The Owlings: Book Two, Daniel A. DeWitt (Theolatte Press 2015, $10.99)

Review by Annie Corser

The Owlings is a series of worldview novellas written for younger readers to introduce them to big worldview truths. Boyce College Dean Dan DeWitt wrote this series to explain deep worldview topics in an accessible format.

The first book in the series deals with ultimate reality as Josiah, the central character, is joined by some unlikely guests. A group of four talking owls visit him to help him understand the most marvelous truth in all the world, that the world is not all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.

In Book Two, which released Nov. 28, the owls return to expose the modern myth that “what science cannot teach us we cannot know.” Though the series hits on subjects as weighty as metaphysics and epistemology, the worldview principles are put on the bottom shelf where everyone can reach them.

A Christian’s Pocket Guide to the Papacy, Leonardo De Chirico (Christian Focus 2015, $7.99)

Review by S. Craig Sanders

Pope Francis I has revived the popularity of the Roman Catholic Church, while also renewing criticism from evangelicals about his office. In A Christian’s Pocket Guide to the Papacy, Leonardo De Chirico, an evangelical scholar on Catholicism, provides a concise overview of the historical and theological origins of the papacy.

“The Pope is one of the last examples of absolute sovereignty in the modern world and embodies one of history’s oldest institutions,” writes De Chirico, who is also pastor of the church Breccia di Roma in Italy.

In this excellent book, De Chirico examines the nature of the papal office through its various titles (like “Vicar of Jesus Christ”), critiques the faulty biblical foundation of Petrine succession, summarizes the criticisms of the Reformers, evaluates the reigns of the past three popes, and imagines the future of ecumenical engagement.

Reading C.S. Lewis: A Commentary, Wesley A. Kort (Oxford University Press 2015, $29.95)

Review by S. Craig Sanders

The popularity of C.S. Lewis demands scrutiny into his theological imperfections, as well as a sincere appreciation of his indispensable gifts to Christian imagination and apologetics. In Reading C.S. Lewis, Wesley A. Kort provides a tool for accomplishing this task with a commentary on Lewis’ major works and a discussion of their broader themes.

Despite the helpfulness of Kort’s commentary for the avid Lewis reader, I must note Kort’s openly liberal perspective diminishes both his criticism and praise, most notably concerning Lewis’ inclusivism. Furthermore, Kort’s focus on myth in the introduction raises the question why some of Lewis’ writings were not included in the commentary, especially Till We Have Faces. But the analysis of the Space Trilogy is wonderfully insightful, and Kort’s assessment of other works suffices as an accessible reading guide.

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski (Farrar, Staus and Giroux 2015, $35)

Review by S. Craig Sanders

The resurging 21st-century interest in the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien has brought renewed attention to the literary society they helped form. No further proof of this revival is needed than the fact at least five books on this illustrious gathering have been published so far this year. The most comprehensive of these is the collaborative effort of Philip and Carol Zaleski in The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings.

A massive tome of 656 pages, The Fellowship explores the lives of Tolkien, Lewis, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams, who were the most distinguished and original writers of the Oxford club that met weekly to discuss each other’s works. A distinctively Christian group who found hope in their fellowship in the wake of World War I, “they expressed their longing for tradition and reenchantment through the literature  of fantasy.”

“A wit might say that the Inklings’ aim was to turn the bird into a dragon and the baby into a king, for their sympathies were mythological, medieval, and monarchical, and their great hope was to restore Western culture to its religious roots, to unleash the powers of the imagination, to reenchant the world through Christian faith and pagan beauty,” the authors write.

The book offers biographical treatments of each of the four members, but also explores how their lives were intertwined and transformed by their fellowship with the Inklings. The Fellowship, with its insightful observations of how family, friendships, and society influenced these literary geniuses, is a must-read this holiday season for any serious fan of Lewis and Tolkien.