Friday, February 10, 2017

The "Solas" of Chalmers


Thinking about the "Five Solas" as we embark on this 500th year of the Reformation, I couldn't help but also think of the reformational way Thomas Chalmers has shaped my thinking about life, grace, mercy, the Scriptures, and the beauty of the faith that the magisterial reformers bequeathed to us.

It struck me that like them, Chalmers' influence has also produced a list of "solas." This is my feeble attempt to somehow codify those "solas."

Only the Triune God is truly holy.
Only His holiness can offer grace.
Only His grace can bring forth faith.
Only faith bears the fruit of love.
Only love produces hope.
Only hope gives way to obedience.
Only obedience results in service.
Only service manifests mercy.
Only mercy makes for justice.
Only justice establishes peace.
And, only peace can flower into Christian culture.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Thomas Sowell Eleventary


1. People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

2. If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.

3. Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them.

4. Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.

5. The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.

6. The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.

7. The real minimum wage is zero.

8. What multiculturalism boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture—and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.

9. In liberal logic, if life is unfair then the answer is to turn more tax money over to politicians, to spend in ways that will increase their chances of getting reelected.

10. People who have time on their hands will inevitably waste the time of people who have work to do.

11. Elections should be held on April 16th—the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Bah Humbug: As Far As the Curse Is Found

1. Humbug is an old word of indeterminate etymology meaning “spectacle” or “hoax” or “jest,” often referring to some unjustified reputation or publicity.

2. Of course, the word is most often associated with Ebenezer Scrooge, a character created by Charles Dickens in The Christmas Carol. He famously dismissed Christmas declaring, “Bah! Humbug!” Interestingly, variations of the term make appearances in any number of European languages:

3. Humbug may well be derived from the Old Norse words hum, meaning “night” or “shadow” or “dark air,” and bugges, a variant of bogey, meaning “apparition” or "ghost."

4. In Icelandic, húm means “twilight.”

5. In Faeroese, hómi means “unclear.”

6. Humi in Swedish means “dark suspicion.” This word may well be derived from the Old Swedish verb hymla, still in use, which means “to conceal," "to hide," or "to evade the truth.”

7. In Old English and Anglo Saxon, hum means “to deceive.” And bugges is a word that appears in Wyclif’s earliest translation of the English Bible meaning “specter.” And that may well be derived from the much older Celtic word bwg, meaning “scarecrow.”

8. But, it could also be derived from the Early Italian, uomo bugiardo, which literally means “lying man.”

9. Uim-bog is supposed to mean “soft copper” in Ancient Gaelic—still used in Ireland as slang for “worthless money.”

10. In other words, “Bah! Humbug!” may very well be an apt declaration for Christmas (much to the chagrin of Scrooge): it is the declaration that Christ has come to expose the fraudulence, the impotence, the bugaboo nonsense of this poor fallen world; but even more, He has come to replace the dark specters, the apparitional hoaxes of sin, the evasions of the truth at the heart of sin.

11. Thus: He has come to make His blessings flow as far as the curse is found.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Chalmers on the Disciplines of Time


“O God, may I number my days so as to apply my heart to wisdom. Grant me the guidance of Thy Spirit and the joys of salvation.”

“Time is short; and as the years revolve over me, may I learn to prize as the truest of all wisdom, the wisdom of the Gospel. I am in Thy hand, O God.”

“O God, may I grow every day in faith and charity.”

“O God, impress upon me the value of time, and give regulation to all my thoughts and movements.”

“The Bible should be the daily exercise of those who have decidedly embarked in the business.”

“Teach me the act of exacting piety from everything around me. Accept O God, my gratitude for the peacefulness of Thy Sabbaths. Give me light and comfort in prayer. Settle me in the principles of the knowledge of Christ.”

“May I be strong in faith, instant in prayer, high in my sense of duty, and vigorous in the execution of it.”

“Let me never cease to pray for the Spirit to make good my sanctification.”

“My business is to never relax a single sentiment founded on Scripture and to steer myself by the guidance of conviction and the Divine Spirit through all that can oppose itself to the interests of the Gospel.”

“Help our unbelief, O God; dissolve our hardness; enter into our hearts. May Christ be our all and, under the influence of that which availeth faith working by love, grant that He may be to us power and wisdom and sanctification and complete wisdom.”

“O God, grant Thy Spirit to work in me the work of faith with power.”

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Jerry Bridges Eleventary


I've been reading Jerry Bridges (1929-2016) for nigh on four decades. Ever since the release of The Pursuit of Holiness by NavPress in 1978, I have eagerly awaited each of his new books. I've never been disappointed. Indeed, he became one of the chief influences on my life.
 It was really difficult to choose, but Here is my selection of the best of his best:

The Pursuit of Holiness (1978)
Respectable Sins (2007)
The Practice of Godliness (1983)
The Discipline of Grace (1994)
Transforming Grace (1991)
Trusting God (1988)
Growing Your Faith (2004)
The Transforming Power of the Gospel (2012)
The Fruitful Life (2006)
Is God Really in Control? (2006)
The Gospel for Real Life (2002)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

An Umberto Eco (Ex Caelis Oblatus) Eleventary

"I love the smell of book ink in the morning." 

“There is nothing more wonderful than a list, that instrument of wondrous hypotyposis.”

“A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection—not an invitation for hypnosis.”

"Only publishers and television people believe that people crave easy experiences."

"I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom."

"Translation is the art of failure."

"The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else."

"Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another's fear." Umberto Eco

"When men stop believing in God, it isn't that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything."

"I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed."

"Books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Justice Scalia Eleventary

"Day by day, case by case, the Supreme Court is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize."

"The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."

"To allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation."

"A right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is among the ‘unalienable Rights’ with which the Declaration of Independence proclaims ‘all men are endowed by their Creator.'"

"Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society."

"Bear in mind that brains and learning, like muscle and physical skill, are articles of commerce. They are bought and sold. You can hire them by the year or by the hour. The only thing in the world not for sale is character."

"For in order for capitalism to work — in order for it to produce a good and a stable society—the traditional Christian virtues are essential."

"As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to do what the people want, instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically."

"The body of scientific evidence supporting creation science is as strong as that supporting evolution. In fact, it may be stronger. The evidence for evolution is far less compelling than we have been led to believe. Evolution is not a scientific 'fact,' since it cannot actually be observed in a laboratory. Rather, evolution is merely a scientific theory or 'guess.' It is a very bad guess at that. The scientific problems with evolution are so serious that it could accurately be termed a 'myth.'"

"A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless."

“Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Dr. King Eleventary

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”


Thursday, October 29, 2015

A John Calvin Eleventary


1. “We should ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown.”

2. “There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.”

3. “If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house, then in a field, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”

4. “The Gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It cannot be grasped by reason and memory only, but it is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart.”

5. “It would be the height of absurdity to label ignorance tempered by humility ‘faith’!”

6. “Men are undoubtedly more in danger from prosperity than from adversity. for when matters go smoothly, they flatter themselves, and are intoxicated by their success”

7. “There is no knowing that does not begin with knowing God.”

8. “However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”

9. “Let us not cease to do the utmost, that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair of the smallness of our accomplishments.”

10. “Without the fear of God, men do not even observe justice and charity among themselves.”

11. “In forming an estimate of sins, we are often imposed upon by imagining that the more hidden the less heinous they are.”

A Martin Luther Eleventary


1. “Hier stehe ich; Here I standI can do no other. God help me. Amen!”

2. “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every part of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all battlefields besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point”

3. “I am more afraid of my own heart than of the Pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great Pope: Self. I more fear what is within me than anything that might come from without.”

4. “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”

5. “For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.”

6. “I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.”

7. “Music is the art of the prophets and the gift of God.”

8. “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

9. “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”

10. “There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”

11. “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chalmers and the Solas

Thinking about the "Five Solas of the Reformation," during this Reformation anniversary week, I couldn't help but also think of the reformational way Thomas Chalmers has shaped my thinking about life, grace, mercy, the Scriptures, and the beauty of the faith that the magisterial reformers bequeathed to us.  

It struck me that like them, Chalmers' influence has also produced a list of "solas." This is my feeble attempt to somehow codify those "solas."
  1. Only the Triune God is truly holy.
  2. Only His holiness can offer grace.
  3. Only His grace can bring forth faith.
  4. Only faith bears the fruit of love.
  5. Only love produces hope.
  6. Only hope gives way to obedience.
  7. Only obedience results in service.
  8. Only service manifests mercy.
  9. Only mercy makes for justice.
  10. Only justice establishes peace.
  11. And, only peace can flower into Christian culture.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Symbols of Hate

So, as long as we're banning symbols of intolerance, oppression, and hate, let's not forget the worst offenders of all.











Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Always Something New in London


Every year, I take a group of graduating seniors from Franklin Classical School to England. We usually visit London, Cambridge, Ely, Brighton, Chartwell, and Lewes. And of course, there are a host of must-see sights and sites in each of those places. In addition though, I always try to make sure each trip is unique--we try to see something new every time we go. So, this year some of the new things we'll see that we normally don't get a chance to see are:

1. St. Helen's, Bishopsgate
2. The old Daunt's, Marylebone
3. The new Foyle's, Charing Cross
4. Huckle the Barber, Shoreditch
5. Jamie's pop up Diner, Piccadilly
6. Abbey Road Studios
7. Barbecoa, St. Paul's
8. St. Giles, Tottenham Court
9. Persephone, Bloomsbury
10. Jo Malone, Covent Garden
11. Brill, Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Recent Gleanings from Milton


“The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” 

"Long is the way and hard, that out of hell leads up to light."

“None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license.”

“Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt, surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled.”

“Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, with charm of earliest birds.”


“Good, the more communicated, more abundant grows.”

“Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, if Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter.”

“Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.”

“The first and wisest of them all professed to know this only, that he nothing knew.”

“Heav'nly love shall outdo Hellish hate.”


“For liberty hath a sharp and double edge, fit only to be handled by just and virtuous men; to bad and dissolute, it becomes a mischief unwieldy in their own hands.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Recent Gleanings from Chalmers


"If it be true that love cast out fear, it is just as true that fear keepeth out love."

"Unbelief is an intelligent turning away from the Word of God. It is not rooted in ignorance but in negligence."

"At the fall, men were not demoralized out of all virtue, rather we were desecrated of all godliness--and thus in our own flesh, bereft of all enduring good."

"There is nought more undeniable than the antipathy of fallen nature to the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel."

"The handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and contrary to us, has been taken out of the way, having been nailed to the cross of Christ; but the hand of Jesus, as the Lord our sanctifier, is ever on us: beautifying us with His salvation and spreading over our characters all the graces of holiness."

"The sacrament we hold to be not merely a privilege but a means of grace: a privilege to all for whom the Savior is our alone dependence for time and eternity; and a means of grace to all who, humbled at our distance and deficiency from the perfections of the sanctuary above, seek the instituted ordinances below, for the advancement of our meetness for the inheritance. Come--but come with a sincere purpose. Come in honesty. Come aware of the total renovation which your personal Christianity implies. Come free of all those superficial and meagre conceptions of it which are so current in the midst of this infidel world. Come resolved to be and to do all that the Master of our Assembly would have you be and do. Come and look to Him for the perfection of His own work upon your character, that in you He may see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied."

"Though no longer under the economy of 'do-and-live,' still, Christians are under the economy of 'live-and-do.'"

"Whenever we bethinks ourselves of God having passed over the magnitude of our own provocations; whenever we dwell on the agony of that endurance laid on Christ for sinners; whenever we behold the cross of our atonement and we are solemnized into a reverence for the sacredness of His sacrifice; whenever we look onward to the glories of that inheritance which Christ hath purchased by His blood and the gates of which He hath unbarred for the welcome access of the guiltiest of us all; whenever we look upon Jesus--then it is that we lay hold of our blessed hope, our certain assurance. Therefore beloved, turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full upon His wondrous grace. Oh, consider Jesus."

"Let us not be over-sanguine nor over-melancholy of immediate results. Our perspective of time is only slowly synchronized to the clock of providence."

"Deliverance from condemnation is not the goal, but the starting post of the Christian race; and so instead of laboring to make good a remote and inaccessible station where forgiveness shall be awarded to him, he is sent forth with a full deed of amnesty in his hand, and lightened of all his fears; he goes forth upon his course rejoicing."

"Selectiveness in the decrees of God will not do. Mutilate the truth and you cripple it. Pare it down and you paralyze all its energies. The Spirit is grieved with the duplicity and disingenuousness of men, when they offer to divide God's testimony in accord with their own preferences and devices."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Essential Political Maxims


“The greatest political storm flutters only a fringe of humanity.” G.K. Chesterton

“Almost nothing is as important as almost everything in Washington is made to appear. And the importance of a Washington event is apt to be inversely proportional to the attention it receives.” George Will

“Being in politics is like being a football coach; you have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.” Eugene McCarthy

“All politics is actually based on the indifference of the majority.” John Reston

“Americans view politics with boredom and detachment. For most of us, politics is increasingly abstract, a spectator sport barely worth watching. Since the average voter “believes that politics will do little to improve his life or that of his community, he votes defensively, if at all.” E. J. Dionne

“The Constitution is not an instrument for government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government‑‑lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” Gouvenor Morris

“Liberty necessitates the diminutization of political ambition and concern. Liberty necessitates concentration on other matters than mere civil governance. Rather, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, freemen must think on these things.” Patrick Henry

“What frustrates many Americans about politics, I think, is that their hard-earned prosperity was supposed to produce widespread decency. It didn’t. And as a result, we’re mad.” James Q. Wilson

“Our national temper is sour, our attention span limited, our fuse short. We yearn childishly, for a cowboy in a white hat to ride into town. We are ripe for political disaster.” Simon Schama

“The voters think Washington is a whorehouse and every four years they get a chance to elect a new piano player. They would rather burn the whorehouse down.” Peggy Noonan

“We are perpetually being told that what is wanted is a strong man who will do things. What is really wanted is a strong man who will undo things; and that will be the real test of strength.” G.K. Chesterton

The Tangled Web

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

“A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.” William Shenstone

“A lie which is a half truth is ever the blackest of lies.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Dishonesty is the raw material not of quacks only, but also in great part dupes.” Thomas Carlyle

“The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.” Adolf Hitler

“O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath.” William Shakespeare

“I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.” Samuel Butler

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions. Leonardo da Vinci

“I do myself a greater injury in lying than I do him of whom I tell a lie.” Montaigne

“Who lies for you will lie against you.” John Locke

“There is nothing worse than words of kindness that lie.” Juvenal

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014: Best Films


Only a few of these films are actually new releases this year--they are just new to me. Though I typically don't see very many movies, I try to make sure that the ones I do see really count. These days, that's not a particularly easy task. At any rate, here is my very subjective list of the best of the year, in no particular order:

1. The Hundred Foot Journey, directed by Lasse Hallström, starring Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, and Om Puri

2. Still Mine, directed by Michael McGowan, starring James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold

3. Haute Cuisine, directed by Christian Vincent, starring Catherine Frot and Jean d'Ormesson (French, English subtitles)

4. My Afternoons with Marguerite, directed by Jean Becker, starring Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus, and Sophie Guillemin 
(French, English subtitles)

5. Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Chloe Grace Moret, Sacha Baron Cohen, Richard Griffiths, and Christopher Lee

6. The Book Thief, directed by Brian Percival, starring Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nélisse, and Emily Watson

7. The Words, directed by Lee Sternthal and Brian Klugman, starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, and Dennis Quaid

8. Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, directed by Peter Jackson, starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis.

9. Quiet Bliss, directed by Edoardo Winspeare, starring Celeste Cascara, Laura Licchetta, Anna Boccadamo, and Barbara de Matteis (Italian, English subtitles)

10. Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes, starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, and Javier Bardem

11. Chef, directed by Jon Favreau, starring Jon Favreau, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey, Jr.

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014: Best Non-Fiction


Here is my very subjective list of the best non-fiction books I was able to read in 2014, ranked here in no particular order:

1. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John Frame (P&R) This is a massive, magisterial work that sets traditional, orthodox, Reformed systematics within the compass of Frame's triperspectival and trinitarian didactae. It is eloquent and cogent. But, it is also invigoratingly inspirational.

2. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, and Pastoral Perspective edited by David and Jonathan Gibson (Crossway) With contributions from J.I. Packer, Sinclair Ferguson, John Piper, Michael Haykin, Alec Motyer, and a host of other pastors and theologians, this fat collection of essays ably unpacks one of the most difficult questions surrounding Reformed soteriology.

3. The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen by Sinclair Ferguson (Reformation Trust) This latest volume in the Long Line of Godly Men series from Ligonier is, not surprisingly, the best yet. Dr. Ferguson makes the life, work, and legacy of Owen, one of the titans of the faith, fresh and lively for a whole new generation.

4. God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth by G.K. Beale and Mitchell Kim (IVP) This is a very practical and pastoral distillation of the much-larger and more-academic work by Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission. For all kinds of reasons, I love this book even more than the original--and I was wowed by the original.

5. A Small Cup of Light: A Drink in the Desert by Ben Palpant (IngramSpark) Adversity, sorrow, disappointment. None of us ever want it. But, all of us will surely face it. Ben Palpant's beautiful book--beautifully conceived and beautifully written--explores the dark profiles of suffering with the glistening light of hope. I am giving dozens of copies of this book away for Christmas.

6. Hidden But Now Revealed: A Biblical Theology of Mystery by G.K. Beale and Benjamin Gladd (IVP) This a roll-your-sleeves-up-and-get-deep-into-the-marvels sort of book on hermeneutics and Bible study. Like all of Beale's work, it is integrative and inspirational, academic and practical, theoretical and pastoral. In short, it is a marvel of insight.

7. What's Best Next by Matt Perman (Zondervan) The best single book on time-management/self-management/life-management from a Christian perspective I have ever read--and I've read everything I've ever been able to get my hands on. I have had all of my staff read through this--and I am thinking that we may reread it together later this next year. It's that good.

8. How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit by Witold Rybczynski (FSG) Rybcynski is far and away my favorite writer on the subject of architecture. I have tried to read everything he has written--no mean feat given the fact that he has written voluminously and prodigiously. But, so far every book has been worth it. And his newest, a wonderful survey, is no exception. This book is part history, part sociology, part moral philosophy, and all architecture.

9. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin (Doubleday) This sequel to the bestselling Happiness Project focuses specifically on habits that build family vision, family cohesion, family harmony, and family happiness. Though not a Christian work in any way, this is a wonderful sort of DIY-simple, nuts-and-bolts-personal, Pinterest-practical approach to healthy, loving homes.

10. Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life by Daniel Klein (Penguin) This very slim volume is part travel adventure, part philosophy inquiry, part bibliophile romance, and part coming-of-old-age memoir. This is a most satisfying slow. lingering read.

11. Confessions of a Young Novelist by Umberto Eco (Harvard) I have to confess that any and every Umberto Eco is irresistible for me. I'm fascinated by his omnivorous medieval mind, his gargantuan renaissance erudition, and his wry modern skepticism. In this collection of talks he waxes eloquent about the process of creative writing at the intersection of probing philosophical inquiry and wildly imaginative creativity.