Video: One Zero One Review

Here are my thoughts about One Zero One, along with the basic gameplay. If you'd rather read, you can do that here.

But don't trust me. Lots of other people like One Zero One.

Rahdo called it a "neat, neat game" that's "very evocative." He played it before the game was Kickstarted, and the designer obviously took some of his advice.

Chalk Board Game Reviews said, "It just works. ... I had a lot of fun playing it."

Bowser's Game Corner also liked it, although he didn't like the expansion cards. "One Zero One is a fantastic two-player game that should be on your shelf ...," he said.

I could only find one negative review, but it was from the esteemed Tom Vasel. I'm not sure why Tom hated this game so much, except that it obviously wasn't the game he was hoping for.

It was exactly the game I was hoping for. I think One Zero One delivers.

Pope Offers Fresh Look at Evangelism

joy of the gospelFirst off, you should know that I'm not Catholic. I'm rather decidedly a Protestant. But like lots of folks, religious and not, I'm intrigued by Pope Francis. I wanted to read The Joy of the Gospel for no other reason than to hear his take on evangelism and the world.

Overview:

The book is an apostolic exhortation from the leader of the Catholic Church to clergy and laity. In it, he tackles the position of the church in the world, the crises it faces, and the hope it offers.

Why you might like The Joy of the Gospel:

While the pope is addressing Catholics primarily, he quickly casts a wide net. On the first page of text, he implores "all Christians, everywhere, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ ..."

For any mainline Protestants, Francis' take on the problems facing the church will sound tragically familiar.

But Francis is hopeful and articulate. He displays his knowledge of the world as well as the church, and he offers a vision of what the church could bring to the world.

The book is pastoral in tone and obviously comes from the heart of a man who knows the struggles of the parish priest as well as the politics of the Vatican.

He is the strongest of advocates for the poor, not just as recipients of charity, but as being included in decision-making and in receiving the benefits of redistribution of wealth.

For the most part, he offers solutions to the problems of declining church attendance and the perception that religious people are out of touch. He takes on tasks from the creation of a homily (sermon, for us Protestants) to the creating of a just and peaceful society.

Francis also spends a great deal of time encouraging the faithful to respond to materialism and individualism. Consider this passage:

Many of us try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realms of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems which can be turned on and off on command. Meanwhile, the Gospel tell us constantly to run the risk of face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. ... The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.

The pope doesn't avoid the hard questions — from the role of women in the church and its pro-life stance to relationships with other religions.

This is a meaty book.

Why you might not like The Joy of the Gospel:

The book is decidedly Catholic. It quotes extensively from the Catholic tradition as well as from Scripture. This shouldn't come as a surprise, but it should be noted.

The arguments about the role of women are the least compelling section of the book. While Francis argues that women should be involved in decision-making in the church, he says "the reservation of the priesthood to males ... is not a question open to discussion ..."

The book is full of church jargon. Francis usually defines his terms, but without a theological education behind you, certain sections of the book may be a challenge. There is a subsection titled "Kerygmatic and mystagogical catechesis," for example. Most of the book is accessible, but there are exceptions.

This is a book for the faithful, which should be obvious from the title. While a reader interested in the positions of the Catholic church may find it interesting, other sources would likely be more appealing to the non-religious.

My conclusions:

I found The Joy of the Gospel refreshing and relevant. It is a beautiful picture of what the church could be in the world — a voice for the poor, an authority in the face of violence, a transforming influence in the darkness of addictions, isolation, and fear.

It is both practical and theoretical, encouraging and a swift kick where it's most needed.

If you find yourself frustrated or discouraged with the state of the church — Protestant or Catholic — you will find hope and solutions in this short but weighty book.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of The Joy of the Gospel from Blogging for Books. I wasn't required to give a positive review. These are my honest opinions.

'Bonhoeffer' leaves me wanting more

_240_360_Book.1383.coverI admit I had a hard time reading Bonhoeffer Abridged because I knew where the story was going. If you don't, be warned, there are spoilers here. (If you don't, I'm not sure why you're reading this, honestly.)

The writing was good, and I don't mean good for a Christian book. I mean really good.

You'll see that it didn't go as deep or as far as I had hoped it would, but the style could be put next to any modern biography, and it would stand.

Here's my full review, as it appeared originally on News for Shoppers. The rest of the links are from affiliates, and if you buy, I get a commission. No pressure.

Seventy years ago today, the Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was killed at Flossenbürg concentration camp by the Nazi regime for his role in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

In Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, author Eric Metaxas looked at the life of Bonhoeffer over a whopping 624 pages.

Enter Bonhoeffer Abridged, a 256-page version of Metaxas' controversial work from Thomas Nelson.

Overview:

Metaxas takes his readers from Bonhoeffer's early, privileged upbringing through his years as a pastor, a professor, and a double agent.

Bonhoeffer was one of the leaders in the Confessing Church movement, which rejected the takeover of the German church by the Nazis. He was outspoken, but largely protected by the prominence of his family. His father was a leading professor of psychology in Berlin.

Even abridged, Metaxas' work is sprawling. From early piano lessons to his last moments, you feel by the end of the book as if you are losing a man you would very much have liked to know.

Why you might buy Bonhoeffer Abridged:

Metaxas is, quite simply, a great writer. He has an eye and ear for telling detail, and he knows when — and when not to — include primary sources to support his work.

The subject is difficult, but Metaxas never lets us get too depressed as he builds the tension to the story's tragic end, despite the fact that we know it's coming.

Metaxas loves his subject, and it shows. Bonhoeffer comes to us as a complex but always likable man, a portrait that seems to be echoed in the people who knew him best.

The book will likely make you want to learn more about Bonhoeffer and read his writings for yourself.

Why you might not want to buy Bonhoeffer Abridged:

It's an abridgment. There are occasions where the book feels like it's dabbling in its subject rather than getting to the meat of it. Without having read the full book, it's hard to know if Metaxas delved deeper or just more broadly.

Metaxas sometimes seems to like Bonhoeffer too much. This is a common problem with biographers, of course. They get so close that they can't maintain an objective voice. Bonhoeffer surely had critics during his day. It would have been interesting to know what they were saying about him.

The unabridged version of this book has been widely criticized for turning Bonhoeffer into an American evangelical and for ignoring parts of Bonhoeffer's theology that Metaxas finds inconvenient or opposed to his own.

It's also been criticized for some fairly serious historical inaccuracies.

In the abridged version of the book, Metaxas doesn't delve deeply enough into Bonhoeffer's theology for this to seem like such a large problem. But that is a problem itself. You won't come away from Bonhoeffer Abridged feeling like you know exactly what Bonhoeffer believed or how his theology changed over the course of his life.

My conclusions:

I'm glad I read Bonhoeffer Abridged, primarily because it made me want to revisit Bonhoeffer's writings for myself and feel able to put them in their context.

I also want to learn a lot more about Bonhoeffer's role in the Valkyrie conspiracy against Hitler and the conflict he undoubtedly felt in participating in it, a topic I wish Metaxas had explored further.

Given the criticisms of the longer work, I'm glad I read the abridged version instead, though I'm not usually a fan of abridgments. It gave me just enough information to want to delve deeper, and with other authors.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Bonhoeffer Abridged from BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.

If you're interested in more about Bonhoeffer and his own writings, check out these. Once again, if you buy, you help me keep bringing you stuff like this.

 

Free Music Fridays: Kids

original-alphabet_songsToday's free music comes courtesy of NoiseTrade and my 2-year-old. My 2-year-old woke up early from his nap, while I was about to find some music for you. So I decided to let him help.

Fair warning, this probably (definitely) wouldn't be my pick, buy my letter-obsessed boy loves Have Fun Teaching's Alphabet Songs.

There's a similarity to Yo Gabba Gabba, with the repetition and electronic music.

I played lots of nicer music I considered better quality, and, in his typical way, he responded "No," every time I said, "Do you like this?"

And then I played this. He stopped. He listened. And he said, "yes." Miracle of miracles. They also have an album of counting songs, if you're interested.

So here you have it, 27 songs from Have Fun Teaching:

Free Music Fridays: Hadley Kennary

original-withlove700Hadley Kennary has graced NoiseTrade — and the rest of us with three of her lovely songs. Kennary's NoiseTrade page compares her with Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, among others.

It is the other two influences — Joni Mitchell and the Indigo Girls — that separate Hadley Kennary from dozens, maybe hundreds, of other good young singers trying to sound like Michaelson.

Hadley Kennary has powerhouse vocals over which she exercises flawless control. She weaves the ethereal with lower tones and emotional depth. I think she begs comparisons with Zooey Deschanel with a slightly less retro feel.

"With Love, from Chicago" is the first track on this EP and is arguably the best. It's also her newest. The song is to a man who doesn't have time for her. It is about loss and it is an ode to the city. The lyrics are full of images and symbols without being cryptic.

The other two tracks are from her 2013 effort, In Fall. They suffer just slightly from the production. They're a little tinny, but nothing a good stereo couldn't fix. (I am listening to them on my computer, which doesn't do them justice.)

"In Fall" is a song to her father, or more likely, to God. The message here won't hit you over the head. The song is best when Kennary leaves off the backing vocals and trusts herself to carry the melody. This is good songwriting and great singing.

"Two Yellow Birds" has an interesting contrast, with decidedly classic country instrumentation against Kennary's decidedly not country vocals. It takes the familiar "If you love something, set it free ..." and puts it into a song about two birds with an arresting melody. The harmonies here work. It's repetitive toward the end, but that's the worst thing I can say about this lovely song.

Don't take my word for it. You can give it a listen or download it for free. If you do download, NoiseTrade will ask for your email address. You can also leave a tip.

John Legend, Kanye West, Big Sean Make a Great Team

61zZ5hxnkEL._SS280Of all the new releases on Spotify this week, the one I'll keep listening to is Big Sean's  "One Man Can Change the World." John Legend and Kanye West add their vocals to the song, which is an affecting to tribute to Big Sean's grandmother as well as a reflection on success and what matters.

The song is honest, raw, and surprisingly stripped down.

Despite the "explicit" tag, there's nothing here I wouldn't want my teenager listening to (not that I have one).

I haven't listened to everything out this week yet, but I can recommend this one.