Category Archives: Books

Celebrated Hero in ‘Zeitoun’ Book Faces Murder Charges in New Orleans – NYTimes.com

This is so sad. Zeitoun was a book I loved reading earlier this year and raved about to everyone.

Unfortunately, Mr Zeitoun hasn’t shown the same strength of character and goodness he displayed earlier in life and during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. His ex-wife, Kathy Zeitoun, says that while the Zeitoun family life portrayed in Dave Eggers’ book was accurate, in the last few years Abdulrahman Zeitoun has become violent, angry and “radicalised” as a Muslim.

My flatmate and me are really disappointed – the world needs more heroes. But we both feel we shouldn’t judge. We didn’t go through what Abdulrahman Zeitoun went through in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

And people do change, even people who shown heroism and courage, often for the worse. I remember thinking what a cool sort Lance Armstrong was after reading It’s Not About the Bike. But in later books he came across as arrogant and full of himself.

Our heroes also have clay-feet. Martin Luther-King, for all of courage and principle (and clear Christian faith) was a womaniser. My prayers are with Kathy Zeitoun and her children. And I hope Abdulrahman Zeitoun finds the path of righteousness and integrity again.

Brief review of Jon Gordon, ‘The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work’

This is not a full review. Instead, it’s some thoughts on Jon Gordan’s The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work. You can find an excellent full review here at Goodreads (*Warning: Spoiler Alert*).

I found this an endearing and good-hearted business fable.

One lesson in The Seed has resonated with me. The main character learns that he won’t find his purpose in life by going around and looking for it. Rather, he finds it by planting himself where he is, serving others, and investing what he does now with purpose. By doing this, the main character’s purpose finds him. At this point in my life, this has been an encouraging lesson.

The Seed isn’t going to win any prizes as a great piece of literature. In places, it’s saccharine and cheesy, but I feel it’s heart is in the right place. This may not be a book for you if you cannot sympathise with the Evangelical theology of Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life (Jon Gordon tells his story of becoming a Christian here).

One aspect of the book that raised big questions for me is that its story promotes the idea that God regularly gives us “signs” to guide us and we should regularly look for them. I am not sure this is inherently healthy for anyone. I know many people where this idea has led to superstition and poor choices.

Writing as a believer in God, I believe that God can give us signs now and then, which give us assurance or guidance about a momentous decision, or a direction we should take in life. But when I read the book of Proverbs or Torah or epistle of James, I see that God is much more concerned with us developing the ability to make wise decisions for ourselves. Rather, than seeking signs, genuine faith seeks and cultivates the wisdom needed to make good decisions.

Two recent posts to encourage Christians, and men and women, to read fiction

This post at The Art of Manliness argues men need to read more fiction. “It’s through reading that we gain new perspectives and learn more about ourselves and the world around us.”

Jonathan Gottschall argues at Boston.com that fiction is good for us (and he cites research to support this claim) because “virtually all storytelling, regardless of genre, increases society’s fund of empathy and reinforces an ethic of decency that is deeper than politics.”

Even Evangelicals are encouraging believers to read fiction. The very conservative Calvinist blogger Tim Challies has this interview with the equally conservative Calvinist Russell Moore. Unsurprisingly, Moore tells us what we shouldn’t read – no Fifty Shades of Grey.

At The Gospel Coalition, Leland Ryken, the literature professor from Wheaton College, is leading readers through Albert Camus’ The Stranger. It significant that more conservative Evangelicals are saying the same things as more liberal ones about the value of reading fiction.

Do you agree with Moore, however, that certain books should be off-limits?

HT: Justin Taylor and Scot McKnight

Zeitoun

I’m beginning to read read Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun. I got it with book vouchers I received for my birthday last year.

I read two chapters over lunch and I think it’s going to one of those books I’m going to look forward to reading on the train to and from work.

One of my room-mates is doing her PhD in the area of literary journalism (beyond that, I find it hard to describe what she is doing and invariably get it wrong). She was excited to see that I bought the book and told me that Zeitoun is one of the most acclaimed and popular of the genre. My room-mate made sure she read it first!

Good Night, Chickie Review

Rachel Bomberger, a copywriter at the Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, has a post at the Eerdmans blog about the sweet little children’s book Good Night, Chickie by Émile Jadoul, along with a video of her being caught in the act of it reading it to her children.

I’ve always known Eerdmans as the publisher of heavy theological books. Only last year did I realise they had a line of books for young readers! I’ve read a few of these books since coming to this realisation, including Go0d Night, Chickie, in the Christian bookshops in town. Karen Lynn Willians’ Circles of Hope is my favourite from this line.

I’ve become interested children’s books because of needing to buy birthday presents for my nephew. This is the book I bought when he turned three that he still loves.