Ask the Question by Stephen Mansfield is quite a compelling book and question. He uses history to support his premise that we-the-people have a moralAsk the Question by Stephen Mansfield is quite a compelling book and question. He uses history to support his premise that we-the-people have a moral obligation to investigate any political candidate's faith, or lack thereof, in regards to how they will govern while in office.
Germans in the 1940s probably wish they had investigated Hitler's statement in "Mein Kampf" when he wrote, "I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator." Bet they believed he believed in God and acted accordingly. Mansfield lets us in on "the rest of the story". Hitler continued in his "Mein Kampf" writings, "...By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord".
Hmmm. Did you know that Hilary Clinton grew up a devout Methodist? Does she still believe the teachings from her youth? You need to know before you cast your vote for her. What she believes now is the filter she uses to make important decisions, whether in her personal life or political life.
Mitt Romney failed to gain the presidency because he refused to help Americans understand how his Mormon faith would effect his leadership. If you believe when Donald Trump's lips are moving, that he's lying; what kind of president will he be? If Ted Cruz is using dirty tactics in his bid for the White House, will he continue these actions while acting as president of the United States? Do you know what Marco Rubio believes beyond his statements that he believes in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior? We all need to ask these questions and more.
Our founding fathers fled an empire in which church and state were one. They didn't want that for their new nation. In the 1960s, Americans were afraid that if JFK became president that the Pope would be in the White House also. Our Constitutional framers didn't want religion to rule politics, but they also believed that the American people were to be trusted to "vet" their candidates and determine if the candidate's faith could lead the nation into war, upend economies or transform culture.
I end my review with a statement with which Mansfield begins, "We, too, must ask the questions of faith that need to be asked. It is time for the mysteries, the uncertainties, and the gambling with the nation's future to end."...more
First out of the gate for books that I've read this year is How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life–Changing Approach to God's Word by Kay Arthur,First out of the gate for books that I've read this year is How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life–Changing Approach to God's Word by Kay Arthur, David Arthur & Pete DeLacy. I have to admit that I cheated a bit on this one.
This book is put out by Precept Ministries, founded by Kay Arthur. I went to their website and took two of their courses: 1) Why Study the Bible Inductively and 2) Using the New Inductive Study Bible. The first one was free, the second cost me $30. It was well worth the cost. Using the book of Haggai as the text David Arthur leads you through 27 lessons that teach you how to use the New Inductive Study Bible—learning the inductive approach to Bible study is the goal of the book. So, while I did not read How to Study Your Bible word-for-word, I got the gist of it by taking the Using the New Inductive Study Bible course. I supplemented my online course with the book and found it very useful.
A review or discussion of this book without a review of the New Inductive Study Bible (NISB), would be incomplete. Shortly after buying How to Study..., I ordered a NISB in the English Standard Version (ESV) translation. I almost did New American Standard (NASB), but I've been reading ESV longer than any other translation and getting the NISB in NASB would have been purely nostalgic, as the NASB was my first Bible after I became a Christian.
I LOVE this Bible. For the first week I was hesitant to mark in it. I didn't want to mess it up. But after a few days I took the plunge. Even then I wasn't really using their marking system—more like notes in the margin. But, when I took my notes from the online course on Haggai and put them into my NISB, exciting things began to happen.
They (Precept Ministries) say that reading the Bible inductively and marking what you read will open up the Scriptures in exciting new ways and they are right! Man-O-man, I learned so much about Haggai (be honest, have you read Haggai, do you know it's message?) that I didn't have a clue about before.
Things I like about the NISB:
The single column format is my preference; The fact that each verse starts a new line makes it super easy to find verses and is the same format as my aforementioned NASB; The charts, notes and maps within the text are helpful and just enough; The ESV standard cross-references; In the Old Testament history books, parallel passages are listed in the wide margins; Oh, did I mention the wide margins? They advertise them at 11/2 inches, but my measurement is closer to 11/4 . Even so, they are nice and wide and great for jotting down notes, lists, etc. from the text. Perhaps the best part (aside from the Scripture) is the material preceding each book of the Bible: 1) a concise introduction; 2) Things To Do; 3) Things to Think About. If you follow the instructions in these sections, you will come away with a good understanding of that book. There's also a bevy of material at the beginning of the Bible (including a condensed section on How to Study.... Then at the back there are several pages for more extensive notes than I'd want to put in the margins, plus an excellent concordance.
It would be nice if the paper was a bit more opaque; I've also read in some reviews that the binding is glued, not sewn, leading to some people experiencing loose pages. So, far I haven't had that experience.
In Hebrews we read: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) This Bible, brings the Word alive for me....more
Christopher Matthews has written a very interesting tome on the rivalry between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. One reader wrote Interesting book tChristopher Matthews has written a very interesting tome on the rivalry between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. One reader wrote Interesting book that more appropriately should have been titled "Nixon's Pathological Obsession with All Things Kennedy." in his review on Goodreads and I tend to agree with that. I found myself looking forward to my daily read in this book (I read it at lunchtime) until John Kennedy was killed in Dallas. Then the book descended into a psych-eval of Richard Nixon—not a very objective psych-eval either. This book may have been written before Matthews flew off the rails into far left wing punditry1, but his bias toward all things Kennedy is apparent throughout the book, especially after Kennedy leaves the stage and Nixon is alone, lost in soliloquy hell.
Even so, I learned more about the relationship between these two men than I have in any other book. Who knew that Kennedy once contributed to Nixon's campaign for Senate? Who knew that they were friends (or at least friendly) until 1960? Who knew that Nixon, once in office, invited Jackie and her children for a private dinner at the White House?
The book is not a dual biography, though there are elements of that, especially in the beginning. Their careers in the Navy, the House and the Senate are chronicled, but the book really becomes interesting when both men run for president in 1960.
Though Matthews' favoritism toward Kennedy is evident, both men were capable leaders and I believe that history will be kind to both. Kennedy has been rated in the upper tiers of presidential rankings and I believe, that once some time has passed and Nixon's accomplishments are view objectively, his star will also rise. We're already seeing evidence of that.
One does not need to dig very deeply into Kennedy to realize that he would not recognize the Democratic party of today and would probably be more comfortable as a Republican. Kennedy disdained the "liberal elite" that began when Franklin Roosevelt was president. Kennedy wrote about Roosevelt's New Deal:
Mr. Roosevelt has contributed to the end of capitalism in our own country, although he would probably argue the point at some length. He has done this, not through the laws which he sponsored or were passed during his presidency, but brough the emphasis he put on rights rather than responsibility. (p. 40)
Kennedy called citizens to responsibility in his now famous "ask not what your country and do for you, but ask what you can do for your country" mantra in his inaugural address—he would be appalled with the welfare and entitlement programs of today.
The Kennedy of this book, in other words, is vastly different from the Kennedy of today's popular culture, where every liberal candidate for political office wants to co-op his image, glamour and heritage. But, that Kennedy does exist. Kennedy described himself as a progressive conservative.
Matthews' treatment of Nixon is even-handed, in my opinion, until he becomes president. Then Matthews turns his attention on the psych-eval of Richard Nixon and it gets ugly—most of what Matthews says is probably true, but the truth can be ugly.
Nixon was the obvious choice for president for the Republicans in 1968. There was no one of his stature within the party. Nixon, ever the astute politician, knew the presidency was pretty much his for the asking...until. Until Bobby Kennedy announced his bid for the presidency—in the same room and with the exact same words as John had used in 1960. Nixon's nightmare was coming true: another election between himself and a Kennedy. In Nixon's eye, everything came easy for the Kennedys and he would lose. Of course, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy changed everything and Nixon squeaked out a victory again Hubert Humphrey. The election of 1972 wasn't even close as Nixon coasted to victory.
Where Matthews loses credibility with me is his fascination and pre-occupation with Nixon's paranoia over a presidential run by Ted Kennedy. According to Matthews, Nixon saw the Chappaquiddick incident as his release from the specter of another Kennedy beating him for president.
In the end, Nixon's paranoia was his undoing. Nixon would have won in 1972, even if Ted Kennedy had been the candidate. But he allowed his low self-esteem and paranoia to torpedo his presidency.
Ironically, in his farewell address as president Nixon said, "Always remember, other may hate you—but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself"—Nixon's hatred and preoccupation with his enemies (Kennedys and others) destroyed him.
Nixon would live until 1994 and became somewhat a shadow-elder statesman, being called upon by his successors for advice, especially in foreign affairs. Bill Clinton, in particular, relied on Nixon.
Today, the Kennedy Center and the Watergate sit beside each other along the Potomac—like unmatched bookends. –Christopher Matthews...more
It is amazing how destiny can be altered by insanity and ego. Such is the tale in Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic, A Tale of Madness, MediciIt is amazing how destiny can be altered by insanity and ego. Such is the tale in Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic, A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President. James Abram Garfield was a remarkable man and, I believe, would have been ranked among the best of our presidents had he fulfilled his term of office. An insane assassin, Charles Guiteau and an egomaniac physician, Dr. D. Willard Bliss, saw to it that Garfield's life was cut short.
One can not help walking away from this book with a sense of loss. Loss for our country and what this man could have accomplished. The author does a fantastic job bringing James Garfield to life and making him a man, not an iconic figure on the landscape of our history.
For you see, Garfield was a rare politician. He was a man of faith and integrity, out of which grew uncommon wisdom, strength and conviction. Ironically, he did not want to be president, but the Republican convention of 1880 was so impressed with his reputation and the speech he gave nominating John Sherman, that they pressed him into the nomination. He became, in his life and in his death, the first president of the whole nation since the Civil War. In his death, the whole nation mourned, North and South alike.
The book is really an interweaving of the stories of four men: James Garfield, Charles Guiteau, Dr. Willard Bliss and Alexander Graham Bell. Millard weaves their story so skillfully that I felt like I was reading a novel.
Charles Guiteau was insane. A few passages from the book illustrate this fact:
To General Sherman:
I have just shot the president. I shot him several times, as I wished him to go easily as possible. His death was a political necessity. I am a lawyer, theologian, and politician. I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts. I was with General Grant, and the rest our men in New York during the canvas. I am going to jail. Please order out your troops, and take possession of the jail at once. Charles Guiteau1
Thus we get a glimpse into the mind of Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James Garfield.
On his way to jail after shooting Garfield...
...his mind was too preoccupied with the celebrity that awaited him. Sherman, he was confident, would soon receive his letter and send out the troops to free him, and Vice President (Chester) Arthur, overwhelmed with gratitude, would be eager to be of any assistance.2
While in jail Guiteau wrote his autobiography...
Guiteau also used his autobiography to announce his candidacy for president, a decision he believed the American people would not only welcome but actively encourage. "For twenty years, I have had an idea that I should be President," he wrote. "My idea is that I shall be nominated and elected as Lincoln and Garfield were–that is, by the act of God.... My object would be to unify the entire American people, and make them happy, prosperous and God-fearing.3
Dr. D. Willard Bliss (the "D" was for "Doctor," his first name) had an ego that left no room for other doctors to attend Garfield. Antiseptics were relatively new at the time, but Bliss did not believe in them. He wore his bloody apron as a badge of honor and he probed Garfield's wound with unsterilized fingers and instruments. The resulting infections, including his blood, lead to Garfield's death. Garfield's wounds were not fatal. Had Bliss used antiseptics Garfield would have survived. Like Reagan, a hundred years later, Garfield would have been out of commission for a few weeks, but he would have lived. This was one thing that Guiteau got right when he proclaimed that Garfield's doctors killed him, not Guiteau.
Although there were many deaths in the late nineteenth century that even the most skilled physicians had no ability to prevent, Garfield's was not one of them. In fact, following his autopsy, it became immediately and painfully apparent that, far from preventing or even delaying the president's death, his doctors very likely caused it.4
This is one book I was sorry to end. A fascinating story, told with with clarity and conviction, this book should be on every history buff's bookshelf.
Necessity being the mother of invention, the Garfield assassination brought about many firsts:
Air conditioning: Finally, a corps of engineers from the navy and a small contingem of scientists, which included Garfield's old friend, the famed explore and geologist John Wesley Powell, stepped in and designed what wong become the country's first air conditioner. –p. 178 Precursor to x–ray: Alexander Graham Bell's induction balance, a device designed to find the bullet lodged in Garfield, would have probably worked if Garfield had not been on a box spring, full of metal, which was rare in that day. Media passes: Before the trial began at 10:00 a.m., a crush of people gathered outside the courtroom, clutching tickets and staring at the closed doors. Deputy marshals wearing bright red badges surrounded the throng, checking the authenticity of their tickets and examining media passes, which, "for the first time in anyone's memory,"journalists were required to carry. –p. 238 First Presidential Library: Lucretia's (Garfield's wife) first concern, however, was for her husband's papers. She asked Joseph Stanley Brown for his help in organizing them, and she used some of the money from the fund that had been established for her to build an addition to the farmhouse. The second floor of this wing was made into a library, which would become the nation's first presidential library. –p. 255 __________________________ 1 p. 128 2 p. 136-137 3 p. 186 4 p. 253...more
The Bible's Answers to 100 of Life's Biggest Questions by Norman L. Geisler & Jason Jimenez arrived the other day from Baker Books. I'm signed upThe Bible's Answers to 100 of Life's Biggest Questions by Norman L. Geisler & Jason Jimenez arrived the other day from Baker Books. I'm signed up to be a reviewer/blogger.
First, this is not a book that one sits down and reads cover to cover. As the title suggests, it's a question and answer book.
Second, I love the way the questions are presented. The book is divided into twelve parts:
Questions about God and Truth Questions about Creation, Science, and the Bible Questions about Jesus and the Holy Spirit Questions about Sin and Salvation Questions about Heaven and Hell Questions about Angels and Demons Questions about the Church and End Times Questions about the Christian Life Questions about Moral and Ethical Issues Questions about Culture and Politics Questions about Worldviews and World Religions Questions about Family Each question is a chapter consisting of:
The question The answer Application Bible References Books (suggested) Website DVD Online Video The chapters are short, concise and to the point. They are not meant be comprehensive or the final word on any of these questions; merely starting points. The Scripture references, suggested books, websites, DVDs and online video are for a more thorough explanation of the topic.
This is not a preachy book, nor does it compromise on the truth. It will appeal to both believers and non-believers alike. In fact, the sample questions they post on the cover will appeal to non-believers:
Would a loving God really send people to hell? Are science and the Bible compatible? What is truth? Did God choose me or did I choose him? Are miracles possible? How can Jesus be both God and man? Sproul's book Sproul's book I know that when I was an unbeliever, that those questions would have appealed to me. I will be keeping this book handy and referring to it time and time again, just as I do RC Sproul's book Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. I have used Sproul's book, on occasion, as a sort of devotional, as those chapters are short also. I could see doing the same thing with 100, and may do so sometime in the future. If I do I will be sure to blog about it....more
This is a review of the book Not a Chance: God, Science and the Revolt Against Reason by R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison. This review was written by myThis is a review of the book Not a Chance: God, Science and the Revolt Against Reason by R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison. This review was written by my wife, as she was the one who read the book. Her review:
Do you like rhetoric? Philosophy? Arguing a point ad nauseum? Then, you will love this book. Do you like to think deep thoughts? Come across big words only academics use? Again, this book is for you.
Sproul and Mathison spend the first four chapters just on debunking the word "chance." The following are some of the arguments the authors voice:
Faulty assumptions lead to erroneous conclusions. Self-creation is logically impossible. Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality & no place in scientific inquiry. Chance must be demythologized once and for all.
It took them 223 pages to conclude: What are the odds that something can come from absolutely nothing? There is not a chance.
My opinion—this book was not written for the general public....more
This book is subtitled "The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman" and it is so aptly titled. This book is a bit of a tangled mess. They say that,This book is subtitled "The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman" and it is so aptly titled. This book is a bit of a tangled mess. They say that, in a speech, you're to tell your audience what you're going to say, say it and then review it. Might be a good strategy in speeches, not so much in books. The book is divided into three sections: Military Strategist, The General and His Army, The Man and His Families. As you can imagine, there's a lot of repeated material throughout the book. For the record, I'm not a fan of this type of biography. Just give me a beginning to end storyline. This book could have been (at least) a third shorter if the author had given us a traditional biography.
That being said, it is a good book. Sherman comes shining through the pages of this book. He was a brilliant strategist, handed the press well, always spoke his mind and was wise in his dealings with all sort of problems and people. Although he declined running for public office, I think he would have made a great president.
The author contends that "William Tecumseh Sherman's central historical importance is derived from his role in the physical consolidation of transcontinental America." I have to disagree. Stephen Ambrose, in his book on the building of the transcontinental railroad, "Nothing Like It in the World," puts Grenville Dodge front and center of the action. However involved and however important Sherman was to the completion of the railroad, I think his 'central historical importance' is summed up by the author at the end of the first section of this book, when he writes, "The Confederacy was an idea, and Sherman trampled it relentlessly—its symbols, its institutions, its pride—bled the life out of it, and replaced it with hopelessness. That's the way to win." That, to me, is Sherman's legacy. If the Civil War had been lost, the Federal government would not have had the fortitude to build the transcontinental railroad. And Sherman, as much as Grant, as much as Lincoln, won that war. The author states that "Sherman had played a key role in winning the Civil War"—I think that's understated. Sherman destroyed the Deep South's will to fight. Using might, strategy and psychological warfare, he replaced their arrogance with hopelessness. "...one soldier caught the mood of most when he berated a merchant whose store was on fire: 'Say, did you and your folks think of this when you hurrahed for secession before the war?'" Sherman's actions after the fall of Atlanta did more to demoralize the South than any other event in those four years. "In a matter of four months, he had brazenly paraded an army of sixty thousand through six hundred miles of enemy territory, taking what was wanted and daring any one to stop them."
While I recommend this book, I think that other biographies of this man are more succinct and offer a more balanced view of his career—such works as Lee Kennett's "Sherman: A Soldier's Life" come to mind....more
I just finished If Kennedy Lived by Jeff Greenfield. This is an alternative history book, subtitled The First and Second Terms of President John F. KeI just finished If Kennedy Lived by Jeff Greenfield. This is an alternative history book, subtitled The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy.
I found myself so mesmerized by the book that I forgot it was a work of fiction—so I think the author succeeded in painting an realistic picture of what a completed presidency of John F. Kennedy might have been like. Greenfield makes liberal use of actual quotes from historical figures, but not necessarily in the their real setting. This adds a bit of realism to the work.
You may not want to read further if you don't want elements of the plot revealed.
Greenfield postulates that Kennedy would have:
--recovered from his wounds in Dallas, creating a favorability bounce much like Reagan received in 1981. --skillfully removed troops from Vietnam, effectively eliminating the protest movement and all the ugliness that went with it. --dropped LBJ from the 1964 ticket, mostly because of financial malfeasance that was to surface against Johnson. --moved his brother from Attorney General to Secretary of Defense. --survived an attempt, by the military establishment, to discredit him by revealing his affairs. --by the end of his term in 1968, his physical maladies would have caught up with him and he'd be wheel-chair bound in private. --that Jackie would, at the end of his term, basically leave him to live and work in publishing in New York City.
The end of the book acknowledges that anyone of these events might have gone a different direction, that this is just one possibility. One of the final chapters is entitled A Different Country—But How Different? Greenfield drives home the point that the country would really not have been that different in 1968—at least politically. In the 1968 election the candidates are Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon Ronald Reagan. We're left to speculate on who would have won—my money would be on Reagan.
This is not a varnished portrayal of JFK by any stretch of the imagination. This is Kennedy warts and all. A lesser book would have had Robert Kennedy running for President in 1968 and winning. This is not that book. This book explores a plausible path that history may have taken if JFK had survived that day in Dallas. I'd give it a four and a half stars out of five....more
Few books leave me in tears like this book did at the end—happy tears, but tears. This is not my typical genre, but I am so glad I picked this book upFew books leave me in tears like this book did at the end—happy tears, but tears. This is not my typical genre, but I am so glad I picked this book up. M.L. Stedman has a way with words! She was able to make me feel as I knew these characters, really knew them.
I was hooked in the first chapter and almost dismayed when she did back story in subsequent chapters, but in hindsight, it was necessary to build up the characters and make them "real." The book seems to have three parts—an almost idyllic happy time, a dark period and redemption. I won't say more than that for fear of giving too much away. I almost gave up at the beginning of what I'm calling the dark–period, but I'm glad I persevered, as the redemption was more than satisfying.
If you get a chance, pick this book up, you won't be disappointed....more