Book Reports and Commentary
by Mrs. D.


    I check out lots of books from the library.  If my book reports pique your interest, see if your library has them.  You can't easily dupe a well-read person, unless he has skipped the first step in wisdom - the fear of the LORD - and is a carnal, or natural, person.  (Prov. 1:7; 1 Cor. 2:14)  In that case his wisdom is foolish and will be brought to nothing.  (1 Cor. 1:20,19; see also 2 Tim. 2:14,23; Titus 3:9)

"The excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it."

- Ecclesiastes 7:12b  




Biography / Autobiography

1.  Diary of a Man in Despair, by Frederick Reck-Melleczewen - Necessary reading to approach more closely understanding the times in Germany under Hitler, unreasonable as they were.  The parallels to our times make it valuable as a warning to fight the deadliness of our unhealthy society.

2.  Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie, translated by Vincent Sheean, 1937, Doubleday, Garden City, NY.

3.  The Glorious Scoundrel:  A Biography of Captain John Smith,  Noel B. Gerson.

4.  Blood Brothers,  Michael Weisskopf – The author is wounded as a journalist in Iraq.

5.  American Hostage:  A Memoir of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq and the Remarkable Battle to Win His Release,  Micah Garen and Marie-Hélène Carlton.

6.  Unlikely Angel:  The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero,  Ashley Smith with Stacy Mattingly.

7.  Simon Wiesenthal:  A life in Search of Justice,  Hella Pick, Notheastern Univ. Press, Boston, 1996, 349 pages.  I recommend this book.  Mordecai types are an encouragement to do right no matter what the odds or opposition.

8.  Joseph Smith, by Robert V. Remini.


History

1.  Why the Rest Hates the West:  Understanding the Roots of the Global Rage, Meic Pearse – an excellent book, worthy of a scholastic study course and full of information outside the expectations from the title.

2.  Rwanda Means the Universe,  Louise Mushikiwabo and Jack Kramer.

3.  The Bold and Magnificent Dream:  America's Founding Years:  1492 - 1815, Bruce Catton and William B. Catton.

4.  Chasing Ghosts,  Paul Rieckhoff – Account by a soldier in Iraq.

5.  What America Owes the World:  The Struggle for the Soul of Foreign Policy,  by H.W. Brands.

6.  1968:  The Year that Rocked the World,  by Mark Kurlansky, Ballantine Books, NY, 2004.  The title says it.  Kurlansky describes what was going on in countries around the world, and it was a year of dramatic happenings.

7.  The Truth about the Panama Canal,  Denison Kitchel, Arlington House Publishers, New Rochelle, NY, 1978.  A factual, informative explanation, like the title says.

8.  Shooting the Moon:  The True Story of an American Manhunt Unlike Any Other,  David Harris, 2001, Little, Brown & Co., 394 pages.  Seems a pretty fair appraisal about the arrest of Noriega, except for North's portrayal (loud mouth?).


Literature

1.  King Solomon's Mines,  H. Rider Haggard.

2.  Pillar of Iron,  Taylor Caldwell, Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1965, 700 pages.  "A novel about Cicero and the Rome he tried to save."

3.  Wise Blood,  Flannery O'Connor.

4.  Light in August,  Faulkner.

5.  Alexander McCall Smith.

6.  Fire in the Blood, by Irène Némirovsky.

7.  Suite Française, by Irène Némirovsky.


Non-fiction

1.  Christian Homes And Special Kids (CHASK), by Sherry Bushnell and Diane Ryckman, 2003, NATHHAN*/CHASK, Porthill, Idaho.

2.  Some Just Clap Their Hands:  Raising a Handicapped Child, by Margaret Mantle, 1985, Adama Books, NY, 263 pages.

3.  Fighting for Dear Life:  The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo and What It Means for All of Us,  by David Gibbs with Bob DeMoss, Bethany House.  Bloomington, MN, 2006, 288 pages.

4.  It's My Party:  A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP,  by Peter Robinson.

5.  Beyond Love,  Dominique LaPierre – The history of the discovery of the AIDS virus.

6.  Judas and the Gospel of Jesus, by N.T. Wright.  [PDF]


Bad books

Read my reports but don't bother with the books.

1.  The View from the Center of the Universe, by Joel R. Primack and his wife Nancy Ellen Abrams — False teaching galore à la cosmic humanism.

2.  The Cartoon History of the United States,  by Larry Gonick.

3.  The Map that Changed the World,  by Simon Winchester.

4.  La otra historia de los Estados Unidos,  Howard Zinn – Un libro por un hombre miserable que no puede mirar arriba.

5.  Philip Jenkins's A History of the United States.

6.  The Eyes of the Heart:  A Memoir of the Lost and Found,  Frederick Buechner.

7.  Common Ground,  by Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas.






Biography / Autobiography

Diary of a Man in Despair, by Frederick Reck-Melleczewen, translated by Paul Rubens, The Macmillan Co., 1970, 219 pages.

Hannah Arendt referenced Frederick Reck-Melleczewen's journal (1936-1944) as "one of the most important documents of the Hitler period," which is saying a lot since there are so many.  Its translator, Paul Rubens, felt this volume "etch[es] more clearly" than any other "the parallels between that time and this one." (p.8)  Rubens saw in 1970 the "mass man" Reck-Melleczewen saw emerging in Germany beginning with the Prussians replacing the monarchy.  By mass man is meant "irremediably sick and futureless . . . men, whose ideal is amorphousness, whose ethos is formlessness, and who hate nothing so much as discipline, form, definition." (p.93)  The thoughtful person can see it today.  Reck-Melleczewen equates mass man with a cancer cell and says "[t]his disease is sweeping down over us today with the tidal speed of the Black Plague" (p.148) - this by a "people who so jealously watched over its rights a few years ago."  It "allows itself to be dominated by street-corner idlers of yesterday, but actually, height of shame, is incapable any longer of perceiving its shame for the shame that it is." (p.22)  [B]asically orderly and hard-working people, without resistance from those dedicated to the good in life have "in some unfathomable way turned on its head concepts like mine and thine, right and wrong, virtue and vice, God and the Devil." (p.21)  "I believe my call to resistance and a naysaying to mass man are justified in the face of this diagnosis," he says. (p.147)

He sees his country being destroyed by Hitler, a "character out of a comic strip" (p.28), a "pygm[y]," a "power-drunk schizophrenic," and says in 1939 that he hates him because "the way out of our defiled and desecrated house is through the command to hate Satan.  Only so will we earn the right to search in the darkness for the way of love." (pp. 84,85)  He says, "One must hate Germany now, truly and bitterly, in order once again, if only for the sake of its glorious past, to be able later, to enfold it in all one's love - like a parent with his misguided and unfortunate child." (p.93)  Upon Germany's invasion of Russia 1941 Reck-Melleczewen says, "In their immense vanity, Satan's own have overreached themselves, and now they are in the net, and they will never free themselves again.  That is the fact, and this it is that rejoices my heart. . . . I hate you for undoing men's souls, and for spoiling their lives; I hate you as the sworn enemy of the laughter of men. . . [sic] Oh, it is God's deadly enemy which I see, and hate, in you." (p.122)

As a 60-year-old man in 1944, Reck-Melleczewen failed to respond to a draft notice due to illness (a heart attack brought on by having gotten word that his son was missing in Russia).  Although he responded four days later with a doctor's note, he was arrested for ignoring the "call to arms" - probably, he didn't really know the reason.  Nevertheless, he was charged with "undermining of the morale of the Armed Forces." (p.206)  In this, his last journal entry, he says, "Strange, I have progressed."  He has changed from "work[ing] out plans for a terrible revenge" to now knowing that "no such thing as 'revenge' exists." (p.209) He says, "Christianity still has its great work before it.  But in the face of the Satanism which now prevails, a second Catacombs will be necessary and a second Nero's burning-of-Rome before the spirit may emerge victorious a second time." (p.210)

A warning we can get from Germany's mass man is that in his disease he was distracted from the real problems of the times by "pseudo ideologies and symbolic pap." (p.93)  In a comparison to Bockelson's seige of Munster in 1534, he says "As with us, the masses were drugged: folk festivals, useless construction, anything and everything, to keep the man in the street from a moment's pause to reflect." (p.20)

For the sin-sickness we seeing running rampant in our society, let us do the work of Christianity Reck-Melleczewen spoke of at the end of his life, which is stated in 1 Peter 2:21-25: For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.



2.  Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie, translated by Vincent Sheean, 1937, Doubleday, Garden City, NY.

What place do I have in examining the life of such a great person?  There are certain standards against which we are all measured against, and Mme. Curie's life is no exception.  While holding the highest regard for her genius, industriousness, sweet and wonderful marriage, and humanity, I nevertheless observed her practically absolute sufficiency without God.  How does one declare God to such a one who serves science at the mercy of fate (p.136) and sublime instincts (p.159)?  I will answer below after giving the Biblical answer to various quotes from the book, which is written by Marie's daughter Eve.

"And when she knelt in the Catholic church where she was used to going with her mother, she experienced the secret stir of revolt within her.  She no longer invoked with the same love that God who had unjustly inflicted such terrible blows, who had slain what was gay or fanciful or sweet around her." (page 29)

The Catholic church apparently didn't tell Marie of the love of God.  Isaiah 53:5 says, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."  Jesus says in John 10:10-11:  "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  I am the good shepherd:  the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."  God didn't kill her mother and sister.  The one who is described as the thief did.  He "cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy."

Marie wrote in a letter, "If one could only say, with Christian resignation, "God willed it and his will be done!" half of the terrible bitterness would be gone.  Alas, that consolation is not for everybody.  I see how happy are the people who admit such explanations.  But, strangely enough, the more I recognize how lucky they are the less I can understand their faith, and the less I feel capable of sharing their happiness." (page 76)

Just because something bad happens does not mean God caused it.  Many who think that, get by with the error because of their trust in God.  But for those who don't trust God, of course how could they come to trust Him when He does things like that!  "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."  (1 John 3:8)  As cited above, the devil comes to kill.  As we grow in our knowledge of God, we see how the devil's works have been destroyed and what weapons and privileges we have at our disposal to see the works of Jesus done in the world.

Exaltation of science without seeing the One Who made it
As Romans 1:20 says happens, Marie saw the invisible things of God from creation.  "Was there anything more enthralling than the unchangeable rules which governed the universe, or more marvelous than the human intelligence which could discover?" (page 97)  On page 384 Eve speaks of a "glorious morning."

(Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.)

Eve also says, "For more than three solid years she [Marie] was to lead a life devoted to study alone; a life in conformity with her dreams, a 'perfect' life in the sense in which that of the monk or the missionary is perfect." (page 105)

Pierre also served science with similar devotion to the exclusion of all else.  Her soon-to-be husband Pierre wrote to her, "Of all those dreams the [scientific dream] is, I believe, the only legitimate one.  I mean by that that we are powerless to change the social order and, even if we were not, we should not know what to do; in taking action, no matter in what direction, we should never be sure of not doing more harm that good, by retarding some inevitable evolution.  From the scientific point of view, on the contrary, we may hope to do something; the ground is solider here, and any discovery that we may make, however small, will remain acquired knowledge." (page 130)  (This is prophetic in regards to the Bolshevik Revolution.)

More of "science is master" stuff is on page 193.

The erroneous conclusion that inorganic matter evolved, despite the violation of the law of entropy, is on page 195.

Along with placing an inordinate value on the creature rather than the Creator, "she grasped at Auguste Compte and social evolution." (page 53)

Mankind can not socially evolve and approach perfection but, on the contrary, needs a Savior — namely, Jesus.  Romans 1:25 says:  "[Ungodly men] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.  3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.  3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God."  This is good news in light of the truth.

The circumstances surrounding Marie's death made it seem as if she went into nothingness and the realm of the dead.  Not so according to the Bible.  Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.  Luke 20:38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.

So, for the answer to how can a Christian witness to someone like Marie:  keep your eyes on the Creator, on the Savior, on His Word.  She may have seemed self-sufficient with her advances in science and good causes, but she had the same yearnings we all have to know the Truth.  I wish someone had told her that Truth.  I endeavor to tell others according to that wish.

There's an amusing story about Marie and Albert Einstein on a walking tour on page 284.  He seized her arm and said to her, "You understand, what I need to know is exactly what happens to the passengers in an elevator when it falls into emptiness."  The young people around "howled with laughter," not knowing the context of his concern.  Maybe we're in a situation in which we can seize someone's arm and say, "You understand, what I need to know is how well do you know what Jesus has done for you?"



3.  The Glorious Scoundrel:  A Biography of Captain John Smith, Noel B. Gerson, Dodd, Mead, 1978, 251 pages.

I checked out this book after reading a good report of Smith's leadership in Catton's The Bold and Magnificent Dream.  He had a fabulous life (in the literal sense – fable) and yet it really happened.  He was of the world spiritually, however, or he could have fulfilled his dream of establishing a permanent colony as military leader with the Separatists.  Not content with being less than governor, he was replaced with Miles Standish.  The times had a morality that, while not permitting a young woman sexual promiscuity before marriage, condoned cuckolding, as long as the mistress was treated faithfully.  Smith pushed beyond public sentiment in both areas, and strove to get back in society's and Duchess Frances's good graces afterward.

He was a super high-energy administrator in Jamestown, with an obvious God-given ability for the task, who devoted all hours to planning, fulfillment, enforcing, expanding, and learning, with zero regard to adversaries as he did what he wanted.  He was unsuccessful in getting backing for what would have been an assured success in an American colony or in having himself regarded in accordance with his true worth.  But both of those failures need not have been if he'd been more than a nominal Christian.  He would have helped the Pilgrims and known the favor of God.  Good book.  (Commentary is mine, not the book's).

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4.  Blood Brothers, Michael Weisskopf, 2006, Henry Holt & Co., 301 pp.

One of those books you read in a few days.  The author was typical of a Time magazine journalist – liberal, New Age-y, unashamedly immoral, but he probably tried to manage his condescension and skepticism of the patriot and Christian.

I didn't know losing a limb was so difficult and involved.  The pain is excruciating, phantom included; the recovery iffy and lengthy; and the prosthesis process long, like toe ballet dancing for leg protheses.  Then there's the helplessness and dependency, loss of identity and regular livelihood, and possible guilt and doubt, depending on the circumstances.

Everyone ended up in a healthy, resolved situation.

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5.  American Hostage:  A Memoir of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq and the Remarkable Battle to Win His Release, Micah Garen and Marie-Hélène Carlton, Simon and Schuster, 2005.

The authors are wrapped up in false thinking – Buddhism, Platonism, New Age.  I wish they, and readers of the book, would know:  that the Old Testament account of the flood is trustworthy as Scripture (flood = 2350 BC, Moses wrote = 1450 BC; Gilgamesh, a myth, but has the catastrophic flood, written = 2000 BC); Jesus was around during Roman rule in the fullness of time to raise the "temple," after it was destroyed, in three days (the Jewish temple, where sacrifice was no longer needed being destroyed shortly afterward); Ps. 84:11,12; Col. 1:17; Rom. 7:18; Jn. 14:6; Mt. 16:24; Gen. 1:27; 2:20-24; 1 Cor. 13:12; S. of S. 5:8; Lot didn't look back – not Abraham as the book says; Ps. 146:7; 1 Tim. 2:5; Ps. 19:1; 2 Pet. 3:9.

The couple seems to have it all together, but not living according the Manufacturer's instructions is bound to cause conundrums solved only by coming to Christ.  Christ is an offense to those not appointed to salvation (or their "Today is the day of salvation" hasn't come).  God was so good to these people to loose the prisoner (Ps. 146).  How would I act if He had me in relationship to these people?  Not slack, but long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that they all come to repentance.  That's how I saw God treating them.

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6.  Unlikely Angel:  The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero, Ashley Smith with Stacy Mattingly (who also co-wrote Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer's story), Zondervan, 2005, 272 pages.

God changed her life in this crisis, redeeming the hurt and waste of the past by intersecting her path with a deadly criminal who was open to the gospel, because she willed to do right when God gave her a last – not another – chance.

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7.  Simon Wiesenthal:  A life in Search of Justice, Hella Pick, Notheastern Univ. Press, Boston, 1996, 349 pages. I recommend this book. Mordecai types are an encouragement to do right no matter what the odds or opposition.

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History

1.  Why the Rest Hates the West:  Understanding the Roots of the Global Rage, Meic Pearse, 2004, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Il.

This is an excellent book, worthy of a scholastic study course and full of information outside the expectations from the title.

Definition of tolerance – "a dogmatic agnosticism about all truth claims and moral questions, with any dissent from it hounded at every turn until all submit to its insistent nescience."  p. 168

His suggestions on what to do about the catastrophe awaiting our civilization unless we do something are:
 •  Make persnickety points of not letting our consciousness be changed through others manipulating my language.
 •  Model dignity, self-respect, honor, and concern for others to stay on top of inner turmoil and decide toward interdependence and embracing of duties.
 •  Choose commercial and personal relationships for their trustworthiness, model trust, stress its importance.
 •  Refrain from the voyeurism and vicarious thrills of TV and movies and fill my mind and sentiment with friends, reading, music, and church, which entails at least a little more effort and perseverance.
 •  Be informed about the world around us, aware that news sources reflect the anti-culture and anti-values of the society that produces it and for which it is produced.
 •  Act with humility, not assuming we have the panacea for all the real problems around us, when we are personally in contact with non-Westerners. (pp. 171-180)

The goal is a renewed moral vision rooted in duties, respect, and decorum, not a culture of rights, aggressive egalitarianism, and brazen sexuality (p. 181).  Religious believers are motivated to do this by God's truth, but a person needn't be a believer.  Society – not the political system – is sick because millions of Americans are making big and small decisions every minute of every day that are wrong.  Recreating a moral society needn't be bound to the imposition of a religious faith (p. 181).  We need to persuade them to act right.  If they don't that's up to them.

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2.  Rwanda Means the Universe, Louise Mushikiwabo and Jack Kramer, 2006, St. Martin's Press, 367 pages.

"...racial musings of Burton, Speke, Stanley, Nietzsche, rendered in modern words immediately comprehensible to a deliberately deluded public."  (Italics added) (p. 302)

"We'd need nearly twenty Vietnam Memorials for all their names."  (p. 348)

"In prison in 1990 Lando writes 'It's not the physical humiliation but the moral breakdown.... I kept telling myself this can't be happening.'" – and this was before the horrors of 1994. (p. 348)

Louise packs a punch in her writing through use of allusion, so looking up a word unlocked more than its definition. Her vast understanding is believable for her lack of agenda (me good – they bad).  In her honesty she might qualify what she say, as in "I despise these men" (p. 322) about the Genocide Group who engineered the Akazu, or pick a German reference rather than French because "I'm not in the mood" (p. 343), obviously understating what a bum France was in fighting for the murderers.

She lives up to her conclusion that Rwandese refuse to accept victimhood, which she says she pack like an invisible mini-respirator in the tightest suitcase.  (p. 349)  There is no wailing, although at certain points her mind locks up, seizes up, reaches a critical temperature with critical pressure, and makes it so years of preciously collected notes about what happened the rest of April 6, 1994, and the rest of the week, month, and season of the genocide sit paper-clipped.  Her head is at 30 below and nothing will come out.  (p. 339)  As she neared talking about her family being killed, she uses the euphemism the Thing Itself, and only talks about what she must pick out of the white-hot blaze created in her universe on April 6.  (p. 289)  She inserts reports from proceedings in 1999 on UN performance, without comment, to fill in part of the happenings.

When family members are taken by troops and not returned, for weeks (pp. 294, 297) "vanish[ing] through a ravel in the weave of Rwanda," in 1990, Louise says she needs a slap like Patton gave a shell-shocked soldier.  (p. 297)

A woman of the Genocide Group was said to be opposed to accommodating sexual promiscuity, favoring the morality of abstinence.  I gathered Louise didn't agree with her stance, but I suppose the woman must have been devilish in making a Godly stand look bad by association.

Lt. General Roméo Dallaire, a good guy who gave more than his all (he's the highest-ranked sufferer of post-traumatic stress syndrome) to stop the madness in Rwanda as the U.N. Force Commander, appears in Louise's book.  I highly recommend his autobiography, Shake Hands with the Devil:  The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.

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3.  The Bold and Magnificent Dream:  America's Founding Years:  1492 - 1815, Bruce Catton and William B. Catton, originally published in 1978, Gramercy Books (1999).

Chapter 11, "The Burden of Race," pretty well hits the nail on the head of where racism comes from.  Knowing that can renew our minds if we harbor any thoughts of superiority.  Catton admits that "[s]tereotypes are a form of that categorizing which is a necessary component in the human perceptive process, a shorthand way of avoiding confusion and imposing order on the things one encounters."  But "[t]he images … of red man and black man … derived less from what the Englishman saw than from what he wanted to see."  The Indian went from being a "noble savage," when he was looked at from a commercial or exploratory point of view, to a "treacherous barbarian," when he was looked at from the territorial point of view.  (p. 198)  A negative image took hold in the colonists' minds, although always with exceptions.  (p. 199)  "[A] handful of zealous missionaries and religious radicals like the Quakers, a few scholarly and dispassionate observers like Cadwallader Colden … were, quite literally, voices crying in the wilderness."  (p. 199)

Regarding the black man, "the African stereotype [was] a kind of hollow statue into which [Englishmen] poured all of their own … deepest fears, guilts, lusts, and erotic fantasies."  (p. 208, 209)  The result was "a social system … with barriers of caste that would have made a Hindu blink … and psychological balm to bruised and bitter egos - low as one might be, there was always a large group permanently mired beneath him."  (p. 207, 209)  Historically it began when "distinctions [between white and black servants] could be detected in the absence of written protective contracts for black indentures."  (p. 204)  By 1660, or thereabouts, the colonists were passing explicit slave legislation … based frankly upon race."  Before that "the small number of blacks [the English] brought to the Chesapeake colonies … came as indentured servants rather than slaves, and no legal distinction was drawn between white and black indentures."  (p. 203)  "The Spaniards and Portuguese" had a more "casual … notion of color difference….  Social barriers existed but they were relatively mild and easily crossed….  Hard though his lot was, the slave['s] ... essential humanity was not denied."

Catton said "the English buil[t] a rather elaborate image upon the basis of almost no substantive knowledge whatever.  Imagination leaped in avidly and took over from the start….  Speculation that the African might be related to the ape encouraged the conclusion that he might be subhuman, which in turn provided a convenient justification for enslaving him."  (p. 201, 202)

"Christianity was too preoccupied with its internal convulsions to exercise much of a meliorating influence."  (p. 205)  "But the Christian conscience, where people take their religion seriously - and the most important elements in colonial America did - tends to be a light sleeper….  [Although] the protests against the institution of slavery in the mid 1700s were "few in number," "could be shouted down or ignored," and "the collective conscience did little more than stir restlessly in the night..., the wind was rising, to beat with scriptural results against houses built on sand." (p. 208)

Of course, Catton acknowledged the place of Christians in the founding of our country, but he was obviously speaking as an outsider, saying that we came from cavemen (p. 197) or that the Christian mental process is human, for instance. (p. 208) Christians are part of fallen mankind, granted, but we are instructed to renew our minds, and can actually think with the mind of Christ as we are connected to Him. (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 2:16; John 15:5) Jesus came to redeem all mankind from the fall of Adam and Eve. (Ro. 5:19) When we do wrong or misjudge, it is sin or error. Rationalization is common to all mankind, not a "Christian mental process." The real Christian mental process is establishing ourselves according to the mystery of Christ revealed. (Rom. 16:25)

Making reference to the hundreds of Pequots burned in the 1637 war, Catton says, "The zeal that could see God's will in this sort of thing had no trouble shackling slavery upon those black limbs of Satan brought over from Africa." (p. 206) Jesus said, "For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:8,15)

William Catton, mainly a Civil War expert, has other books on how the house on the sand fell with a great crash. (Mat. 7:24-27)

There was the building on sinking sand with racist slavery, but now there's the building on sinking sand with a racist perspective in reverse.  It disallows the study of classic literature, for instance.  Poems such as Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life," written in 1839!, (stanzas 3-9 given below) are not studied.  Selections with greater beauty, permanence, appeal, and skill will have better results for blacks in society than themes of "woe is me" or "celebrate me" without redemption or upright standards, respectively.  The other dynamics present in English academia, feminism and sexual perversion, have similar themes.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destin'd end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Find us farther than to-day.

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act - act in the glorious Present!
   Heart within, and God o'er head!

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footsteps on the sands of time.

Footsteps, that, perhaps another,
   Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwreck'd brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait.

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4.  Chasing Ghosts, Paul Rieckhoff, Nal Caliber (div. of Penguin), 2006.

I had to jump a couple of hurdles to read this book – his opposing viewpoint and bad language.  I skipped some of the setting-the scene pages and covered up other places to avoid as much as possible of the profanity.  I conclude he's just a democrat and so he doesn't feel the need to justify blaming Bush for the war in Iraq.  Others, knowing just what he knew about the war, still have the highest regard and respect for the President.  That aside, I found out some of what a person goes through working in Iraq as a soldier.  Since my stint at the local public high school, my level of inquiry into how to handle badness has broadened.  This guy held onto violent music, video games, and booze to keep his so-called sanity.

I even was able to read Lord of the Flies (Wm. Golding), opting out before because of the unsavory nature of the content.  But after experiencing the meanness of kids at the high school, I could handle reading about this meanness.

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5.  What America Owes the World:  The Struggle for the Soul of Foreign Policy, by H.W. Brands, 1998, Cambridge Univ. Press.

A book like I've never seen before.  A step beyond a history book (you better already know your history) into the debate over whether America should follow an exemplarist or vindicationist approach to dealing with the world.  It was packed full of the complexities of events from the early republic days to the first Gulf War and made for slow reading speed.  But an added motivation to me making my way through it was to have something to say to someone who doesn't like America.  (She would fall in the exemplarist camp and saying America is acting bad.  She approves of President Carter.)  From the book I found out that I can defend the goodness of America.  It gave me more of a framework from which to discuss which way I'd like the country to go.  The last line was my answer of what to say:  As this person and I discuss our differences, it'll cause each of us to keep our arguments sharp, "the better to keep the other honest."  (p. 319)

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6.  1968:  The Year that Rocked the World, by Mark Kurlansky, Ballantine Books, NY, 2004.  The title says it.  Kurlansky describes what was going on in countries around the world, and it was a year of dramatic happenings.

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7.  The Truth about the Panama Canal, Denison Kitchel, Arlington House Publishers, New Rochelle, NY, 1978.  A factual, informative explanation, like the title says.

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8.  Shooting the Moon:  The True Story of an American Manhunt Unlike Any Other, David Harris, 2001, Little, Brown & Co., 394 pages.  Seems a pretty fair appraisal about the arrest of Noriega, except for North's portrayal (loud mouth?).

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Literature

1.  King Solomon's Mines, H. Rider Haggard, Longmans, Green & Co. N.Y., Copyright not given, although it was first published in 1885.

I checked on the internet to see this book's impact on the language and literature, but found nothing, except that it created a new genre.  I didn't note any instances of possible original use of words like Shakespeare generated, but the eclipse trick was used later by Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and Tolkien's mountain setting and battle for a rightful king in The Lord of the Rings are reminiscent of Haggard's scenes and plot.  He dedicated the book to "All the Big and Little Boys Who Read It."  Not falling in that category, I didn't appreciate his name of some mountains.  Carnal men.

Louise Mushikiwabo attributes extreme harm from this innocently written adventure story because of it playing into the hands of those in the eugenics craze after Darwin.  The Belgians took over Rwanda after WWI and inculcated strict racial distinctions on the people, culminating in 180,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus being murdered in 1994.  King Solomon's Mines depicted a very capable black African people, contrary to nineteenth-century thought, by the way.  The book never mentioned a superior race.  The idea of superior/inferior (Tutsi/Hutu) people was concocted later.

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2.  Pillar of Iron, Taylor Caldwell, Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1965, 700 pages.

"A novel about Cicero and the Rome he tried to save."

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3.  Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor, 1949  (Farrar, Straus & Giroux edition, 1962, 37th printing, 2001).

p. 55  The crowd was moving fast.  It was like a large spread raveling and the separate threads disappeared down the dark streets.

p. 132  In his cleaning up, his mind was on the washstand from the first, but as was usual for him, he began with the least important think and worked around and in toward the center where the meaning was.  So before he tackled the washstand, he took care of the pictures in the room.

Substantial literature, but weird.  If this is an example of a Christian writer, there must not be very many.  I read with a sense of trust that my beliefs wouldn't be body-slammed, but the supposed redemption that took place at the end, I don't call redemption.  [Spoiler warning throughout]  An anti-Christ preacher blinded himself (with lime) because the other preacher faked blindness.  He thought this showed he was true.  He paid for his sins by putting rocks and glass in his shoes and going for walks (63-64, 221-2) and having three strands of barbed wire wrapped around his chest (224).  That's Catholic, but not Christian.  He was bonked on the head and died, weakened from exposure to the rain and cold, and brought back to the landlady, who didn't know he was dead since he didn't talk much anyway.  The end was her staring into his eyes with her eyes closed, feeling like finally she was at the beginning of something but not able to start.  He had moved farther away till he was a pin-point of light.  Who calls that redemption?

The book begins with Haze (Hazel Motes) on a train.  There are numerous pictures of death in life (the train berth scene, for one) or life in death (closing casket lids on people Haze doesn't think are dead).  Haze decides to turn his back on being redeemed through Christ, thinking Jesus was gone (p. 27).  He claimed he was clean without Christ until the unclean Enoch brought the new jesus – a dead mummified baby, which Haze flung out his fire escape with (significantly) no stairs.  Then he knows he's not clean.  Now, when he is the one dead, someone (Hawks) thinks he's alive, but moving farther and farther away.  She's at a beginning, though, because her eyes are closed like his, not like pretending preacher's.  But she can't start because the world's an empty place (222).  She needs his help.  No wonder she can't start; we know he's dead.  No redemption there either.

Here's what redemption is:  The purchase of God's favor by the death and sufferings of Christ; the ransom or deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God's violated law by the atonement of Christ.  (Webster's 1828 dictionary)  Haze was never redeemed biblically.  As for literarily, even if he became a fully integrated character by the end, that's not redemption – only virtual redemption like in a virtual economy.  That's not Christian.  Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.  (1 Jn. 4:2)  Just because O'Connor uses religious language doesn't bring it out of the literary world.  It is pure fabrication with no relation to reality.  The book is full of nut cases, and no one escapes.

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4.  Light in August, Faulkner

Although religious people are portrayed in a terrible light in the character of the father, Christianity per se wasn't knocked.  Jesus wouldn't have acted like the father did.  Faulkner had the niceness of the mother be a greater evil in the protagonist's life than the father was.  Joe knew what to expect in the dad but lost his sense of order, Cliff Notes says.

Faulkner shows sighs of being a good writer – patient development of an interwoven plot. He has something to say and single-mindedly pursues his creation.  It's not edifying though.  Cliff Notes helped me spend as little time as necessary to get through the book.

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5.  Alexander McCall Smith

I was enjoying his series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Morality for Beautiful Girls, and The Kalabari Typing School for Men.  (The library didn't have Tears of the Giraffe, 3rd in the series.)  As I was skipping around in the last book, I was stopped in my tracks to read that Mma. Ramotswe wants to preserve the "right" of abortion for women.  That's it for that book.  I'll not recommend it like I was going to either.  Feminist.

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Non-fiction

1.  Christian Homes And Special Kids (CHASK), by Sherry Bushnell and Diane Ryckman, 2003, NATHHAN*/CHASK, Porthill, Idaho.

Some parts I noted as I read:

p. 204 - "Life is a parade for him," Susan Lantz about son, Daniel, with spina bifida.

p. 88 - God's mark of ownership is on the family with a disabled child; the home is a joyful worship center as they thank God for the irritations that are transforming them to the image of Christ.

p. 92 - A Christ-honoring perspective on anger-management stresses forgiveness and not feeding anger.

p. 108-9 - A therapy or homeschool program in God's will won't shift focus away from the family and have marriages suffer.

p. 124 - A quote from The Duties of Parents, by J.C. Ryle: "It is just in the going forward that God will meet us….  [W]e may safely leave it to the Lord to turn that water into wine."

p. 142 - Select materials that will teach to the heart of the child, not with humanistic principles (self-love), deviant behaviors, or bad role models.  The Bible is a great tool for memorization and printing practice (Ps. 19:7).

* NATtional Handicapped Homeschooler Associated Network (NATHHAN) was formed in 1990.  In 1992 what the abbreviation stood for was changed to NATtional cHallenged Homeschooler Associated Network.



2.  Some Just Clap Their Hands:  Raising a Handicapped Child, by Margaret Mantle, 1985, Adama Books, NY, 263 pages.

"I hoped that my experiences might help other parents feel less alone and more able to express some of their own feelings - especially some of the negative feelings that society considers it unacceptable to express.  I hoped, too, that because this was a family story it might reach others who had no experience of living with retarded people and give them a clearer perception of retardation and its implications." p. 257

Ms. Mantle pretty well accomplishes what she purposed.  She express feelings "society considers unacceptable to express" and gives a "clearer perception of retardation and its implications."  One of her daughters, eighteen at the time of this book, is beautiful but retarded; the reason unknown.  I don't know if the book is like gossip or what, but it was practically impossible to quit giving it my attention.  A change in the action or level of engagement usually gives me the chance to break away from a book, but this one was relentlessly consistent.

It was written by a mother who lives life secularly, with occasional input from a mother who ridicules others with faith in God's supernatural power.  Through the eyes of faith or not, this book drives home the reality of the inabilities of the retarded, the amount of care required, the stress in the family, and the private suffering, although society has opened up somewhat to admitting the mentally retarded into its midst.  The input of other mothers, one father, and a sister with retarded family members and of two residence workers shows what living with the retarded is like.  I can only pray that they might know that God has granted these hurting parents His favor, if only they will receive it (Rom. 10:9,10; Eph. 2:8,9).

The input from others in the last chapter contains wishful mishmash about reincarnation.  They don't know what God has revealed to us of our future in His word and that there is no way to God but through Jesus.

We shall all be changed to bear the image of the heavenly, and death will be swallowed up in victory.  Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15:52,49,54,57)

But now once in the end of the world hath [Jesus] appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation (Hebrews 9:26-28).

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.  (John 14:6)

I don't know how these people live without the help, guidance, comfort, inspiration, strength, and purpose from their Lord. (Mt. 10:39,42,29,31)



3.  Fighting for Dear Life:  The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo and What It Means for All of Us, by David Gibbs with Bob DeMoss, Bethany House.  Bloomington, MN, 2006, 288 pages.

If I hadn't gotten this book at the library, I probably wouldn't have read it, because I had followed the case through the years she had been sentenced to death and didn't expect any "untold story."  I also thought I knew "what it means for all of us."  But Gibbs really did give the behind-the-scenes story, explained what has happened to the U.S. judiciary process since it relies on statutory law instead of common law, and told the personal stories of many others who had been in accidents or were impaired to let us see that their lives were worth living or how little we know the future.  He said putting our opinion above God's prevents us from accepting what God has brought into our lives.

The glaring holes in Michael Schiavo's defense are stated out of necessity to show the injustice done in barbarically starving a psychologically disabled young woman.  After winning over a million dollars in court to care for her over the next 50+ years, within months he's changed his mind and is with another woman he will have two kids with, while giving Terri minimal medical care and no therapy.  After hiring a pro-euthanasia lawyer and Florida passes a law allowing a feeding tube to be considered a medical treatment, he involves the courts in ordering Terri to die, even though there is no "clear and convincing" evidence to do so.  In 2000 he moves her to a hospice and keeps her in strict isolation and without a wheelchair.  She is denied medical testing or an appearance in court to prove that she is not in a "vegetative" state, as if that matters, especially when her parents, brother, and sister are begging to take care of her at their own cost, no strings attached.  Consequently, Terri had an agonizing death, responding to and sobbing with her mother even near the end of the thirteen-day ordeal (pp. 162-3).

Gibbs does not recommend living wills, which were created by a group pushing for physician-assisted suicide (p. 238) and are frozen in time, but designating two or more health care surrogates and requiring unanimous consent, for which he supplies a sample form.  In Terri's case sanity that her life could continue (she was not on life support) would have prevailed.



4.  It's My Party:  A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP, by Peter Robinson, 2000, Warner Books.

Good, honest, informative, casual.

p. 174  GOP doesn't deal with women as a class, but individuals.

p. 124  Middle-class African-Americans know racism has lost its power to hold them down, so they don't need big government.

p. 184, 5  The gender gap in voting disappears when a woman marries.  Young single and older widows relying on the government causes them to vote Democrat.

People get a tribe mentality for the party of their parents; the Civil War influenced Southerners to be Democrats.  During the New Deal blacks changed their allegiance to the Democrat Party.  So did the Jews.  The Jews are Democrat now because so few are religious, but even most of the religious are Democrat, too.

Republicans outside of Texas are liberal.

A two-party system enables a plurality of votes to be gathered.  It gets things done in a government that is designed to not do much, in reaction to the powerful central government in Britain.  (p. 24)

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5.  Beyond Love, Dominique LaPierre, 1990, Warner Books.

I don't know what his deal was, but the author condoned and put a cheery halo over homosexuality, transvestites, even sadomasochism.  He interwove the story with Mother Teresa's work to give the life-styles the stamp of approval, and had the characters so pleased with their lives they would do everything all again.  Stein, as he's dying, is enraptured with memories of "virile, shocking scenes."  It's portrayed as the rosiest of rosy pictures.  (p. 376-7)  There is NO question of whether something is wrong here.  No hint that there's a better way.  No suggestion that a life could be turned around.

As the author's credibility went down in my sight (his "composite" individuals and alterations to protect identity stretched into pure fiction to uphold his theme of perversion is normal), I reconsidered his account of how the HIV was found.  He's French, so the French/US competition to find it may not have been poor Pasteur Institute mistreated by the big, mean American Gallo.

I appreciated his Freedom at Midnight, but trusted him then.  Mountbatten was a hero, Jinnah's desire for Pakistan's creation should have been delayed since he died a year later, and the manslaughter was tragic.  Not much to disagree with him about there.  This men-with-men thing sure puts a person agreeing with God or not.

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Bad Books

1.  The View from the Center of the Universe, by Joel R. Primack and his wife Nancy Ellen Abrams, 2006, Riverhead Books (Penguin Group) - false teaching galore à la cosmic humanism.

Read Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey, 2004, Crossway Books, instead.

(Colossians 2:8)  "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

(Proverb 21:30)  "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD."



2.  The Cartoon History of the United States, by Larry Gonick, 1991, Harper Perennial.

Impoverished depiction of our rich heritage due to embracing a "politically correct" bias.  It applied modern terms anachronistically and failed to be true to the historic record, giving partial PC accounts.  Rewrites history, in other words.  I suspect the poor public school students are immersed in this hooey.  Disrespectful, pessimistic, cynical.

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3.  The Map that Changed the World, by Simon Winchester, 2001, Harper Collins.

A biography of "William Smith and the birth of modern geology."  The author's stance is that the church is "purblind" (p. 41) because it doesn't believe in evolution.  The 1815 "map" is of the strata in England and Wales.  I wouldn't mind reading a book to check out some evidence, but a propaganda piece is difficult to wade through.

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4.  La otra historia de los Estados Unidos, Howard Zinn [no report] – Un libro por un hombre miserable que no puede mirar arriba.

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5.  Philip Jenkins's A History of the United States, 1997, St. Martin's Press.

Biased, although he acts objective and removed.  He addresses religion a lot, but he thinks the church is only societal groups, having no clue that it's the fellowship in the Spirit with Christ the head.  He says evolution is taught so our science education won't be backward and behind, the KKK was mainly against Catholics and big in Indiana, Margaret Sanger (atheist, socialist, pro-eugenics founder of Planned Parenthood) was a saint, Clinton is good and in accord with the rest of the world and only opposed because of the likes of the Branch Davidians and Timothy McVeigh, evidence that America is religious(!).  Misinformation that feeds the ungodly.

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6.  The Eyes of the Heart:  A Memoir of the Lost and Found, Frederick Buechner, Harper, San Francisco, 1999.

An esteemed Presbyterian minister, this, and his characters appear because of a Ouija board, I find out at the end.  Bah!  How have the Presbyterians descended into so much error and darkness?  Their reputation is getting godless.

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