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Showing posts from January, 2014

Open, Andre Agassi

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Sadly the holiday is over, and there is one more holiday-reading-book I want to comment on; Open by Andre Agassi.

What a brilliant book! And I mean brilliant! I couldn’t put it down. I am not alone in this sentiment, with many people rating it very highly. I want to thank Jeremy and Gracie for giving it to me for Christmas, good job!
The book starts dramatically with an account of Agassi’s final dramatic match at the US Open. That chapter alone is worth the read. Then the story is told of his upbringing. I won’t go into details and spoil it for you, but it is an amazing account of a driven father, a son who hated tennis (yes, hated, he always did, even to the end), and the development of a tortured child-prodigy. As a father who has been a ‘sporting parent’ with three very talented children, I can sort of relate. I think we did a better  job, but sometimes I am not so sure. 
The story that unfolds is one of tennis, the quest to find identity, relationships, and the nitty-gritty of r…

Animal Suffering & the Problem of Evil, Nicola Hoggard Creegan

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The next book on my January reading journey is my good friend and colleague Nicola Hoggard Creegan’s Animal Suffering & the Problem of Evil.

Unlike the books by Stuart Lange and Peter Lineham discussed above which are historical informative surveys, this one is more difficult for me to comment on as it gets into areas of science I am ill-equipped to really comment on. Still, I can’t help myself, so here goes.
The first thing I have to say is that like the others mentioned above, Nicola is a great writer. It is well constructed and remarkably lucid and easy to understand considering the depth of the material. I mean it doesn’t get much deeper than the origins of life and evil! I was engaged from the get go. It has left me thinking greatly about the issues involved, and I am being way nicer to my cat! So, thanks Nicola.
The book assumes the position of theistic evolution, i.e. God created through evolutionary processes accepted by the majority of biological scientists today. For so…

The Open Side, Richie McCaw

After reading Peter Lineham and Stuart lange's books, reading McCaw's book was somewhat like eating a McDonald's burger after a two course five-star restaurant feed. The book is light, blokey, and spiritually and intellectually unsatisfying. Not that Richie McCaw and Greg McGee's work is poor, indeed it is fascinating, but it lacks real depth and critical analysis.

I deeply admire Richie McCaw as a rugby player. He is undoubtedly the greatest in this generation, ahead of other greats like Jones, Brooke, Fitzpatrick, and DC, as McCaw calls him.

What strikes me is that he is a real individualist. He is deeply motivated to the greatness he has achieved. While the book lacks critical assessment of almost anyone, coaches, players, and the game itself, he is deeply introspective with the desire to be better and better. He humbly recognises his weaknesses as a leader in 2007. The following four years show his ability to grow into a great leader. His love of gliding shows a d…

A Rising Tide by Stuart Lange—Some Thoughts

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I have just finished reading A Rising Tide: Evangelical Christianity in New Zealand 1930–65 by my friend, mentor, and colleague, Stuart Lange. 

Like Destiny by Peter Lineham referred to in the previous blog-post, it is a fine book. Both Lineham and Lange are great writers. I enjoyed Stuart’s book greatly. Dr Lange writes as an observer-participant. As one who has worked with Stuart in Affirm, the evangelical wing of the Presbyterian Church for the last 20 years or so, I read it with the same bias; although in a more indirect sense only joining the story in the mid-80s. Certainly my bias led me to find a lot to love about the book, as I found context for the movement I have participated in since my conversion in 1985. Indeed, this occurred at one of the evangelical churches that represents the evangelical stream Lange explores—St Columbas Presbyterian then under the leadership of Rev Graeme Murray, an important evangelical leader. It was intriguing seeing familiar names like Roxburgh,…

Destiny the Book: Some Thoughts

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One of the blessings of holidays is that you can read. I have just read Destiny: the Life and Times of a Self-Made Apostle, by Peter Lineham. I have to say it was a great and interesting read. Well done Peter Lineham.

The book leaves me a little uncertain of how to respond to the Destiny phenomenon. On the one hand, it is great that a Maori has risen from a difficult past to develop a genuinely powerful church. Many Maori and others have turned from destructive pasts to meaningful lives as a result, and for that I praise God. Our nation desperately needs the likes of Brian Tamaki to give leadership not only to Maori, but those who are lost in lives of brokenness and pain. What BT has achieved is also amazing. He is a shrewd and capable entrepreneurial leader who can clearly draw people to him. I certainly do not have the skills to do what he has done. I also admire the way that Destiny has stood up for moral issues; although Lineham’s critique that they have been overly aggressive an…

“Walk like a Samaritan”—Living well in 2014

How should we live in 2014? Who should we emulate? Of course, the Christian answer is always Jesus, and he is the example par excellence at all times and in all ways. Yet there are many others we can emulate in the NT. The ones that I have been thinking about are an extremely surprising group to emulate, the Samaritans of the Gospels.
They are surprising because at the time of Christ Jews despised them with a vengeance. They were apostate. They denounced the temple and the religious system of Israel, having set up their own temple on Mt Gerizim and developing their own cult. They did not oppose Antiochus Epiphanes the Seleucid leader who violated Israel’s worship (c. 167 BC). They rejected the Prophets and Writings, relying only on the Torah (Pentateuch). They did however expect a Messiah (Taheb), a new Moses rather than one from the line of David, as they denied the Davidic monarchy.
The enmity between Jews and Samaritans was extreme seen when the Hasmonean John Hyrcanus destroyed th…