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Finished reading: a compendium

I’ve been finishing books faster than I’ve been able to blog about them… so here’s a catch-up post.

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser

Schlosser’s book alternates chapters between telling the story of an accident at a nuclear missile site in Damascus, Arkansas, and telling the history of the development of nuclear weapons, with a focus on the accidents and risks involved. Though it’s not his point, one can quickly conclude that it’s only by the grace of God we haven’t had a major nuclear incident in the past 70 years. A fairly thick volume, but quite readable.

*Deadly Assets (Badge of Honor, #12) by W.E.B. Griffin

Ah, W.E.B. Griffin, falling into the ‘hey, they keep giving me money when the books have my name on them’ trap. A decade ago his books were still involved and engaging; today the plot lines are thin and the margins are wide. Remind me not to bother the next time I see one of his volumes on the library shelf.

The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity by Pedro G. Ferreira

A fun, popular-level overview of the study of General Relativity from Einstein to the present. I finished this on an airplane earlier this week and any sense of nerdiness I might’ve had from the topic quickly slipped away as the guy in the seat next to me was reading some treatise on string theory. Nevertheless, a good survey of the topic.

A reminder that current events can make even recent books seem a bit out of date: the chapter on gravity waves talked about LIGO but was still in the “maybe someday” stage about actual detection of gravity waves… which LIGO announced earlier this month.

Water to Wine: Some of My Story by Brian Zahnd

Brian Zahnd is a beautiful conundrum of a pastor and writer. Got fired up for Jesus as a kid in the 70s, planted and led a Pentecostal church. In this book he tells, as he says, some of his story as he hit a mid-life crisis of sorts, asked himself “is this all there is to Christianity?” and then had his eyes opened to a broader, deeper, richer view of the faith.

This is a guy who on one hand sounds like a mystic – he tells here of God speaking to him through dreams where he met with and got messages from Abraham, Mother Teresa, and Karl Barth – but in the next breath is championing formal liturgy, weekly Eucharist, and use of the Book of Common Prayer. He loves the land of Israel and can speak of it in great detail, but doesn’t hold to the dispensational eschatology that traditionally accompanies that love.

Regardless, his sermons have been a great encouragement to me over the past couple years. This book rehearses familiar themes from his messages, but that’s not a bad thing.

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