Friday, April 30, 2010

Save the Males by Kathleen Parker

My world view includes the idea that men and women were created differently to complement each other. Obviously, I worry about the push in our culture to emasculate our men and de-feminize our women. In the name of equality we seem to be losing our unique identities.

It’s no wonder that the book Save the Males by Kathleen Parker caught my attention. Frankly, it’s a book I’d recommend only to those who are concerned with the de-gendering of America because it is both profane and sexually explicit – things I abhor in books. Nevertheless, Parker is right on target in many of her assertions and I managed to skim the less savory passages to get to the main ideas. Chapter Seven on women in combat is worth the price of the book. I have never read so many clear cut reasons for not allowing it. One example is the ambivalent attitude of Radical Feminists concerning violence towards women:

“Feminists recognize the vulnerability of women when they are concerned with the plight of women who are victims of domestic abuse…. [yet] their position on integrating combat ranks puts them in the position of saying that violence against women is a terrible thing unless it is at the hands of the enemy, in which case it’s a welcome tribute to women’s equality.” (p. 183)

She concludes the chapter with, “Women historically have been excluded from combat for civilized reasons – not because they were deemed unworthy, but because they were deemed too worthy to be sacrificed to grisly men from hostile nations. The combat exclusion wasn’t an act of sex discrimination, but an act of decency.” (p. 184)

My conclusion: Everyone understood these things not too long ago and it’s astonishing how muddled we’ve become in our thinking. I recommend this insightful book to those who are troubled about the blurring of gender distinctions in our present day world.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

My love for beautiful, powerful prose comes from being steeped in 19th century literature. I honestly have a very hard time with books written in modern English, particularly slang. So don’t ask me why I enjoyed The Wednesday Wars so much. Book bloggers raved about it when it came out in 2007 and it’s been on my TBR list since then.

Holling Hoodhood is a seventh grader at Camillo Junior High in 1967. Every Wednesday the other 7th graders leave school early to attend religion classes, half to the synagogue and half to the Catholic Church. Hollling, being Presbyterian, has no place to go and remains with his teacher to study Shakespeare. Throughout the school year, he not only learns to appreciate Shakespeare, but discovers his own capacity for compassion, forgiveness, loyalty and friendship.

The backdrop for the book is the Vietnam War and the author does an amazing job of making the event ever present, but not obtrusive to the story. From the hilarious Doug Swieteck to the surprisingly tender-hearted Mrs. Baker, Schmidt has peopled the book with believable and loveable characters. Even with my limited knowledge of Shakespeare I was able to enjoy the quotes (and misquotes!) from his plays. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

Having read what I consider to be the definitive works on God’s holiness (Packer's Knowing God, and Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy), I was skeptical when I saw The Holiness of God listed as a “classic”. Nevertheless, I appreciated Sproul’s very articulate exploration of this topic. He beautifully dispels the myth that the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath and that the God of the New Testament is a God of love. He bravely tackles hard questions about God’s harshness in his chapter called “Holy Justice”. And he asserts that the reason we are shocked by God’s judgment is because we are so accustomed to his overwhelming grace.

“The issue is not why does God punish sin, but why does He permit the ongoing human rebellion? What prince, what king, what ruler would display so much patience with a continually rebellious populace? ...We forget rather quickly that God’s patience is designed to lead us to repentance, to give us time to be redeemed. Instead of taking advantage of this patience by coming humbly to Him for forgiveness, we use this grace as an opportunity to become more bold in our sin… The supreme folly is that we think we will get away with our revolt.” (p. 117)

Furthermore, if we want to talk about injustice we have only to go to the Cross. God’s most “unjust” act, Sproul affirms, is not when he punishes men, but when He allowed His own pure, holy Son to suffer a horrible death in our place. All in all, this book provides much food for thought and will give you a greater appreciation for the daily grace we receive from the hand of a holy, loving, God.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Benefits of PaperBackSwap

I heard about PaperBackSwap from Carol, but at the time I was living in Brazil and couldn’t participate. Now that I’m in the U.S. for a year I decided to sign up. The books are “free” but the sender pays the postage, which actually comes out to $2 or $3 per credit earned. It is labor intensive at first. (I mailed five books before I received even one.) But now I’ve got “credits” and almost weekly receive a wished-for book. What a blast to get books that have been on my TBR list for many years with so little effort on my part. If you don’t want to bother mailing out books, you can even buy credits for $3.50. That’s a pretty good deal for books that are shipped right to your door. You pay no postage for books received.

Books I’ve already received:
Towers in the Mist by Goudge (You can never have enough Goudge.)
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (My first book by this author.)
Committed to Memory –John Hollander (poetry)
The King’s Swift Rider – Mollie Hunter (Historic novel of Robert the Bruce)
The Mouse and His Child – Russell Hoban (children’s lit)
The Calling – John Hershey (story of a missionary to China.)

Books that are in the mail to me:
The Top 500 Poems - Harmon
My Utmost for His Highest (leather edition!)
This Day with the Master – Kinlaw (another favorite devotional book)
Great Books by Denby (an adult goes back to college to study the “great books”.)
The Miracle of Dunkirk by Walter Lord (one of my favorite events of WWII)
O Jerusalem! (the birth of the nation of Israel)
All this because I mailed out a dozen books I no longer needed. Pretty neat!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban

The Mouse and His Child is a strange, lovely little book. It is rightly labeled “young adult literature” for its occasional dark themes and moments of gritty action. The story centers around two wind-up toys, a tin mouse and his son and their pursuit to become “self-winding”. Along the way they make many important discoveries about life and love and happiness. It’s a story about hope in despair and the courage to make dreams come true. In short, it is a very adult fairy tale. And I was charmed by it. One of the reviewers at Amazon called this “One of the best unread books for children”. He’s right.