Book Chat

This month’s book reviews:

Surprised by Hope

Let’s begin with something weighty … Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N. T. Wright, who is a bishop in the Church of England.  I read this book because I’d seen it recommended by a commenter online.  It is supposed to answer the age-old question of “what happens when you die?”

Well.  This is a very scholarly book, one of those where you’ll read a page, only to realize that you’ve been spacing out and not paying attention and will have to read it again.  At least, that’s what happened to me.  This is not a quick or easy read.

Wright takes issue with our typical belief that “you go to heaven when you die.”  He does think that we will go to heaven or paradise upon death, but that our bodies will be eventually resurrected and live in “new heavens and earth” that God will bring about.

He feels Christians are too cavalier in their attitude about earth, for instance not caring about pollution because they think God’s just going to destroy the earth eventually anyway.  He never mentions the place in 2 Peter where we do hear about the destruction of earth by fire, and I wondered how he would explain that.

He thinks that Christians are called to bring about God’s kingdom on earth, and he was kind of bringing me along until he went into a rant about today’s worst problem being unpaid debt of Third World Nations … huh?  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a thing about that, and he’s comparing it to slavery and Nazi Germany.

At that point I started becoming a bit skeptical about the whole thing.

If you are curious (and I’m aware that my review probably wouldn’t prompt you to be!), read more yourself … I’d love to hear another take on it.


bridgeI love books by Richard Russo (I particularly loved Empire Falls).  He is a master at writing big (this one’s 600+ pages), epic stories that follow the characters so that you really get to know them.  There are always characters that I can relate to, and others that remind me of people I know.

Bridge of Sighs is in the same mold:  you’ll learn to know Lou C. Lynch well.  He’s 60 now, but most of the book is set in his memories of growing up with his smart yet prickly mom and his dumb yet kindhearted dad.

One annoyance:  why are excellent authors so often liberals?  Sure enough, I was about 100 pages in when I got to the first reference to Bush as “stupid.”  Granted, it was a character making this accusation, but it was a character written as “smart.”  I got curious, and sure enough found that Russo is indeed liberal, although “I’m very conservative when it comes to finances” (yeah, I bet being a millionaire author will do that to you, huh?).  I have the same problem with John Irving, Jane Smiley – you name it.  Where are the talented conservative authors (or for that matter, Christian authors – but I guess that’s a topic for another day)?

Anyway, although I’m still about 50 pages from finishing this one, I really like it.  Russo is a master at creating a world for you and introducing you to characters you’ll care about, and he can weave the ordinary events that make up all our lives into larger, thought-provoking tapestries.



9 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. Thanks for linking up with us– sure looks like you’ve had some HEAVY reading this month!

    (And I’m by no means a photographer, but I’ll head over and look at the pics!) 🙂

  2. I totally agree with your assessment on “Surprised by Hope.” It made me feel better to read what you wrote. 🙂 I had to re-read paragraphs over and over to get what he was saying, and even then, I’m not sure I did.

  3. I so know that feeling — getting a few pages along and realizing I haven’t absorbed a thing I’ve read!

    Thanks for these reviews. I enjoyed reading your reactions.

  4. I’m right here just not published yet, lol!! And you know, that is probably because I’m not a liberal 🙂

    I love your book reviews.

  5. I went over to your daughter’s blog; she’s doing really well with her photography. As for Christian books, have you read any Chuck Colson? He has one in particular that I’ve read recently, Kingdoms in Conflict, that I really liked. Also Mere Christianity and almost everything else by C. S. Lewis. And on a totally different note, have you ever read Robin Hardy’s “Chataine’s Guardian” trilogy? WOW, it’s really good. For a bit lighter Christian reading, Gilbert Morris writes good historical romance, and Lance Wubbels wrote a book called “The Bridge Over Flatwillow Creek” that I enjoyed; he had some other good ones, too.

  6. Sounds like some heavy reading!

    Have you tried Jamie Langston Turner? She is a Christian author whose books are a tad more literary than the usual. I’ve reviewed a couple of hers on my blog if you’d like to get a taste of her writing.

    I’m heading over to your dd’s blog to check out her photography!

  7. I also loved Bridge of Sighs and have Empire Falls and The Straight Man by Russo on my shelf.

    Enjoy your summer reading!

  8. Thanks for the reviews!! I hear you on the liberal thing. It bothers me in any medium like shout outs to Obama during American Idol or whatnot. I’d have developed an attitude through the rest of the book. LOL

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