Mar 25

The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works, by Robert Greenberg (The Teaching Company Audio) ★★★★

Greeenberg reviews thirty of the greatest pieces in the orchestral repertoire from Bach to Shostakovich. Each piece includes a biographical review of the composer, the nature of the composition, the compositional style, and then what makes it great. It is a whirlwind tour that covers the most relevant pieces. The last lecture on the ones that got away leaves one feeling that probably far more than thirty pieces still could have been included. Greenberg ends with a statement about how we need to support modern composers by listening to their music, noting that the very odd compositional years of the 80’s are long gone, and that composers are again writing quite sensible pieces. Perhaps the best thing Greenberg  could do is to do a series on contemporary classical music, giving us an argument as to why we should listen to modern pieces,  showing us what’s out there, and showing us why those pieces make them worthy of our attention.

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Mar 25

Life Together

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Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer  ★★★

 Bonhoeffer wrote this book on returning to a Germany that was then contolled by Hitler. Through his experiences in the community at Finkenwalde in 1938, he writes of the nature of Christians living together. He describes a community that is focused on reading the Scriotures together, and prayer. He discusses the role of loving each other, and confessing sin with each other. He develops the necessity of Christians living in community. Though he doesn’t specifically breach the issue of “church”, it seems to be implied in all that he says, as well as what you see in Bonhoeffer’s life.
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Mar 25

The House of the Dead, by Fyodor Dostoevsky ★★★★

This book was written soon after Dostoevsky finished a three year term in a Siberian prison for his alleged revolutionary activities. The story is written from the viewpoint of a nobleman for whom you are never told his crime, and owes the state 10 years of hard labor. Much of the book is oriented around the first few weeks in the prison, the description of the prison hospital, the celebration of Christmas, and various prisoner stories describing events in prison or the crime that bought their prison sentence. It is a dark read, though with jocular moments, and a prelude to the even darker writings of prison life by Alexander Solzhenitsin. The book does end well, with a brief description of the release of the story-teller from prison, though that was preceded by the tale of an attempted escape. Dostoevsky excels in his ability to do  character descriptions.

Again, this Mobile Reference version is filled with multiple typographical errors from the scanning of the originals. Usually, one may figure out the proper intended word, but sometimes it was not possible. I would discourage anybody from purchasing this set. It might be cheap, but you get what you pay for.

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Mar 19

Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe, by David Meyer ★★★★

This brief Teaching Company series of 12 lectures takes one on a tour some of the most impressive images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. In this series, David Meyer, one of the managing astronomers for the telescope, provides the scientific insights and explanations as to the significance of the Hubble images. Thus, they are far more than just beautiful photographs. Meyer explains first the politics of the Hubble Telescope, and how one gets a chance as an astronomer to use this telescope. He explains how the Hubble has shown certain things such as the formation of stars, the colliding of galaxies, and even the most distant reaches of the universe. Meyers maintains a teaching level that is not too complicated, such that most could follow what he has to say, and yet maintain ones interest. In conjunction with other astronomy courses, this course serves as a fitting introduction into a small category of astronomy, that of the advances which the Hubble telescope has provided to us.

 

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Mar 18

Redemption Accomplished and Applied, by John Murray ★★★★★

The is a wonderful little book written on the doctrine of redemption. In the first section on redemption accomplished, John Murray covers the act of God redeeming us, explaining why Christ needed to die, the nature of what it accomplished, and for whom Christ died. The second section of redemption applied covers the items in the “ordo salutis”, including calling, regeneration, faith, repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, union with Christ, and glorification. John Murray gives brief answers to false teachings, but mostly sticks with expounding on the doctrines in their positive aspects. It is not a simple read in that every sentence is loaded, but it is a book that anybody could pick up and understand. It’s one of the better summaries of the doctrines of grace that I have encountered. Murray is deeply Reformed in his thinking, and these doctrines could be summarized as the core of Reformed thinking.

 

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