Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Friday, June 26, 2015

Leisure and Spirituality

Heintzman, Paul. Leisure and Sprituality: Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives. (Engaging Culture). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015.

In this well-written book based upon his doctoral dissertation, Paul Heintzman explores the concept of leisure throughout history, particularly as viewed by the Judeo-Christian community. He begins by exploring the views of leisure in today's society. He then takes a look at its history. He then explores what the Bible teaches about the concept of leisure. He then explores the changing concepts of leisure and work and the Biblical view of work. He then takes a look at how Christians have approached leisure. Finally he looks at the importance of leisure in one's spiritual life. Heintzman has done his research, yet his volume remains accessible to both the seminarian and educated laymen in the church who are interested in the subject. The volume is well-documented and well-indexed.This book is likely to be the authoritative work in this field for some time to come. Highly recommended. This review is based on an electronic copy of the book received by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day & Church Camp

2015 is my first Father's Day without my father alive. As I began to reflect on Father's Days in the past, I realized that church camp played a big role in how these were celebrated.

For many years, our church camp was located about four miles from our home. Even before I was old enough to attend church camp, I was attending the Sunday evening service at the church camp because our church cancelled its evening services so we could attend. Our Wednesday evening services were also often cancelled so we could attend the Galilean service which was an evening chapel service by the lakeside.

When I was old enough to attend, my week of church camp often began on Father's Day. The family would pack me up after morning services and get me to the church camp so I could have a good choice of bunks. Mom and Dad would stay with me until after the evening vesper service and then they would head home.

Later the camp moved to the campus of a Bible college outside of Senatobia, Mississippi. By the time I was 15 and had my drivers license, I began working at the church camp. My official title was "Canteen Manager." I often performed other duties as well. Needless to say, I was still leaving for church camp after church on Father's Day even though senior high week had passed.

When I was in college, I traveled on one of the music teams that went to various church camps. At this point, I wasn't even home for Father's Day. I had to call instead. We usually traveled to camps in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi. We also attended a denominational convention each year wherever it was located.

After my undergraduate college years, I only worked in church camp a couple of times. I went as a counselor/dorm mom and teacher for my church one year, and I was the dean of a camp one year when I worked in children's ministry at a church. (I think that camp probably began on Father's Day too!)

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Death in Salem

Kuhns, Eleanor. Death in Salem. New York: Minotaur Books, 2015.

Will Rees is called upon to investigate the stabbing of a Salem shipping magnate named Boothe in this work of historical fiction. Soon other murders follow. Rees follows leads that take him into Salem's tunnels, into the shady part of town called Black Cat, and to other areas. He must also determine if smuggling had a role in the deaths. The novel is a bit conversation-heavy and did not maintain my interest well. Sentences seemed choppy instead of well-constructed, adding to the problems. I suspect that some readers will enjoy this more than I did. Persons who have read the earlier installments in the series might also appreciate it more. The review is based on an advance reader's e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Second Street Station

Levy, Lawrence H. Second Street Station. New York: Crown, 2015.

Mary Handley, an out-of-work sweat shop employee, is hired as the first female detective by the New York Police department when Charles Goodrich is murdered. The plot includes a "who's who" of the 19th century with Thomas Edison, J. P. Morgan, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse being important in the plot. Even the Pembertons of Atlanta Coca-Cola fame make appearances. Despite the implausibility of the plot, it was entertaining, at least after the opening few chapters, and kept me interested in the outcome. Many of the minor characters seemed to be a little more fully developed than the Mary herself was. Historical mystery fans who enjoy real-life characters inserted in the plot will enjoy this one. This review is based on an advance uncorrected proof e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Cherokee Struggle to Maintain Identity in the 17th and 18th Centuries

Reynolds, William R., Jr. The Cherokee Struggle to Maintain Identity in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015.

Author William Reynolds did a masterful job documenting the Cherokee in the 17th and 18th centuries. The book shows the Cherokee's interactions with the white men who came into their region. They lost land to settlers even before removal forced many of them to lands that became Oklahoma. The historical accounts are written from a perspective providing new insights into regional history for most Southeastern States. Readers will recognize names such as John Sevier, Anthony Bledsoe, James Robertson, and Andrew Pickens as they scan the pages. We also gain insight into key Native American leaders such as Piomingo. One minor error was noted in the description of Muscle Shoals' location.  Appendices include a listing without documentation of the author's Cherokee ancestry, biographical sketches, villages, and glimpses into Cherokee life. This book belongs in collections with a focus on the Cherokee or on the Southeastern Region of the United States, but it should be of interest to anyone interested in colonial American history or Native American history. The review is based on a complimentary copy received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for reviewing purposes.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Field, Dawn and Davies, Neil. Biocode: The New Age of Genomics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

As someone who has a very strong interest in genetic genealogy, I wanted to find a readable book that gave me a larger overview of the genomics field. This work by Field and Davies was an excellent, highly accessible book. It offered insights into how the field of genomics is being used in humans, animals, and even the environment. Those of us familiar with genetic genealogy will recognize mentions of the work of 23andMe, National Geographic's Genographic Project, and Family Tree DNA. The book also reports on a few other projects which primarily serve non-English speaking population groups. The authors also ventured into speculation of what may result in the future as a result of genomics research, even venturing to guess that there might be an online dating service based on matching compatible genomes. While the book may use a little more jargon than a person with absolutely no background in genetics might have, it was highly readable for those of us with a "hobbyist knowledge." It is well-researched, citing a number of genetics studies. This review is based on an advance readers copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

The Invisible History of the Human Race

Kenneally, Christine. The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures. New York: Viking, 2014.

Kenneally, an Australian journalist, has written a good introduction to genetic genealogy.  She presents an overview of what can be learned through the study of DNA for genealogical purposes in an engaging manner. She talks about genealogical research in general as well in the course of her book. She talked to people such as CeCe Moore, Bennett Greenspan, Robert McLaren, David Allen Lambert, Rhonda McClure, Jay Verkler, Blaine Bettinger, and Ugo Perego in the course of her research -- names that those in the genealogical community will recognize. I was surprised that an Australian was familiar with the Melungeon community, and she seemed to have reached out to the leading historians engaged in that field of research as well. I did feel that the book was a little all over the place instead of completely focused on related objectives. I am, however, willing to forgive the author of my lack of understanding of her overall writing objective as it may encourage more persons to have their DNA tested when they see some of the studies that have been done and their results.