Category archives: Book Reviews

How Should Christians Think About “Wokeness”?

by Molly Carman

July 22, 2021

Since its beginnings in the first century, the church has faced varied resistance from the surrounding culture and challenges to the gospel. Recently, a new challenge has emerged: “wokeness,” or the state of being “woke.” Merriam-Webster identifies “woke” as a slang term meaning being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” On the surface, wokeness might sound like seeking justice and showing concern for the weak and oppressed—things the Bible urges us to do (Isa. 1:17, Micah 6:8). However, wokeness often embraces theories and ideologies inconsistent with or even hostile to the Bible. Many well-intentioned Christians—out of a desire to be compassionate, accepting, and loving—are succumbing to cultural pressure to conform to woke ideology, likely unaware of its unbiblical tendencies.

To help Christians think biblically about wokeness, Owen Strachan, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview, has written a new book, Christianity and Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement is Hijacking the Gospel. In the book, Strachan walks through the history of woke ideology and examines its consequences in American culture and the church. He also consults Scripture to give Christians advice for responding to the woke movement.

Wokeness in the Culture and the Church

The first two chapters of Christianity and Wokeness examine how woke ideology is entering the culture and, more consequentially, the church. According to Strachan, “wokeness” means to be “awake” and in tune with the prevailing zeitgeist. Critical Race Theory (CRT), which sees society as an intentional system of power structures meant to oppress others based on their skin color, is currently the most well-known example of woke ideology. CRT purports that “White Privilege” is at the root of social justice issues and must be eradicated. 

The 21st century American church has been both passively and actively incorporating woke ideology into their institutions and practices. Strachan observes that some Christians have started apologizing for and repenting of their “whiteness.” Often these actions are prefaced with the proposal that we should change the gospel to fit with woke ideology so that brothers and sisters of color will be more comfortable in the church. While true racial reconciliation is an important outworking of the gospel (Eph. 2), wokeness changes the gospel by teaching that white people are never able to fully repent for their actions because they are inherently racist by nature of being white. But the gospel says all have sinned, and everyone can be fully redeemed through the work of Christ. With its different view of sin and redemption, wokeness undermines the gospel. This is why Strachan argues, “[W]okeness is not a prism by which we discover truths we couldn’t see in a Christian worldview. Wokeness is a different system entirely than Christianity. It is, in fact, ‘a different gospel.’ But it is not just that. In the final evaluation, wokeness is not just not the Gospel. Wokeness is anti-Gospel.”

Why is Wokeness an Ungodly System?

In chapters three and four, Strachan outlines his concern with the theological and cultural implications of CRT and woke ideology. First, he encourages believers to guard their hearts and minds, noting the apostle Paul’s admonition not to be taken captive by false philosophies (Col. 2:8). Strachan argues that wokeness represents a man-centered gospel that takes others captive through legalism rather than setting them free in the grace of Christ. In other words, wokeness says that only your works can save you—but you can never actually accumulate enough works to satisfy its requirements. Ultimately, this philosophy promises so much, only to abandon its followers in the end.

Furthermore, Strachan provides guidance for responding to unbiblical ideologies. According to Strachan, wokeness calls into question the sovereignty of God and contradicts Scripture by saying that the root of all evil is “whiteness.” But, as Strachan explains, “[in] biblical terms, ‘white’ skin is not our biggest problem. Sin is.” He goes on to say, “If you have been convicted and demeaned for your skin color or heritage (whatever each may be), you have been wronged.” Woke ideology turns humans against one another, and results in individuals being judged by the color of their skin and status in society rather than the content of their character or their status in the eyes of God.

The Bible and Ethnicity

Because questions of race and ethnicity are so closely tied to woke ideology and CRT, chapter five and six provide an in-depth study of what the Old and New Testament have to say about our identity as human beings. Strachan explains how Genesis teaches that all humans are equally part of one human race. Although we may have different skin tones, languages, or ethnicities that distinguish us, we are all human beings who are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).

Further, the doctrine of the fall—not CRT—explains the fractured relationships present in humanity. It is not the differences between our skin colors that make us misunderstand, betray, and abuse one another but the sin that infects us all. One tragic consequence of the fall is the sin of racism, which is one way that humans wrongly show partiality. God is not elitist and shows no partiality to anyone, as the apostle Paul frequently discusses in his letters (Rom. 2:11, 10:12; Gal. 2:6, Eph. 6:9). The New Testament also demonstrates how everyone can be united and reconciled in Christ through the gospel message (Eph. 2:14-18, 2 Cor. 5:16-21). God desires that, ultimately, every tribe, tongue, and language be untied in Christ to form the household of God (Eph. 2:19; Rev. 5:9-10, 7:9, 21:3). As Strachan explains, “Distinctiveness is no bad thing and is, in truth, a gift and blessing of God—but unity will be our song in all the ages to come.”

The Response to Wokeness

The final chapter of Strachan’s book considers the reality of American history, specifically slavery and the civil rights movement. He concludes with recommendations for how Christians can respond to woke ideology in a biblical way, reminding his readers: “We cannot fall silent. We cannot stand by as people around us are taken captive by wokeness or any ungodly ideology.”

Although Christians ought to recognize racism’s sinfulness and the necessity of repentance for racist thoughts, actions, and attitudes, they should also recognize that certain groups of people are not inherently racist simply because of the color of their skin. Strachan concludes, “Wokeness is advancing far too quickly to treat this matter lightly, or to assume that these issues will simply ‘go away.’” He reminds his readers, “No—they will not go away. As we have argued throughout the book, strongholds and false ideologies must be destroyed, not ignored or treated with a softshoe approach.”

May we all heed this timely warning and put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17) to stand firm against all unbiblical ideologies in our day and proclaim the gospel of truth.

Owen Strachan’s recent interview about his new book on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins can be viewed here.

The Unshakable Faith of a Baker From Colorado

by Kaitlyn Shepherd

July 9, 2021

I remember when Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was argued at the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2017. People hoping to witness the oral arguments had been camped outside the Court for days. That morning, crowds of people waited to hear how the justices would rule on Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who had declined to make a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.

In May 2021, Phillips published his account of what happened in The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court. The book describes his split-second decision to not bake the cake, explains the ensuing years of legal challenges, and recounts the lessons he learned from the experience. His story is an encouraging testimony of God’s faithfulness to sustain His children throughout life’s difficulties.

As Legal Battles Mounted, Phillips’ Faith Only Grew

Phillips begins by recalling a life-changing conversation he had with two men, David and Charlie, who came into Masterpiece Cakeshop to ask him to create a custom wedding cake for their wedding. Phillips politely declined, stating that he could not create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding but that he would be happy to sell them anything else in his shop. The conversation was brief, and David and Charlie refused to give Phillips a chance to explain his rationale further.

Phillips recalls his desire to extend the conversation so he could explain that although he will gladly serve anyone, he cannot express every message “because of the content of the message that the imagery or words on the cake might convey” (3). Since opening Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993, Phillips had adhered to this simple rule and had previously declined to make cakes featuring a variety of messages, such as obscene language, hateful rhetoric, and statements or images that “mocked or contradicted [his] faith” or celebrated events such as divorce or Halloween (61, 71).

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against Phillips and held that compelling him to express messages he disagreed with did not violate his First Amendment rights. After the case worked its way through the lower courts, the U.S. Supreme Court took the case. In June 2018, the Court sided with Phillips and held that the Commission’s actions violated Phillips’ right to freely exercise his religion. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the record showed the Commission’s “clear and impermissible hostility” toward Phillips’ sincerely-held religious beliefs, and he explained how the Commission treated Phillips differently than other bakers, who declined to create custom cakes that expressed messages opposing same-sex marriage.

Less than a month after this victory, Phillips faced another legal challenge. On the same day that the Supreme Court granted cert in Phillips’ case, one would-be customer, Autumn Scardina, had requested a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside to celebrate a gender transition. Phillips declined to create the cake because of its intended message. In response to charges brought against him by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Phillips and his attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Commission. In March 2019, the state’s attorneys offered to settle the case after evidence showing the Commission’s continuing hostility to Phillips’ religious beliefs surfaced. After this second victory, Phillips hoped to continue his business in peace.

That peace, however, was remarkably short-lived. In June 2019, Scardina, seeking over $100,000 in fines and damages, filed another lawsuit against Phillips in state court. On June 15, 2021, the court ruled against Phillips. The court found that Phillips’ refusal to bake the cake was based on Scardina’s transgender status, not on the cake’s intended message, and that forcing Phillips to bake the cake would not violate his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.

Phillips concludes the book by describing the lessons he learned during the many years of legal challenges. He states that although some may have intended their attacks to destroy his faith, his faith is now stronger than ever. He expresses gratitude for having been given a platform to speak the truth. Phillips has also grown in humility and patience and has learned to be a better listener. He has gained a greater appreciation for the wise system of government instituted by the Founders. Most importantly, though, Phillips experienced God’s goodness:

[C]oming through oppressive days, enduring the death threats, the hate mail, the obscene phone calls and public demonstrations, seeing the tears of my wife and the worries of my children, hearing people call me a bigot and a Nazi, listening while elected officials openly mocked the deepest convictions of my soul—let me assure you, this is when God’s mercies abound. This is when He comforts us in the deep places of the soul that only He can reach. (188–89)

Peaceful, Unshakeable Faith in God’s Provision

Phillips’ compelling testimony is a must-read for any believer. First, Phillips’ account provides a thorough and accessible description of one of the most influential religious freedom cases of the past decade. He clearly describes the timeline of events and explains why the case was so momentous, not only for him but for all people of faith (98). Although the case concerned Colorado’s attempts to compel Phillips to speak messages that violated his conscience and to force him to choose between his religious beliefs and his business, the case has broader implications for the rights of all Americans “who share[] his biblical views on human sexuality and marriage” (194).

Second, Phillips’ story will encourage believers who may feel disheartened. Although losing 40 percent of his business, facing hateful emails and death threats, and having his reputation attacked by public officials could have caused Phillips to waver in his faith, his testimony overflows with a sense of peace and an unshakeable belief in God’s character and provision. As Phillips recalled while waiting for the Supreme Court’s verdict:

You might think the long wait was especially stressful—an exercise in impatient endurance, where we gritted our teeth to get through the endless days. But it wasn’t like that at all. I genuinely felt an immense peace after our arguments. I was content in knowing we’d done everything we could do. That we’d been as faithful as possible and the outcome really was always totally in God’s reliable hands. (143)

Phillips’ faith is a testament to the Holy Spirit’s power to encourage believers throughout life’s challenges.

Finally, Phillips’ account can inspire believers to stand firm in their faith. Although his experiences could have made him retreat from his faith, Phillips viewed them as an opportunity:

What’s the point of suddenly being on so many people’s radars if you can’t use those moments to share with them your deepest beliefs? That, for me, is the best news in the whole world: the love of Jesus Christ. (11)

Unfortunately, hostility toward Christianity and toward those who adhere to a biblical worldview is only increasing. Like Phillips, may we all have faith to stand firm and to be willing to serve as God’s instrument whatever the cost.

Kaitlyn Shepherd is Research Assistant for Legal and Policy Studies at Family Research Council.

Authentic Justice is Biblical Justice

by Jaelyn Morgan

June 15, 2021

A Book Review of Voddie Baucham Jr.’s Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe

The call for social justice from woke activists is loud and overwhelming. With so many voices advocating for various political solutions to our society’s perceived injustices, many Americans feel overwhelmed and wonder, what is the solution? Anarchy? Rebellion? Reparations? Reconciliation? However, beyond the outward expressions of injustice and external solutions to real problems lies a spiritual battle between competing worldviews. In Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, theologian Voddie Baucham Jr. equips Christians to identify the worldview conflict underlying contemporary demands for social justice and exhorts them to pursue biblical social justice instead of the Critical Social Justice ideology which has captivated the Western world.

Summary

At the onset of Fault Lines, Baucham traces the thought line of Critical Social Justice (CSJ), including Karl Marx (Conflict Theory), Antonio Gramsci (Hegemony), the Frankfurt School (Critical Theory), Critical Race Theory (CRT), and Intersectionality (I). According to Baucham, biblical social justice and CSJ are currently separated by fault lines. However, he predicts that an earth-shattering catastrophe will soon reveal that both parties stand on opposing sides of a vast divide.

In chapter one, “A Black Man,” Baucham contextualizes his assessment of the issue, describing his upbringing in newly desegregated California with a strong mother and an emphasis on personal responsibility (19). In the second chapter, “A Black Christian,” Baucham shares his conversion testimony and assimilation into the Southern Baptist Convention, contrasting his welcoming experience into a white church with his unwelcoming experience in a formerly all-white school. He also notes that his introduction to racial reconciliation came from white, not black, Christians.

In chapter three, Baucham discusses the prevalence of false stories in the current narrative of social justice, specifically the false premise that “police are killing unarmed black men” (45).

In chapters four through six, Baucham demonstrates how “antiracism” has the “hallmarks of a cult” (66), including a new theology and a new glossary of terms that sound Christian but deviate significantly from the historical faith. Citing CSJ leaders, Baucham demonstrates that antiracism has its own cosmology, original sin, law, gospel, martyrs, priests, atonement, new birth, liturgy, canon, theologians, and catechism (67). Specifically, he describes the new priesthood and canon of antiracism, rooted in Ethnic Gnosticism and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.

Baucham exposes fault lines in evangelicalism regarding social justice in chapter seven. Among evangelical churches and leaders, he documents their implicit acceptance despite explicit denial of CRT/I ideologies, the silencing of those who reject Critical Theory, and the political maneuvering within the Southern Baptist Convention to make CRT/I seem compatible with the Bible.

Further, Baucham describes, in chapter eight, the damage the CSJ movement has done to communities of color, including the black church, the family, and the unborn. In particular, he criticizes CSJ’s question-begging logic, opposition to facts, and warns about its political implications. For example, in the following chapter, Baucham uses the test case of abortion to demonstrate how the assumptions of CSJ dictate destructive policy, addressing the false narrative of single-issue voting, and the false premise that America’s two political parties merely represent different priorities rather than “a clear-cut distinction between competing worldviews” (185).

In chapter 10, Baucham assesses the key fault line underlying the current call for social justice in the “Black Lives Matter” movement. He urges Christians to understand that a primarily spiritual—not cultural or political—battle is occurring between the biblical worldview and CSJ/CRT/I worldview and their antecedent theories of Marxism, Conflict Theory, and Critical Theory (209).

Baucham concludes the final chapter by re-emphasizing his heart for the book, which is his love for God, the church, and a dismay that God’s people are being swayed by an ideology that is inherently unbiblical. The book ends with three appendices: The Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, the original version of Resolution 9 submitted at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention, and its revised and adopted version.

Analysis

Fault Lines is a winsome, socio-theological analysis of the political call to Critical Social Justice. With poignancy, grace, and persuasion, Baucham exposes the fault line of competing worldviews between biblical social justice and Critical Social Justice, exhorting believers to stand firm on God’s Word rather than capitulating to the human philosophies of the world.

One of Fault Lines greatest strengths is its persuasion based on a careful evaluation of primary sources. The book is an investigator’s dream. Each chapter contains footnotes, encouraging readers to understand the issues from the sources themselves and not take Baucham’s analysis out of context. Baucham carefully defines all the tenets of CSJ and its antecedent theories from the writings of CSJ’s leading advocates such as Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, Peggy McIntosh, and others. Baucham also anticipates critiques and addresses objections which could be levied against him from those sympathetic to CSJ.

Another strength of Fault Lines is Baucham’s personal experience. His life, training, and ministry provide the reader with unique insights, including the debate among black evangelicals of whether the priority of black Christians ought to be in their blackness or their Christianity (21); the “Marxist thread which runs through all grievance studies,” including “whiteness studies” in CRT (93); and the CSJ worldview assertion that “Christianity is part of the oppressive hegemony” (207), meaning Christianity is not only wrong and oppressive but that it must be overthrown and made obsolete.

Finally, Fault Lines is theologically centered and redemptively driven. The author’s high view of Scripture is clear in his use of biblical passages and principles as the basis for defining biblical social justice and rejecting the CSJ worldview. After discussing biblical principles for social justice based on Scripture’s text, Baucham states, “here is the key: People are ignoring these principles because the standard of justice upon which their pleas are built does not come from the God of the Scriptures. While that may be fine for others, those of us who claim to know Christ are held to a different standard” (44, emphasis original).

Constructively, for those unfamiliar with the current debate surrounding the CSJ movement, the addition of summaries at the end of each chapter would be beneficial, allowing readers to trace Baucham’s successive line of argumentation more easily throughout the book.

Fault Lines is a must-read book for anyone who desires to understand the basis of today’s call for social justice and a biblical response. Baucham’s argument that the biblical social justice worldview radically differs from the Critical Social Justice worldview is relevant, perceptive, and necessary. Followers of Christ who rightly strive to live by God’s Word in every sphere of life will find encouragement, clarity, and hope from Baucham’s thoughtful work on social justice and the gospel.

Jaelyn Morgan is an intern for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

Book Review: Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult

by Meg Kilgannon

June 7, 2021

If you are scrupulous about using “preferred pronouns” and avoid “deadnaming” at all costs, this book may not be for you. Maria Keffler has long advocated for the rights of parents, and she need make no apology for the sage advice she offers.

If you think writing a book to challenge the idea of “affirmative care” for children makes her mean, cold or uncaring, you’d be very wrong about that. It is precisely her compassion for others that compelled Keffler to write this book. Having been on the receiving end of phone calls from desperate parents who search high and low to find authentic help for their struggling child, I can appreciate the very real need this book serves.

For the uninitiated, it’s useful to define some terms. As with any cult, transgenderism has its own set of vocabulary that manipulates word meanings and the people who speak that new language. The book even includes a glossary for this purpose. We will start with the term “transgenderism” itself and then move to the book’s title: Desist, Detrans, & Detox.

Transgender,” according the glossary, is “claiming to feel a mismatch between one’s biological sex and one’s sense of self; presenting oneself to the world according to stereotypes that do not align with those of one’s biological (birth) sex.”

To “desist,” in the world of gender ideology and transgenderism, is to have “adopted a transgender identity for a period of time, but to have come to accept your birth sex as reality.”

A “detransitioner” is “a person who presented as other than his or her birth sex, transitioning socially and/or medically, but has since accepted his or her birth sex as reality, and presents as such.”

Detox” refers to the detoxification or deprogramming that must take place to save a child from the cult. Often, this is the step that allows a child to return to his or her authentic self, and is a state that must be maintained. Managing access to the internet and toxic friends or family members, as well as pulling children from a school that is “affirming” an opposite sex identity or presentation all fall into the category of “detox.”

It is clear from her writing that Ms. Keffler cares very much. She relies not only on her training, but has taken the time and effort to collaborate with other experts in the field to write a practical, readable book. She centers the book on the family, using her training in educational psychology to reenforce loving common sense. Her parenting advice in significant portions of the book will be useful to any parent with teenagers and/or young adults. What parent doesn’t need a refresher on setting boundaries or motivation theory?

Perhaps the best advice in the book comes in chapter three, “Your Relationship with Your Transgender-Identified Child.” Here Keffler reviews the kinds of things parents forget in the throes of crisis parenting (or even just after a long, trying day): relationship skills; considerations for different aged children, including adult children; and staying focused on the goal. The goal in this case is rescuing your child from the gender cult, but parents needing help with other difficulties in life will also benefit from this chapter.

If more help is needed for your child, the author recommends using resources available at faith communities which still honor the dignity of the human person. She writes:

Whether or not you’re a person of religious faith, a church, temple, or mosque is a good place to start. Religious freedom is under fire by those who would see all traditional values expunged in America, but religious freedom is still the law of the land in the United States, and houses of faith still operate according to their consciences and scriptural mandates. If you know a house of worship that has not capitulated to the transgender narrative, start there. If you do not attend religious services, ask friends or colleagues about other local churches. Call the church secretary or administrator and ask about their doctrinal policy on the issue of transgenderism. If you’re comfortable with the response, tell them you’re looking for a therapist and you wonder if they can recommend someone.

Keffler offers an unflinching and objective review of the factors at play: the culture, the schools, the family, the parent(s). No one gets a pass, but neither is anyone attacked. The author simply asks the questions that need asking so that answers can be found or at least earnestly sought.

Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult is a must for parents confronting transgenderism in their families. If you know a family facing down the transgender cult, or if you are facing a crisis in your own family, this practical guide may offer a bit of wisdom or a helpful perspective at just the right moment.

Meg Kilgannon is Senior Fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council.

How Can Believers Weather the Cultural Storm?

by Molly Carman

July 24, 2020

It is no longer safe to assume that anyone has a biblical understanding or perspective of culture. The push for relative truth, cancel culture, and happy-go-lucky logic is the new normal that is being shoved down the throats of Christians and conservatives who are not “woke” enough to go with the flow. There is a gathering storm over tradition, religion, and the family. In order to be ready for this cultural storm, we must prepare an emergency response plan.

In his new book, The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church, Dr. Albert Mohler seeks to open the eyes of Christians and prepare them for the storm that is gathering in an effort to preserve the church and family. Dr. Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his writings have appeared in a variety of journals including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

He admonishes his readers to remember that “the first task of faithfulness lies in understanding reality.” Dr. Mohler then encourages his readers to be willing to acknowledge that there is a storm gathering, to listen to wisdom about how to best weather the storm, and resolve to be faithful and courageous in the throes of the storm.

Nine Gathering Storms

Mohler presents nine different storms that are gathering—over western civilization, the church, human life, marriage, the family, gender and sexuality, future generations, pop culture, and religious liberty. These nine storms culminate into one large storm that, if ignored, will have eternal consequences. While it can be tempting to ignore these storms, or to at least downplay their threat, Mohler argues that recognition of the current cultural situation must lead to reformation.

The cultural storm began to brew over western civilization with the rise of secularization, argues Mohler. Primarily, he points to the influence of the Enlightenment and the degradation of the intellect. A large segment of today’s society pushes for total acceptance of a certain progressive ideology, and intolerant to the point that it has become unacceptable to be a believer in some circles. Politics have become the new foundation for society, and Mohler is concerned that Christians have replaced theology with politics, suggesting that we do not need another political victory, rather, “We need a theological protest.”

This storm of secularism in western civilization has seamlessly crept into the church, transforming fundamental values and beliefs. If you want to change a culture, argues Mohler, do not start with the customs, but change the values and beliefs and the behavior will follow. “The failure to teach truth eventually leads to failure of Christ’s people even to know the truth,” he argues. Mohler goes on to say, “The great threat we face is not to the church’s existence, but to its faithfulness.” Culture no longer goes to the church with questions—rather, culture has begun to question the very purpose and relevance of the church.

As the storm gathers over the church, it inevitably affects the family. Destroying the family is the quickest way to alter the morality of a society. Specifically, Mohler shows how devaluing life through abortion has become a central part of the battle for the family. This touches on questions of anthropology, which deals with the nature and purpose of humanity, and this, unfortunately, is now more divisive than ever. “[U]ltimately,” says Mohler, “every worldview must answer the question of what a human being is.”

Marriage, too, has been devalued through the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Moreover, cohabitation and divorce have wreaked havoc on families and communities. Mohler writes, “The greater tragedy is the failure of Christians to take marriage seriously.”

Incredibly, due to the moral revolution, even the terms “male” and “female” have become offensive. Personal autonomy is now the standard for ultimate meaning and satisfaction. Mohler demonstrates how the rejection of the natural created order leads to pain and confusion. The family is now one of the most broken units of society, and unless it is restored and defended daily, it will become an afterthought.

Further, the storm is gathering over future generations. Due to the collapse of the natural family, many people are marrying later and choosing to have fewer children (if any) than previous generations. Pleasure and self-fulfillment are the highest goods, and little thought is given to the future. This selfish mindset has been spread by the engines of pop culture and the entertainment industry. “The narrative we ingest,” writes Mohler, “the songs we listen to, the images on our screens have a clear, moral agenda,” and it is distorting our Christian worldview.

In addition, a storm is gathering over religious liberty. Once considered America’s first freedom, religious liberty has been reconstructed by secular and cultural elites to mean religious privilege. Mohler admonishes his readers to develop an apologetic for their faith and understand that religious freedom is the battleground for preserving the value of God, truth, and freedom.

Three Habits to Weather the Storm

So, what are the takeaways from Dr. Mohler’s new book? How do we go faithfully into the storm and weather it well?

As Christians, we have a responsibility to acknowledge why the storm has gathered—because we have forsaken God. The first step in weathering the storm is to remember the hope that is within us. Forgetting God is what got us here. Returning to God and trusting Him is the only way to restore the damage caused by these storms. This requires humility, intentionality, and endurance.

Finally, in order to go faithfully and courageously into the storm, Mohler admonishes his readers to institute three habits into their lives. First, make church the highest priority for your weekly schedule. Plan your life around the rhythms and routines of the local church. Second, take the effects and influence of technology, screens, and social media seriously. Be master of your technologies, lest they master you. Third, fill whatever home you find yourself in with the fragrance of the gospel. Promote the spiritual health of the next generation, remind yourself of God’s call on your life, and do the good works He prepared in advance for you to do.

Dr. Mohler’s book is an opportunity to teach us how to recognize the coming future storms and prepare well by responding with courage and faith. He encourages his readers to remember that while God is in control, the storm is still real. As we trust Him, let us walk faithfully and weather the storm together.

Molly Carman is a Policy and Government Affairs intern whose research focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

FRC Summer Reading List

by Dan 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).

***

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.

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