Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: James Sanford - Blueprint for Theocracy - The Christian Right's Vision for America

This book will be an exception to the rule when it comes to my normal reviews. I will be giving the book a good rating and review because of the writing and the interesting experience of reading it, but not for the views and thoughts of the author, which I personally disagree with.

The book was very engaging. Sanford is a very good writer even if he is bias against "Christian Right". He admits that much at the first of the book. This is meant to be a history of the Christian Reconstruction movement, but he spends just as much time on the christian right as Reconstructionists. All-in-all it is an interesting read but he does place little jabs at those he disagrees with throughout the book. Some of the arguments against CR is warranted and should be heeded.

But with that said, much of what is written (but not all) is just not true. The problem he has throughout the book is in tying today’s religious right to the Reconstrutionist camp. Is that not the premise of the whole book? If that fails, then what has he accomplished. The whole reason for the book is to tie today’s christian right to the now defunked Christian Reconstruction of the 1990s.

I read around 100 Christian books a year. I have read some Reconstruction books over the years. But I can say that in my 30 years of being a Christian, being a conservative politically, and meeting thousands of conservative Christians, that I have never personally met a Reconstructiuonalist or anyone who held to their beliefs. In fact, I can count on one hand how many people I have met who have ever even heard the name of one CR.

Getting back to the content. Sanford sees Christians as domestic terrorists. They bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors. There have been 9 people killed over abortion since 1993. In 21 years, eight were shot and one bombed. Fifty times more patients die at the hands of the abortion doctors (excluding infants) than by anti-abortion protesters. In a sense Sanford is saying, because nine out of 2.18 billion Christians (that is one-third of the population of the world) has committed a terrible crime, then all are terrorist. Can we not say the same about the atheist? More people have been killed in the name of atheism (Communist-Marxism) than religion. Here is a quote from the book:

"Meanwhile, the agents of violence who followed in Terry’s wake left a path of destruction sustained by bitter rhetoric exceeding even his own. Clinic bombings and day-to-day threats increased during the tumultuous 1980s and continued unabated through the 1990s. The assassination of doctors and clinic personnel began just after Randall Terry’s movement peaked, with killings carried out in 1993, 1994, and 1998, and numerous others attempted. An atmosphere of terror was created through the posting of wanted signs on the internet and the transmission of death threats to doctors in their workplaces and private homes. The zealots behind these acts subscribed to what has been called a “theology of vigilantism” and spoke openly of guerilla warfare and theocratic revolution. Most of them began with an evangelical background similar to Randall Terry’s. They simply went farther with it."

I have been a christian for over 30 years and am pro-life myself. I have never heard anyone advocate killing a doctor or bombing a clinic. I have heard that we need to pray that God will convict their heart that what they are doing is wrong. That is why we call it pro-life and not anti-abortion. We do not believe in individual vengeance. The Bible say "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord". God gave Government the sword for punishment. It is funny how those who are "for" abortion call themselves pro-choice, but call those who are against abortion, anti-abortion. That makes it sound like they are for the choice to abort, but not for the abortion itself. In our case we are for life in any case. We believe murder is wrong whether it is an infant or an Adult, even more so with an infant because they have never done anything to deserve death.

Sanford spends much of the book trying to prove that the Right-wing christian is practicing Christian Reconstuctionalism but has to admit halfway through that..."Indeed, the theonomist position on the current utility of Old Testament laws has never gained much support outside of the Reconstructionist movement. Christian Worldview advocates of the Religious Right from Schaeffer to Dobson have mostly steered clear of the controversial issue."

In other words, Right wing Christians do NOT believe that we should use O.T. case laws in today society. Is that not the whole basis of this prove that the Religious Right was created and maintained by the beliefs of the theonomist? That is like saying that the guy who shot me has long hair. You have long hair, so you must have been the one who shot me. That is the logical fallacy of guilt by association. The bad thing is the Religious Right is not even associated with the Theonomist. Since the 1990's, Theonomists hardly exist.

In the second half of the book,Sanford tries to show that the Christian Right are conspiracy nuts who think the humanists are trying to take over. Isn't this the same thing he believes about the Right? We are trying to take over the world? He says that those who believe that abortion is wrong are moved by emotion and morals gleamed from the bible, but those who believe abortion is a right are moved by experience and reason. So to think that abortion actually takes a life is emotion.

Back to the book... Sanford seems to believe that the Christian Right has used their power to change the whole country toward Biblical morals. From were I stand, they must be doing a very bad job. Both Democrats and Republicans vote on the Liberal side of every piece of legislation. Abortion, Gay marriage, marijuana, and every other liberal belief is now legal in many parts of the country and within ten years will probably be legal in every state of the union. With liberals controlling the news media, print media, Hollywood, and Government, I do not see the Christian Right having any power other than tipping the waitress at Chili's after church on Sunday morning :)

All in all the book was an interesting read and I was never bored.

I can only say I recommend it for those who search out both sides of the story and have more knowledge of the Christian Right and Christian Reconstuctionism than what they see here. If not, you are not getting the whole story.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Metacomet Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Saul Austerlitz - Sitcom A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community

I was always a fan of the early sitcoms. I also enjoy a few of the newer ones, but without the same enthusiasm. "I Love Lucy", "Dick Van Dyke", and the like are classics. When I saw this book was up for review, I jumped at the chance.

Austerlitz takes a look at the history of the sitcom from its earliest days up to the later (30 rock and community). We see some commentary about each show and some interesting "behind the scenes" moments. The writing is fluid and easy to read. You find yourself thinking, "Just one more chapter".

Each chapter is written in episode fashion, with a different show in each chapter. He not only speaks of the show from the title of the chapter, he also interweaves sitcoms that were in some way linked to each show.

I enjoyed the book even if I disagreed on some of his critiques. My disagreements are probably more from my enjoyment of reruns as a kid than from anything said by the author. There are a few spots of foul language that I did not care for, but that is to be expected.

If you love sitcoms or just want a good history of the genre, this would be a good book to pick up.

I recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Chicago Review Press Incorporated and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Thabiti M. Anyabwile - Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus Death and Resurrection

This is the first book I have read by Anyabwile and it will not be the last.

In this short book, Anyabwile teaches us to stare. Remember when you parents told you it was rude to stare at someone? Here, Thabiti gives us permission to stare at what God has accomplished for us in the death and resurrection of Christ.

When we contemplate what He has done we become captivated. We see the world in a different light. Life has so much more meaning.

The book is written in an easy to read format. Anyabwile takes theology and explains it in a way that even the young in Christ can understand. With this in mind we can understand that the Gospel is so profound that people can spend a lifetime and never plumb it's depths. On the other hand, when Christ enlightens someone’s heart, even simplest person can see and experience it.

In 5 short chapters he takes us through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. Here is a list of chapters with a short summary.

1. Is There No Other Way? (Christ had to die in our stead. We could not save ourselves.)

2. Why Have You Forsaken Me? (What was it like for Christ to be forsaken by the Father?)

3. Where, O Death, Is Your Victory? (How did Christ defeat death?)

4. Why Do You Seek the Living among the Dead? (all other religious leader are dead except one!)

5. Do You Not Know These Things? (We need to know Christ in the power of His resurrection)

This work would make a great devotional. If you take one chapter a week and meditate on it, I believe it can be extremely beneficial in your walk with Christ. It is also a good read for those who do not know the Lord. To see what Jesus accomplished may lead the sinner to Christ.

I recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.