Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Reading List

1. The Fourth Order (ua), by Stephen Frey
2. Rough Weather (ua), by Robert B. Parker
3. Eclipse (ua), by Stephenie Meyer
4. His Majesty's Dragon (ua), by Naomi Novik
5. Panic!, (hc), edited by Michael Lewis
6. Hot Mahogany (ua), by Stuart Woods

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Proud to be an American

It makes me proud whenever we transition national leadership from one political party to the other. Very few countries do this without bloodshed, without revolution, even in countries that are nominally democratic. But we do it regularly, and we always do it peacefully.

That's a good thing.

And the historical significance of this transition cannot be ignored. For the first time in human history, a population has elected as its leader a member of a non-majority race. That's something to be very proud of. And if this election can help heal the wound of our greatest national sin, that could be a good thing, too.

God bless America.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Podcast Review

History of Christianity

This is a series of classes conducted by Dr. Maxie Burch, under the auspices of a Baptist church in Arizona. At this point, they have 3 classes available on iTunes, for a total of 31 separate lectures, each running about 60-90 minutes.

There are 9 episodes (about 11 hours) in the Early Christian History series, covering roughly the time period from the apostles to the 8th Century. I would judge the level of the lectures to be an advanced adult Sunday School class, or perhaps a freshman level college class. Topics covered in this class include the age of martyrs, Constantine's reforms, early heresies, the canonization of the New Testament, the early councils and creeds, hermits and monasteries, and Celtic Christianity. I learned a lot in these lectures, and found nothing that either contradicted what I already knew, or that seemed "off the track." It struck me as a balanced and well-informed review of that period of church history.

I have not gotten far in the second class yet, Medieval and Reformation Christianity, which runs 11 episodes (about 17 hours). I have found it so far to be as solid and interesting as the first class. The topics surrounding the Reformation tend to create fissures in the Christian community, but I continue to trust that the class will remain well-balanced and fair as it discusses those theological controversies.

The third class, which I expect to get to later in the year, is an 11-episode (about 17 hours) class called Introduction to Historical Theology, and looks like it covers a range of theological topics, such as the Trinity, Sin and Sanctification, Sacraments, the Church, and Last Things. It looks fascinating.

I heartily recommend this podcast to anyone who wants to fill up some gaps in their knowledge relating to the history of the church.

Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 reading in review

I have been keeping track of my annual reading for about 5 years now (thank you, LibraryThing). In 2008, I read 110 books. This is down from the past few years, which hit around 140-150. This is because I got an iPod for Christmas last year, and listened to an absolute ton of podcasts. I have always been a fan of audio, and 60 of the 110 books I read this year were via audio.

The 68 novels I read break down as follows: (note that the total exceeds 68, as many books fit into more than one category)
Thriller/Adventure -- 31
Fantasy/SF -- 17
Mystery -- 12
Christian -- 11
YA -- 10
Historical -- 4

The 42 non-fiction works I read break down as follows: (note that the total exceeds 42, as many books fit into more than one category)
Christian/Theology -- 18
TV/Entertainment -- 12
Business/Technology -- 6
Memoir / Biography -- 5
Family -- 4
Reading and Writing -- 4
History/Politics -- 3

Friday, January 02, 2009

Podcast Review

Daily Audio Bible

This is a podcast that takes the listener through the entire Bible in a single year (twice through the Psalms). I did it in 2008 and highly recommend the site to anyone else who learns best via audio. I encourage anyone who is still working out their devotional or bible reading plans (or resolutions) for 2009 to check out this daily audio resource.

The daily podcast runs from 20-35 minutes, and follow a constant format. The actual Bible reading is the first 15-20 minutes of each episode. These are read each day by the same person, Brian Hardin (unless he is sick or traveling, in which case his wife, singer Jill Parr, handles the reading). He uses 5 or 6 translations for the readings, rotating through them a week at a time.

After the reading, Brian spends a few minutes reflecting on some part of the reading -- this is not quite formal enough to be termed a "devotion," but it's close. Brian then prays, makes a few announcements, and then plays a prayer request from someone who has called in a request.

2008 was a good year for this podcast, and in 2009 they are growing: In addition to the flagship English edition, which will be Hardin's 4th time through the Word, they are adding editions in both Spanish and Hindi.

If the time commitment is too much for you, check out the related Daily Audio Proverb or the Daily Audio Bible for Kids (just the new Testament), both of which run just 5-10 minutes per day.