Tag Archives: Thomas Nelson Publishers

The Book I Wanted To Write

The Book that Made Your World How the Bible Created the Soul of Western CivilizationI love books that give the big picture. I also enjoy books that give details and argue over interesting and important minutia. Books that do both tend to be hit or miss, in my experience. The Book That Made Your World does both, and does them pretty well.

The book is thick, but don’t let that deter you. Vishal Mangalwadi argues, in clear and concise prose, for the basis of many specific good attributes of Western Civilization upon the Christian Bible. Addressing the roots of liberty (government and morality), compassion (medicine), the free market (trust), missionary work, education, and several other key aspects of a successful culture, Mangalwadi shows how Western Civilization has done the best job of creating and growing these, and how their current forms and expressions (as distinct from what we may have considered their historic forms) are directly or indirectly attributable to the Bible and Christianity in general, and often, the Reformation in particular.

It has been a dream of mine to write a book arguing factually for the supremacy of conservative ideology and Christian theology and their connection and relationship. While not addressing conservative ideology specifically, by nature of expressing support for the primary forms of Western Civilization as being tremendously beneficial to the entire world, The Book That Made Your World essentially is a book of conservative thought. And by showing the basis of these systems of our culture in Biblical Christianity, Mangalwadi has written a book critical to our world and culture at this time.

Disclaimer added under protest due to the anti-free speech ambitions of the Obama administration: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookSneeze.com in exchange for writing a review. They did not pressure me in any way to write a favorable review.

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Working Well

Is capitalism evil? Many today think it is, or at least believe it is more likely to cause harm than good.

Despite the incredible evidence surrounding us in the West in general and the United States in particular, many who have benefited greatly from capitalism still decry it. Theodore Malloch attempts to show that idea for the deceit that it is.

He’s not the clearest in debate, nor the strongest in argument, but you cannot deny that his argument carries weight. But what is his argument?

Michael Novak, writing in the foreward of Theodore Malloch’s book Doing Virtuous Business, claims that it was Adam Smith who asked the most important revolutionary question. Not “What is the cause of poverty?” which could have only showed how to create more poverty, but “What is the nature and cause of the wealth of nations?” This question showed the path to create wealth, not for Adam Smith, but for billions of people across the world.

In the intervening years much has been lost about the connection between doing what is right and doing what is profitable. Ayn Rand began with Nietzsche and ended in cold, heartless, and frankly mindless pursuit of gain for gains’ sake. Rand has supplanted Smith as the prime purveyor of the principles of capitalism, and this is a travesty because one cannot get human worth from Rand. Neither can one get human worth from Smith, but Adam Smith knew that there was more to profit than making money, and more to business than making profit.

Theodore Malloch, in Doing Virtuous Business, attempts to bring to life the original thoughts and ideals of Adam Smith, expanding with his own idea of Spiritual Capital, to point the way for those who wish to pursue business while maintaining their humanity. While I felt most of the book fell rather flat, the argument itself stood well. Reading the first two chapters, the last two chapters, and the appendices, which catalog businesses started and run well with goals beyond the bottom line or the shareholders, will provide as good an argument as you’ll get from reading the rest of the book. But the book is a rather short one, so reading the whole thing doesn’t put one too far behind.

All in all I do recommend this book, not to those who think capitalism is evil and need convincing otherwise, but to those who know it cannot be inherently evil but are batted about by those who do.

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Book Review: Same Kind Of Different As Me

Same Kind Of Different As Me

What do an affluent art dealer and man raised in what was essentially 20th-century slavery have in common?

I don’t know either.

But God did, and in this true story of two men for whom being from different sides of the railroad tracks didn’t begin to describe the gulf between them we see Him working His will to bring each of these men into the fullness of His goals for them.

Same Kind Of Different As Me tells the story of Denver Moore, a man raised in extreme poverty as a share-cropper in the American south, and Ron Hall, a man of self-made wealth who didn’t have a problem money couldn’t fix. Brought together by Ron’s wife and her work in a Dallas-area homeless shelter, what began as Ron’s begrudging and prideful helping out became a bond between these two that carried them through storms of life many of us have not faced.

I cried reading this book, which doesn’t happen often. But more than the emotional depth of the story was the truth that we are not as different as we may think. I see people on the trains riding to and from work and I think “what could I have in common with them?” Then memories of this book come to me and I think “if Denver and Ron were brought together, I should not doubt there may be some common purpose here as well”.

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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 this  book for anyone seeking to have a clearer picture of what is expected of us as Christians.

Max Lucado’s Fearless

Max Lucado's Fearless
Max Lucado's Fearless

I watched the Jet Li movie Fearless twice in the theatre, and again recently with my wife. The film follows the true story of a martial arts master Huo Yan Jia, who through many twists and turns, ends up fighting for the respect of the world. At a time when China was considered a backwards nation inhabited by backwards people in need of managing and exploitation by foreign powers in the early 20th century, Huo Yan Jia stood up to the foreigners, not to defeat them, but to show them the citizens of China were real people deserving of respect.

To take on the might of foreign opinion peacefully required a singularly fearless individual, and the movie shows how Huo Yan Jia became the man for this task.

There is no appreciation of God in the movie, as it follows the spirit of Jet Li’s Buddhism and mysticism. So we know that Huo Yan Jia, in the film, is really only calling on his own strength and ability to stand strong.

If this is what one man alone can do, what about someone who rests on the one true God?

Truth be told, I’m not interested right now in facing down the entirety of world opinion against America. I’m more interested in getting through today.

I’ve been unemployed for 7 weeks now. We’ve not hurt for provision. We are able to pay our bills on time so far. But I’m a man who needs to provide for his family, and I have looked into the murky future and seen little to calm me.

Max Lucado has addressed the fears we all face, or perhaps all the fears we face, in his newest book Fearless. From the fear of not mattering to the fear of death. Fear of the unknown and fear of God getting out of our box. Max takes Christ’s frequent “fear not” and applies it to our fears. Christ’s terror while in the Garden, the disciples fear on the sea of Galilee, the fear of the disciples after Jesus was crucified.

Fear hampers and halters us, it ties knots around our knees and blindfolds over our eyes. Christ knew that effective Christians could not be fearful Christians, and so he frequently, repeatedly and seriously addressed fears of all kinds.

I’ve not been Max Lucado’s biggest fan. He writes at a low level in order to accessible to the vast majority of readers and that concession seems to me to water down his message.

However, in Fearless, there is sufficient meat and content of significance and I found myself digging deeper, considering the bible verses he was using, the quotes he was applying, the anecdotes he was relaying. The book seems small for all it contains.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether they fear or not. There are dragons in our world and there will always be one bigger than the last to face and surmount. Having the courage to see clearly and address the dragon with the strength of the Lord is imperative to victory in this life.