Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"Turn and Be Saved": post at Biola University's LENT PROJECT

Today I have a post up at Biola University's LENT PROJECT. Here's a snippet:

This is not abstract: Repent. No, really: repent. Examine yourself. Examine yourself even against the exacting and strict rule found in the scripture, not against the weak virtues of your neighbor. Confess your actual sins to the actual God, and ask for His mercy. Intend to forsake evil and do good. Forsake not just the individual acts, but forsake your habits of sin—that comforting sin you turn to time and again. The one you wrap yourself ‘round in like a blanket, seeking comfort from the cold. Forsake it, and turn to the Lord.

To read the rest, head over to the LENT PROJECT site!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Notes: "Moments and Days" by Michelle Van Loon

I read this book in the fall, as the year was curving up towards Advent, but it's also a good read for this time of year, with the long season of Lent lying before us.

"Moments and Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith," is about the Christian liturgical year (that's my jam!), but it's also about the Jewish liturgical year--and it's about how those two calendars do (and don't) fit together.

I really enjoyed it. As Van Loon comments towards the beginning of the book, "By getting to know the Jewish feasts, we know our Jewish Savior better."

That's probably all the reason you need in order to want to read this book, but I'd add a few others: Van Loon is good at making connections (like the one between the Transfiguration and the Feast of Booths) and she's also just a good writer. I love passages like these:

Much of contemporary evangelicalism has been quick to "put the cookies on the bottom shelf," eschewing the church's history and traditions so that spiritual seekers would feel welcome in our midst. In the process, I wonder if we have gotten used to dining on crumbs. Crumbs may fill us for a moment, but we have been made for eternity; our calendar tells us so.

Or this:

...I learned (as we all do at some point in our lives) that mourning is a core reality of our earthly existence. We live in a world shaped by the effects of humanity's disconnection from God. That disconnection manifests itself in loss, sickness, and death. Whether it is a generalized awareness of our brokenness or a specific grief after the death of a loved one, Lent interrupts our regularly scheduled lives to reconnect us with the deepest need behind our pain: communion with God.

Thoughtful passages like that are interspersed throughout the book, but I don't want to obscure the fact that most of the book is dedicated to information: about the Jewish and Christian liturgical years, how they developed, what they are, and what they mean. It's an information-dense book, in a good way.


Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. I will probably use it to buy more books. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Happy Epiphany!

It's been such a stupid long time since I've posted a links post--mostly because my December was taken up with a (good and welcome, but time-intensive) freelance editing project.

But--it's Epiphany! and so here's a links post. I hope you enjoy clicking through it, while enjoying a nice cup of tea or cider or coffee or whatever your favorite winter-time drink is.

-It's the first anniversary of Nailed It!

-It's fun to see how other people celebrate the church year. Sarah's post, "Reflecting on Our Advent," is a particularly lovely account of one family's celebration.

-A thoughtful article: "Harvey Weinstein and Sexualized Pop Culture Call for Prophetic Engagement." Here's a snippet:
Non-Christians may be rightfully outraged at the exposure of anyone’s non-consensual harassment or assault of women. Christians can righteously join them. But we must recall that our Lord, the Creator of sex, has revealed a much higher standard.

-This retrospective on Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, on the occasion of their 70th anniversary, is quite fun. Here's to long marriages!

-Also just for fun: "True Kilts: Debunking the Myths about Highlanders and Clan Tartans."

-And I'm a bit late linking to this guide for Advent and Christmas, but it also includes a bit of good stuff for Epiphany.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Book Notes: "No Moon To Pray To" by Jerry Guern

(Note: I first posted this review to my Goodreads account.)

TL;DR: This is Dracula in the world of Brother Cadfael. Dark and violent and not for everyone, but I liked it.

Okay, here's the longer review:

Have you ever read a book that made you feel:

1) I need to give lots of caveats before I recommend this book because, boy! it is NOT for everyone, BUT---

2) I really want to recommend this book, because there are some people who will LOVE it, and I don't want those people to miss it?

"No Moon To Pray To" is that kind of book. It's not going to be right for everyone, but I sure hope it finds the audience it's right for, because that audience is going to love it.

So, what are my caveats?
1) The theology isn't perfect. If I hadn't read a review by a reader I trusted, I would have put it down after the prologue.
2) It's violent. Like, very violent. And some of that violence involves children.

But, to counter those caveats, here are two corresponding notes:
1) I don't think the theology is perfect, but I do appreciate that it takes theology seriously. The theology MATTERS in this book, and I love that. (Also, much of the imperfect theology is seen through the eyes of clearly biased and compromised characters. So, it doesn't actually say much, if anything, about the theology of the author.)
2) The violence matters to the story, and it never feels like the author loves it or is wallowing in it. It's not voyeuristic. (I almost said it's not creepy, but...vampires are kinda necessarily creepy. "It's not TOLD creepily," might be a better and truer statement.)

So, with those caveats out of the way, who should read this? Who is that audience who shouldn't miss this book?

People who love the fantasy genre. People who want to read something that could be described as "Dracula as told in the world of Brother Cadfael." People who like something a little meatier in their speculative fiction. People who like it when novelists take Christianity (or any religion, really) seriously--that is, who think that what people believe actually makes a difference in the real world. Or, better yet, that you can tell what someone believes by what that person does. (At least sometimes. At least a little.)

People who want to read a page-turner. Because, if nothing else, "No Moon To Pray To" is definitely that.

I really liked it. I had trouble falling asleep the night I finished it because all the shadows seemed darker and scarier, true, but...I really liked it. Looking forward to seeing what Jerry Guern writes next.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price. I will probably use it to buy more books. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)