It’s the baseball season, thanks be to God, and Intentional Walk by Rob Rains (Thomas Nelson, 2013) has lively chapters on St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and other Cardinals who profess Christ, including well-known players David Freese, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Carlos Beltran. Filip Bondy’s Who’s on Worst? The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History (Doubleday, 2013) is an amusing record of bad, ugly, and knuckle-headed ballplayers.
Lucas Mann’s Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere (Pantheon, 2013) tells us more about the 2010 low minor league season of the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings—including occasional bad language—than we probably want to know. Peter Meltzer’s So You Think You Know Baseball? (Norton, 2013) is a succinct guide that will be published in June, so until then you’re on your own to learn how much pine tar on a bat is acceptable.
On to other sports, such as combat travel and online matchmaking. Elizabeth Becker’s Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism (Simon & Schuster, 2013) includes thorough reporting on how countries and companies compete for travel dollars: The chapter on cruises will make you less eager to take one. Dan Slater’s Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating (Penguin, 2013) is similarly thorough about the past and present of internet romance, and reports on sites with highly specific sexual interests that reflect the weirdness of contemporary America.
Claudia Hammond’s Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception (HarperCollins, 2012) is flush with curious tidbits about why time seems to slow down when we’re afraid and speed up as we get older. Because I Said So! The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids, by Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings (Simon & Schuster, 2012), tells us that kids don’t have to wait an hour to swim after eating, we don’t lose half of our body heat through our head, and we should not automatically feed a cold and starve a fever.
I’ll conclude with four thoughtful books: Wayne Grudem’s Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth (Crossway, 2012) is a clear, thoughtful, and reverent 856-page response to 118 criticisms of traditional gender roles. What is Marriage? (Encounter, 2012) by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert George is the best natural law defense of marriage I’ve seen, and a useful one to give those who disdain the Bible. Amity Shlaes’ Coolidge (Harper, 2013) is getting well-deserved praise, but Charles Johnson’s Why Coolidge Matters (Encounter, 2013) also offers useful leadership lessons.
Paul Johnson’s Darwin: Portrait of a Genius (Viking, 2012) is a useful short biography of a man who brilliantly observed microevolution within species of plants and animals, but reached too far by theorizing macroevolution that he had not witnessed. (Darwin then went way too far in theorizing about man—and by doing so provided fodder for racists and anti-Semites.)
Johnson points out that most scientists believed in evolution 20 years before Darwin published On the Origin of Species, that Britain’s intellectual elite rapidly seized it, and that Darwin faced little hostility or organized opposition: In essence, he provided data that could be used to bulwark what most leaders already believed. Yes, some people have read Darwin and turned to atheism, but his writing has more often bulwarked what his readers already believed.
Gerald Rau’s Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything (IVP, 2012) has the soporific thoroughness of much academic writing, but it could still be a good gift to those who read only the work of their own camp. Concerning the materialist theory de jour—the existence of multiple universes—Rau notes that “the existence of these multiverses is no less a matter of faith for atheists than the existence of a supernatural is for theistic models.” –M.O.