Willa Cather’s *Death Comes for the Archbishop*

Death Comes for the ArchbishopDeath Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enchanting, profound, elegiac, epic, beautiful. As a man with a PhD in Divinity and professor at a seminary I will tell you that the missiology and anthropology of religion in this book is penetrating and deep. As a priest and pastor I found it incredibly moving, sometimes to the point of tears.

Anyone interested in the history of the West of the USA or missiology should read this book or listen to the audio version.

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Humanity, Robots, Empire and Asimov

Robots and Empire (Robot #4)Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a hard book to find here in Madrid. Neither of my two (American) library systems had it as an eBook or mp3 audio book. That was odd when the Elijah Bailey (Robot) series and Foundation series are easy to find.

This is an enormously ambitious book. It is much more than meets the eye. In this book the author is trying to marry two distinct and quite different universes into one. For people who know the universe of Caves of Steel and Foundation this is the uniter, this is the book that explains how R. Daneel Olivaw can appear in certain of the Foundation books and the pre-history of psychohistory.

But Asimov’s other concerns are quite interesting and relevant and even prescient, one might say. What happens with the Spacers who are all very comfortable and really have no need for self-betterment at this point? Nor do they have any need for fanciful things like procreation. The robot economy will do everything they need for them. Well, it’s not quite Brave New World, but it’s getting there. (The big difference is that Spacers are somehow immune to vices like drugs and alcohol. How can they resist these temptations? Asimov has no answer because his philosophical anthropology is in the end deficient.)

And the Settlers who all hail from earth: they remain stuck in a sort of nativism in relation to earth. Ergo, earth must be depopulated, but not too fast. (Again, this explains why no one knew were earth was in a much later book.) Is this Asimov’s humanistic effort of people to get past nationalism? If it is it doesn’t sound preachy or condescending as do so many authors when they try to address contemporary political issues. (Yes, Hunger Games and Divergent, I’m grocking you. Oh, and of course the infamous book The Martian by Heinlein.)

As to characters, D.G. and Gladia are amusing, but Daneel and Giskard are by far the most interesting characters.

If you really want to appreciate this book read the Elijah Bailey (Robot) books, then all the Foundation books, and then, finally, this one.

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Islam, Worldview, and the Deep Questions of Life

Authentic religious conversations challenge worldviews. They must. But for a conversation to be authentic and have the capacity of causing a person to examine their worldview you must first earn trust and respect. That is why personal relationships characterized by honesty and compassion are indispensable. Within those relationships one can then pose questions that will help your Muslim friend to scrutinize her worldview.

Read the rest of the post at Covenant, blog of The Living Church.

Filling in the Global Map for the Anglican Communion

From my latest post at Covenant, the blog of The Living Church:

So, let’s imagine a country where the Communion has no presence. Let’s imagine a country where having a Bible is against the law and where citizens who become Christians might be executed. Let’s think about a place where there is not a single church building. In the words of John Lennon, “It’s easy if you try.”

What would establishing a missionary diocese there look like?

Read it all HERE.

Reviewing Andy Stanley’s *Deep and Wide*

Deep and WideDeep and Wide by Andy Stanley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My wife and I have been in full-time Christian ministry for some 14 years now. I presently serve as pastor at the Anglican cathedral in Madrid. My main work has not been as a congregation pastor, but I’ve done a lot of teaching at churches throughout the USA and other countries as well. I’ve had many, many opportunities to see what is working and what is not working. I’ve seen that in everything from home churches to megachurches. I’ve seen it across denominations: Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Pentecostal—you name it.

A ministry partner of mine bought this book for me and my wife, Sharon. We slowly read it together over two years or so. But we did read it. We just finished it last night.

I’m excited about this book. I want to recommend it to everyone in church leadership and especially for pastors. I want to recommend it to people from every single denomination. Yes, yes, he’s not sensitive to liturgical realities, I get it. But still there is so much to learn and apply from this book.

The author’s main goal is to tell you how to create a church that is welcoming to unchurched people. He gives you pointers on sermons, ministry, leadership, and basic nut and bolts things like welcoming people and music. There is a load of useful stuff in here. Also, his writing style is easygoing and very readable.

Pick it up. Read it. You won’t regret it.

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Why Some Muslims are Attracted to Christianity

More Muslims have converted to the Way of Jesus Christ in the last four decades than in all the other years since the advent of Islam in the 7th Century. Something is certainly happening among Muslims and there is an openness in their society that was not there before. It’s also important to note that large numbers of nominal Christians, especially in Europe, are converting to Islam–a main reason being so they can marry Muslim women. Who has more converts? Not sure about that. I will say that Muslims converting to Christianity often pay a heavy price in terms of persecution, and that Westerners converting to Islam are afforded generous protection by their governments.

But here is the question: why are some Muslims attracted to the way of Jesus Christ? Here are some of the main reasons…

Read the rest of my article at the New Wineskins blog.

Revisiting Asimov’s *The Naked Sun*

The Naked Sun (Robot, #2)The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first read this book when I was a teenager. It has aged very well. Asimov gives us a fascinating world in Solaris where people view each other often, but overall live in isolation, with hundreds of robots for each human. As an adult I found the ethical questions and anthropological questions particularly fascinating. For instance, how the Solarians raise their children, training them to live in solitude in spite of what seems like an ingrained human need for company and friends. And of course there is a murder mystery to solve. And robots. What’s not to like?

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