Category Archives: Non-fiction

Military History Reading

Here’s a book you may have missed, The National Guard: An Illustrated History of America’s Citizen Soldiers by Michael Doubler and John Listman. The book notes “The Guard fought at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, New Orleans, First Bull Run, San Juan Hill, the Meuse-Argonne, Omaha Beach, Operation Desert Storm, and in many, many other engagements.” We owe them a lot.

On the Michael Doubler’s website, he offers a few other recommendations for history reading. Very interesting.

Why Is He Funny?

Delancey Place quotes Groucho Marx on being a comedian.

My guess is that there aren’t a hundred top-flight professional comedians, male and female, in the whole world. They are a much rarer and far more valuable commodity than all the gold and precious stones in the world. But because we are laughed at, I don’t think people understand how essential we are to their sanity. If it weren’t for the brief respite we give the world with our foolishness, the world would see mass suicide in numbers that compare favorably with the death rate of lemmings.

Girls, Girls, Girls

A review of modern culture and modesty. “If he’s pressuring you for sex, he probably doesn’t love you,” no matter what last nights TV show taught you. I hope that become common wisdom soon.

This book looks like a good one. From the review:

Shalit’s book [Girls Gone Mild] has been attacked by one feminist critic for suggesting that the sex act “should have an everlasting warranty of love attached to it.” To the contrary, writes Nona Willis-Aronowitz in the Nation, all girls should realize that sex “is the ultimate risk, a risk that makes human relationships complicated, intoxicating, and wonderful. It is a risk that women are finally allowed to take without being chastised for it.”

Or, as Shalit herself quotes a feminist lawyer barking: “I am very suspicious of telling girls they need to be morally good—that’s sexism right there!”

That’s right, girl. Tell the next generation to follow their hearts, regardless of what’s in their hearts. And kill the offspring so they won’t get in the way. What is life but today’s comfort?

Tim Keller Writes on “Belief in an Age of Skepticism”

Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer PCA in New York City apologetically announces his new books, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. He wants to avoid the appearance of hype, but now that the news has hit the blogosphere there’s no stopping the hype. It will take on a life of its own, ha, ha. Really, it looks like a good book. He says, “Ever since I got to New York nearly two decades ago I’ve wished I had a volume to give people that not only answered objections to Christianity (what has been called ‘apologetics’) but also positively presented the basics of the gospel in an accessible yet substantial way.” Only Mere Christianity does that, he says, and it doesn’t address some issues pertinent today. So Keller has written the dual purpose book himself, not to replace Mere Christianity, but to add to the modern intellectual debate on God.

Grandfather’s Son: Why Now?

Ever since I read the rumor that Justice Clarence Thomas was going to write a book, which was shortly after starting this blog, I have looked forward to reading it. I knew it would be interesting. Same goes for anything Condoleezza Rice will write. Now, Judge Thomas’ memoir has been released. From what I’ve heard, My Grandfather’s Son describes Thomas’ entire life with more candor than most readers would expect.

Did you see the “60 Minutes” special on Thomas? I didn’t (segments available here), but I hear the same question asked in two different discussions of the book, and you know what they say about non-verbal communication carrying most of the weight in a conversation? Saturday on NPR, a couple women were talking about how angry and bitter the book felt despite its beautiful language. The anchor or host asked the reviewer why Thomas would write this book now? Why can’t we just put all this behind us? Why irritate old wounds? The tone was clearly negative.

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh asked the same question of Thomas himself. Why did you write this book now? The tone was clearly positive, asking for a stated purpose of the book as opposed to a justification for something distasteful. If I remember correctly, the answer to both questions was about the same, though Thomas added a little which NPR may not have known. He wanted to describe his life and work at the Supreme Court–a high honor, in his view, not his destiny. Many had described his life already and with many lies or errors, so he wanted to give his perspective as an eye-witness.

The Collector’s Edition of Foxe’s Book

In 1563, John Foxe gave us a record of the blood shed for the love of Christ. According to the author sketch in this online edition:

Although the recent recollection of the persecutions under Bloody Mary gave bitterness to his pen, it is singular to note that [Foxe] was personally the most conciliatory of men, and that while he heartily disowned the Roman Church in which he was born, he was one of the first to attempt the concord of the Protestant brethren. In fact, he was a veritable apostle of toleration.

When the plague or pestilence broke out in England, in 1563, and many forsook their duties, Fox remained at his post, assisting the friendless and acting as the almsgiver of the rich. It was said of him that he could never refuse help to any one who asked it in the name of Christ. Tolerant and large-hearted he exerted his influence with Queen Elizabeth to confirm her intention to no longer keep up the cruel practice of putting to death those of opposing religious convictions. The queen held him in respect and referred to him as “Our Father Foxe.”

Now Foxe’s stories of suffering and persecution are available to you in an elegantly gold-stamped collector’s edition. This keepsake volume has a “copper-plated Cross of Fellowship” embedded in its padded cover and comes with a mail-in card for obtaining your own Cross of Fellowship pendant.

Forgive me if I have been sacrilegious here, but my wife noted this edition of Foxe’s book this evening, and I wanted to capture her response. We definitely support the Voice of the Martyrs, endorsers of this edition, and while in favor of a quality, updated edition of Foxe’s valuable history, we think making it into a nice collector’s item (that would look so good on a rich American shelf) clashes with the ideals of sacrifice recorded on its pages. This isn’t just a classic faith story. It’s a record of brutality and ultimate peace, taking up a cross which Americans often cannot imagine.

Just What Is Captivating?

Writer Agnieszka Tennant, a self-described feminist, doesn’t like the Eldredge book on women, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul. She says it’s simplistic. The gist of the book, she believes, is the stuff of little girl dreams: “Every woman longs for three things: to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to be the Beauty of the story.” Ms. Tennant writes:

But there’s so much more. Beauty draws blood to the heart and speeds up the pulse; sometimes it evokes repentance. I wish more Christians were comfortable with its pull. Too often, beauty raptures us so forcibly that we fear it will lead to temptation. So we avert our eyes. What if we turned our ecstasy into worship?

I don’t get it. Yes, beauty can be enrapturing, and since we’re talking about feminine beauty, not the gorgeous melodies of Dvorak’s New World Symphony or the rich landscapes of Albert Bierstadt, I will say that my wife is simply enchanting. Captivating, even. For more common ground on profound female beauty, I remember feeling quite moved by a scene with Grace Kelly in the middle of Rear Window, and I remember thinking I might jump through the screen to rescue a vulnerable Ingrid Bergman in Notorious. Call me impressionable, but I was captivated by them for a time.

But I don’t think I get the point of Ms. Tennant assertion about worship or about a deeper beauty than advocated in Captivating. What do you think?

Why Not a Dangerous Book for Girls?

Tony Woodlief, author of “Raising Wild Boys into Men,” blogs about a response to The Dangerous Book for Boys in Reason magazine. The response asked why the book was not for kids. Why boys only? Woodlief says give it to the girls who want to read it. “To complain about titles of books, it seems, is to give far too little credit to these brave little girls, wherever they are hiding, who want to blow things up and learn how to spit,” he blogs.

(via Kevin Holtsberry)