Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: As One Devil to Another by Richard Platt

Playing Devil's Advocate
By Lauren Yarger
Fans of Uncle Screwtape will enjoy a new incarnation of the devilishly clever correspondence between a demon and his prodigy in Richard Platt's "As One Devil to Another: A Fiendish Correspondence in the Tradition of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters" (Tyndale, 2012).
Platt's debut novel casts Slashreap as the newly appointed Departmental Head for Young Tempter Development who coaches, through a series of letters, his star pupil and nephew, Scardagger.
Slashreap mentors the up-and-coming tempter of humans away from God and his truth (enhanced by drawings throughout the book by Larry Peterson.) While I wouldn't go so far to say that the language of  "As One Devil to Another" is indistinguishable from Lewis' classic (like Lewis expert Walter Hooper claims in his preface), I would recommend it simply for all of the great "truths" and sage advice contained in the text.
"We convince our clients that the way of the Adversary is too hard, or better still, impossible, without ever letting them to try it, " Slashreap writes. Some other points that have you nodding in understanding about how the enemy seeks to deceive:
"The real show is on the other side of death. You must keep this horrible truth from your client at all costs. Teach her that the only reality is under her pretty nose. Human blindness can be very advantageous to us."
"We have corrupted the institution (universities) at its very core, making it one of the most fertile grounds I know for planting, through competitive friction, the seeds that will grow into a delightful garden of envy, pride, anger and covetousness, for which university members such as your client will not even feel shame, because competition is as much a part of her environment as the air she breathes."

(Pharisaical) people can be so useful to the cause of Hell. They will spend their lives arguing about questions of high theology for which they have neither the intellectual equipment nor the education, meanwhile neglecting the obvious tasks before them."
"A small, but vocal minority proclaims that something which is manifestly preposterous is indisputably true -- that jewel-encrusted rhinoceros dung is Art, for example. Then they shout down opposing views and bludgeon them into silence, demonstrating that argument is useless against them, and personally attacking anyone remaining who dares to speak the truth. Art then becomes anything the artist -- or his agent or promoter -- says it is. Raise the price and it becomes Great Art. Raise t yet again and it is 'profpund."
These little gems are all throughout the correspondence and is a thought-provoking piece, just like its predecessor. This work reads more like a blunt commentary on modern culture and society than Lewis', where the commentary is more veiled in the revelation of how the devil controls our minds. This is entertaining and insightful in its own way.

You can purchase the book here. See a trailer here.
We have a certificate to give away for a free copy of this book. For a chance to win, send an email to info@masterworkproductions.org with "Book Giveaway" in the subject line by midnight, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. Include your name and address in the body of the email. All those entering will be included in a drawing for the certificate,  redeemable at participating Christian bookstores by Aug. 1, 2012. Winner will be notified by email on Thursday, July 19.

2012 Christy Award Winners

The Christy Awards were presented last night. Haven't received a press release with the winners and the site wasn't completely updated as of 10:15 am today, so I can't give you a list of the winners. Check back on their web site and eventually the complete listing should be there.

Book Review: Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley

Recognizing the Symptoms of a 'Heart Attack'By Lauren Yarger
The re-release of "It Came from Within" as "Enemies of the Heart: Breaking free from the Four Emotions That Control You" (Multnomah, 2011) gave me a chance to read the 2006 work by Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in the Atlanta area and author of other bestsellers such as "How Good is Good Enough," "When Work and Family Collide," and "The Principle of the Path," among others.

The book doesn't deliver any shocking information that will make you feel like you've just been jumpstarted by defibrillator paddles, but it does offer a solid "regimen" of healthy diet and exercise to fend off disease caused by four enemies of the heart: guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.

In examining how these destructive forces damage our hearts and cause the flow of our life to get clogged, Stanley offers practical advice and insight, like saying up front that whatever got us in the condition we're in didn't happen overnight and it won't be fixed that quickly either. Like a physician, he points out warning signs and offers some prespecription for getting healthy again.

If you're serious about wanting to make a change, this book is a good place to start. Broken into four distinct topical sections, the book also includes stury questions makingit a good selection for a growth group/life group.

You can download a chapter of the book at the publisher's website. You can purchase the book here. You can listen to Stanley's sermons here: http://www.northpoint.org/messages.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Notes: We All Married Idiots by Elaine W. Miller

Our friend Elaine Miller has released her latest book, We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can," (Lighthouse Publishing, 2012) which is causing quite a sensation. Here's some information on the book, how to purchase it and how to contact Elaine if you are interested in having her speak at your church or women's event.
From the publisher:
Author Elaine W. Miller has just released her new book, We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can, and readers all across the country are benefiting from her research and expertise.  “This book is for every husband and wife,” said Miller, a popular author and speaker known for sharing biblical insights with warmth, enthusiasm, and humor.
Based on Miller’s 20-plus-year ministry to married couples, as well as her own love story, We All Married Idiots tells amusing and poignant stories, teaches Biblical principles, and challenges the reader with marriage-changing application questions. Targeted for married couples, it can be used by small groups, couples, or for personal study. Since publication, Miller learned of a minister using We All Married Idiots for marriage counseling. Another quoted We All Married Idiots in a wedding ceremony.
Published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, the book is available as a print book at on-line book stores and your local book store and as an e-book on Kindle and Nook.  You can learn more about the author and her book by visiting her Website at www.SplashesofSerenity.com.

Book Review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

A Really Large Book About a Larger-Than-Life Man
By Lauren Yarger
OK, I admit it. When it came to Eric Metaxas' best selling biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer I was a real wimp. I definitely wanted to read the story of this amazing man, a Lutheran pastor and founder of the "confessing church," who ultimately was executed for his part in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. I just couldn't get past the 600-plus-page volume called "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
I'm not opposed to reading. In fact I love it, and I probably do a lot more of it than most folks, but with my schedule, finding time to carve out a reading session that would allow me to finish the book in one or two sittings was next to impossible and the sheer weight of the book didn't make it an easy selection for throwing into my bag for commuting on the train.

So I did my best and made three or four attempts over a year and a half before I realized that I likely would never be able to sit and read the volume all the way through. Metaxas is exhaustive in his research and while this is a good thing when reporting a full picture of a life, it is slow-going for anyone with an attention span trained these days more for the instant nature of the Internet and news flashes told in 140-character Twitter posts.

I respect Metaxas as a Christian and a writer. He hosts the popular Socrates in the City discussion series in New York and recently took over writing the BreakPoint series when Chuck Colson died. He has written a slew of children's books, has penned several great books for people with questions about Christianity or Jesus and wrote the companion book for the popular movie Amazing Grace about the life of William Wilberforce who was instrumental in the movement to abolish slavery in England. So  really wanted to read Bonhoeffer . . .
I finally discovered that the book had been released as an audio book and that turned out to be the solution I needed since I spend so much time commuting in my car. Finally, I was able to enjoy the story of this amazing man. He was a prominent theologian and the "confessing church" refers to his leadership in opposing the German government's efforts to control the church. He spoke in opposition to Nazi treatment of the Jews and he and others joining him helped Jews in hiding and were sent to concentration camps and prisons.

Bonhoeffer is an amazing example of faith in action, standing for what is right and sacrificing ones life for God's purposes. His story most certainly is relevant in current times.

I focus here on my own wimpiness in being able to read the hardcover, because I know I'm not alone. I have heard from countless of you who have confessed the same reluctance and intimidation because of the size of the volume. So I take this time, some two year after it was published, to encourage you to read it also. It's now available in lighter paperback and Kindle versions as well as the CD audio book which was a Godsend for me. It's well worth reading.

Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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