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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Here are my favorite things from 2005. Most of them were produced or released in 2005, but some are things that only came to my attention this year.

Favorite Biblical Studies Books

1 & 2 Corinthians, by Craig S. Keener

One of the first books of the New Cambridge Bible Commentary series edited by Ben Witherington. Keener writes clearly and even simply without sacrificing analysis or interesting asides. One of my favorite commentaries on the Corinthian correspondence.

Paul and First-Century Letter Writing, by E. Randolph Richards

A fantastic exploration of letter-writing practices during Paul’s time and Paul’s practices in particular. Richards describes the materials involved in drafting letters, how ancient letter writers used sources, the procedure of letter writing, the time involved, the use of secretaries, the detection of interpolations, the use of letter carriers, and the distances and means of travel of those carriers. Richards then draws out the practical effect of this knowledge on the study of Paul’s letters.

Favorite Fictions Books

The Taking, by Dean Koontz

This is one of the most horrific books I have ever read, but one which does not revel in gore to make its point (though the book is not for the squeamish). A terrifying enemy seems bent on exterminating mankind and our heroes, a married couple living in a small mountain town, face the challenge together. Some reviewers enjoyed the first half of the book but hated the fact that it ended with some religious overtones. As I said in my review, Koontz' ending provides the only rational explanation for the horror and evil that has occurred. It is not traditional SciFi or horror to be sure, but if that is what your demand from you fiction then Koontz is not the novelist for you.

Into the Looking Glass, by John Ringo

Ringo is a rising star among the Military Sci-Fi writers. In Into the Looking Glass, an explosion at a research university opens portals to alien worlds. And some of the residents of those alien worlds are bent on conquering earth. It is up to a SEAL team, a brilliant physicist, the National Guard, the 101st Airborne, and the local rednecks from Big Bob’s Bait, Tackle, and Ammunition to save the world.

Favorite Military History

The Battle of Leyte Gulf: 23-26 October 1944, by Thomas J. Cutler

Most of the military history I read this year was average or below average. Thankfully, near the end of the year I stumbled upon this account of the greatest naval confrontation in history. I have read many other accounts of the Battle of Leyte Gulf and this one is by far the best. It is not a massive tome, but narrates the battles more clearly than any other. It also does a much better job of capturing who was making the decisions and why, as well as focusing on the heroism of the captains and their crews.

Favorite Movies

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Finally! Disney did not disappoint and was faithful in adapting C.S. Lewis’ literary masterpiece. The Lion has long legs and continues to perform well at the box office, ensuring quality sequels. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going until all seven books are adapted.

Walk the Line

Yes, I am a Johnny Cash fan. I am also a Joaquin Phoenix (Signs, The Village, and Gladiator) and Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama) fan. They give great performances (even doing their own vocals) and the story is touching and inspirational.

Favorite DVDs

Constantine (2-Disc Deluxe Edition with Comic Book)

Yes, it is cheesy and the “theology” is, umm, strange. But I love this movie, with its exorcisms, Holy Brass Knuckles, oversized silver-bullet shooting cross-shaped revolver, and day-trips to hell.

The Mission (Two-Disc Special Edition)

This movie is as uncheesy as it gets. Fine performances by Jeremy Irons, Robert De Niro, and Aidan Quinn and phenomenal cinematography of the South American rain forests. This tale of slavery, native populations, and the Church set in the 1700s manages to impart a strong message without simplifying the moral issues involved.

Favorite New Blog

Things My Kids Say by Layman's wife.

Okay, it's about my family so I am not impartial. My wife brings her considerable skills as a photographer and a mother together on her new blog. It is often hilarious and always gauranteed to lighten your day. Check out today's installment, with my oldest son trying out for the Hell's Angels.

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