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Archive for the ‘America’ Category

A weekend nonfiction reading review…because even pastors need a break from heavy theological reading!

John Pomfret.  The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom. New York, NY: Henry  Holt and Company, November 29th 2016. 704 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This is an incredible work on the relationship between the United States and China.  It is a very fascinating read from the first chapter to the last.  When one thinks about the United States and China even at the surface one realizes that the two countries are very different: on the one hand one is a new country and on the other hand the other is an ancient kingdom that have existed for thousands of years.  On the other hand one country represents the modern West while the other represents Asia.  Nevertheless the amount of intersection and interaction between the countries is incredible and have shaped the two country in crucial ways more than most people realize.  Despite the differences the people from both countries have historically been fascinated with each other while also being fearful and misunderstanding each other.

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It’s the Fourth of July!  For those outside the United States that doesn’t know, today is the day Americans celebrate the founding of the United States as a country.  Here’s a review of an audiobook that’s fitting for today.

Derek W. Beck.  The War Before Independence: 1775-1776.  Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, June 1st 2016.  528 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This audiobook is a fascinating military history on the first few months of the American War of Independence.  Tantor Audio turned the written book into an audio book.  While the physical book is over five hundred pages long the book in audio format comes in at 13 hours and 49 minutes long.  The narration was good and both the reader and the content of the book captured my attention from start to finish.

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Here’s this weekend book review, a feature I try to post on Fridays because sometimes in ministry Pastors need to read other things besides theology, Bible, commentaries and apologetics.

Band of Giants The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence

Jack Kelly. Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America’s Independence.  New York, NY: Saint Martin’s Press, September 9th, 2014. 288 pp.

This book focuses on the military leaders during the American War of Independence.  I appreciate the author’s look at the military leaders that are not as well known today.  Previously I read a book on General Benedict Arnold so I was looking forward to reading this book to get a better idea of what the other leaders were like.  Author Jack Kelly paints a portrait of American military men with their admirable qualities but also their quirks.  It’s amazing to consider how amateur the American side were.  This was contrasted with the British Red Coats who were professional.  I love how the book gave an account towards the end of the book of how an American solider asked a British soldier what his occupation was outside of the military; this was a concept that was foreign to their British professional counterpart and one that the Brits chided the Americans.  In fact throughout the book it was clear that the Brits didn’t think too favorably of the American military leaders either.  British officers saw themselves as gentlemen and aristocrats.  It is no surprised then that the British looked down upon American military officers as craftsmen and merchants mimicking aristocratic officers.  Despite the American vast inexperience it is incredible to consider that the Americans would have won the war.  But as you read the book you also see how the leaders and generals matured.  At the same time war is beyond anyone’s control—and the hands of victory is ultimately determined by God more than generals.

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American Gospel by Jon Meacham

This is an interesting book on the relationship and influence of religion upon the founding fathers in the political sphere. It is written by a capable author on American history. The author’s thesis is contrary to the opinions of twentieth first century secular humanists and atheists, since he argues that historically there has been a place for religion in the public square. He also balances this view by challenging the views adopted by some Conservative Christians that the United States’ founding fathers were thoroughly Christian or sectarian as it is expressed in the political realm. His view is approximately that of my current stance: No doubt Christianity has been influential in the lives of individuals who were involved with the American independence and the new United States government but there were other ideological influences as well such as the Enlightenment, rational theism, etc. I was eager to read this book to learn more about the non-Christians among our Founding Fathers and to see where they stood theologically. Since my undergraduate studies I have concluded that Benjamin Franklin was not quite the ideal Deists as some propagandists makes him out to be especially concerning the issue of God’s providence. The book reinforces my view when it quoted Franklin saying, “I have lived sir a long time, the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affair of men.” Though he was not a Christian, Franklin was far from being the modern militant secularist today since he wrote, “He that spit against the wind, spit in his own face” against someone who was going to publish a tract against Christianity. Concerning Thomas Jefferson I thought it was ironic that as he was approaching his death Jefferson would comfort himself with the portion of the Gospel of Luke that he edited out of his own Bible version from the Song of Simeon. I also found it intriguing that the No Establishment Clause in the Constitution, seemed to be interpreted contrary to the current interpretation today when we read of instances such as the case of a Jew name Jacob Henry whose attempt to enter into state political office was challenged, indicating that the First Amendment was not invoked or understood historically as implying that there must be a ban against religious test for office at the state level. I also enjoyed reading in the book John Jay boldly stating he believed in Jesus Christ at a party in France before philosophers mocking the faith. Over all a good, informative and captivating read. The title was a bit misleading since it went beyond the founding fathers to talk about the role of public religion in the lives of later presidents such as Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Kennedy, Nixon and Ronald Regan. I was surprised to read that Eisenhower would pray in every cabinet meeting. One criticism I did have was the author’s wrongful assumption that the Bible teaches Earth was the center of the universe. While one gets the sense that the author leans more left especially with his treatment of Christian conservatives, nevertheless I think discerning readers who are Christian conservative can learn from this book that yes, there is an influence of Christian heritage among America’s founding fathers. There’s plenty of ammo here against the New Atheists types and Brights concerning the nature of America’s public religion. However, the book rightly points out that the public religion in America’s political landscape is not thoroughly Christian and is quite ecumenical. I believe Christians ought to be careful of ecumenicalism lest it changes and compromises the Christian faith and the Gospel message with this Americanized public religion.

Purchase: Amazon

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To Allah, there are no animals viler than those who do not believe and remain unbelievers” (Surah 8:55).

Here is the fate of those who fight Allah and his messenger: you will put them to death or you will make them suffer the torture of the cross; you will cut their hands and their feet alternately. They will be driven from the country” (Surah 5:33)

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah 9:5)

So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds.” (Surah 47:4)

Do not display cowardice, and do not call the infidels to peace when you are superior to them” (Surah 47:35).

Those who reject (Truth) among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will abide in hell-fire, they are the worst of creatures.” (Surah 98:6)

This is the question that the West needs to understand, what part of kill don’t they not understand?” ~ Walid Shoebat

This is not an allegorical kill, but a literal kill.” ~ Walid Shoebat

Here is another video of an Egyptian Imam that sings of apes, pigs and the annihilation of Jews on Judgment Day:

Song of Death

Hebrews 13:3,

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (NASB).

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We salute you all (especially our two bloggers) who have served the country with honor.

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