August 2008: Books Read

It’s that time again to make a public mental note about what I read in the past month. With the road trip and all, though, there wasn’t much going on in August, reading-wise.

1. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. Reviewed earlier here.

2. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. In recent years, Steve Martin has been less visible as a movie star and more visible as a writer. It used to be that the only writing peep you would ever hear from him was the occasional humor piece in the New Yorker, but now he writes novels, plays, essays, and now: autobiography. This is an entertaining read, and a quick one; I finished it in just two days. In it, he tells the story of how he was drawn to stand-up comedy as a young man, and how he moved away from it after several years of success. Along the way, he writes about his relationship with his parents, his life among young entertainers in Southern California in the ’60s and ’70s and – this is interesting to me, as a Christian – his romantic dalliance with the future Stormie Omartian. I have never read Omartian’s books, but I have seen them on display in Christian bookstores. They generally begin with the phrase, “The Power of a Praying…” and then the phrase is completed with any one of a number of possibilities: Wife, Husband, Parent, Babysitter, Second Cousin, etc. Martin writes about their relationship taking place well before she was married or became a Christian, but nevertheless – it’s interesting.

3. How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth, by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss. This book is the third in the “How to Read the Bible…” series, and I read it in preparation for a class I will be teaching at my church this fall about where the Bible came from. I decided to add a section at the end on translations, since there are many people with many opinions on this. There are those who think that the King James Version descended on a cloud from on high, there are those who think that gender inclusive language amounts to liberalism sneaking in the back door, there are those who just want a translation that makes sense, etc. No matter what your opinion might be, I recommend this book highly if you want to get a grasp on what the issues are in Bible translation, and why there are different translations in the first place. Their chapter on “Gender and Translation” alone is worth the price of the book. In the interest of full disclosure, I will make clear (as Fee and Strauss make clear in the book) that both the authors are on the translation committee of the TNIV (as well as others). This is one of the versions that has caused a kerfuffle over its gender inclusive (not “neutral,” as the authors point out) language.