A MERE CHRISTIAN

Debut author Smith offers Christians a lively discussion of the core beliefs of their faith.
Smith, a physician, pits the laws of science against Scripture, and demonstrates a profound mastery of both. He writes that the birth of his disabled daughter, Laura, was the impetus and inspiration for this project, as it forced him and his wife to weigh and measure some of their Christian beliefs. The heavy influence of C.S. Lewis, author of the famous 1952 theological work Mere Christianity, strengthens and provides a framework for this thoroughly researched work. Smith’s book seeks to reassure Christians that modern science can’t provide all the answers to big questions in life, such as how the Earth was formed or why humans were created. The author takes the position that man can’t know everything, because he’s limited to time and space, whereas God exists outside of such boundaries. The author focuses narrowly on discussions about such issues as predestination versus free choice and the creation of woman out of man. The dichotomy of good and evil also plays a significant role in the work, as it explores both moral law (a “Good Force”) and the reality of evil (a “Bad Force”). Although the book is intended for an audience which already believes in the truth of Scripture, it still lays out each point of view convincingly, with attention to detail and careful contemplation. The chapters flow easily and build upon one another’s concepts. That said, the prose, though solid, is somewhat awkward at times (“There are four cardinal virtues, so-called because they are pivotal. There are three ideological virtues that I will discuss later”), and the flowcharts comparing Lewis’ and the author’s thoughts aren’t always easy to understand.

An often engaging book that uses straightforward moments of faith to address much-debated Christian discussion points.

Pub Date: May 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0985823924

Page Count: 90

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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