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Saturday Review 13 ; Pascal; Nine Marks of a Healthy Church; Romans 12; Nick Robinson; Love Over Gold; The Flame Tree Cafe

Book – Pensees – Pascal – 9/10

449407What can one say about this classic book? This is so good I am tempted to learn French just to read the author in his original language! For those who don’t know this is a collection of philosophical fragments, note and essays. It is personal and deep and profoundly biblical and Christian – although very grounded in the 17th Century. ” . Again – highly recommended. This Scottish Calvinist loves this book by a French Catholic.

“Man’s sensitivity to little things and insensitivity to the greatest things are marks of a strange disorder” (no.632)

“The Church has had as much difficulty in proving that Jesus was man, against those who denied it, as in proving that he was God, and both were equally evident” (764)

Book – Nine Marks of a Healthy Church – Mark Dever- 5/10

41Be-zFOs6L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_I may be out on a limb here – because this book comes highly recommended by the like of John Piper , Don Carson and I have heard many good things about it. But overall I found it disappointing. The best chapters are the ones on evangelism and church membership. I think that some of my difficulties are that it is too American and it assumes congregationalism. I’m sure that people could profit from reading this – but it is not a book I would use with my church members.   I much prefer Bannerman’s The Church of Christ  Here is an example of a questionable statement:

“Apologetics is defending the faith, answering the questions others have about Christianity.  It is responding to the agenda others set.  Evangelism, is however following Christ’s agenda”


Book  – Romans Ch. 12 – Christian Conduct – Lloyd Jones – 8/10


Another classic in the Romans series.  I have found this series of great personal use, rather than use for sermon preparation – although it has helped in the latter.   This exposition of Romans 12 is deep, challenging and stimulating.  I wish every Christian living today would read it.  If we put this into practice, what a difference that would make in our lives. Highly recommended.

“I believe that from the standpoint of evangelism there is nothing more important than the life lived by Christian people” 


Podcast – Political Thinking with Nick Robinson – 7/10

For political geeks (like me) this is a wonderful podcast.  I always Robinson to be insightful, not overbearing and someone who manages to get the best out of his guests.  The absolute must listen to of this series so far is the one with Steve Baker- listen below.  But I would suggest subscribing.

In terms of podcasts – I have already mentioned Spiked – but this weeks is absolutely essential listening – brilliant stuff!


Album – Love Over Gold – Dire Straits – 7/10

51V7hkBk43LWhen I need to concentrate and I’m writing I can’t really listen to podcasts…so this week I was writing something quite important and I knew it would be a long slog – so out came the vinyl!   I put Love Over Gold on the turntable – once I got the dust of it.  I had forgotten how good an album it is – these were the days when you could have a concept album with only five tracks, one of which (Telegraph Road) lasts 14 minutes.  As always with Dire Straits its the guitar playing which is the highlight.  But the lyrics are worthwhile too – in Industrial Disease Knopfler sings about when you have this disease; “philosophy is useless, theology is worse”!   Dawkins clearly has industrial disease!  And vinyl is the way to go!

TV- Victoria – 8/10

This is perfect Sunday night/post Sabbath viewing.   The first series was very good – the second is even better.  The direction, cinematography and acting are outstanding.  What amazes me is how historically accurate it is (apart from the usual ridiculous nods to today’s political correctness) the whole programme is.  I suspect this is because A. N Wilson (the author of the best biography on Victoria).  The music is also good.  This is TV at its best.

Cafe – The Flame Tree – 7/10


All you need to know about this cafe in Dundee is summed up by the fact that it was so crowded when we went in at lunchtime that we had to return an hour later. The food was superb. If you like vegan you are well catered for here as well. Service and ambience very good…The owners are from Sydney…

Recommended. If you are visiting the V and A pop in here…

Saturday Review 12 – John Milton; Titania McGarth; Marilynne Robinson; Melvyn Bragg on Tyndale; Quillette; Tim Shipman; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind; Australia with Julia Bradbury; Runrig










  1. Love Over Gold takes me back to a Summer I spent working in a hotel in the Highlands in the early 80’s. It was a formative time, having come straight from St Marys housing scheme in Dundee to the dramatic scenery of Ardnamurchan. Life changing! The title track of that album still brings a tear to my eye.

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