Veritatem Facientes In Caritate

First and foremost, I'm a born-again Christian who tries to please God with all I do, including making reading decisions. I'm a lawyer and I like to read about anything.

The Joy Of Calvinism: Knowing God's Personal, Unconditional, Irresistible, Unbreakable Love

The Joy Of Calvinism: Knowing God's Personal, Unconditional, Irresistible, Unbreakable Love - Gregory Forster If you asked people what they picture when someone says Calvinism, the chances are good that it will be some dour-faced Puritan. Calvinism has a reputation as a stern doctrinal tradition. But Forster points out that Calvinism is about love and joy. Instead of using the traditional TULIP, Forster talks about the doctrines of Calvinism in terms of love - God's personal, unconditional, irresistible, and unbreakable love for us. Forster calls on his readers to bask and revel in the love that God has shown for us by choosing us, saving us, and sanctifying us.

"For the Calvinist, God's love for us is absolute as his holiness. Just as God's saving work reaches all the way down to the bottom of the unfathomable depths of our sin, his saving love goes all the way up to the very core of the divine Being. His holiness does not require him to demote us in the great scheme of his valuations. In all the universe, we are his favorite, the created beings that glorify him most."


Perelandra  - C.S. Lewis The Space Trilogy is one of my favorite series, and Perelandra is no exception. The story, on a first reading, appears to be a little bit slow, but as you begin to understand the book, you realize that none of the book is wasted. Lewis takes plenty of time to build up the idea of a sinless paradise. This actually makes Weston's evil stand out so much more. To the non-Christian, this story could be a little confusing, but it really ends by showing a possible alternate way our history could have been if Eve had resisted temptation. At the end, there is an excellent scene of worship to Maleldil. Although some people may find it slow, the beginning scenes before Weston comes and the end after Ransom gets out of the cave are my favorite sections of the book.

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter - William Deresiewicz This is a strange little book. It's part literary criticism, part biography, part autobiography, and part rambling on the nature of the various relationships we all find ourselves in. The author had a number of really good insights, but sometimes his modernist worldview got in the way and he could not fully appreciate or understand things, especially in Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility. However, he was very candid about the fact that he had difficulty liking Fanny or Elinor. This was a close call between three and four stars.

Haiku: The Poetry of Nature

Haiku: The Poetry of Nature - David Cobb This is a nice little book filled with not only haiku but also some very beautiful reproductions of Japanese art. I enjoy the haiku form, but I'll readily admit that I did not get most of the haiku. Perhaps it is because I am a Westerner; understanding foreign literature is difficult. But some of the poems in the book were very poignant.

Poems from Captured Documents: Bilingual

Poems from Captured Documents: Bilingual - Thanh T. Nguyen War has a way of dehumanizing people by labeling them as "the enemy." This book goes a great way in reworking those deep-rooted prejudices lurking in our minds. These enemy fighters, members of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, were men just like the rest of us. They wrote about the girls they were in love with and ached for, the homes and picturesque surrounding countryside they hoped had survived incessant American bombing, the fear of dying and of killing, and undying patriotism for their cause. They were poets. They wrote about the universal human experiences, shedding light on the psyche of soldiers and victims of war everywhere.

Fifty Years As A Low Country Witch Doctor

Fifty Years As A Low Country Witch Doctor - J. E. McTeer The subject (the influence of African witchcraft on Beaufort, SC) was definitely interesting, but McTeer made it boring by his rambling style.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll It is impossible to outgrow Alice.

The Fall of Arthur

The Fall of Arthur - J.R.R. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien This book is only really of interest to the hardiest Tolkien fans or to the student of Old English alliterative poetry. Tolkien attempts to write in (somewhat archaic) Modern English poetry that is equivalent in style to the alliterative poets of the Anglo-Saxon period. If the book only consisted of the poem and if the poem were completed, I would have given it 4 stars. However, the poem is far from completed and so makes for a jolting read, particularly at the end. Most of the book actually consists of essays by Christopher Tolkien. The first is about the Arthurian tradition in early literature, which is interesting even though it is somewhat dry and heavily interspersed with Middle English verse. The last essays involve Tolkien's poetry itself, especially how Christopher chose which draft to choose. I have to confess I did not read the last 20 or so pages of this.

God's Demon

God's Demon - Wayne Barlowe Barlowe builds on the work of Dante and Milton and tells a great, if not theologically correct, story. He emphasizes that the main torment of Hell is not the fire, the constant torture, but rather the separation from God. The main character comes to the conclusion that he would do anything "if only to look upon His Face again for an instant."


Meditations - Marcus Aurelius, Martin Hammond, Diskin Clay Marcus Aurelius' Stoicism rightly emphasizes the fleeting nature of life, but leaves the Stoics grimly focused on moral living for no apparent purpose other than "the common good." While Marcus Aurelius has many great insights into the nature of life(perhaps some of the greatest insights a non-believer has had), he is no Christian. Christianity lifts cold Stoicism out of its pessimistic, staunchly-disciplined lifestyle and breathes freedom into it, showing that while life is fleeting, there is ultimate purpose behind it. No longer does one have to try to pull himself up by his bootstraps into morality, but can achieve righteousness through Jesus Christ.

Marcus Aurelius is a pagan, but to the discerning reader, much wisdom and truth can be gleaned from his musings. I highly recommend Meditations.

A Violent Grace

A Violent Grace - Michael Card Card doesn't give the readers anything groundbreaking, but when it comes to the crucifixion, groundbreaking isn't what is needed. Card breaks down each event of the Passion into a formula to show that each thing Christ endured was for our benefit (Christ suffered [x ordeal] so that we could receive [benefit y]). This is a great book for Lent or any other time of year. One can never be reminded too often of Christ's sufferings on the cross. "Out of the beautiful violence of His life will flow a river of grace that will change our world."

A Portrait of Jane Austen (Penguin Classic Biography)

A Portrait of Jane Austen (Penguin Classic Biography) - David Cecil Lord Cecil paints a picture, not just of Jane Austin, but also of the world in which she lived. She lived a fairly uneventful life, but Cecil focuses rather on portraying Austen as mensch. Before reading this book, I was on the verge of becoming a "Janeite"; this has pushed me completely over the edge. Besides being a brilliant author, Jane Austen was a charming, humorous, and pious woman – how impossible not to fall in love with her?

Here, There Be Dragons

Here, There Be Dragons - James A. Owen A fantasy novel with the main characters being Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams. Need I say more?

The Subject Tonight Is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz (Compass)

The Subject Tonight Is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz (Compass) - Hafez, Daniel Ladinsky, حافظ This book is a quick read, but contains so much beautiful imagery. Also, even though it is Islamic mysticism, there is a great deal that a Christian should find challenging. For example, this quote: "If you have not been taking your medicine lately by saying your prayers every day, how can Hafiz seriously listen to all your heartaches about life or God?" Or this: "Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it cut more deep.... Something missing in my heart tonight has made ... my need of God absolutely clear."

I do take issue, however, with some of the translator's attempts at modern language: "acting so cool," "I caught the happy virus," etc. Besides cheapening the poetry, it leads me to wonder what the actual poetry says. Obviously, Hafiz was not talking about viruses in the 1300s. But overall, it was very readable and beautiful.

Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue

Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue - Stephanie Mencimer I had two main critiques of Blocking the Courthouse Door. First of all, I thought it was overly political in it's tone and rhetoric (I know, the cover should have been a hint). However, I think the arguments the author made could have been made just as easily without the political bent. Secondly, I thought that there could have been more endnotes. For instance, there were a couple of times where the author mentioned a state court holding and I felt like checking the case, but the book offered no citation.

That having been said, I still enjoyed this book. It seems like the tort reform movement is the only side of the debate in the public ear. There are very good reasons that go right to the heart of our government structure for why tort reform is a bad idea. However, they tend to be lost on non-lawyers (and many lawyers as well) because it involves a basic understanding of legal concepts, particularly torts and civil procedure. I think Mencimer did a good job of laying out the argument in terms a layperson can understand.

The Trial

The Trial -  Franz Kafka This book was typical of Kafka - fairly depressing. The philosophical message (it seems to me) that Kafka is trying to convey is the futility and pointlessness of everything. It's best summed up with Herr K.'s conversation with the priest "'No,' said the priest,'you don't have to consider everything true, you just have to consider it necessary.' 'A depressing opinion,' said K. 'Lies are made into a universal system.'" Within seven pages, K. has been convicted, sentenced, and executed by two men with a knife in a dark quarry. His last question was "Where was the judge he'd never seen? Where was the high court he'd never reached?"

Besides this deep philosophical depression of this book, this book has a more immediate meaning to the lawyer and law student. K. is faced with an appalling, nightmarish lack of criminal procedure in his "trial". In fact, it is a farce to call it a trial - he is guilty before anything happens, and is already sentenced to death, though he does not know it. Eventually, without ever having a trial, presenting a defense, or even being informed what crime he was being charged with, he is executed in secrecy. It is a poignant picture of the importance of criminal procedure. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in law or who complains about criminals getting off on "technicalities".

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