The Mosaic Experiment: Bringing Old Testament Practices Out of Retirement, by Lucas Cole, Padraic Ingle, Brian Schafer, and Wendie Brockhaus
i wasn’t sure whether to give this 2, 3 or 4 stars. i sat and played with all three keys for a few minutes. for the attempt to do something very different, this thing would get 5 stars. graphically and conceptually, this small group study (really targeted at young adults, i’d say) is bushwhacking through the vapid undergrowth of christian publishing, boldly trying something new. props for that. but there are problems, alas. it would be a cool iphone app, or downloadable thingy. but there’s not enough there there for a book, and i would feel a bit ripped off, i think, if i’d bought it online (i assume this wouldn’t be true if i’d flipped through it first at a bookstore). and, it tries to walk the difficult line between being contemporary and even fun (!), but not overly hip or patronizing — and it succeeds and fails in this tightrope walk at various points. oh — the subject matter is good (as can be seen in the subtitle); but there were regularly application points i was surprised were missing. anyhow… if you’re tired of the same ol’ same ol’ for your college small group, you might give this puppy a lookee. maybe you’ll find it to be 5-stars all the way, baby.
Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern
i’m hesitant to review this, because someone’s gonna be ticked that i even reviewed it (and i don’t have the time to square off on that). but, hey, consider it cultural research if you need to; because the author is a freakin’ twitter phenom — well over 1.6 million followers when he’s only tweeted 127 times? and a book deal? and a tv show starting this fall, starring bill shatner? ‘nuf said. (and, here’s the skinny: i laughed my butt off reading this thing. it goes way beyond the funny, albeit courser than sandpaper, stuff his dad actually says. it’s a book about fathers and sons. and, seriously, the love of halpern’s crasser-than-crass dad comes through loud and clear in-between the soundbites. it’s unconventional, to be sure; but it’s clearly real. and that’s encouraging to me as a dad. maybe my mouth isn’t as crass, but my fathering is easily as flawed; and maybe i’m doing ok, if my love for my kids can leak through my insufficiencies in a similar way.)
The Orthodox Heretic: And Other Impossible Tales, by Peter Rollins
pete rollins kinda scares me. first, he’s clearly so off-the-charts smart. he’s got some kind of super-rare combo platter going on of wicked smart and uber-cool and completely non-pretentious. he doesn’t care what i think of him, or what anyone else thinks, i’d guess. his book how (not) to speak of god blew me away — so good and so disequilibrating at the same time. i felt slightly off-balance for a week after reading it. so this book was a little let-down after that; but it’s still “so good and so disequilibrating.” it’s a collection of parables, each with a few pages of unpacking. i liked the parables more than the unpacking; but the unpacking was often helpful and necessary. there wasn’t enough of a thread to hold them all together as a book, for my taste (other than “so good and so disequilibrating”!). but it’s still very much worth the read if you want to be pushed a bit to think of the jesus way from different perspectives. no question: some of the parables are ones i will be reading in sermons or hoping to use (with permission, of course) in some future book i might write.