Category archives: Book Reviews

FRC Summer Reading List

by Daniel Hart

June 9, 2017

As the warm light of the sun stretches lazily out over our summer days, infusing the early mornings with dew-bright resplendence and filling evenings with a languid glow, a single giddy thought can’t help but enthuse America: more time for reading outside! Whether you’re stretched out on a beach chair with the ocean wind nipping at the pages of your copy of Ideas Have Consequences, reclining on your deck with an ice-cold shandy in one hand and an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story collection in the other, or simply sprawled on the couch with the summer breeze blowing through your window and your John Adams biography, there’s almost nothing better in life then long summer days and a tall stack of books.

To help get your literary juices flowing for the warmer months, the staff here at FRC has helpfully collaborated on this compilation of great reads. So put your phone somewhere out of sight on silent mode, sit back, relax, and crack open a book (or a Kindle, if you must).

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Non-Fiction

Biographies

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

This detailed biography of one of America’s foremost Founding Fathers was the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Author Ron Chernow’s full-length portrait is a deep dive into how Hamilton in many ways shaped early America with his championing of often unpopular political and economic ideas.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

This is a gripping biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian in the confessing church, which resisted the Nazis. Bonhoeffer also participated in the July 20 plot on Hitler’s life (subject of the movie Valkyrie)—which ultimately cost him his life. While this topic is not as widely explored in the book, it is a thrilling look into a life devoted to God, and the implications of that devotion.

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski

This is an in-depth look at the lives of the four primary “Inklings,” the literary circle of Oxford friends who delighted in fantasy, philosophy, and the debates of religion and belief. The Fellowship describes how we came to have the authors of such works as The Lord of the Rings, Mere Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia, and so much more. The arc of each of their lives allows us a better understanding of their celebrated works.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A fascinating read detailing the true story of a brilliant neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. His thoughts and approach to life and death are very thought provoking.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

This wonderfully engaging biography of the brothers who invented flight is thoroughly addicting from the first page onward. The story follows Orville and Wilbur from their beginnings as bicycle shop owners, to the famous test flights at Kitty Hawk, to the amazing flying exhibitions demonstrated before hundreds of thousands of gaping onlookers, to fights over patent rights in their later years. Throughout their lives, the Wright brothers displayed a super-human work ethic and humble tenacity that astounded their contemporaries, proving to be an immense testament to the indomitable power of the human spirit to overcome any adversity.

 

General Interest

The Assault on the Sexes by Jim Fordham

Published in 1977, The Assault on the Sexes is a remarkable book that appeared at the height of the debates over ERA (the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex). With both wry humor and solid research, Jim Fordham (“With his indispensable wife Andrea”) took on the then-nascent feminist movement by not only defending but celebrating the differences between men and women. Although grassroots efforts kept the ERA out of the Constitution, many of its principles have nevertheless been implemented since then through court decisions and legislation. The book’s slippery slope arguments that the ERA would lead to same-sex marriage or unisex bathrooms have indeed come to pass.

The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk played a significant role in establishing the intellectual legitimacy of the conservative movement in the 20th century. His book The Conservative Mind fights the public perception that to be liberal is to be academic but to be conservative is “anti-intellectual.” He traces the intellectual history of conservatism from Edmund Burke and the principles of prudence to T.S. Eliot and the importance of faith. The book is both an overview of the movements and individuals that shaped conservative thought as well as a fascinating defense of the conservative belief in a social and political order.

The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever by Brian Ivie

This book is the inspirational account of a documentary filmmaker who travels to South Korea to film the predicament of orphaned newborns who are left in box and accepted by a pastor. In the process, the author recounts his spiritual journey of redemption.

The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech by Kimberley Strassel

A member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, Kimberley Strassel provides first-hand accounts of how disclosure and campaign finance laws have been hijacked by the Left as weapons against free speech and free association, becoming powerful tools for those who are intent on silencing their political opposition. Strassel carefully catalogues how government agencies like the IRS, FEC, FCC, and SEC as well as state AGs have knowingly participated in the suppression of First Amendment rights of Americans.

Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace by David Brog

A subject that is often highly disputed, this extensively researched book catalogues the history of Israel, recounting how the Jewish people have maintained a sustained presence there for over 3,000 years, despite centuries of persecution. It also covers the untold history of Palestine’s involvement in the Holocaust, the Six-Day War, and Israel’s modern military practices.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer

A comprehensive historical review of how the Nazis came to power in Germany, and what led to their downfall. It is an interesting historical education, and one which reminds us of the evil which can arise when human beings discard any appeal to higher authority.

Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael B. Oren

In what has been called a “towering work of history” and an “enthralling human narrative,” this impeccably researched account of the Six-Day War between the Israelis and the Arabs lays the historical groundwork for a conflict that continues to this day.

Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville by Bruce Frohnen

In Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism, author Bruce Frohnen makes the case for the essence of virtue as being the foundation of conservatism. He argues that conservatives must return to what truly made conservativism great—a concerted focus on the structures of family, church, and community.

 

Spirituality

Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman

Grammy Award-winning Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman shares the experiences that have shaped him, his faith, and his music in a life that has included unbelievable highs and earth-shattering lows. It includes breathtaking testimony regarding the loss of his young daughter.

Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction by Candace Cameron Bure

Candace Cameron Bure, former child star of the hit 90’s sitcom Full House, shares how as a participant on a reality dance competition she was able to stand with courage and conviction of her faith when all the world was watching!

Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg

Doubt is often thought to be the opposite of faith, but what if doubt could instead make our relationship with God stronger? In this book by best-selling author and pastor John Ortberg, the nature of faith is explored, particularly in the sense of how uncertainty plays a part in it. Being completely honest about doubts in the faith journey can actually lead to a sense of relief. True understanding requires honest questioning, doubting can actually lead to an increase in trust, and authentic faith can lead to profound hope. This book serves as an encouraging reminder that God desires our whole hearts—even our doubts.

Learn to 4 Give by Gil Mertz

In Learn to 4 Give, author Gil Mertz draws from nearly forty years of ministry experience to help you achieve forgiveness in your own life. He offers 4 practical, hands-on, and easy-to-follow steps that will allow you to release your power of forgiveness, resolve the pain of your past, restore peace in your present, and reclaim your purpose for the future. We all know we are supposed to forgive but this book shows you how by presenting forgiveness as a learned skill that anyone can do, if you have the right tools.

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

In this reflective devotional book, the 17th Century monk Brother Lawrence offers his thoughts on intimacy with the Lord, and the joy that comes from submission and walking closely with Him.

The Pursuit of God; God’s Pursuit of Man by A.W. Tozer

The author inspires with his reflections of our pursuit of God, and with how God pursues us, in this deep and enriching devotional guide.

 

Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr’s highly acclaimed, New York Times bestseller is the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose worlds collide during the tumultuous period of WWII. Imaginative descriptions of the natural world and the devastation of a world at war are captured in intricate detail as Doerr engulfs you in his “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle). This masterpiece, ten years in the making, will keep you glued to the pages till the very end.

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

From the forefather of writers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien comes the tale of a young boy and his fantastical adventures around the globe with the mysterious and powerful North Wind. George MacDonald crafts a beautiful work of children’s fantasy literature which masterfully explores the purposes of God amidst a world filled with evil and suffering. This book is ideal for individual reading or for reading aloud to the whole family.

Battlefields and Playgrounds by Janos Nyiri

This work of historical fiction explores World War II-era Budapest through the eyes of a Jewish child. Entertaining and at times meandering, it is an interesting education of how the events of World War II impacted Budapest—from German sympathies to Russian conquest. The author, who spent his childhood in Budapest, offers a fascinating perspective on all this and how it intersected with increasing anti-Jewish sentiment throughout Budapest and around Hungary.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

This near-1,000 page novel (with copious endnotes) of a dystopian future state in which “cleanliness” is the government’s main goal, the author explores themes of addiction and what we seek to live for. While not necessarily redemptive, the novel is entertaining, and provokes thought in a number of different areas. It isn’t known if Wallace ever became a Christian before his death, but his yearning for higher purpose and power is evident throughout the novel. Recommended for those seeking entertaining reading and some deeper musings of life.

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (Translated by Tiina Nunnally)

This epic historical novel set in 14th century Norway is the engrossing masterwork of Nobel Prize-winning author Sigrid Undset. It spans the full life of Kristin, a stubbornly passionate woman who is the daughter of the successful yet humble farmer Lavrans. In a Catholic culture that is still haunted by elements of paganism, Kristin is relentlessly pursued by the dashing Erlend Nikulausson against her parents’ wishes, raises seven sons with him during their tumultuous marriage, and is eventually estranged from him, but finds redemption as the world around her crumbles.

Light in August by William Faulkner

This classic novel about courage in the face of impermanence features some of Faulkner’s most striking characters: including a naïve yet determined woman who is searching for the father of her unborn child; a preacher who is haunted by memories of the Civil War; and a mysterious drifter obsessed by his mixed heritage.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

A quirky yet sweet young adult read about Raymie Clarke, a young girl who is dealing with the fact that her father has left her family. The story unfolds as she tries to solve the family crisis and, in the process, makes some unlikely friendships.

Without Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg

Joel Rosenberg’s latest novel is a page-turner set in the Middle East of 2017 amid the ISIS conflict. An attack on Washington occurs, resulting in a global search for the perpetrators. Conservative Christian New York Times reporter J.B. Collins gets to the bottom of the problem even as his faith is tested. The conclusion is a big surprise.

Yawning at Tigers

by Family Research Council

October 27, 2014

Have American Christians tamed God? Has the awesome God of the Bible been reduced to fit our limited human understanding? Drew Dyck’s insightful book Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God So Stop Trying answers these questions. The God of the Bible is one who is to be feared and reverenced. Dyck points out human responses to encounters with God in Scripture. Responses included prostration, awe, speechlessness, death, and intense emotions. He is holy. He is mighty. When He is encountered men are moved.

Dyck notes that in many of our most prominent churches God has been relegated to something we as humans can grasp. It is true that God has revealed Himself in ways we can understand, especially in the Incarnation of Jesus, but it is a limited revealing. To see the full unveiled glory of God is too much even for the Seraphim who cry “holy, holy, holy” before God, yet cover their faces with wings. Moses could only look fleetingly on part the glory of God. God is dangerous, He is not like us. Preaching a message of love and mercy while ignoring the wrath and power of God is to diminish the God of the Bible to a god of our own making. Yet this diminishing does not reduce Him it merely leaves us with a false god.

Like His holiness and wrath, God’s love can’t be minimized to fit with human understanding of justice. God is the ultimate lover and redeemer of the souls of mankind. His love reaches us in ways we can’t completely comprehend. God loved us while we were sinners. This profound concept is something that deserves our attention and awe.

Yawning at Tigers presents a God that is separate from His creation yet immanent. A God that is full of wrath yet abundant in mercy. These things are not mutually exclusive; they are a reflection of Truth that is more perfect that we can imagine this side of heaven. We must never stop preaching a God that is holy enough to turn His back on His own Son and loving enough to send Him to die for us. Dangerous. Wonderful. Separate. Immanent. this is the God Christians must never fail to preach in all of His awesome splendor.

Riding with “W”

by Robert Morrison

May 15, 2014

I’ve just completed three weeks of commuting with George W. Bush. I’ve been listening to his memoirs, Decision Points, on audio disc. It’s been an amazing journey. Ron McLarty reads the former president’s book. And he’s so good at capturing “W’s” accent and intonation that you soon think the Texan is riding shotgun through Washington, D.C. traffic with you.

I had not expected such a frank and funny book. Most presidential memoirs, to be candid, are rather like marble doorstops. They’re intended to be the author’s dignified and not-too-defensive statement of his case for history. And some of them are deadly dull.

Not so these memoirs. George W. Bush is amazingly honest about his drinking problem. He never says he was an alcoholic, for he may not have been. But he drank too much, too often. And it affected his relationships. It got him into some ugly scenes. His loving, faithful wife stood by him all the while and gently nudged him onto the right path. His parents showed him the meaning of unconditional love. For those of us who have loved someone with a drinking problem, this part of the book is worth the whole volume.

George on his fortieth birthday doesn’t go in for a twelve-step program. It’s more of a one-step program. He takes seriously what Billy Graham has been saying about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He invites Jesus into his heart. And Jesus comes in.

Of great interest to us who deal with policy analysis in Washington are the parts of the book — the greater part — in which the former president deals with various issues. He teases them out and handles them thematically. Stem cell research. Iran. North Korea. Education (No Child Left Behind). Tax cuts. Hurricane Katrina. The Harriet Miers Surpeme Court nomination. And above all, 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

By handling each topic separately, we get a sense of the complexity and considerations that go into presidential decision-making. But it also occasions some confusion as we jump around from the economic meltdown of late 2008 back to “A Day of Fire” on 9/11, early in the first term. The reality of the presidency, of course, is that issues come rushing at you from Day One. That’s why Harry Truman put a sign on his White House desk: The Buck Stops Here.

George W. Bush is most like Truman in his crisp, decisive manner. He once said: “I’m the decider.” It was seen as Texas bragging. And it didn’t play well in the too often hostile press. But that is what Harry’s sign meant. That’s why we elect presidents — to decide.

Like Harry Truman, George W. Bush was derided by many in the Eastern Establishment.

(“To err is Truman,” they jibed.) Truman was the last president not to go to college. But he had a keen mind and reportedly had read every history book in the Independence, Missouri Public Library. Harry was well prepared. And Harry identified with the American people. If Franklin Roosevelt was for the people, commentators said in those days, Harry Truman is the people.

George Walker Bush was not only the son of a president, and the distant relation of another (his mother traces her lineage to Franklin Pierce), he was also the first MBA to sit in the White House. His Yale and Harvard degrees made him one of the best-educated presidents in our lifetime.

Even so, “W” never lacked the common touch. And these memoirs prove it. Once asked what made him different from his much-loved Dad, W. answered without hesitation: Midland.

Those differences become clear in reading this self-deprecating and honest memoir. I had not expected to be moved to tears. But no one can read his heart-rending story of the death of little sister Robin from leukemia and not want to embrace this sensitive and decent man.

Despite my deeper admiration for this good and honorable man, I find myself flinching when he describes his thoughts on bringing democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq. Our own State Department insisted, I have learned, on putting so-called Repugnancy Clauses in the constitutions of both of these “liberated” countries. Those Repugnancy Clauses say, in effect, notwithstanding anything else in this constitution, nothing shall be done by this government that is repugnant to Islam.

Who decides what is repugnant to Islam? The mullahs do! What if the mullahs disagree? Then the mullahs with more firepower win the argument. The mullahs agree with Napoleons’ dictum: God favors the side with the heavier artillery.

Because of these fatal flaws, democracy never had a chance in Iraq or Afghanistan. George W. Bush sincerely believes that everyone desires freedom. That may be true. But unless you desire that your neighbor who worships differently will also have freedom, you are unlikely ever to know freedom yourself.

It is good for Afghan women to join Afghan men in voting for a new government. But if they elect politicians who want to murder Abdul Rahman for converting to Christianity, you have no democracy. And virtually every elected official in Afghanistan did call for Abdul Rahman’s blood in 2006.

Enduring Freedom? Abdul Rahman had to be spirited out of that homicidal country under cover of darkness to save his neck. And even that might not have happened had not Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and many other Evangelical leaders raised a loud cry to spare his life.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been driven out of Iraq since the U.S. commenced “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The regime of Nouri al-Maliki is in league with the mullahs of Tehran, whom we have designated as the leading terrorists in the world.

When Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai met with Iran’s mullahs for a “future of the region” summit, President Obama’s late envoy Richard Holbrooke thought that was entirely appropriate. Really? Then what are we fighting the Taliban for?

Karzai is on record admitting to taking bags of gold from Tehran. And from us. Afghanistan has cost American taxpayers one trillion dollars.

President Bush acknowledges that he campaigned against U.S. attempts at “nation-building” in the 2000 campaign. He argues, though, that 9/11 changed all that. His Bush Doctrine said: 1. We will carry the fight to the terrorists. 2. We will regard those who harbor terrorists as equally guilty and go after them, too. 3. We will establish governments that respect the rights of their own people and do not threaten their neighbors.

It’s Point Three that is most vexing. You cannot plant democracy with bayonets. Facile comparisons to our post-WWII occupations of Germany and Japan obviously fail. We took the unconditional surrender of both countries. We forced Germany to de-Nazify and Japan to give up Emperor Worship.

Even Point Two of the Bush Doctrine is problematic. If Pakistan was not harboring Osama bin Laden for a decade, how was he allowed to build a top-secret ziggurat under the very noses of Pakistan’s military brass? If Saudi Arabia is really our ally in the War on Terror, why did that desert despot Abdullah refuse us access to Madani al Tayyib, the al Qaeda finance chief (see p. 122. of the official 9/11 Commission Report)?

Americans increasingly believe we are being played for suckers by treacherous allies. When I traveled by bus around America in 2012, I would make a point of saluting veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and asking them their level of trust for the national forces in both countries. The answer from our own brave warriors was always the same: Zero.

This substantial portion of the Bush memoirs must be read as tragedy. A good Christian man with a fine mind and a great heart pursues a flawed policy, with grave consequences. It costs thousands of brave young Americans their lives. He built his freedom house on sand. Too bad.

His discussion of stem cell research shows him honorably struggling to find a middle path. He is a nuanced thinker, a man with a heightened ethical sense. In the end, he crafts a policy that unfortunately provides federal funding to the killers of embryonic humans even as it denies funding for killing these nascent humans.

In these pages, the president never answers the obvious question: By funding experimentation on only a limited number of stem cell lines — on those embryonic humans whose lives have already been condemned — what if some treatment or cure should be found? How then would he or any future president resist the deafening cries in the media for experimentation-on-demand?

It’s worth noting here that no such treatment or cure has been found in the thirteen years since President Bush announced his restricted funding policy. (Nor, even more significantly, in the five years since President Obama cast aside all ethical restraints.

President Bush was hailed by pro-lifers, including this one, for signing such important legislation as the Infant Born-Alive Protection Act (which state Sen. Barack Obama managed to kill in the Illinois legislature), the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA — that President Obama’s administration declined to apply against Fort Hood killer Nidal Hasan), and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Bill Clinton had vetoed that legislation twice in the 1990s. One of the leading pro-abortion lobbyists later admitted “I lied through my teeth about [the numbers and instances of partial-birth abortions] and felt sick to my stomach about it.” Bill Clinton was never so distressed about lying on this or other topics.

President Bush appointed many strong constitutionalists to the courts and many pro-lifers to mid-level administration positions. This is something for which we should always be grateful. Nonetheless, in these memoirs, it becomes clear that George W. Bush is the only pro-life person in his White House circle of advisors. The only one. And this matters.

Thus it was that billions of federal dollars continued to flow uninterrupted for eight years into the coffers of Planned Barrenhood (Parenthood). They are the world’s largest trafficker in abortion. This outfit last year admitted killing 374,000 unborn children. As with his stem cell policy, President Bush never funded the killing of the unborn, only those who do the killing.

One of the least convincing portions in this book is his discussion of the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. Columnist George Will spoke for all of us when he said that you could poll the one hundred top conservative constitutional thinkers in America (are there that many?) and ask each one to provide a list of one hundred names, with no duplicates. On the resultant list of ten thousand names you would not find Harriet Miers.

FRC’s Tony Perkins worked this issue with the greatest of care. Always respectful of the president and his nominee, Tony nonetheless publicized Miss Miers speeches. Lacking a “paper trail” of serious judicial wrestling with weighty constitutional matters, we had to go with what we had.

Her speeches were simply deplorable. How could she possibly think the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Greater Houston would react well to her quoting with approval the radical feminist Gloria Steinem?

Those strong Texas women were achievers, not whiners. Did Miss Miers share Steinem’s man-hating views? (A Steinem sampler: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” “We have become the men we wanted to marry.”) If she did, we certainly didn’t want her to have a lifetime appointment to the High Court.

Or worse, did she simply think she would ingratiate herself with her audience? If so, is there a worse place in the entire U.S. government for such toadying than the U.S. Supreme Court?

For millions of Americans, George Bush’s handling, or mishandling, of the Hurricane Katrina crisis was the occasion of their disenchantment with his leadership, but for the conservative movement, surely the abortive nomination of the manifestly unqualified Harriet Miers broke the bonds of trust.

His chapter on education, and his ill-fated No Child Left Behind program, deserves attention. George W. Bush and his father were always sincere supporters of civil rights. The false, defamatory and contemptible charges of racism lodged against both men wounded them deeply.

But it was just as wrong to craft a policy based on racial disparities in academic achievement. As David Armor, one of our best academic researchers of education has noted, the test score disparities of black, white, Hispanic, and Asian students do not entirely equal out when family structure is accounted for, but they are greatly diminished.

The best thing George W. Bush could have done if he sought to address the lower academic performance of black and Hispanic students, as well as that of lower middle class whites, would have been to address the marriage crisis. As the work of Charles Murray has since shown, it is the collapse of marriage and the loss of church attendance among working class whites that has led to impoverishment. The collapse of marriage has as well harmed minorities. And the classic study of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) titled “Who Escapes?” showed that for the black community, students who regularly attended church had far better outcomes for school and work.

How are church and synagogue attendance related to the marriage crisis, if at all? AEI Scholar Mary Eberstadt’s compelling new book, How the West Really Lost God, argues that family breakdown has led to loss of religious practice. If she is right, the old 1950s Ad Council slogan is true, after all: “The family that prays together, stays together.”

It is painful for me to realize the errors of my much-admired George W. Bush. My wife and I watched his 2001 inauguration in our own family room. She was then a high-ranking naval officer. When those Hundred and One guns of the Presidential Salute Battery rent the air with their booming to signal the peaceful transfer of power, we both wept with joy. We were relieved for we believed our country had been saved.

I would go on to campaign for George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. I was in Pittsburgh to hear him address a large, enthusiastic rally the day before the election. In front of me sat a big family of supporters. These home schoolers had gotten up before dawn to crowd into the stadium. The metal detectors we passed through reminded us of the changes we had seen in our country under this good man’s leadership. Johnny was a fifteen-year old member of this family.

When President Bush made has rousing speech, the whole crowd roared its approval. Johnny was standing on top of his folding chair, yelling loudest when the W. spoke of the right to life and the defense of marriage. Johnny has Down Syndrome.

The next day, George W. Bush was re-elected President of the United States. He carried the critical state of Ohio on the strength of the marriage referendum that had brought half a million more voters out than in 2000. And his percentage of the black vote in Ohio was his highest anywhere.

I never heard him speak in public about the right to life or the defense of marriage again.

Nor have I heard him speak of either vital question in the five years since he left office. We know where his family is on these questions.

George Bush is avoiding political issues, he says. He hikes and rides with Wounded Warriors, which is nothing less than noble of him.

But he could still do more. He is a young and fit retiree. He could begin giving speeches at fundraisers for Pregnancy Care Centers. Many of these volunteer-staffed, faith-based groups he recognized during his White House years.

He doesn’t have to criticize anyone or do anything other than lend them his presence — and his heart. Those who sincerely say they are pro-choice cannot object if George W. Bush were to help young women and their boyfriends choose life for their unborn children.

In 2006, I had lunch with a conservative talk show host in Bethesda, Maryland. We enjoyed a hearty meal and a good conversation. “What should I thank President Bush for,” my friend asked? It was a time of some deep disillusionment among conservatives with the Bush second term.

I answered: “We are having this lunch on a quiet Saturday. And when we go to our cars, they probably won’t blow up. We can thank George Bush for that. It’s no small achievement.” I still believe that. Thank you, Mr. President, for protecting us. And may God preserve you.

Happy Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

by Family Research Council

January 30, 2013

As dedicated fans will know, Pride and Prejudice turned 200 years old on Monday, January 28.

ABC’s Diane Sawyer’s opened her anniversary segment noting that Pride and Prejudice is “book that cracked a vital code—the eternal secret of how a man can be irresistible to a woman.” ABC gives us a brief history of the book and montage of its popular iterations over the past 200 years. But while leading man, Mr. Darcy certainly is “the thinking woman’s heart-throb,” he’s more than a romance icon.

A few years ago, my friend Brian Brown noted some the reasons in a post titled, “Why Men Like Jane Austen.”

This is the Austen hero. Chesterton observed, “When Darcy, in finally confessing his faults, says ‘I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice though not in theory,’ he gets nearer to a complete confession of the intelligent male than ever was even hinted by the Byronic lapses of the Brontes’ heroes or the elaborate exculpations of George Eliot’s.” This kind of self-aware yet self-confident manhood does not impress in the way that a quick wit or a quick sword does. Rather, it inspires respect—something we too often do not know how to gain, because for the Austen hero, “manly” is not something he does, like rescuing a damsel in distress; it is something he is. There is an integrity to him that transcends situation.

Today, such integrity and selflessness still merit respect and admiration. That’s what most (if not all) single ladies hope for in a spouse.

But for anyone who’s not convinced that such Austenesque virtues are timeless, I offer you a brassy and boisterous reminder that marriage “still works.” The recently married young commentator Steven Crowder opined on the topic, over the weekend. His post, “A man’s top 5 reasons to grow up and get married” is worth the read. It’s not aimed towards the marriage-minded single, and could be frustrating for anyone fruitlessly pursuing marriage. But it’s a bold wake-up call aimed at the loafing bachelor who thinks marriage is out-dated.

So, gentlemen, skim Crowder’s “Top 5 Reasons” and then grab a copy of Pride and Prejudice. The cultural milieu has altered. But there are still Mr. Darcy’s and Elizabeth Bennett’s to be matched.

Trials and Tribulations of Girl Land

by Krystle Gabele

January 26, 2012

Caitlin Flanagan recently released a new book, Girl Land, which takes a look at the world of todays adolescent girls and the issues they are facing. Of course, Flanagan has again enraged feminists everywhere with her perspective.

In Girl Land, Flanagan looks at how culture has changed over time and how it has become focused on viewing girls as sexual objects and denying them the privacy, daydreams, and crushes that normal girlhood provides. In other words, they are losing their sense of self.

However, Girl Land is also drawing some criticism from those who might agree with Flanagans point of view. In a recent RealClearBooks op-ed by Heather Wilhelm, Girl Land received some criticism as painting things too broadly. Wilhelm brings up a great point that this book fosters ambiguity toward men, as well as making excuses for the boys will be boys mentality.

On one hand, Flanagan seems to buy into the all men are predators narrative, speaking of the pervy uncle and the drunk father hitting on the babysitter as if they are prototypes, not anomalies. Perhaps this stems from an assault Flanagan endured when she was younger, which she details in the book. But its an odd quirk, particularly in a girl culture better represented by the aggressive, love-struck babysitter in Crazy, Stupid, Love (in the movie, she harasses her charges clueless father, leading to mortifying results) than anything else.

But then, on the other hand, Girl Land exhibits a strange sense of boys will be boys that excuses even the crassest behavior. If I were to learn that my children had engaged in oral sex outside a romantic relationship, and as young adolescents I would be sad, Flanagan writes. But I wouldnt think that they had been damaged by the experience; I wouldnt think I had failed catastrophically as a mother, or that they would need therapy. Because I dont have daughters, I have sons.”

Wilhelm also argues that girls are facing a society that promotes promiscuity over abstinence. Girl Land did not mention anything about respect for this critical moral choice.

Kids need to know how their behaviors will impact them in the long run, and the implications of not making the right choices behaviorally. Shouldn’t Girl Land be focused on holding both sons and daughters to high moral standards? Our society needs these standards now more than ever.

Understanding the GLBT Political Agenda And What You Can Do About It

by Peter Sprigg

January 4, 2012

Book review: A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip Its Been, by Michael L. Brown

Note: Dr. Brown will be giving a policy lecture about his book at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC on Thursday, January 5, 2012. For more information and to register, click here.

Reviewed by Caleb H. Price

In the span of a few short years, American culture has undergone a breath-taking shift in attitudes about homosexuality and transgenderism. Behaviors that were recently viewed by most to be unseemly, if not immoral, are now embraced. What was good is now evil. What was evil is now good.

And while homosexual and transgender activists insist that there is no agenda in play, a closer look shows that this 180-degree turn was no accident.

In his latest book, A Queer Thing Happened to America, Dr. Michael L. Brown documents this cultural sea-change. Here, he takes the reader on an eye-popping account of the strange and bewildering trajectory that gay activists have charted for America.

And he persuasively argues that the trip were on will result in the catastrophic deconstruction of the most basic building blocks of human society biological sex, marriage and family.

The topics covered in this comprehensive work are timely and helpful for understanding the GLBT political agenda. Brown fearlessly engages political correctness on these issues and winsomely encourages concerned citizens to step up the plate and take action before its too late.

Specifically, Brown details how our schools and universities have been strategically targeted by GLBT activists to bring about their revolution in the span of two short generations. Terms like tolerance and diversity now almost exclusively refer to sexual orientation and gender identity. And intellectually honest debate on these issues has been completely stifled in the academic and mental health professions.

In this context, Brown offers a strong rebuttal to the born gay myth and the largely unquestioned view among cultural elites that sexual orientation and gender identity are equivalent to race. And he points out the undeniable and disturbing parallels of this equation to issues like polyamory and pedophilia.

Significantly, A Queer Thing offers an indictment of the one-sided embrace of the GLBT political agenda by media and corporate elites and the mean-spirited attack on those who hold to traditional values on these issues. Here, Brown treats the semantic issues well and shows how GLBT activists have masterfully reframed terms to advance their agenda.

Similarly, Brown provides a helpful understanding of and rebuttal to of the GLBT revisionist theology that has taken root in both the church and secular arenas. Given that Christians are called to offer a winsome answer for their convictions, this section is very helpful in equipping those who feel inept discussing these difficult issues.

At its core, A Queer Thing details the totalitarian nature of the GLBT rights movement. The inevitable conflict between religious liberty and sexual freedom is chillingly presented. Here, those who disagree with Brown will be particularly challenged.

Winsome and witty, well reasoned and meticulously researched, Michael Brown raises the bar with A Queer Thing and calls citizens to take action to turn the tide of the GLBT agenda at the local level. Theres even an accompanying website offering detailed action steps for citizen involvement (www.aqueerthing.com).

Islam in Our Midst - A Review

by Alexander Marcus-New

November 15, 2011

Ancient Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero once said that, A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. It seems to me that this quote greatly exemplifies what is happening in the United States currently in regards to Islam. In his book Islam in our Midst, author Patrick Sookhdeo informs the reader of what is happening within the walls of the United States and its threat to Christianity. Sookhdeo keys in on four different areas that are being affected by Islam: Understanding the Public Square since 9/11, Western and Non-Western Worldviews, and the impact of Islam on Society. By looking at these three areas, it can be seen that this book is a must-read for those concerned with what is happening within the United States in regards to Islam.

First, Sookhdeo looks at the public square since 9/11. Two key areas that I believe are very important that Sookhdeo talks about in his work would be Interfaith Dialogue and the Lack of Self Confidence in the U.S.A. It seems to me that within these two areas, some interesting points are raised. Interfaith dialogue is most certainly an important area to look at, because in the years since the 9/11 attacks, there has been an urging by those in power for those of different religions to find common ground. At the end of this section in his book, Sookhdeo poignantly poses the question (in regards to these interfaith dailogues) Is this merely another aspect of dawa, Islamic mission to bring about Islamic transformation? While the area of interfaith dialogue is certainly an important one, another that is analyzed is the Lack of Self Confidence in the U.S.A. Sookhdeo points to the long delay in apprehending Osama Bin Laden, the limited success in Iraq, problems in Afghanistan, resentment towards Americans from around the world, and the financial crisis as reasons that lead to a lack of self confidence in the United States. One prime example of this would be abundance of criticism of the United States by those in Hollywoodl. For instance, in 2003, actor Johnny Depp threatened to leave the United States unless the political climate changed. Depp called the U.S. a big, dumb puppy…with teeth..that can bite you…and hurt you. Depp currently lives in France while still making his millions thanks to the wallets of American moviegoers.

Another area that Sookhdeo looks at in his book is Western and Non-Western worldviews. Pointing to the cultural views of both Islam and western cultures, Sookhdeo points to key differences. One of these differences is the aspect of diversity. In the second section of the book, the author states The U.S.A. is both a unity and a diversity.. It seems as though the United States is a unity in the fact that the country, for the most part, stands together in times of crisis and depicts itself as the United States of America. However, while unified under the flag, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and other key elements to our countrys success, the U.S. is also one that is very diverse - culturally, religiously, geographically, socially, etc. This diversity has been key in the survival of this nation (it was the Pilgrims that left Europe to escape a state-run religion). While the United States celebrates diversity in these areas, the Islamic worldview is not as open to such views. As Sookhdeo states, The communalism of Islam, as opposed to the individualism of American society, leads to a very different attitude to private space and public space. Another frightening thought that Sookhdeo points to is that For Muslims, divine unity means that there can be only one god-approved law, sharia, andone right poltical model for human society. With views like these, tension between Muslims and the societies in which they have acclimated themselves into within the United States.

Finally, Sookhdeo looks at the impact of Islam on United States society. Throughout this entire chapter, he points to the various ways in which Islam has impacted the United States. While many Muslims come to the United States and try to convert U.S. citizens to the religion of Islam, they seem to get offended when Christians try to convert them, and in many Muslim countries across southwest Asia (the Middle East), Christian mission and evangelism to Muslims is prohibited. Sookhdeo points to an event in 2010 when Christians were arrested and jailed on counts of disorderly conduct for distributing Christian materials outside of an Arab International festival in Dearborn, Michigan. By having a number of small impacts on different areas throughout the country, such as these two, Islam can certainly make quite a large impression throughout the entire societal makeup of the country.

In all, this work is certainly informative for anyone whoi is worried about the Islamification of certain aspects of society in the United States. Sookhdeo shows his knowledge of this area of study and gives examples for the claims he makes. For me, the book is certainly an eye opener as to what is currently happening in regards to Islam and its presence in the U.S, and after reading, only one quote came to mine. While this quote came about in regard to World War II, it certainly has its application here:

Niemoller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Martin Niemoller

In our country, many may not want to hear about the dangers of Islam. However, George Orwell once said that Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. We have that right. Speak up. Sookhdeo certainly has.

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