Category Archives: Non-fiction

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)

Science in the Service of Christianity

Bryan Appleyard reviews physicist Frank Tipler’s book, The Physics of Christianity. Tipler argues that established theories in modern physics explain Christian history and doctrine.

Central to this argument is his conviction that there is no discontinuity between the insights of science and the revelations of the Gospels. Miracles, for example, are not, as is often claimed, sudden deformations or breaches of the natural order. They happen through known physical processes. Walking on water is accomplished through a particle beam and dematerialization through the multiple universe model implied by quantum theory. That they happen when they do is, of course, God’s will, but, in making them happen, he does not violate the order of his creation.

I can’t comment on Tipler’s specific claims, but I heartily agree that the popular perception of scientists is that they would rather find meaninglessness in the universe than purposeful creation. A natural belief. If mankind is for nothing but what we make for ourselves, then we have become gods. Is that what we’ve always wanted?

Philip Rieff’s ‘The Triumph of the Therapeutic’

Here’s a book that doesn’t fit the summer reading motif. It isn’t light or very accessible, The Triumph of the Therapeutic, by sociologist Philip Rieff. Rod Dreher gives it a run down here. I heard about the book in a stirring set of interviews on Mars Hill Audio. (BTW, the recent postage hikes have increased the cost for mailing their tapes and CDs by 300%. That could sink this fantastic ministry. If you’re still looking for a Father’s Day gift, consider a subscription to the Mars Hill Audio Journal on MP3. No postage costs for them, and great conversation for your father.)

In The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Rieff describes the dominance of therapeutic language in our culture and how it rots our society by replacing moral truths and virtues with personal values and interesting, but nonessential, attributes. Rieff argues, as I understand it, that a culture may not be able to survive when its highest ideal is not virtue, but better living. If we urge each other only to cope with our trivial-to-major problems, we will never rise to the high calling of heroism. We will believe the government has limitless money to solve our problems if only the good guys win. We will believe evil men are only misunderstood men who need to talk through their pain, and we will not recognize any fight as good except that which eases our pain.

Also, the modern individual is told he is completely autonomous, but modern society works him over to conform to the crowd. You can see this in universities all over the country. Someone advocating depravity may be praised for faux individuality, but someone arguing for morals is ridiculed or shut down because he really is swimming upstream.

It seems like an excellent book as is the discussion about it on Mars Hill Audio Journal, Volume 82.

Fighting the Environmentalists

Frank points out a must-read review on a global warming book. Reviwer Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club, “a pro-human campaigning network,” describes the religious language used to advocate the Earth’s doom.

We also suffer from ‘denial’ about the results of our activities, much of which is ‘straightforwardly selfish’, based on ‘an unwillingness to abandon personal comforts and consumption patterns’. The clincher, so far as Lynas is concerned, is that ‘most of my neighbours still shop in supermarkets’. They shop in supermarkets? Clearly such people should not be deciding the future of the planet after all. So, he concludes, the only solution is carbon rationing: ‘People would trade carbon as a parallel virtual currency, swiping their carbon cards at the petrol pump….’ We would all have a carbon limit just like we all have a pound limit, only the carbon limit would be imposed by the state. Global warming would be part of everyday life and everyday calculations, just as money is now.

This sounds like a critique I have heard from one man for many years, that the environmental movement was not about saving us or the earth but a guise of statism. Environmentalists want to run our lives, forcing their own morality on us for our perceived good.

Who Said This?

The potential for manipulating mass opinions and feelings initially discovered by commercial advertisers is now being even more aggressively exploited by a new generation of media Machiavellis. The combination of ever more sophisticated public opinion sampling techniques and the increasing use of powerful computers to parse and subdivide the American people according to “psychographic” categories that identify their susceptibility to individually tailored appeals has further magnified the power of propagandistic electronic messaging that has created a harsh new reality for the functioning of our democracy.

As a result, our democracy is in danger of being hollowed out. In order to reclaim our birthright, we Americans must resolve to repair the systemic decay of the public forum. We must create new ways to engage in a genuine and not manipulative conversation about our future. We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public’s ability to discern the truth. Americans in both parties should insist on the re-establishment of respect for the rule of reason.

It’s from a newly released book by a popular figure. Answer.

The Popular Discussion of 9/11

Here’s a book I just learned existed: Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts. I hope that sets a few people straight–those people who believe foolishness while are not actual fools.

I’ve always believed you can’t argue with fools. The Bible even says as much, but these people could vote too, and that’s a little dangerous. Today’s cultural and political conversations seem foolish and shallow in large part, and our major media outlets are increasingly untrustworthy. What is an average citizen to do?