Review: What Makes Us Human? by Mark Meynell

What makes us human? by Mark MeynellI received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

The latest in the Questions Christians Ask series, Mark Meynell sketches out a solid introduction to basic Christian beliefs about humanity. Its brevity is both it’s biggest strength and weakness. It is accessible and easily digested in an hour or two. It’s probably most helpful for younger or newer Christians – more established Christians might find it a bit basic, and it assumes a lot that a non-Christian might want to argue.

It’s weakness is that the Questions Christians Ask format works best with a clear and specific question, but “what makes us human?” is a massive and broad topic. It touches on big questions such as gender and sanctity of life without room to develop its implications. Some suggestions for further reading might have helped, especially since a book of this length can’t be much more than an introduction to larger topics.

But given the limitations of tackling such a big question in under a hundred pages, if you’re looking for a pithy summary of the Bible’s teaching on what it means to be human, this is a good and helpful book.

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Ereader sales may have stalled, but ebooks aren’t going anywhere

Waterstones’ has reported that their sales of Kindle devices were down this Christmas, while the rest of their sales were up 5%, which has been widely reported along the following lines:

Coffin For a Kindle: The eBook Market is Dying in the UK

Kindle loses ground as demand for physical books grows

Kindle sales have ‘disappeared’, says UK’s largest book retailer

Are ebooks declining? No. These misleading headlines all show either a lack of comprehension or an anti-ebook agenda. If a market is dying, it’s dedicated ereaders, not ebooks, and those are far from the same thing. Continue reading »

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“For heroes, life is a weapon”

“Cowards live for the sake of living, but for heroes, life is a weapon, a thing to be spent, a gift to be given to the weak and the lost and the weary, even to the foolish and the cowardly”

I’ve just finished reading Empire of Bones by N D Wilson, the third and probably the best yet in the Ashtown Burials series. The series is a children’s contemporary fantasy of high adventure and drama, drawing on myth and history in a contemporary America, with echoes of Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and C S Lewis.

The quote above captures the dual sense of danger and heroism that runs through the book. Wilson writes from a robustly Christian worldview without being the slightest bit clunky or didactic. He can really turn a phrase and keep you turning the pages.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nate Wilson at the premiere of his short film The Hound of Heaven at the Raindance film festival last autumn, and got my copy of The Dragon’s Tooth, the first in the series, signed, along with his non-fiction book Death by Living, a powerful meditation on living and dying well. He’s also working on the script of a film adaptation of C S Lewis’s The Great Divorce, which I’m eager to see!

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8 Ways to Avoid Legalism in Your New Year’s Resolutions

The beginning of a New Year: time to take stock, reflect on the year that’s just gone, and put away the mince pies in favour of gym shoes.

But is it really worth making New Year’s Resolutions, especially for Christians in light of the Gospel? Are New Year’s Resolutions just legalism, or can we use them to help us become more like Jesus?

Here are eight ways to make the most of New Year’s Resolutions… Continue reading »

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Book apps, digital reading and the future of our culture

An interesting debate over the value of book apps has bubbled up, sparked by comments from Nicolette Jones at the Bookseller Children’s Conference. She was critical of book apps, suggesting that interactivity got in the way of the story, and that reading a book with a child is a hug, whereas an app is leaving them to their own devices.

While there are many bad examples of interactivity in book apps, I think that’s a feature of digital storytelling and reading being relatively young. Publishers are still learning the medium. Some such as Nosy Crow, Inkle and Failbetter Games have been making good and interesting interactive reading experiences (though the latter two aren’t aimed at children). Continue reading »

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I predicted Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who script 5 years ahead

Well, part of it anyway… Going through some old computer files, I found an outline I wrote back in 2006 for what I’d like to see in the next series of Doctor Who. It’s quite fun seeing how many of my wishes have been granted on the show, such as:

  • The Master as the main villain of series 3
  • Killer snowmen in the Christmas special
  • A swashbuckling pirate episode
  • A romance between the companions (rather than with the Doctor and his companion)
  • Time-travelling love interest for the Doctor

All of them fairly obvious ideas, so it’s not surprising that they should turn up sooner or later. But there was one where I came particularly close… Continue reading »

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The pleasures of new bookshelves

If you’re a bookworm like myself, then books pose two major problems: time and space.

Firstly, finding the time to read all those books that are just waiting for you to immerse yourself in them. And secondly, having the physical space in which to store, display and care for all the books.

There is one obvious solution to this problem, and that’s this… Continue reading »

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