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Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms

Tim Tebow, with A. J. Gregory. Waterbrook, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7352-8986-4

"God's got it" is the life-affirming slogan of Heisman Trophy–winner Tebow, the football player remembered by many for his impassioned speeches, hybrid talents, and commitment to his faith—he once stirred up controversy by writing Bible verses in his eye black. "Have faith," "trust God," "it's not so much who you are as whose you are," and "God has a plan" are among the encouragements that run through every chapter of this uplifting memoir. There's a lot to like here, including personal details that football fans and Christians alike will savor, as well as inspiring stories of ill and disabled children whom Tebow has helped through missions and his own charitable foundation. Critics might say it's easy for such a famous and successful person to have powerful confidence, but Tebow reminds readers that no one is immune to disappointment and doubt, and that success can bring its own burdens. Some may take issue with Tebow's simplistic affirmations of faith (including seeing God in coincidence); others will see them as the book's greatest strength. All readers will be won over by Tebow's dedication and perseverance, and admire him for staying true to service-oriented Christianity through a quite unconventional life. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Kierkegaard

Stephen Backhouse. Zondervan, $22.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-310-52088-7

Backhouse (The Compact Guide to Christian History) summarizes Kierkegaard's life and thought for the lay reader in a work that can be "read on holiday." The first part of the book is biography; the second provides synopses of Kierkegaard's works. Backhouse's strategy of splitting life from work creates a problem: Kierkegaard, at least in Backhouse's telling (though he does find some who praise and defend his subject), is a self-absorbed, insensitive, and annoying subject. By the time readers arrive at deeply sympathetic sections—the effects of Kierkegaard's twisted spine, the cruelty he was subjected to by his rivals—they may already loathe him. The book never attempts to understand how such a repugnant personality could produce such stunning, faith-based thought. That said, this primer on the life and career of Kierkegaard will be a fine introduction to those who know little about the controversial philosopher. Though the accounts of Kierkegaard the person seem only to disparage, the sections that discuss his writings and posthumous influence are worth the price of the book. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Also Life

Barbara Crafton. Morehouse, $12 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-8192-3289-2

In this fine book, Crafton (Jesus Wept) creates an "extended meditation" about life after death—not the afterlife, but the "also life." She covers human longing, sorrow, and hope, considering where those profound feelings "meet and become the energy of God." To do this, she focuses on two separate types of time: chronos (earthly duration—the timeline of history class) and kairos (God's time). To Crafton, time after death amends life, rather than punishing or rewarding. Crafton backs up her thinking with science, poetry, fiction, and mysticism; she mines her own experience as an Episcopal priest and as a mother mourning the loss of a prematurely born child. She quotes the words of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dorothee Soelle, the Westboro Baptist Church, and Albert Einstein; points out the artistry of Bernini and Caraciollo; poses sterling analogies; and asks leading questions. Crafton imagines conversations and jaws with her reader in a friendly fashion, intent on making accessible those thoughts that can seem too deep for words. This is a short but enduring work. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

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She Believes: Embracing the Life You Were Created to Live

Debbie Lindell with Susy Flory. Revell, $15.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-8007-2442-9

Lindell, a pastor's wife, speaker, and founder of the Designed for Life Women's Conference, offers a simple message to her female audience: God designed you and he loves you. Lindell's text covers the gamut of scenarios and situations where many women struggle to feel competent, accepted, and cherished. She implores Christ followers to understand that they were designed on purpose and that believing changes the heart, affects the mind and spirit, and makes companionship even better. Lindell shares her own lifelong feelings of inadequacy with tender transparency, then rallies to share her experiences cheerleading other women to biblically sound self-esteem. She describes common pitfalls women face as they attempt to prove their value to others and steers women directly back to God's word. Lindell's message is full of hope and positivity, which women will find timely no matter what season of life they are in. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

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A Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends: From Fear to Faith in Unsettled Times

David P. Gushee. Westminster John Knox, $15 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-664-26268-6

In a book that's not likely to make any of his Christian friends less anxious or more hopeful, Mercer University professor Gushee (Kingdom Ethics) reflects on ways that Christians might assess, understand, and engage with a number of social issues confronting their faith. Gushee discusses race, sex, guns, money, education, and war, among other topics. For example, he argues passionately against the premises of American gun culture—"the most dangerous of these is that having 300 million guns in civilian hands makes us safer"—and concludes with a plea: "Christians, let's end this gun culture as soon as we can." After a helpful survey of the range of Christian positions on war, he unhelpfully writes simply that neither life nor death should motivate Christians, since they are committed to following Jesus the best way they can in a sinful world. Gushee certainly excels at pointing out the challenges Christians face, but he falls short at offering any comfort or wisdom about the ways to face them. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/26/2016 | Details & Permalink

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