton being a trial lawyer.

Overall, this is a fairly thought-provoking look at Lutheran faith, even if the text somewhat adopts a supremacist viewpoint in that regard, with this reviewer still true to his Episcopalian and Methodist leanings, given his view that salvation is something one must actively work for instead of being received freely simply by faith.
 
 Authors’ Bio:



John Warwick Montgomery is the author of more than sixty books in six languages. He holds eleven earned degrees, including a Master of Philosophy in Law from the University of Essex, England, a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, a Doctorate of the University in Protestant Theology from the University of Strasbourg, France, and the higher doctorate in law (LL.D.) from the University of Cardiff, Wales. He is a Lutheran clergyman, an English barrister, and is admitted to practice as a lawyer before the Supreme Court of the United States and is a practicing avocat, Barreau de Paris, France. Dr. Montgomery currently serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin.




















Gene Edward Veith is the Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lola's Money



This romance novel begins one stormy Saturday evening in February, when the main female protagonist, Lola French, twenty-eight years old, watches television in a flat she shares with her boyfriend Alan in East Calder near Livingston in Scotland. An immediate twist comes when she realizes she wins the lottery, although she has an immediate fight with her boyfriend, with whom she severs ties, moving back in with her mother Betty. Lola, looking forward to being a multi-millionaire with her eight-million-pound prize, works as a financial advisor for an Edinburgh-based company, where she has a lukewarm relationship with fellow employee Cassie Matthews, and struggles with the decision of to whom she should reveal her newfound fortune.

Betty is a divorced mother, and becomes angry when her ex-husband George makes himself known again briefly following the news of their daughter’s lottery win. Lola and her mother makes plans to take a cruise to Venice, during which Betty falls for a man named Jeremy and Lola for a man named Carlos. Things take a turn for the worse when a kidnapping comes into play during the vacation that ultimately leads to hospitalization at the end of the second part of the novel. The third part takes place after the Italian vacation, with several romantic twists that involve a love triangle, with plentiful reversals and more twists.

Overall, this is an enjoyable romance novel that enthusiasts of the genre will most likely appreciate, given its twisting and turning nature and unexpected reveals, dealing well with the implications of winning a large fortune.



Author's Bio:

Rosanna Rae is married with three grown-up sons and lives in Livingston, Scotland. She has a B.A. (Open) in Social Science subjects and also took a writing course with The Writers Bureau some years ago. She spent 16 years at home raising her family and then returned to full-time secretarial employment in Edinburgh.

Rosanna has wanted to write fiction since she was ten years of age, after reading an abridged version of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. She is delighted to be now fulfilling that early ambition.

'Lola's Money' is the author's fifth novel; she is currently writing her sixth book.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Melanie's Evanescent Journey




This novel by B. Truly is actually an interquel tying the first and second installments of the author’s The Sonar Trilogy, dedicated to the writer’s family, especially her mother, although one can enjoy it without having read the other entries of the franchise. The narrator and protagonist, the titular Melanie, was born in raised in Australia although her father accepted a job transfer to Denver, Colorado, and now lives in America, attending her first day as a senior at Cashmere High. She quickly befriends Ebony Wilson and an amnesiac student named Jason, and regularly has dreams that can border on violent and almost realistic.

The first half of the novel focuses on Melanie’s scholastic life and development of her relationship with Jason, with whom she studies and watches television a few times, although the second part of the book somewhat shifts the narrative’s genre from realistic fiction to science fiction, with several interesting twists that completely alter the story’s direction. Concluding the book is an epilogue taking place four years after the main chapters, which nicely rounds out the novel, although the sudden shift of genres will definitely catch readers off-guard. Even so, this reviewer can easily recommend this gripping tale.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hello, My Love!





The first installment of author EJourney’s Between Two Worlds series, Hello, My Love!, is an alleged modern imitation of Jane Austen’s novel, focusing on an intelligent and beautiful law student named Elise Halverson, who takes an interest in a playboy named Greg Thorpe, although she discovers that he has promised his live to another woman, Lori Williams, who vows revenge upon Elise, with a passage of two years when Elise becomes the victim of a hit-and-run automobile accident. The Amazon page says that food allegedly plays a prominent role in the story, although eating is only referenced less than a handful of times.

The narrative itself opens with a quote from Anatole France about how in love, like in art, instinct is enough. Greg works for Elise’s college professor father, Dr. Charles Halverson, most characters introduced in the first chapter, the second taking readers back to a year before, where Greg is first introduced to Elise, not in person, but rather on television, where he sees her participating in a protest at Sacramento, California, with plentiful popular culture references abounding such as war films that include Apocalypse Now, the subsequent chapter taking the reader back to the present, where they have sexual relations.

The novel deals with issues such as abortion and extramarital relations, and is ultimately an enjoyable read that doesn’t take sides in the controversial topics upon which it touches. A reversal occurs in the segments of the story that occur two years after the initial chapters, with a major reversal occurring during the narrative. Overall, this is an enjoyable romance novel, although some of the chapters feel a little slow, and there is occasional confusion regarding certain events that occur early on in the story, although this reviewer certain gives the book his seal of approval.
















Author's Bio:

EJourney is a realist who thinks she has little imagination. Credit that to her training (Ph. D., University of Illinois) and work in mental health, writing for academics and bureaucrats, and critiquing the work of others. She’s been striving ever since to think and write like normal people.

She’s a well-traveled flâneuse—a female observer-wanderer—who watches, observes, listens. And writes. A sucker for happy endings, she finds enough that depresses her about real life, but seeks no catharsis by writing about it. For her, writing is escape, entertainment. She doesn’t strive to enlighten. Not deliberately. But the bias of her old profession does carry over into her writing. So, instead of broad shoulders and heaving bosoms, she goes into protagonists' thoughts, emotions, inner conflicts, insecurities, and struggles to reach balance and grow.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mind Over Bullies




Author D.K. Smith dedicates this novel to all victims of bullying for whom the day is always darkest before dawn. The narrative opens with teenagers purchasing clothing at a mall about to pay with hundred-dollar bills until they find out that those they have are counterfeit and flee from the authorities, getting into a car accident while evading the police. One of the book’s primary settings is Oak View, California, where counterfeiting money has become a problem, with students beaten up by bullies for reporting to the authorities. A chief protagonist is Margo Rios, who takes a journalism class at her high school.

The story occasionally alternates between Oak View and London, England, where a student named Ellis experiences bullying at his school that results in his getting beaten, and despite the distance between their cities, those of the students and Oak View and Ellis ultimately intertwine. Several parties occur in Oak View, with Margo also occasionally interviewing students jailed for their involvement in the counterfeiting of money, plenty other characters introduced such as Janet, who attends a school called Felton Prep, with the police ultimately involving themselves in the bullying and counterfeiting, a focus given to Detectives Bennett and Seldon, among others.

The book’s counterfeiting subplot is one of its high points, although most of the story, especially with regards to the bullying several characters encounter, could have been resolved more easily if they had just informed those in positions of authority, such as teachers and the principal, instead of attempting to be vigilantes and take matters into their own hands, culminating in the formation of a group that bears the name of the novel, Mind Over Bullies. Even so, this reviewer can somewhat sympathize with the themes of the book, having experienced bullying himself while attending grade school, with this narrative being a recommended read overall.

Author's Bio:

A 38 year old native of Los Angeles, Mr. Smith began his writing career after getting news that he would soon become an uncle. Wanting to create stories and characters for his expected niece, he created the children’s book series “Sock n Boots Adventures.” The two characters (three year old Sock and five year old Boots) began to make names for themselves, generating downloads in countries around the world.

When asked about his motivation to tackle the subject of bullying in a 108,000 word novel Smith said, “One day I came across a story in the news about a young girl that jumped in front of a subway train after weeks of bullying. As I investigated further, I was shocked at the number of similar stories I encountered. Bullycide, the news was calling it. I thought, wow, what if these young people had been shown that the pain of bullying can be handled without hurting themselves or someone else.”

Ultimately it was thoughts of his now four nieces and three nephews dealing with bullying as they get older that weighed heavily on the decision for Smith to write the story about bullying. “I recognize that the characters and situations in the book may not represent every bullying situation and that realistically the book won’t change the world, but I do sincerely hope that it sends a subtle message about there being life after bullying. We’ll just have to see how the public receives it,” Smith said.

A lover of mystery and espionage stories, Smith is a fan of everything James Bond. A favorite scenario is to see a character in an impossible situation get out of it at the last second or have the odds against them and see he or she turn the tables. Acting on the love of espionage and mystery, Smith has a new novel in the works centering on a James Bond-type character of his own creation.

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