Good Books Monday: Roundup

I forgot about my Good Books Monday feature last week, so this week I decided to do a roundup of the books I read last week. Some of them were started prior to last week, but all were read last week.

First, I had checked out two books from our church library on church history. Who even knew our church had a library? Thank you Mrs. Magnuson for cluing me in! I read “The Scottish Covenanters” by J. G. Vos, and found it interesting, if (and I hate to admit this) a little dry. I believe Vos wrote it while at Westminster Seminary. Of particular interest were the sections about George Gillespie, a vocal Scottish minister during the Reformation period in Scotland, and also one of the Westminster Divines. Josh’s uncle, who does geneology as one of his hobbies, says that George Gillespie of Covenanter fame is in fact one of Josh’s ancestors, so it was neat to read about that heritage.

Next I read Edwin Nisbet Moore’s “Our Covenant Heritage.” Moore is a PCA elder who is of Scottish heritage, and so in the first half of his book he traces the Covenanters in Scotland, including his ancestors. I thought he did a good job of describing what was going on in clear language, and I gained a greater understanding of what it was the Covenanters were fighting for and against. It struck me several times that believers in that day were willing to die for things that Christians today tend to write off as no big deal. It was challenging to read about people who paid such a great price for what they believed, and to see how their faith was living and vital not simply academic. The second part of Moore’s book follows Presbyterians who came to America, and how the church developed here. This was a REALLY interesting section, as I had previously only had a vague idea of the differences between the various splits (mostly the PCUS versus PCA split). It was interesting to learn how different wrong belief systems crept in as the different types of Presbyterians got wishy-washy on doctrine. Overall, this was a good book and I’d recommend it.

Concurrently, I was on a bit of a Francis Schaeffer jag, reading “A Christian Manifesto” and “Death in the City.” Truth be told, I’m still not quite finished with the latter, but plan to complete it today if time allows. “A Christian Manifesto” was an excellent discussion of the relationship between church and state. Schaeffer rebukes Christians for too often drifting along in complacency in regard to political and cultural matters. He writes, “As Christians we must stand absolutely and totally opposed to the whole humanist system, whether it is controlled by conservative or liberal elements. Thus Christians must not become officially aligned with either group just on the basis of the name it uses.” (emphasis was in the original). Word! Here I go being encouraged in my idealism again. 🙂

“Death in the City” is also proving to be an interesting read. This book deals more with God’s response to a culture turning away from him. Drawing on an exegesis of various parts of Scripture, including the book of Jeremiah, Schaeffer contends that our own culture, which is coasting on the fumes of Judeo-Christian values from which it has by and large turned away, is, to put it in the vernacular, cruising for a bruising. He makes a strong case, and calls Christians to action.

On a totally unrelated topic, I found a little library in Fortville that I was allowed to join, and I checked out some very interesting books. The “how to teach your baby” series is written by people who work for a foundation dedicated to helping brain-damaged kids. These doctors, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists etc started finding that the same things they did to help kids who were practically brain dead (usually pronounced vegetables) progress like normal kids, helped normal kids progress better too. They found out some fascinating things about how babies’ brains develop, and they encourage parents to take the time to help their babies learn the vocabulary and grammar of math and reading and music etc the same way the babies are already learning the vocabulary and grammar of language. The conclusions from their research are ASTOUNDING and paradigm-shifting. I plan to start trying out some of their suggestions posthaste. I will let you know how it goes. If nothing else, it is play that helps learning, and that is better than just goofing off, plus babies evidently love it to bits and pieces.

Having read the book on how to teach babies math, I am also going through how to teach babies to read. I haven’t finished this book, and so I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m trying to figure out if they are talking about the see-and-say method of reading, which I think is limiting for all but very gifted students, and if so, if I can tweak it to be more of a phonics system. The jury is still out.

In any case, the new little library is very small and does not have many of the books I wanted, but the girl working at the desk was a very poised and articulate young lady with whom I had a nice conversation about homeschooling (turns out she is homeschooled). One nice thing about homeschooled kids, in my experience, is that they are so comfortable interacting with people outside of their peer group. Very refreshing. I hope that our kids are pleasant in that way!

So that is my reading for last week. I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done this week,
since we have a busy schedule planned. On deck in case I have time are Aksakov’s “A Russian Gentleman,” a book about homeschooling for free, and a couple of other volumes that Josh is currently enjoying so I might read them when he’s finished. If you’ve read anything good lately that you’d recommend, feel free to leave a comment.

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