All posts filed under: Religious

Imagination Redeemed | Book Review

What if Adam Malloy had a Christian imagination? That’s the question that popped into my head as I neared the end of Imagination Redeemed by Gene Edward Veith Jr. and Matthew P. Ristuccia. Adam, one of the main characters in The Gift and the Defender is gifted with the special power to change the world with his mind. All he has to do is imagine the change and it becomes reality. He makes a lot of mistakes wielding his imagination, precisely because it was forged by the ways of the world instead of by the Word of God. Adam is a super-powered expression of the reality that ideas have consequences. I for one don’t want to make the mistakes Adam did, I want to harden the steel of my Christian imagination. That’s why I read Imagination Redeemed, to sharpen my understanding of the powerful instrument God gave me.  It’s a great book! I’d recommend it to anyone. It’ll strengthen your understanding of the human mind and reveal just how much you use your imagination. The book is a blessing. It …

Does Dr. Strange Villainize the Truth? | Movie Review

I’m a Marvel fanboy, through and through. Like many thirty-somethings I enjoy watching my childhood reading material come to life on the big screen, and I love sharing the stories with my kids. We’re a Marvel family for sure. Now that I’ve established my loyalty to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, er… multiverse?… let me say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I’m not a Dr. Strange fan. I never liked the comics or the characters. You might say that my Evangelical roots left me disinterested in a superhero fighting evil with, well, evil — magic spells and goat-head hands. Who needs strange stuff like that when there’s Spider-Man? Really. Ok, so now you have a handle on my presuppositions. Oh, wait. There’s one more vital piece of information that you need to know: I’m a Lutheran pastor. Though I grew up as a fundie, I’ve repented of my pietistic tendencies and find peace and joy living in the feeedom of the Gospel. There you go, now you have all the pieces at play in this post, …

The River | Book Review

This is the fourth Pastor Stephen Grant Novel (see my reviews of the first three books here, here, and here), and I got to say, it’s the best one yet. In this volume, Ray Keating delivers an action-packed adventure set in Las Vegas that’s full of God, goons, girls, gambling, and of course, gunplay. It’s brimming with ministers, mobsters, and military maneuvers. Okay, enough alliteration. You get what I’m saying. It’s a great read! Your favorite (fictional) Lutheran pastor, Rev. Stephen Grant, and Mrs. Grant find that Sin City lives up to its name. Pastor Grant struggles against the sins of others and his own as life and love hit with intensity. If it wasn’t the Hollywood-esque action that kept me turning the page, it was the intrigue surrounding how God’s Law and Gospel worked on the pastor and those in his life. Five Stars, friends! A few weeks back, when I finished reading The River, I had only one more Pastor Stephen Grant Novel left to read, Murderer’s Row. However, that’s not the case anymore. I’m excited to …

An Advent for Religious Liberty | Book Review

Ray Keating’s third Pastor Stephen Grant Novel, An Advent for Religious Liberty continues to bring to life this heroic pastor. What pastor doesn’t want to be like Pr. Grant? What parishioner doesn’t want him as his shepherd?! At only 157 pages this book is just about half the length of book two, Root of All Evil? (read my thoughts on that book here). I don’t know if it was originally released during Advent, but I wish I would’ve read it during Advent. As a novella it packs an intriguing story into a quick read, perfect for the busy-ness that comes with December! Mayor-elect Adam Pritchett’s over the top personality is Trumpian (for lack of a better word), which enabled me to buy into the rapid and overt attack on religious freedom in the story. How it’s stopped, well, that’s on par with how I’ve come to expect Pr. Stephen Grant to handle things – like a boss. A great teaser story between Root of All Evil? and The River, which I can’t wait to read. Perfect for the faithful who want a seasonal book consumable …

Root of All Evil? | Book Review

Ray Keating’s second Pastor Stephen Grant novel, Root of All Evil? is a fantastic follow up to Warrior Monk (click here for my review of that work). It’s a well crafted political thriller full of intrigue and theological truth. Keating’s world has proven profitable for contrasting good theology with bad. In this book he tackles money and how it impacts the Church. I was impressed with the skillful and varied way the author deposited the money theme into the story: from global economics, to the prosperity gospel, to expenses that come with operating a parochial school, to the concerns laity have regarding their pastor’s salary. Keating’s economist background pays offs big! I can’t wait to crack open the next book!

Warrior Monk | Book Review

With powerful endorsements by both a congressman (Pete King) and a well known reporter (Larry Kudow) on the cover, I was aching to get into this book. The first of Ray Keating’s Pastor Stephen Grant novels, Warrior Monk, catches your attention from page one. It reads like one of Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp adventures, dishing out details and action at a fast pace.  And in the midst of that action Keating manages to brilliantly present the reader with thought provoking truths, seemingly little things that aren’t pondered nearly enough, such as a note about church architecture or a relational reality particular to men who hold the pastoral office. At other times he deals with larger topics such as church doctrine and practice. As the story unfolds Keating presents the Christian faith in a real way that any reader will appreciate, exposing differences and difficulties between varying denominations and between the Church and the world without distraction. This perfect backdrop propels the protagonist, and the reader, into the challenges of the book. It’s a spectacular ride steeped in theological intrigue! As a fan of G.K. …

Stitched Crosses: Crusade | Book Review

I’m a book geek. I am. I like the medium. When I get a new book, whether it’s actually new or just new to me, before I even begin reading it I spend some time ingesting the product, no, no, the treasure. That’s better. I hold it in my hands, firmly gripping it. I trace my fingers over it. I flip the pages with my thumb. I turn it over analyzing the the spine and the back cover, looking at the layout and design of the whole thing, enjoying all that is book before ever actually getting to the first chapter. I study the copyright page and the title page. All the stuff that is extraneous to the real prize, the story (fiction) or information (non-fiction). Personally, I believe this is a behavior that a lot of book lovers share. I know it’s common to theologians. Call it a symptom of being all about the Word. Or not, it’s up to you. Anyway, I also think I developed this fetish-like quirkiness when I was studying books as …