Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan. Simon & Schuster. 338 pages. 2022
** ½

This is an interesting book, beginning with the title (which doesn’t really tell you anything about the book), and the cover (Little Richard, Eddie Cochran and the little-known Alis Lesley “the female Elvis”). The book, which Dylan began working on in 2010, before he was presented with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, features sixty-six short chapters about songs recorded by other artists, ranging from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Little Richard, to the Eagles, Santana, Willie Nelson, the Who, and Dion. The song selection seems odd – just four by women, many that I’d never heard of, with the highest percentage being songs released in the 1950’s, with nine being released in 1956 when Dylan was fifteen years old. Dylan never says why he selected the songs, whether they are favorites, songs that influenced him, etc. There is no introduction to the book. Instead, Dylan goes right into a chapter on “Detroit City”, a 1963 hit by Bobby Bare. Many have compared Dylan’s writing in the book to his Theme Time Radio Hour satellite radio show he hosted from 2006 to 2009.
Each chapter includes photographs – nearly 150 are included, but none have captions, leading the reader to guess at times why the photo is included. Dylan writes a rambling riff/essay based on the lyrics of the song, and then adds comments about the artist.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper

I’ve enjoyed Dylan’s music for many years and have seen him in concert several times. I found the book interesting at times, but also confusing and a bit boring at others. A suggestion would be to listen to the song on your favorite music streaming site before reading the chapter about the song.
In addition, sprinkled throughout the book is some adult language.

  • Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy has published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you’ve read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.
  • New Books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions Ligonier has released three new books in R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions series, which are free in the digital edition. The books are How Should I Approach Art?, What Comes After This Life?, and What are the Sacraments? See all the books in the series here.

BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Providence by John Piper

The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
This week we look at Chapter 43: Killing Sin and Creating Love—by Faith. Here are a few helpful quotes from the chapter:

  • Faith is the channel of God’s miracle-working power to bring about the transformation God requires.
  • God awakens faith again and again and so guards us from the destruction of unbelief and sin.
  • The giver of decisive power gets the fullness of glory. We get the help. He gets the glory.
  • Christ is glorified by being reflected in his transformed people who are conformed to his image.
  • The great goal of providence is the shining forth of the glory of God in the holiness and happiness of his people through Jesus Christ.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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