"God be merciful to us & bless us, & cause His face to shine upon us.
That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad & sing for joy!"
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
"The Fate of Rome" by Kyle Harper. A Review.
The Fate of
Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire
Princeton, New Jersey 08540 USA
$35; October 2017
Instead of rehearsing the unraveling of late
Roman antiquity as a monochromatic and monotonous tale, what would happen if
other disciplines were drawn on and brought to bear? How would it change our
history of the fall of Rome if we could tease out many of the environmental and
biological conditions of the time? Kyle Harper, Professor of Classics and
Letters and Senior Vice President and Provost at the University of Oklahoma,
has made just such a venture in his new 440 page hardcover “The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the
End of an Empire”. Between the covers of this portfolio Harper recounts the
mid-second century until the mid-seventh century, hauling in other aspects of
human and non-human records, to give a more interwoven, intriguing and
insightful account. Professional historians, amateurs and those who simply want
to be informed will find the volume readable and intelligible.
“The Fate of Rome” is something like a busy biker
bar where all of the “Logy Gangs” gather to strut and sport their dominance: anthropology,
epidemiology, climatology, sociology, biology, speleology, dendrology,
archeology, volcanology, and ecology. Each gang has something to say and supply
to the story! And in the end, what they add to Rome’s narrative is alarming; “the
fall of their empire was a triumph of nature over human ambitions. The fate of
Rome was played out by emperors and barbarians, senators and generals, soldiers
and slaves. But it was equally decided by bacteria and viruses, volcanoes and
solar cycles” (4-5).
Harper recaps later Roman antiquity,
primarily focusing on the three major mortality events: AD 165, 249 and 541. He
not only maps out the human actions and decisions, but melds in the climatological
changes that were happening at these times, as well as the microbial cocktails that
reached explosive levels, from which it becomes clear that the “great killers
of the Roman Empire were spawns of nature” (18). This brings the author to
conclude that “human societies are dependent upon their ecological foundations”
(288). “The Fate of Rome” is a gripping chronicle of the fall of an empire with
new colors added to the canvass that draw out freshly defined shadows and highlights.
The finished product is a fuller picture packed with human resolve and
resilience in the midst of crushing catastrophes.
Not only does “The Fate of Rome” fill in many
blank areas in our perceptions of Rome, but it gives us historical reasons to
humbly pause and reflect on the fragility of human and social existence. Academics
and aspirants alike will find this dossier enlightening. Harper’s writing style
makes it easy to read and retain. If you’re looking for one volume to acquire
and read on Roman history; or if you’re pondering how ecology, climatology and
biology might affect human societies, this is the book you need to rush out and
get! I heartily recommend the book.
Thanks to the author and Princeton University
Press for providing, upon my request, the free copy of the book used for this
review. The assessments are mine given without restrictions or requirements (as
per Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255).
When I was 20 years old, I was stationed in a Muslim country for two years. During that time I read the Quran (in an English translation from Oxford), interacted with Muslim acquaintances, and saw Islam lived out in it's communal context. Therefore I was excited when my mother gave me a copy of "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus". With bazillions of reviews already plastered on the various sites and venues, mine will be short and succinct.
Nabeel Qureshi has woven together a very personal and personable volume written to give "an insider's perspective into a Muslim heart," as well as equip readers "with facts and knowledge, showing the strength of the case for the gospel contrasted with the case for Islam," while chronicling his own inner struggles, sacrifices and doubts when grappling with the Christian faith. The style of writing is autobi…
"When evil looms and darkness falls And tragedy is breaking When all that's good seems overturned By God I'm not forsaken For though I fall or wander far I'm not too far for saving And when my Shepherd seeks and finds How can I keep from singing" (229)?
So cantillates Jennifer Michelle Greenberg, mother, wife, writer, musician and abuse survivor, in her new 240 page hardback "Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse". This volume is the tale of her terrors and troubles at the hands of an abusive father, and it is far, far more. It is truly a story of life after abuse, abundant life found only in the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. An easy to read book, it is ideally suited for those who have been traumatized and those who long to help the trampled! "I am not my abuser. I have a choice. I aspire to heal and grow by God's grace" (82).
Just like taking an abnormal psych class in college, a reader will likely see their reflection on many pages in the 200-page hardback "When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse". This newly released dossier, written by Chuck DeGroat, professor of pastoral care and Christian spirituality at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and senior fellow at Newbigin House of Studies in San Francisco, is a velvet covered brick. It is easily readable, and reasonably attainable. DeGroat exposes the varied ways narcissism shows up in a parish, whether in the leadership, families, or congregational culture; and how it can show up in the corporate culture of an ecclesiastical denomination, association or network. It arises from the "lack of capacity for self-awareness and self-evaluation, shunning humility for defensive self-protection" (15). Further, according to the author, a deep, underlying shame is the driving forc…