Monday, February 22, 2016

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

            Set in 1950s New York, The Chosen is a tale about two Jewish boys and the friendship that develops between them. While both Jews, the backgrounds they come out of are drastically different. Danny Saunders is a Hassidic Jew of the most pious sect, and Reuven Malter is the son of a Zionist father. As the story unwinds it immerses the reader in the lives of these boys, and the troubles they navigate.
             This book was one of the few I have read this year that injected me completely into its world. And that is somewhat surprising considering there is really not any action to speak of but Potok writes with such passion and energy that every page seems to come to life. While he does write with beautifully descriptive language the book has an incredibly realistic sense, especially in Danny and Reuven’s relationship. The book also provides intriguing and perhaps different views to historical events such as World War Two, the holocaust, and the creation of the state of Israel. And while the narrative is set in the past the truths about family, friendship, and life are just a relevant today as ever.

            So if you have not yet read Chaim Potok’s The Chosen I highly recommend it, regardless of your age or religion you are almost certain to have a good time.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Relationship Advice!

"It's a beautiful moment when somebody wakes up to this reality, 
when they realize God created them so that other people
 could enjoy them, not just endure them."

There are two kinds of people in the world: People-persons and not-people-persons. Or maybe a better illustration is introvert vs. extrovert. If you're anything like me developing deep relationships doesn't come naturally and it takes a lot of work. Sometimes honestly it's easier to just drop off the public scene and become a recluse. I mean come on, who wouldn't want to live up in the mountains in a cabin next to a lake, with no one around, writing your long dreamed of novel, no people, some good coffee, maybe a dog, but no people! If that sounds like something you'd be totally into you HAVE TO check out Don Miller's book, Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy. It has changed the way I think about relationships and I'm sure it will change you too!

This was the first book I have read by Don Miller, but I'm sure it won't be the last. While reading it, I felt as though the feelings he recorded were pulled straight from my head. While a self-help book, it is almost more of an autobiography. There are no assignments, no tasks, just an author revealing his inner thoughts and feelings. It is this vulnerability that I think gives this book its unique tone. It is filled with sound bite clips that make great nuggets of thought as well as paragraphs analyzing specific thought patterns and how the author beat his own weaknesses. It is filled with personal anecdotes that will make you laugh and make you think. With many other resources, He makes available on his website Don Miller will start you off on a journey toward true relationships that will change the way you think, work, and interact. I highly recommend reading this book. I bought it on kindle and it works great, but I would recommend getting the hard copy version. (I will probably buy the hard copy version even though I've already read it.) This will make it easier for you to annotate, highlight, and mark it up! I guarantee you will want to!

Friday, August 14, 2015

7 "Great" Men

Recently I have been following an author and radio host named Eric Metaxas. I started listening to "The Eric Metaxas Show while I was living in New York for the summer. It blew me away that there was someone who was willing to get on the airwaves in one of the most wicked cities in the country and talk about truth. He was very appealing in the way he approached the topic of his faith and his worldview. It wasn't long before I found out that this was the man who wrote the book Bonhoeffer and Amazing Grace. (Hopefully I will be writing reviews for each of those fairly soon.) I became intrigued with his work and made it a quest to read his works. The first book I engaged in was 7 Men and it is the one I will be reviewing today. It has impacted me greatly and I hope that this will give you a bit of a glimpse into this amazing work.

Today's culture is seriously lacking the courage and compassion that have been present in past leaders. Part of this is due to a departure from Biblical principles. Metaxas answers two very important questions laying a foundation for this work. First what is a man and second what makes a man great? Giving a Biblical perspective Metaxas defines clearly what manhood should be about. This is important because without a strong foundation the discussion of these seven men would be futile. And this is all just in the introduction!

Mentioned in the title this book is about Seven Men. These men from first to last are George Washington, William Willberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles W. Colson. I had heard a few of these names before, yet I had no idea of many of their personal commitments to Christ. Each of their stories are given in concise, chronological form. The major events are highlighted and a number of unique stories are given about each of the men. After reading 7 Men I feel I could give a brief synopsis and at the least talk about each of these men with some confidence. This book ignited my desire to learn and read more about each of these men. The chapter about Wilberforce was particularly challenging to me as we are in an era where more than ever Christians must stand and fight for those who have no voice and cannot defend themselves.

As I said this was the first book that I've read by Eric Metaxas and it most definitely will not be the last. Seven Men is a classic that must be read in every household, especially to every young man as he grows up. We need a new generation of leaders in the Christian faith and in America and Seven Men will help to groom those leaders.

Seven Men gets 10 out of 10 inkwells for being a spectacular work.

Until Again,
Lance Fillmore PSEUD

Eric Metaxas Home

Buy 7 Men on Amazon

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Seal's Story

There are a few jobs that are glamorized yet hardly any ordinary citizens would want. Becoming a Navy Seal is one of those jobs. Many boys want to become a navy seal yet very few men ever make it. This book is the story of one of those men. Steve Watson grew up during the Vietnam era where there were many exciting developments in the armed forces. As a boy watching footage and reading about the elite Navy SEAL's a desire welled up within him to embark on the quest to become a SEAL. Little did he know he would be Meeting God Behind Enemy Lines.

It was through the experience, challenges, and uncertainty of the special forces life that Steve decided to trust Jesus as his Savior. It is a powerful testimony of the sovereignty of how God uses simple humans to bring others to him. Throughout the book Steve gives us stories from his adventures that illustrate God's sovereignty and grace. It is also filled with lessons on discipline and trusting God and following his will.

Personally this book helped me a lot. This summer was hard and hearing about the discipline, integrity and strength needed in a navy seal encouraged me to keep going, because nothing I was doing was as rough as Hell week. If you enjoy military books or biography this is definitely a good read for you. Have your heart open and be prepared for a wild ride!

Lance Fillmore

Monday, January 5, 2015

Is God Dead

"My God's not dead He's surely alive he's living on the inside roaring like a lion."
God's Not Dead
The Newsboys

It was a Christian film that grabbed the attention of people, believers and skeptics, alike. It challenged the modern teachings that come from many of today's secular universities. Opening at over eight million dollars on its first weekend, God's Not Dead struck a chord in our nation during its run in the theater. Whether people believed or rejected the ideas set forth in the movie no one can deny that this movie has touched many lives, but I wonder how many people have read the book on which it was based?

Rice Broocks is a pastor, speaker, and author. In God's Not Dead, the most well known of his works, Rice clearly presents the evidence for a real, personal, loving, Creator. This book is not long, only about 240 pages of reading, but it is packed with a great foundation for anyone wanting to learn how to better articulate their faith. There are three elements I specifically enjoyed about this book that I would like to share.

First. Every chapter ends with a summery of what you have learned in the previous pages. Sometimes it's easy to become bogged down with scientific details and sort of gloss over what you are reading, but ending each chapter with a summary really helped recap and cement what had been said in the chapter. By the way Mr. Broocks masterfully avoids becoming dry or dull. Even in the details he explains terms very well.

Second. Citing his sources. Many people are surprised  to find out that this book is not a novel. It is a compilation of nine proofs for the evidence of God. As such many quotes are from such leading figures in the God debate such as Richard Dawkins, John Lennox, C.S. Lewis, and many others. The author cites practically every source with footnotes, which makes more research on the subject very easy.

Third. My final and perhaps most favorite part of the book is the presentation of the gospel. This book is not written exclusively to "Christianity" it is for anyone who has had doubts or perhaps doesn't even believe in a god. Because of this Mr. Broocks doesn't gloss over salvation, but makes sure the audience knows that salvation is faith and dependance in Jesus Christ's death, burial, and Resurrection for the atonement of our sins.

In an age where Creationists and Christians are looked down upon and ridiculed, Rice Broocks has inspired a generation of young Christians to know what they believe and to be able to defend the faith. If you have not read this book, I say you definitely need pick up a copy! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Explore the Scriptures

(Editor's note: This is a book summary I wrote for an assignment. Since I am so behind on writing articles on this blog I decided to post it. Hope you find it helpful!)

How do you summarize the most important book in history? Where would you even start? Well, In his commentary Explore the Scriptures: An Overview of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, John Phillips does an excellent job outlining, condensing, and evaluating each book of the Bible.

 Each chapter in this book starts out with a basic outline. It highlights the major chapter divisions in the book and gives references to every bullet point. This is helpful if you are just looking through and need to find a major idea, theme, or event. Every point is alliterated which makes these short outlines horribly helpful.

Phillips also does an excellent job of condensing each book of the Bible into a manageable fashion. Each chapter is only about three or four pages long. Only the main points are highlighted in Explore the Scriptures, so it is very easy to get a broad idea of the point of the passage. There are also very useful maps and diagrams which help the stories to come just a little bit more alive.

The final aspect to highlight is the evaluation from Phillips. It seems that Mr. Phillips takes a very traditional approach to the searching of the scriptures. When he comes to a controversial passage he give several of the popular interpretations of the passage and lets you decide which is the closest to scripture.

Over all I thought Mr. John Phillips did an excellent job just giving a brief survey of the book we stake our life on. He wrote very useful outlines, helpful summaries, and good interpretations. No book can replace the Bible, but if you want to better understand your bible and get the big picture, this is an excellent resource.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Books on the Internet and Technology



In the last few months, I've spent time thinking about how I approach the gargantuan behemoth of the information, entertainment, and communication source which we collectively call the Internet. It's something which I think a lot of us take for granted, and perhaps we don't give it enough thought and consideration. Some who know me may have noticed that I'm not around on social media anymore, or just not as much. This has been somewhat of an self-experiment, and honestly it doesn't feel like I'm missing out on anything.
So I've been reading. A lot. And these are the different books which collectively gave me a better understanding and the "big picture" of how we as both an individual and as a collective culture use and are used by this new technology. Some of these are new, some are older. Some are really good, some are not as good. This are just a list of what I've absorbed, and whether I think you will get a lot out of it as well.

Onto the books!

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

The Shallows is part neuroscience, part social science, part history. It gathers a lot of fascinating scientific data and studies surrounding our minds, attention spans, intelligence, and motivation. The conclusion it comes to is easy to see coming (read the subtitle of the book maybe?), and yet it still will have a significant impact. I agreed with the thesis, and it definitely made me approach the problem from a different angle.

As for the book itself, it is a fairly quick read, never slows its pace, and is interesting all the way through. I HIGHLY recommend you find a copy to read, even if you don't think you'll find the subject matter interesting. It'll make for a good conversation in the very least. 

This book is probably the most different from any other on this list. Rather than focusing on the affect the internet has on a person, Morozov documents the affect that the internet has on the people, or entire cultures, or nations even. In the last ten years especially, it's easy to look at significant world events and credit them to the progress of technology. Morozov fights against this idea, and instead argues that the internet might actually be hurting the status of democracy than helping it.

Although it's pretty compelling in places, I think it maybe was a bit too long. He kept repeating his main thesis pretty often, and I think that the lack of differing viewpoints made his views seem a little one-sided. I'd still recommend it if a political-tech book sounds appealing.

Postman, one of the greatest social critics of the twentieth century, is more well known for another book on this list. This book is a history of how the progress of technology has been reflected in the culture's attraction and usage of said technology. There isn't much to say about this - just go read it. It's actually a good preface to any of the other books here. It's a quick read and you will enjoy it.

Hamlet's BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers

This is one I was recommended to by none other than the internet. IRONY HAHA!!
But I found the title funny, liked the subject matter, and thought it would be a good addition to this library. It had a good introduction, and his main point was solid. Powers basically says that he's found a better life by using the internet sparingly, only as a tool, and not relying on it for everything.

Except... that it really isn't that good of a book. It reads like a blog post that went on for 250 pages. I really almost didn't finish it due to the repetitive middle section. I'd say instead, go read The Shallows and form your own opinion of how you should live your cyber-life. Don't recommend.

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

This one is kind of crazy. It's a economic science-nonfiction social discourse. Yeah, that probably didn't make any sense. Basically Lanier has created a massive theory on how our future is going to progress due to the internet, and especially how it affects the economy. I wasn't completely sure what I was getting into when I picked it up, but I still found it refreshingly readable. The style and tone of the author is mostly what sets it apart. I'm still not sure whether I can recommend it - it's definitely not for everybody. I'd say go check it out if you are interested.

This is the big one. Originally published in 1985, what can this book about television have to do with the internet?


I'm not kidding when I say that this book has probably increased in relevance even from when it first was released. Postman brilliantly provides an explanation on how the style and presentation of television has massively impacted both how we think as an individual AND as a people. He explains that instead of Nineteen-Eighty-Four happening, we've instead gone in the reverse direction and have been polluting ourselves with the garbage of what we think we love. Alex Huxley's Brave New World is his comparison point instead.

If there's one book your read on this list, make it this one. I read it in a single afternoon because it was so absorbing and horrifying. I truly think that it's probably the most relevant thing I've read on this list. Read this book!

Wrap up:
I hope you enjoyed reading this write up. If you like the format of this multi-review, leave a comment and tell me. I liked doing this more than any of the other reviews I've done. Thank you for reading!