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Heaven’s Hunter by Marie C. Keiser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Randall Yung is the scion of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the galaxy. He’s been trying to escape their manipulations for a long time. There are only two people he really cares about. One is Alicia, a young Catholic woman, who disappeared the day after she had accepted his marriage proposal. His other friend, Conrad, was killed when a vessel, Heaven’s Hunter, fired a torpedo at close range that penetrated to the bridge of Conrad’s destroyer. Randall makes it his mission to bring Conrad’s killers to justice.
This is a superbly-written story that I found hard to put down. The author uses the strengths of the first person point of view to let the reader observe as Randall makes observations about himself and his life. There are surprises at every turn and the ending is deeply satisfying.
When the man responsible for launching the missile that killed Conrad was asked by Randall why he had left it [the fleet] for a pack of superstitious nonsense [Catholicism], Alvarez replied “Because it’s beautiful and good and true.”
I am not a Catholic, but if asked why I became a Christ-follower, I would have answered in exactly the same way.
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Flynn Arcturus is smart-mouthed eighteen year-old living in the undersea city of Seahaven. Cain’s fantasy adventure has many magical imaginings that make living at the bottom of the sea much more interesting than living in the dark, cold undersea environment that a science fiction novel would insist upon.
Flynn has a knack for disobeying instructions and getting into trouble. His troubles and his ability to get out of them enable him to discover a threat to the very existence of Seahaven. How that threat plays out makes for an exciting adventure.
I found Seahaven to be even better than the prequel, Ruins of Scell. I particularly liked the way Cain mixed in real sea creatures (frilled sharks, vampire squid) with extinct and imaginary ones. Researching some of these made reading the novel even more enjoyable.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
David Kinnaman is president of Barna Group, a leading research and communications company that works with churches. Along with his co-author Gabe Lyons, Kinnaman and Lyons use a host of polling data to build the case that Christians are viewed as extreme and irrelevant by American society.
Kinnaman and Lyons then go on to describe, based on their own investigations, the best way for churches to fulfill their historic mission of following the teaching of Christ while benefiting society and relating to a society given that they are painted as extreme and irrelevant. Churches ought to continue to contribute to the betterment of society as a whole through their charitable work.
Every church that I have been a part of over the years has, of course, done this to some degree (my wife and I have had fellowship with many different denominations in Canada), but now a church’s participation in a charitable event either alone or in partnership with others will almost never be recognized as such by the media. The church’s involvement will either be unrecognized altogether or the charitable activity will be treated as if it is unrelated to the church’s main mission (of course it is not). The message for me is to recognize this charitable connection in other church organizations and to point it out, since the media will not.
For me the most helpful discussion was found in Chapter 7 on how to respond to modern secularism which works to banish all religious expression from the public square on the grounds the very presence of religious expression would be offensive to some members of the public. Kinnaman and Lyons advocate on behalf of a view by John D. Inazu which is called Confident Pluralism or Principled Pluralism. A metaphor of a potluck dinner is used to explain this concept. Everyone is able to bring their best and favorite dish to the potluck, but no one is required to try any dish. So everyone, regardless of their World View is allowed to participate and present their best in the public sphere but no one is required to subscribe to that view or participate in whatever activity that view engenders. This has been helpful for me but means we all need to champion access to the public sphere for all views, not just our own.
In summary, I had some points of disagreement with the authors, but I appreciated their data-driven approach to the subject. Their description of Principled Pluralism as a common ground in the public sphere was most helpful. I very much recommend this book to others.
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I enjoy reading independent works by authors who are beginning their writing journey. The combination of autobiography and fantasy (my favorite genre) intrigued me. I thought I would give Rolston’s book a chance and I was delighted. The book is well-written and immediately drew me in. Once I started I could not put it down. I rated it a four out of five stars meaning I enjoyed it enough to read again and again.
Why did I like it so much? It has been difficult to put it into words. On reflection I think I was intrigued that I was reading about real-life events that happened to a real person. On the other hand, it was written in the third person and so gave an analytical and objective perspective that I appreciated. It was filled with many remarkable occurrences that Materialists would ascribe to improbable coincidence and Christ-followers to providence. Mirroring the objective description of what was happening in the “seen world” was the insightful interaction with the King in the unseen world. The interweaving of the two was a delight and very thought-provoking for me.
In summary I would highly recommend this book whether you have an interest in the spiritual or not. It provides a profound and exciting view of one person’s life, both trauma and triumphs. It provides insight into the role the unseen plays in some people’s lives. I recommend it without reservation.
Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to family, friends, and readers. What’s behind this picture of a bridge over a castle dry moat? Find out what’s new with author Peter Kazmaier and his writing.
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First published in 1951 this details the exploits of a young man caught in a war of independence of the Venus colony from earth.
For me this is a book worth re-reading. On the one-hand it’s a science fiction story that lacks the cynicism and pessimism found in many more recent SF stories. On the otherhand it also gives a glimpse of the thoughts of scientists in the 1950s about Venus as a planet (a tropical jungle world, likely teaming with life) rather than the high pressure, searing hot planet we know it to be today. It’s interesting to see how wrong scientists can be about a world until a probe actually lands there.
If you enjoy action-packed space stories, filled with optimism and hope, I think you would enjoy this book as I did.