October 21, 2020

Review: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass


Narrative of the Life of Frederick DouglassNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Douglass was a compelling writer with a powerful story. The temptation for our day is to look backwards and to say, how could do many people have acted in such an evil way. But to quote a recent George Will column, it wasn't hard. Human nature is bent toward such evil, and the evil if today simply takes a different form. But we should be genuinely thankful that the forms of Douglass' day are seen for the genuine hellishness that was present.

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October 14, 2020

Review: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain


A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's Twain, so there is plenty of humor, some of it side splitting. The satiric treatment of slavery deftly brings forth the folly not only of the institution, but of the underlying racism.

It is also a somewhat tedious book. The lists (which Twain can use to great humor, as in Roughing It) got a little out of hand at times.

A good audiobook option to laugh away a commute or job where listening to books is an option.

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October 07, 2020

Review: On All Sides Nowhere by William Gruber


On All Sides Nowhere: Building a Life in Rural IdahoOn All Sides Nowhere: Building a Life in Rural Idaho by William Gruber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is part memoir, part American History, part anthropology, and part philosophy. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As someone who grew up driving and hiking around Alder Creek and living at the foot of the Benewah in the early 2000s, I found this a fascinating glimpse into life in 1970s Idaho.

Gruber, as an outsider, has the perspective to notice the peculiarities of life up Alder. But he doesn’t write them up sarcastically or condescendingly. He writes from a perspective of love for the place and its people.

Well worth the time.


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September 30, 2020

Review: Chapters from My Autobiography by Mark Twain


Chapters from My Autobiography: 1906-1907Chapters from My Autobiography: 1906-1907 by Mark Twain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some of the reflections he went into after sections written by his daughter were among the most moving I've ever read (or listened to, as the case may be).

Twain was a man of many regrets. And an exceptional gift for capturing feeling with language.

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September 23, 2020

Review: What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp


What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of MarriageWhat Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Practical, gospel-saturated. The biggest takeaways are that your marriage’s biggest problem is you and your sin, and the only solution is rightly aligned worship. He frequently repeats the important concept that marriages must be fixed vertically before they can be helped horizontally. Worthwhile read for married folks; I was using it in premarital counseling with a couple and it promoted several good discussions in that context as well.

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September 09, 2020

Review: Hokahey! A Good Day to Die! by Richard G. Hardorff


Hokahey! A Good Day to Die!: The Indian Casualties of the Custer FightHokahey! A Good Day to Die!: The Indian Casualties of the Custer Fight by Richard G. Hardorff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very informative, well researched. Not exactly a compelling read, but good for what it is.

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September 02, 2020

Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi


When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The best book I read in 2019. Beautiful, devastating, inspiring.

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August 27, 2020

Review: The Forgotten Church by Glenn Daman


The Forgotten Church: Why Rural Ministry Matters for Every Church in AmericaThe Forgotten Church: Why Rural Ministry Matters for Every Church in America by Glenn Daman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good, well-researched book. Covering why Rural Ministry matters, a number of the cultural and societal issues facing the rural church, and offering practical suggestions for ministry, Daman’s book is very practical. At times I think he overstated his case, but given the neglected nature of the subject matter this is understandable.

If you’re interested in rural ministry, involved in it, or curious about why anyone would “throw their life away” on small town small church ministry, this book is worth a read.

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August 26, 2020

A Hole

 Joe Blackburn

It’s 5:30 am. The morning is in transition from the grey of first light into something more approximating daylight. I look out over the porch, through a gap in the pine trees, to the wheat field across the road. I remember them mostly growing bluegrass in that field, but maybe wheat prices are up this year. Or maybe they thought they would be before the COVID mess.

My baby girl is laying on the floor to the right of me, intermittently sucking on her bottle and pulling it away to smile. She’s so happy. I wish he could have met her.

This is the first morning I’ve slept in this house, my grandparent’s place, since my grandpa died last December. I came out in June when we did a belated memorial service, but the house was packed with family from all over the country, so I just crashed at my brother’s place in town. 

We never called them our “grandparents”, always Grammie and Pak. When or how Pak became our equivalent for grandfather I’ll never know for sure, though I’m told it was my doing as a small child. He shaped me so profoundly. How I respond to people, how I tell a story (though my ability pales compared to his), even how I hold my fingers when I wave at someone--all bear the stamp of Pak’s influence. When my mom called me on December 17th of last year to tell me he was gone, I wasn’t surprised. But I still entered a state of numbness similar to shock. Then I got home and told my kids. My oldest, then 6, sat with me on the couch. And we cried.

This house feels so different without him. Not empty, there are more people moving to and fro than ever, a couple of my siblings have moved in during the past few months. But there is a vacancy. Something missing. A feeling that I could accomplish something while I’m here that would prove meaningful to the man I so much admired. Now he isn’t here. No more chances to share what’s happening in my life, hoping to hear his words of approval. No chance to fix something around the place for which he would have thanked me. Not because I wanted the thanks so much as they were a tangible evidence that I had in fact helped him, and I so desperately wanted to give back to this man who gave so much to me. 

I set my coffee down to think. Man. I miss my Pak.


August 23, 2020

Sermon Sunday : the Psalms

 here is a link to the sermons from the Psalms on the Remsen Bible page: https://remsenbible.blogspot.com/p/sermons-from-psalms.html?m=1


May the Lord bless your Sunday!

About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).