The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Book Review”

Book Review – The Authenticity Hoax

reviewed by Justin Dillehay

Authenticity_Hoax_FNL_cvrOrganic food. Samuel Adams. Mud-floors. Vintage Levi’s. What do they all have in common? According to philosopher Andrew Potter: authenticity. People eat, imbibe, walk on, and wear these things in an effort to be “real.” Potter views this so-called authenticity as a reaction to modernity, describing it as a “rejection of the various tributaries of mass society’s current, including the media, marketing, fast food, party politics, the Internet, and—above all—the program of free markets and economic integration usually derided as ‘globalization’” (8). In the space of 273 fascinating and often hilarious pages, Potter analyzes the history, meaning, and manifestations of authenticity, ranging from Jean Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century to Oprah Winfrey in the 21st. Through it all, Potter concludes that authenticity is a hoax; a “dopey nostalgia for a non-existent past, a one-sided suspicion of the modern world, and stagnant and reactionary politics masquerading as something personally meaningful and socially progressive” (270).

For me, Potter’s most helpful (and entertaining) insight is that authenticity is a form of one-upmanship and status-seeking; an effort not to be real, but to be different. If everyone starts listening to the Avett Brothers, the truly authentic will drop them like last month’s YouTube sensation (they must be sell-outs anyway). If Wal-Mart starts placing organic food within the financial reach of the hoi polloi, this is cause—not for rejoicing—but for anti-capitalist consternation (129). Once indie bands and organic food lose their ability to distinguish the authentic from the rabble, the truly authentic move on in search of substitutes, like locally grown food. All this and more in a chapter entitled “Conspicuous Authenticity,” a term Potter adapts from economist Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. Read more…

On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius

by Adam McIntosh

It didn’t hurt that at the time of writing Pope Francis and Redeemed Atheists I had been reading through On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. Naturally, my thoughts have been focused on the incarnation and the resurrection of the dead for the last several weeks. I decided it would be fitting to post a review of the book.

Athanasius begins by setting forth the deity and pre-existence of Christ. Jesus is the Word of the Father and it was through the Word that all things were made. This is important to incarnational theology because it means that the creator of humanity is the same one who re-creates humanity. Athanasius eloquently explains:

The renewal of creation has been wrought by the self-same Word who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation for the one Father has employed the same agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word who made it in the beginning.”

But why does man need saving? Athanasius summarizes man’s nature in the Garden of Eden as being subject to corruption, but shielded from corruption because of their union with the incorruptible God. When Adam and Eve sinned, however, their union with God was broken and they became the cause of their corruption. At that point man began to die just as God had warned if unfaithful to his Word. Athanasius goes on to describe the level of wickedness man continued to involve himself: adultery, theft, murder, rape, war, and homosexuality. This is why humanity needed saving. The image of God on earth was “disappearing” and God’s work of creation was being “undone.” Read more…

Book Review – Out of the Silent Planet

silentplanet

by Marc Hays

This morning I finished reading Out of the Silent Planet, by C. S. Lewis, which is the first book of his “Space Trilogy”.  I’m going to begin this book review with a genre review, because of how the genre unexpectedly affected the way I, as the reader, received the story.  I am not a trained literary scholar, analyst, or guru, so if the things that struck me in the reading of this book seem infantile, it is probably because they are.  After all, I’m nearly 40 and have just begun reading Lewis’ Space Trilogy.

As mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy taking my family on excursions into Narnia. In order to get there, we suspend what we understand as reality and follow the Pevensies and their cousins through magical portals. These gates are common items like wardrobes and wall-hangings that Aslan uses to supernaturally transport sons of Adam and daughters of Eve from this world to different one–a fantastical one.  In our minds we suspend reality in order to step through to Narnia, a world like ours in many ways, but wholly unlike ours cosmologically; hence, the reason the Narnia Chronicles are considered “fantasy” literature.  It is a place that is wholly other than our own.  When you close the book, you actually can’t get there from here. Read more…

Book Review – Mathematics: Is God Silent?

mathematics is god silent cover

by Marc Hays

Last year, my path crossed that of a mathematician named James D. Nickel. I traveled with my family to Cincinnati to hear him lecture at the Toward the Quadrivium conference, which was hosted by Classical Conversations, Inc.  In a single Saturday, Mr. Nickel took Cornelius Van Til’s epistemology and R. J. Rushdoony’s triune solution to the problem of the “one and the many” and applied these truths to the physical world around me. As surely as the triune God who lives has created the “stuff” that exists, He organized His work according to a pattern, and therefore, created it knowable. He has spoken words and He has spoken numbers.  He has revealed Himself and His beauty in both word and number, and He has hidden Himself and His beauty in both word and number. Mr. Nickel opened the doors to this world where number, sequence, pattern, unity, and plurality are perpetually speaking the beauty, goodness, and truth of God’s wonder-filled universe. Read more…

Book Review: The Incarnational Art of Flannery O’Connor

The Incarnational Art of Flannery O'ConnorThe Incarnational Art of Flannery O’Connor by Christina Bieber Lake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is just phenomenal. Christina Bieber Lake is amazing in this book. She is interesting and keeps you moving through the book. She brings in philosophers and authors to shed light onto O’Connor’s writings. She frequently references books that O’Connor read or underlined and often does so in the context of O’Connor having read that book while writing a particular novella or short story.

Read more…

Review: Seven Men by Eric Metaxas

by Sean Johnson

In saying, “everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher,” the Lord gave us not merely a fundamental truth about the end education and discipleship, but about the means. As the surrounding context in Luke 6 confirms, the Eric metaxas seven men and the secret of their greatnessprocess has a great deal to do with exemplification: anyone following you is going to end up wherever you end up—if you’re blind, that will be a ditch—and your poor vision will perpetuate theirs. In the schoolhouse we are recovering this wisdom (acknowledging that the best teachers do not just dictate accurate information, but model a lifestyle of wisdom and faithfulness); in the broader sphere of life, however, we never lost our innate understanding of it.  It has been codified in the concept of the “role model.” Many life lessons are best learned through images and the most vivid images are often human lives themselves. Therein lies one of the greatest values of biography: moral and spiritual formation via exemplification and imitation. And therein lies the greatest value of Eric Metaxas’, Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness.

Metaxas consciously places his Seven Men in the tradition of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans or Foxe’s Book of Martyrs—biographical works intended chiefly to hold up the conduct and character of certain men as examples for readers to emulate (or avoid). He has sketched the lives of seven famed Christian men in order to commend their exemplary behavior to all readers, but especially to young men, who Read more…

Understanding the Puritans

The scholarly study of the Puritans has been marked in recent years by attempts to understand them in a fully transatlantic context. This follows a broader trend in early American history to focus on “Atlantic world” perspectives, rather than proto-national American ones. While others could view this de-emphasizing of the future United States as ideologically dubious, I think it is a sanguine development for understanding the Puritans in their own places and time. ~ Thomas S Kidd, PhD Read more…

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