Book Chat

This month’s book reviews:
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate was a very sweet story about an 11-year-old girl growing up in Texas amidst a brood of six brothers in 1899.

Calpurnia’s mom attempts to mold her into the proper young lady of the time – piano lessons, learning to cook and sew, talks about “coming out,” – but all of these bore Calpurnia.  She longs to learn and observe, and thankfully she finds an ally in her grandfather who lives with the family.  To her mother’s dismay, Calpurnia and Grandfather explore the outdoors, making observations and even discovering a new species of plant.

All this is told beautifully, interweaving quotes from Darwin’s Evolution of the Species with Calpurnia’s own evolution into a young lady (just not the exact type of young lady her mother would have preferred).

It’s a wonderful story about finding your own niche in life.  While it’s actually a book for young adults, I thoroughly enjoyed it (as did my 12-year-old daughter).

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George Verwer is apparently quite a big deal in the world of mission work, although I had not heard of him.  Back in October, he came to speak at our church.  He seemed like quite a character, and he did seem to have a heart for reaching the world for Christ.

After his talk, he had out several tables in the foyer where he was giving away many books.  I took The George Verwer Collection, which is a compilation of three books he has written.

I have enjoyed it.  While I can’t say I learned anything new, it’s motivating in helping you remember the reasons you followed Jesus in the first place, and in helping remind you to live daily following him.  Verwer goes into many topics about the Christian life – loving others, reconciling your Christian faith with your own personality, working the disciplines of Christianity into your life, and more.  A good, solid read.

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Rediscovering God in America

First, let’s get the bad out of the way – while I like Newt Gingrich’s political philosophy and am eternally grateful to him for leading the contract with America back in the ’90s, I have a hard time getting over his personal history. He is now on wife #3, coincidentally a cute little blonde who takes photos. And coincidentally enough, she took the photos for this book.  They’re good, although honestly nothing that is any better than what I took on my 2008 trip to DC.

Also, in the introduction Newt and Callista thank ten writers, editors and researchers who “helped” with this 117-page book – I’m guessing precious little of the writing was actually done by Newt and Callista.

Having said that, the good: this book takes you on a walking tour around Washington, D.C., stopping at various buildings and monuments. You will read a brief history of the building and in most instances, quotes and examples about how God and faith related to either the building itself or the life of the person honored.

There are many good quotes in the book, and reading them reinforces to me how far we’ve strayed as a nation from the founders’ ideals and intents:

God governs in the affairs of men.

And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice,

is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

-Benjamin Franklin

It is the duty of all nations

to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God

and to obey His will.

-George Washington

God who gave us life gave us liberty.

Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed

a conviction that  these liberties are the gift of God?

-Thomas Jefferson

It was interesting to note that the earlier monuments (Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, for instance) had far more references to God than do the newer ones (World War II Memorial and FDR Memorial).

I found the book interesting, and plan to read a section of it after dinner to the girls each day this spring, in preparation for a trip to DC that my daughter and I will take in June. It’s a good reminder of the days when God and faith played a more integral role in our nation’s life.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson’s review program for the opportunity to review this book!

 


 

3 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. Those are all good points to note about Newt’s book. I hadn’t heard of it before so I was glad to learn of it and hear your thoughts on it. THanks for sharing and Merry Christmas to you!

  2. Many thanks. Looking forward to seeing your photos of our Nation’s Capital.

    Merry Christmas.

    Callista

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing your thoughts.