Mini Book Review: The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman

spyThis book is the true story of Adolf Tolkachev who delivered Russian secrets to the the CIA for seven years during the Cold War. The sheer impact this one spy had on the United States military, specifically in aviation, is astounding. His secrets contributed to the United States’ air superiority throughout the world for long after the Cold War ended and helped topple the Soviet Union. It is an incredible story. As I read the account of Tolkachev, I couldn’t help but wonder how his story ties in with other known spies of the era. People like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hannsen may have contributed to the ultimate downfall of Tolkachev and it is mind-boggling to consider the interwoven web of espionage that permeated the Cold War. In a world focused technology and “wiki-leaks”, this book reinforces the necessity of human intelligence. I highly recommend it if you are interested in Cold War espionage.

Mini Book Review of ‘The End of Reason’ by Ravi Zacharias

endofreasonThe End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias was written as a response to what has been dubbed ‘New Atheism’. Primarily, it was written to refute the philosophy of atheist Sam Harris who wrote The End of Faith.

Zacharias’ arguments in this book are logical, concise, and articulate. I love the way his brain works! Zacharias is an evangelist and apologist that brings a unique perspective to theology and philosophy. He is an “Indian-born Canadian-American” with a Master of Divinity, several honorary doctorates, and an undergraduate degree. He brings to the table a command of logic and language that is unparalleled along with a cultural experience that is uniquely his own. Because of his unique background, Zacharias writes in a voice that is distinctly his own – and I appreciate that.

This book makes short work of the philosophy championed by Sam Harris and others. Zacharias places the worldview of new atheism alongside that of Christianity and exposes the hate, despair, and hopelessness of the new atheist. As Zacharias unravels the arguments of Sam Harris, he exposes them as illogical and unfulfilling.

On a side note, Zacharias writes as a former atheist who was once on the brink of suicide. His experience seems to have ignited in him a passion for revealing the illogical endgame of the new atheist and in this book he does so in remarkable fashion.

 

Book Review of ‘Flight to Heaven: A Plane Crash … A Lone Survivor … a Journey to Heaven — and Back’ by Dale Black

flightI have a love/hate relationship with audio books. While I love the idea of them, I typically hate actually listening to them. This book was an exception to that rule. Read in the author’s own voice, Flight to Heaven: A Plane Crash … A Lone Survivor … A Journey to Heaven — and Back is pilot Dale Black’s story of surviving a horrific plane crash.

As the title suggests, Dale Black submits that after his crash he visited Heaven. This fact alone almost caused me to dismiss the book. Why? Perhaps I’m just a cynic, but there are numerous titles in bookstores everywhere that suggest similar stories. The odds alone suggest many of them are false. I’m glad, however, that I gave this book a chance. This book is less about Dale Black’s visit to Heaven and more about the life he led after his visit to Heaven.
Black’s injuries were devasting. nearly every bone in one leg was shattered and he was left unable to walk, much less fly a plane. However, his faith in God allowed him to not only recover, but to thrive amid such darkness. Dale Black’s life was changed and, as a result, he changed the lives of others.
I should add that listening to his story in the author’s own voice added to my enjoyment. I got the sense that Black was less telling a story and more sharing his testimony – at times, almost reluctantly, but at all times humbly. Black never seemed to glorify himself but rather seemed more concerned with glorifying the One who saved him from his crash.
I enjoyed this audiobook a great deal and highly recommend it to anyone who needs to hear an inspirational story of hope and survival.

Mini Book Review of ‘The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions’ by David Berlinski

devilsdelusionIn The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions biologist and philosopher David Berlinski brings a unique voice to the table. Berlinski describes himself as a secular Jew yet he offers a biting defense of religious thought. Berlinksi is critical of skeptical arguments against religious thought on the grounds that they often misrepresent the science behind the argument. He is also critical of Darwinian evolution but he offers his critique from an angle that should be palatable to the skeptic.

There are times during this book that Berlinski sounds very “religious” but he goes beyond simply rehashing old arguments and offers a fresh perspective that I appreciate a great deal.

Review of ‘The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw’ by Norman L. Geisler and Daniel J. McCoy

fatalflawThe field of apologetics can be classified into two categories, negative and positive. Negative apologetics is concerned with making a defense of the Christian faith while positive apologetics is more concerned with attacking the beliefs of non-Christians. This is book is, by and large, a work of positive apologetics as it furiously attacks the inconsistencies held by atheists.

Geisler and McCoy spend a great deal of time clarifying the arguments of popular atheists through extensive research and quotations. In fact, there are moments throughout the book I felt they were articulating atheistic thought too well. It is not an overstatement to suggest Geisler and McCoy understand atheistic claims far better than most atheists I’ve encountered. The two dive deep into the subject and articulate the opposing position clearly and fairly.

Using atheist’s own words to frame their arguments, the authors expose some major inconsistencies in atheistic thought. Primarily, these inconsistencies lie in the area of moral evil, God’s intervention, and the atheist’s own concern with human autonomy. While atheist’s condemn a God who doesn’t directly intervene in the face of moral evil, they accuse Him of violating human autonomy when He does intervene.

Basically, this book destroys atheistic philosophy. One could argue that the authors could spend more time focusing on negative apologetics and defending Christian philosophy, however, this is all implied when not directly stated. As it stands, this book can be read in just a couple of hours and does a good job of articulating the authors’ positions from beginning to end.

I highly recommend it.

 

Book Review of ‘Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father’s Questions about Christianity’ by Gregory and Edward Boyd

lettersI would have a hard time expressing how much I appreciated this book. It chronicles the correspondence between Seminary professor Dr. Gregory Boyd and his skeptical father Edward. Over the course of a couple of years, Greg Boyd corresponded with, and witnessed to, his father. This book allows the reader a glimpse into their private letters.

Like many skeptics, Edward Boyd had a negative impression of Christianity (as opposed to a positive impression of an opposing worldview); as such, he lends voice to many of the most common objections to the Christian faith. Professor Gregory Boyd skillfully, and lovingly, responds to each and every objection with a heart focused on leading his father to Christ. The end result is a tender lesson in apologetics for readers.

Here are a few of the reasons I highly recommend this book:

  • Gregory Boyd is witnessing from his heart. Too often, apologetics becomes purely an academic and polemic pursuit. Apologists are often more concerned with being right rather than leading people to Christ. This book offers an example of apologetics done correctly with proper love and concern for others.
  • It is honest. There is no attempt made to clean up some of the harsh language or objections offered by the older Boyd. By presenting his letters as they are written, readers are given the opportunity to get to know Edward Boyd – flaws and all. In the process of getting to know him, I found myself rooting for him to overcome his objections to Christ.
  • Dr. Gregory Boyd role models patience, persistence, and love. These attributes are too often missing from apologetics.
  • The Boyd’s relationship with one another is special. They are able to be honest with one another over the course of dozens of letters with no hint of hurt feelings or animosity rising to the surface. This is my weakness when engaging in apologetics. Too often I get frustrated and irritated by someone’s inability to appreciate the truth of Christ and I either get angry or give up. If Dr. Boyd experienced any such emotions he was able to disguise them well.
  • The transformation in Edward is evident as moves from skepticism toward Christ.

This is one of the best books I’ve read in awhile and represents one of the best examples of practical apologetics I’ve found. I highly recommend it.

Book Review of ‘Run Your Butt Off’ by Bonci, Butler, and Coates

runyourbuttoffThis book provides a beginning runner with all the knowledge they need to get started. It offers a plan that closely resembles the “Couch to 5k” running plan that I began with and completed this past summer. It dispels many myths about running and helps beginners understand it’s okay to go slow and add walking breaks to their running. This book takes it a step further however by also offering a diet and weight loss plan.

Even though I’ve already completed the Couch to 5k Program I found myself reading through this book in its entirety simply to learn more about their diet plan. Some of the most informative information involves calculations to determine a person’s daily caloric needs and how to create a healthy calorie deficit in order to lose weight.

In all fairness, most of the information in this book can be found for free on the internet if you look hard enough. But here it is compiled all in one place and offers the beginning runner everything they need to start a healthy running plan. It’s well worth the read.