Category Archives: book review

If Jesus Were…

Jesus Manifesto…accorded even a part of the authority and primacy given to jobs, hobbies, family, social involvement, friends, political causes by those who take His name as their own, this world would be a different place.

How much more so if He were given his rightful place, the throne of each of us.

In Jesus Manifesto, authors Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola cast about for a way to impress upon Christians the necessity of being more than Christ-people. We ought to be Christ.

Not that we have any part in His redemptive work or in His place in the God-head, but that rather than seeking to follow Him, or model Him, or be like Him, we ought to BE Him.

For me, I found this a useful understanding of my role as a Christian. It’s difficult always playing catch-up with Christ. When we’re following, we’re always behind. But when out identity is in Christ and He is in us, there is a much closer association than if we are simply being like Him.

Among other problems, this further pushes our own self down, humbling our position in our own body, and this is a difficult and unnatural thing for people who, like me, are quite content in our nearly-Christ-like Christianity.

At times it seemed the authors resort to platitudes and Christian-isms, bumper-sticker theology. However, it became clear as the book goes on that the memorability of the phrases was clearly chosen to make this potentially unpalatable ideal more memorable and less easily dismissed out of hand.

I highly recommend thisĀ  book for anyone seeking to have a clearer picture of what is expected of us as Christians.

Book Review: He’s Not Yet Dead

After The Hangover

R. Emmet Tyrell Jr. is a storyteller. And boy does he have stories to tell.

He spent many of his formative years, philosophically, engaging with the great minds of the early conservative movement in America. And his remembrances of personal interactions with the likes of William Buckley and Henry Kissinger are rambling and yet deep.

That is the only thing wrong with Tyrell’s book, After The Hangover, and yet it is not such a wrong that I could not enjoy the experience of the trip.

After The Hangover is Tyrell’s prescription for conservative resurgences post W. He begins with reassurances that the conservative movement is not yet dead, despite what talking heads and the MSM love to say. His argument? They’ve been saying that a long time and conservatives keep coming back. In fact, in response to those claims of a conservatives having faced and failed their Waterloo in the election of President Obama, Tyrell pushes back and shows that it may be the Liberals who ought to be looking to their life support systems.

Tyrell is bitter that Liberals have taken, and been allowed to retain, the name Liberal, as the crops of Liberals going back to the 1970’s are not liberal at all in the true sense, but are a conglomeration of ideology- and issue-driven socialists. The environmentalists use green to argue for socialism, tax-and-spend Democrats use decrepit command economy theories, liberation theology African Americans find their history and their futures in Marxist ideas of heaven on earth.

And yet, he argues that it is the conservative, not the liberal, who is the happier person.

Conservatism is a temperament to delight in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This includes those parts of the pursuit that men such as John Locke discussed, the acquisition and exchange of property. Modern conservatism is a temperment, Tyrell claims, not an ideology or an anxiety. It is a love of liberty, not a misdemeanor.

The Liberal, on the other hand, holds this vast exception, among others. Temperamentally, the Liberal believes they are entitled to attain happiness, not just pursue it. And in their inability to attain that which they’ll go all wrong pursuing, they end up bitter and angry.

The reason Liberalism is still such a force is the Kultersmog. The collective smoke and debris of misinformation, inflated opinion, and the supporting armies of science and culture that work together to marginalize conservatives and obfuscate their ideas and words. If you can control the transmission of ideas and words you can control a populace. The counter to that, of course, is the internet. There is no way to control the transmission of ideas so completely as the old mainstream media did and wish they still did today.

Tyrell claims the structures of strong conservative though coupled with the increased grass-roots involvement and the uncontrolled nature of communication and media today spell the continued success of the conservative movement, and indeed it’s continued dominance and shaping of the discourse of America.

Necessary Tension

Myth, Power, and Deception in American History

There is supposed to be a tension between the government and the people.

I worded it that way on purpose, there is no “it’s people” with the government of the United States. There is supposed to be a tension between the government of the United States of America and the citizens of the United States of America.

The United States of America is unique in that respect among nations. While all governments are responsible and accountable for their actions for and on behalf of their citizens, the United States of America is unique among nations in that, at least in the founding documents and according to common belief, it affirms that accountability and responsibility.

The government of the United States of America has traveled far from it’s original constitutional moorings, and it is important that We the people not forget the correct alignment of the spheres of responsibility in a worthwhile culture.

I don’t follow some of Judge Andrew Napolitano’s ideas and philosophies, but my disagreements are more in details than in nature and essence, and in principle there is truly little I can disagree with.

It is a sad thing when even people who firmly believe in the original intent and the founding essence of the United States of America feel sick when they recognize the truth of where we are versus where we believed, hoped, and honestly thought we were.

And it is a good thing when someone stands up and courageously tells the truth without pulling punches.

Lies the Government Told You should be required reading before election day, before tax day, anytime we hear “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

The tension between We the People of the United States of America and the government of the United States of America is necessary and the superior strength and push should always come from We the People because the government attracts to itself people with the lust to dominate.

And it’s the power and pressure of the people who are the first, the last, and the only bulwark against the tyrants, petty and powerful, soft tongued and flagrant.

So purchase Judge Andrew Napolitano’s book Lies the Government Told You, and let’s put the government of the United States of America back in it’s place, back on it’s heels, back on it’s butt, back on it’s back, until its submission to We the People is total and complete.

My Life In History

A Century Turns: New Hopes, New FearsA Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears is Bill Bennett’s latest book of current American History in a series that loosely includes the more formal series America: The Last Best Hope.

A Century Turns chronicles the last 20 years of American socio-political history from the perspective of a proud, cautious, involved, and hopeful American.

When picking up history books one expects to find events with which they cannot relate. I didn’t live during the Battle of the Bulge any more than I did the War of 1812. And there is a significant disconnect which makes study of history a true study, and not just an experience.

A Century Turns tells history, but the one telling is one who was there, one who was involved in the choices that shaped our country and the world as we know them today. And the story is one I lived through.

Perhaps my earliest memory of political affairs was the inauguration of George Bush, the senior. I remember watching on television as he spoke and watching him ride and walk in the parade from the Capital to the White House. I was 6 then.

When I started working at 14 I spent a lot of time listening to Rush Limbaugh on his original station, News Talk 1530 KFBK out of Sacramento. I was aware of events and began to be involved in them on a local level, writing letters to the editor of our local rag, speaking at City Counsel meetings. The events of the last 20 years are all memories to me. And Bennett wrote about them as history.

From the LA Riots to the OJ Simpson debacle. From the home grown terrorist acts of the 90’s to the growth of Islamic jihad to it’s breaking point over our shores and on our peace-seeking psyches. From the dalliances of politicians in the Democratic party to the indiscretions of politicians in the Republican party. Bennett chronicles the currents that have shaped our world so severely and significantly in the last 20 years.

I get the sense, reading old history, that the world changes slowly. It’s massive weight fighting change with inertia. And yet, in just my own brief lifespan so much has changed. From the dominant social theories to the scrappy upcoming ideas, change is coming fast.

One thing the book lacks, but not from purposeful omission, is the sense that history is perhaps always like that. While it is true that the more things change the more they stay the same, it is also true that things change. And some that is lost in that change can never be brought back.

A Century Turns is an excellent book for contextualizing the history of the lifetimes of me and my peers. It helps to see how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.

Bennett ends with the election of then Senator Barak Obama to the office of the President of the United States of America:

There was a deep recession in the land. There were unfinished wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri were still alive. Russia was flexing its muscles. And a new president, with a new approach to the country and the world, would take the reins of power with new hopes and new fears on many sides of him and the country he was charged to lead.

The Gospel According To Lost Is Not

The Gospel According To Lost

The Gospel According To Lost is not an explanation on how to use the stories and characters and ideas of the hit TV series Lost to witness to people. It’s so much more than that.

It’s a relatively short read for the size of the book. Clearly written considering the depth of the subjects it deals with. And it makes me want to finish the series.

Readers of this blog and friends know that I’m deeply concerned about the deeper things in life. Actions and externalities interest me, but intent, thought, background, worldview and philosophy hold my attention far longer.

The Gospel According To Lost is a book exploring the deeper things of that TV series from an explicitly Christian perspective.

From Hurley to Locke to Ekko and everyone between and beyond, The Gospel According To Lost explores the characters beyond their surface. Jack’s super-hero complex. Sayed’s assurance that he is beyond redemption. Kate’s inability to get beyond her terrible past.

And then it shows how the growth in each character embodies a growth we can empathize and sympathize with. We’ve either been there ourselves or we can see it as normal to the human condition. And it all revolves around a redemptive process. Some experience redemptive change, some cannot make that leap and so are left grasping in futility.

I recommend this book for anyone who loves the TV series Lost, for anyone who enjoys great literature for it’s character depth and wants an exploration of characterization in a newer medium, and for anyone seeking to understand an icon of our popular culture which has with such strength and depth provided this intriguing and complex look into each of our hearts and lives.

Or if you just want to see how the grand scope of the Bible can be effectively applied to our modern lives in a constructive and informative way, The Gospel According To Lost is for you.