Book Review: BAD NEWS RELIGION (Greg Albrecht)

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Bad_News_ReligionGreg Albrecht
World Publishing
2004

What’s wrong with being religious? Are you a slave to religion? Is Christianity religion? Is grace really all you need? Since the church first began, Christians have had trouble accepting God’s grace. We have substituted holiness, discipleship, order, regulation, and a long list of things to avoid in place of God’s free gift. The result is a “Bad News Religion” that drains the joy and the life out of believers.

We’ve all seen them before. Perhaps we’ve been caught up in it. Those books, websites and programs that encourages holiness in the sight of GOD, with only the phrase “Stop Sinning!” as the only suggestion to achieve that goal.

For those of you who hold on to that philosophy to obtain GOD’s favor, good luck with that.

In Bad News Religion, Plain Truth Ministries executive director Greg Albrecht explores the concept of Grace vs. Religion, a concept that should be glaringly obvious to those of us who have put our lives in the hands of Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Unfortunately, with our zeal to “live for Him”, it’s far too easy to slip back into a harrowing system of “do’s” and “don’ts” in a false sense that somehow, doing these would gain more favor from GOD. Here, Albrecht puts this all on the examination table, using simple but profound stories and examples both personal and Biblical to make the reader realize the freedom of Grace as understood in the Gospels.

I bought this book, thinking it was yet another one of those dime-a-dozen pep-talk-for-your-faith types that I’ve read in the past (there were many), and finished it actually gleaning a bit more insight on the concept of Saved By Grace. Mind you, the phrase “Bad News Religion” was used a bit much (like, every other page it seemed), which got a bit annoying, but otherwise, this book I would recommend to those desiring a brush-up on the true meaning of being a born-again child in Christ Jesus.

Book Review: DISSECTING MARILYN MANSON (Gavin Baddely)

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DISSECTING MARILYN MANSONGavin Baddely
Plexus Publishing
2000

Marilyn Manson is more than a mere rock star — he is a cultural phenomenon. He has created a phantasmal world of freaks irresistible to a generation of disaffected youth, while generating unprecedented controversy and protests from conservative and Christian organizations. In Dissecting Marilyn Manson author Gavin Baddeley performs a cultural autopsy, examining the seminal influences and psychotic sources that have created this fascinating Frankenstein’s monster. With its heavily visual approach, the text and pictures form a pathological scrapbook that explore the Manson mythos in an irreverent but deeply authoritative manner. Each chapter explores a different facet of the Manson persona, with its corresponding influences and obsessions: the cultural archetypes — murderer Charles Manson and sex kitten Marilyn Monroe — that gave birth to Marilyn Manson; Satanism, and the dominant shadows of Anton LaVey and Aleister Crowley; childhood fears and subversive pre-teen fantasies; the gothic and industrial music subcultures; the Internet; science fiction; drugs and disease; cross-dressing and glam rock; sexual fetishes and sadomasochism; fascist imagery and the philosophy of Nietzsche; hallucinatory cinema, and Marilyn Manson’s Holy Wood film project.

Yeah, yeah, another book concerning one Marilyn Manson. What can I say, I find the concept interesting. And what drew me to this book was the fact that it wasn’t another biography on the band / man; instead, Dissecting Marilyn Manson really does take a good hard journalistic approach towards the man, the myth, the self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar himself.

The author, Gavin Baddeley, has had a pretty good career as a journalist reporting on the darker side of things, including the industrial, goth, and metal scenes. And like Manson, Baddeley is an honorary member of the Church of Satan. And while that may scream “biased!”, Baddeley actually takes a very detached approach toward the subject, touching on the history of the band as well as the front man, then delving into the various multi-faceted aspects behind the wackiness. The book touches on the Goth, Industrial and Punk histories, as well as the roots of the Satanist philosophies and dark mysticism, the twisted pop culture, fascism, sexual perversion, and the other influences intertwined in the music. Along with the general text of the book, there’s all sorts of interesting side bars to keep one’s interest. Very good bathroom reading at the very least, and I did find this rather informative on many aspects…

Book Review: CHUCHED (Matthew Paul Turner)

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CHURCHEDMatthew Paul Turner
WaterBrook Press
2008

I’ve been a quiet fan of Matthew Paul Turner’s work since stumbling upon an ad for his book The Christian Culture Survival Guide in an issue of Relevant Magazine a few years back. Like Churched (and just about everything else he’s written, he’s quite prolific), I had a dickens of a time locating that one and giving it a cursory read at the Boarder’s in Omaha, the only location that had it. I’m sure the big Christian bookstore would have had it, easily, but I stopped going there since I noticed that they always had someone follow me around when I went there. Now I only go there when my emergency supply of Testa-Mints is running low, and PayPal is unable to let me do it online. But, I digress…

Matthew Turner seems to get my disposition on Christian life. And my sense of humor. I’ve been a daily reader of the guy’s blog for over a year now (if you haven’t yet, check it out). So, when he started talking about the new offering of his, Churched, sharing what it was about, the near-impossible happened: I started getting excited about a Christian non-fiction book. And a hard-cover, at that. Problem was, I’m still a bit paranoid about ordering too many things online, which meant taking the hour-long trek into Omaha to try and locate it. And I did find it. One store had it. One copy of that book. Tucked so far back in between bigger, thicker, and flashier Christian self-help twattle that I almost left, thinking the place didn’t have it. But, thanks to the persistence of my fiancé’, I did find it. And read it in two days.

In the grand tradition of Buy The Book And Read For Yourself, I’ll keep things to a minimum: Churched is, at first glance, a memoir of growing up within a Fundamental Baptist Church. You will laugh. You will cringe. You will want to stop reading because it hit close to home. It will anger some. It may bring some to tears. If you stick to the end, it will make you reevaluate your own personal relationship with Jesus. Like it did me.

I could go on, but then I’d be rambling and gushing all over the place. It could get messy, and I’m fresh out of towels. I will say this in parting, though: When you read Churched, imagine it being narrated by Jean Shepherd, and the little Matthew Turner and his family as played by Ralphie Parker and his family. Eh, it was Christmas, and there was this A Christmas Story marathon going on at the time…

Book Review: EDDIE TRUNK’S ESSENTIAL HARD ROCK AND HEAVY METAL (Eddie Trunk w/Andrea Bussell)

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EddieTrunksEssentialHardRock mar18Eddie Trunk, w/ Andrea Bussell
Abrams Image
2011

Eddie Trunk continues to entertain fans on the radio and as the host of VH1 Classic’s hit television program That Metal Show. In his first book, Eddie shares his most essential bands and his experiences with them, and delivers his favorite “Stump The Trunk” anecdotes and trivia. Whether he’s discussing his love for KISS and UFO, recounting stories of Metallica and Motley Crue, or uncovering an underground classic by Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden, Eddie’s passion for the music he loves shines through.

Ever since discovering That Metal Show a couple of years ago, it’s been one of the very few refuges where I can truly feel like I’m among my people. In a manner of speaking, of course. Being a metalhead in the mostly rural wasteland of Eastern Nebraska tends to be an exercise in isolation, and being slagged an oddball ins something I’m used to by now. Point is, I can identify with someone like Eddie Trunk. He’s something of a fellow hard rock and metal fan who managed to parlay his love of the undisputed music of awesome into a career that I and many others can only dream of. After over 20 years, he’s still a fan first, which comes out with his interviews and hosting his radio show.

This is no more realized than in this here book he wrote, Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock And Heavy Metal. It’s something of a hybrid memoir of Eddie’s, recollecting tales of his involvement with the bands and artists through the years, and generally geeking out about his favorites from when he was a young KISS fan in High School through to today. Chock full of personal stories, band histories, pictures, discographies and personal song favorites play lists, Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock And Heavy Metal reads more as for the fans by a loving fan than a straight journal history, which lends a fresh angle to the reading.

The only real reason why I didn’t buy Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock And Heavy Metal at first was because of hesitancy, as I already have several books on rock and metal biographies and histories, not to mention my addiction to Behind The Music-like shows and documentaries. Did I really need another book like this? Then I got over that momentary bout of stupidity, and I’ve been glad I purchased the book. As such, I not only recommended the book to my fellow METAL-head, but command my wonderful freaks to purchase this post-haste.

Book Review: DEAD FAMOUS (Gordon Kerr)

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dead famous

Gordon Kerr
Oneworld Publications
2009

Death is the great leveller and despite wealth, notoriety, or the best contacts on the planet, even the rich and famous have to meet their maker in the end.  When they do, there’s nearly always a story.  Bursting with conspiracy theories, juicy gossip, and scandals, Dead Famous: The Final Hours Of The Notable And Notorious unearths the tales of sixty extraordinary individuals whose exits rival their lives for sheer drama. From Dylan Thomas and his “eighteen straight whiskies” to Mary Queen of Scots’ blood-red dress and wig, Gordon Kerr provides a delightfully written and unforgettably curious caper through our favourite celebrities’ best last moments.

Nifty little British publication that I ran into during and outing with a friend at the Half Price Books in my area.  Death being one of my interests (naturally), these little tidbits involving several celebrities and notibles was a rather interesting read.  Nothing too profound or shocking; matter of fact, there were times where I was wondering exactly where the editor got the information from.  Regardless, though, recreating the final moments, the death and burial, and some postmortem points of interest makes this one of the better bathroom reading tomes I have come across recently.