Thursday, May 23, 2019

Quote of the Day

(On Ephesians 1:15)
There is also gratefulness expressed in his prayer to God for their love expressed 'to all the saints'.  This gratefulness is not just for 'love' being shown and demonstrated, but that it is non-discriminatory among the 'saints' - there is not preferring one above another (Just as a parent is heartened to see their children loving each other equally and not neglecting some)  Knowing what we already know (of what God has done on our behalf) and the uniting us together into one purpose as family (and as a 'team', our understanding of this will draw us toward each other as fellow beneficiaries of God's grace, called to a special purpose together. It is not our distinctions that unite us,but our common likeness (in Christ) and our unified calling - we have the same purpose and so find our love for one another understandable.

- Don Lambert
From his Ephesians sermon series:  http://www.dansvillebaptist.org/ephesians.html

See more quotes on my quote collection blog: https://snickerdoodlesquotes.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The British Are Coming - by Rick Atkinson




This book is the first of a trilogy of the American Revolution.  I am reading it aloud with my sister, we haven't finished it yet (are halfway through), but I want to write a review now as I know the book is just being released and I want to recommend it.  We are really enjoying it.   

The book takes you chapter by chapter through the war, each usually focusing on a different place either in America or other countries (Canada and Britain).  The book takes you, in a detailed way, through the war.  Focusing on various battles, moving you around the scope of the war so that you can observe the various conflicts, battles and political discussions and decisions in various places and on both sides of the conflict.

The author introduces you to various people involved, Including Franklin, Washington, Adams, and men on the other side, like King George III, Generals Gage, Howe, Carleton and Burgoyne. And you don't just get acquainted with the famous people, also lesser known people, some of whom live and some of whom die.

Atkinson is an excellent writer. While keeping a high level overview of the history, he still manages to pull you in and make you feel for the people involved and, in a way, makes you feel that you are viewing events with them.  I think that part of how he manages to pull that off is because he peppers his sentences and paragraphs with snippet quotations from official documents and the writings (from letters and diaries) of individual people of that era, contemporary eyewitnesses and commentators.  He'll of often start a sentence off in his own words and then conclude it, or intersperse it, with snippet quotes from a person involved.  Here are a couple of samples:

"Books and manuscripts fed British stoves, and many officers agreed with Captain Glanville Evelyn, who told his father he hoped all of Boston burned 'that we may be enabled to leave it.'"

"Prescott was among the last to escape, 'stepping long, with his sword up,' parrying bayonet thrusts that snagged his banyan but not his flesh.  Peter brown scrambled over the wall and ran for half a mile; musket balls, he told his mother, 'few like hail stones'  Captain Bancroft fought his way out, first with a musket butt, then with his fists, bullets nicking his hat and coat and shearing off his left forefinger.  Corporal Farnsworth of Groton would tell his diary, 'I received a wound in my right arm…'"

 It was fascinating to observe the actions and thoughts on both sides of the conflict. As I said, this book is very interesting. Seeing the big picture and learning about the little details as well.  It was really hitting me, perhaps more than ever before, that waging war back then was a really tough thing to do.  Not only did one have to make sure one was supplied well with arms, munition, food, clothing..etc.  But also one had to battle the elements and disease.  One of the biggest enemies of the Americans was the Smallpox.  It really started devastating the American troops in Canada, it was horrible reading about how they couldn't help the people dying of smallpox, lying in their dying moments infested with maggots and other vermin.  It was simply horrible thinking about dying like that.  The men had to battle unique individual ailments as well.  Such as kidney stones and headaches.  It's funny…I never really thought about that before, that a headache or an attack of  kidney stones could take key officers out of a battle, or just make it much harder to deal with the pressures they already faced.  It's sort of a 'duh' thought, but I had just not considered it before.

Many other little details were fascinating too.  Even lists of things were interesting. Lists of stockpiles of food and supplies, lists of dumped and destroyed things (so that the enemy couldn't utilize it). And then other details, for instance, apparently Benjamin Franklin had advocated that the military use the Longbow, which struck me as odd at first, but then made more sense because it took the guns of the day so long to be loaded.  His proposal was rejected though.  And then, as I believe I've mentioned, the authors include mentions of many people's opinions and perspectives from that time period, even briefly mentioning one man in particular whom I never quite associated with the events in America, the preacher John Wesley.  He was against the Americans but not sure about using force to bring them around.  Things like that just made it seem more real.

There are bits that are somewhat funny as well, like this snippet: "The western riflemen typically wore deerskin trousers and leaf-dyed hunting shirts, with a buck's tail affixed to the hat and a scalping knife sheathed on the belt.  Many had 'liberty or death' printed in  large white script over their hearts, although one young rifleman admitted to preferring  'liberty or wounded'."

Anyway, I should end this now as I want to recommend this book, not write a book about it myself.  All in all, this book is very, very interesting and informative. Quite an intriguing learning experience.

Many thanks to the folks at Henry Holt (via a LibraryThing giveaway) for sending me a free advanced review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable).  Since my copy was an advanced copy, the content of the published version may not be exactly the same as the copy I have.

*Some people may want to know that there is some foul language and blasphemy in this book (Mainly from direct quotations of people at the time).  Also, I did not agree with all of the author's political views (For instance, his comment that American's had and have a "penchant for subjugating those deemed in need of deliverance"?)  But I am able to overlook it and focus on the history.

This book may be purchased at Amazon.com

Friday, April 26, 2019

Church - A. W. Tozer



This book, Church, by A. W.Tozer is a collection of his insights on the topic. He deals with, The Organization of the church, the character of the church, communion of the church, witness of the church…etc. 

There isn't a lot of, how shall I put it? Detailed information.   It may have interest for some people, but I didn't find it very intriguing.  I guess it just seemed like more of a devotional type of work.  It didn't seem particularly expository in any given part.

And I had trouble with several things,

He made statements that kind of confused me, like:

"…would you reach out your hand by faith and pull the Holy Spirit in unto you?  It would make a great and wonderful difference in your life. I've seen it happen and there's no reason why it can't happen for you if you fully obey."
So…faith is not a gift from God/The Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit waits for me to produce faith and good works and then just enters into my life as a companion, not Someone who is working in me to incline me to do good works and to believe?

"Living under the circumstances you do and living on the high level you live, you ought to have somebody in Korea, Austria or somewhere whom you are feeding - at least one person in addition to supporting your missions and your church, and paying your taxes." What if I just feed my family and help out members of my church family with the bills?  What if we don't have the money to spend for Missions overseas but each member of the church finds opportunities to evangelize those without God in their own God-given sphere of influence?

And then, speaking of Jonathan Edwards, he "wasn't a faultless man.  He was a man who made mistakes made so many blunders that they actually threw him out of his church on one of occasion.  And he was in trouble.  He was not a perfect man…".  Not that Edwards was perfect and that he didn't make mistakes, it's just I don't understand why Tozer seemed to think that Edwards was legitimately kicked out of his church. If I remember correctly, Edwards had rebuked certain people for living in sin and had not allowed certain ones partake of the Lord's table because he didn't think that they were Christians.  Perhaps others would have approached the matter differently, but I don't think these were blunders on his part.

"Deacons are supposed to be young men……they were the ones who did the work around the church…You remember Ananias and Saphira when they died?  Remember who carried them out?  The deacons, the young men carried them out."  That one was just…weird. Why not old men?

There was some good stuff in the book, but overall it wasn't a book that I found particularly interesting and informative.

Many thanks to the folks at MP Newsroom for sending me a free review copy of this book.  My review did not have to be favorable.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

This book may be purchased at Amazon.com and Christianbook.com



Thursday, April 11, 2019

Lt. General William K. Harrison Jr.




I first heard of William K. Harrison Jr. on the radio some time ago.  He was being used as an example of someone who made sure he read the word of God every day, even when things got really busy; and things were really busy in his life, as it was noted that this man was a general in World War II.

 Not a lot of information was given, but that piqued my interest. But I was sort of afraid he'd be some sort of nominal Christian guy who just read his Bible for just for the sake of 'morality', rather than being the real deal.

I tried to find more information about him, and discovered some articles that he had written


And the other one is "May A Christian Serve in the Military".  I'll give an excerpt from that one here: 

From the section in that article,  "The Real Cause of War".
"From a Biblical standpoint the answer is simple. The world is dead in sin. Lust, plunder, and war are the natural characteristics of the human race, dead and lost in sin (Romans 1:18-32). Many good Christians seek to eliminate war by dressing up the outside of the cup, seeking to cure the apparent causes of war. The real cause of war is in the sinful heart of man. The Lord said that except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Being born again is a miracle. It comes only when one believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and as the Son of God. People believe when they hear the gospel. Never has the preaching of the gospel succeeded in converting more than a portion of hearers at any one time.

Even at Pentecost in the great city of Jerusalem only 3,000 believed at the most wonderful exhibition of gospel power in church history. The rapid growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire resulted first in the persecution of Christians, and then ultimately in the decay of spiritual Christian life into the dark ages of medieval centuries. The Protestant Reformation did not produce more than a partial awakening. Today there is an apostasy from the simple, pure Word of God and faith in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God and the only Savior.

We are not called to preach the gospel to save the world from war and crime. We can preach the gospel all we want to, but only a few believe. Christ said that broad is the way that leads to destruction and many are they that find it, and narrow is the way that leads to life and few are they that find it. The preaching of the gospel is to them who are saved a savor unto life, unto them who are lost a savor unto death. The Scriptures say that God is now taking out a people for His name. I can find no place in the Scripture where it intimates that the preaching of the gospel of grace will succeed in converting the world.

On the other hand, it does say that the gospel should be preached to all the world as a witness…."

Those articles made me curious to know more about this guy.  I did some research on the internet, and there was only a bit of information.  The end of the above articles give a short summary of who Harrison was:  "Lieutenant General William K. Harrison, Jr., retired in 1956 after forty four years in the Army. He was assistant division commander of the 30th Infantry Division, rated by General S.L.A. Marshall as the best division in the European Theater during World War II. He was chief U.N. negotiator at Panmunjom, Korea, and subsequently served as commander in chief of the Caribbean Command. General Harrison served as president of OCF from 1954-1972 and as president emeritus from 1972 until his death in 1987."

Wikipedia didn't have much more information.  But I found that there was a biography of Harrison called, "A Man Under Orders"by D. Bruce Lockerbie.  It was published in 1979,is out of print, and the copies I was finding were rather expensive (I think one of the ones I found was $60), even its "list price" is absurd, $1000 something dollars. 

Instead, I found book about the 30th division that he was assistant commander of in World War II.  The book is, "OldHickory: The 30th Division: The Top-Rated American Infantry Division in Europein World War II" by Robert Baumer.  The book was quite interesting in and of itself (you can buy it on Amazon), and Harrison is mentioned quite a bit, though it doesn't really go into his beliefs. But it was interesting to see how much of a leader he was and how courageous. Baumer says, "He would become one of the most frequently seen general officers of WWII in the front lines with his men, and widely admired for his courage."

The author, Robert Baumer, apparently read my review of his book, and he noticed that I had mentioned that I was having difficulties finding a copy of Harrison's biography.  The author messaged me and said that he had a copy of the book that he didn't need anymore, and that he'd send it to me.  It was very, very kind of him. 

So I read the book, and loved it.  Or rather, loved to see what God did in the life of this man.

He was a Christian for most of his life, and God's sanctification of him usually involved his not getting what he wanted. Harrison's aspiration was to use his leadership skills as a soldier.  During World War I, when he graduated from West Point, he wanted to go be sent from there to France, but was instead sent to Arizona to guard the border.  Then, he was assigned to teach languages at West Point.  "While Harrison kept himself respectable in the classroom, his heart had never been teaching foreign languages.  He felt as though he were wasting time. To amuse himself, he turned to puzzling out problems in tactics doing his best not to atrophy as a soldier."   He learned how to teach well, and this served him well later, he became "renowned" for his teaching of troops.  And God kept teaching him submission by giving him tasks that he didn't want.

As mentioned above, he liked solving tactics problems, and he liked coming up with solutions to other military problems as well, just for fun and to keep his military mind sharp.  Even that came in handy later on. 

I was very interested to find that God pivotally used him in World War II.  Two events really stand out.  First, a little before America entered the war, he was assigned to General Marshall's Committee on Allocation of Responsibilities which was given the job of figuring out a reorganization of the Army High command (which was in great disarray).  This especially needed to be done in case war broke out. After weeks of the other members wrangling and disagreeing about how to do it, Harrison, who had kept pretty quiet most of the time, said that he had the solution to the problem.  And that afternoon, dug though the papers he had doodled on for fun and found one that he had done several months earlier. ""On a single sheet of paper, he had sketched out a plan to reorganize the United States Army." He edited it a little and presented it the next day. And that was the plan the committee ended up going with.  Asa result of this, he was promoted to Brigadier General.  A few years later, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for having come up with the plan.

He ended up becoming assistant commander of the 30th infantry division.  His commander, Hobbs, turned over his own responsibility of training the troops over to Harrison.  The top commander was supposed to do that but Hobbs apparently didn't want that responsibility.  Harrison did the job well.  And then when they went overseas, he seemed to be the real leader of the men.  Harrison was one of the "most seen generals on the battlefield".  He did most of the legwork for Hobbs and loved to lead from the front.

The second pivotal thing he did that God used to really help the Allies, came in the midst of disaster. Having arrived in France , The 30th Infantry Division was going to participate in Operation Cobra, which, was to push further into France.  This operation was to begin with a major saturation bombing of the enemy with the troops then moving in afterward. On the day it was to begin, Harrison was with the men up front.  To the men's surprise, the planes (whose pilots didn't have an accurate visual) bombed their own men.  They started firing back at their own planes. The invasion didn't take place that day. They tried again the next day, but the SAME THING happened.  More than 600 of the men had been hit. Harrison, who was with the men again, was almost killed, surviving "an almost direct hit from not one but two bombs". he was thrown down but unharmed. His initial response was out of character, he was very angry, and screamed up at the pilots, calling them an indecent name. I wish that the biographer, who included a lot of dialogue from interviews he'd had with Harrison, would have had Harrison comment on his bad response, which I'm sure he wouldn't have condoned.  Anyway, he calmed down pretty quick though.

 The attack still had to happen, and so, despite many of  their own men being dead or wounded from the friendly fire, Harrison successfully pushed the men forward.  I'll let the Distinguished Service Cross he received later on for this action sum it up. His citation read, "On 25 July 1944, General Harrison quickly reorganized the leading elements of his division which had previously become disorganized by the bombing of friendly aircraft. Realizing that the success of the entire operation depended on the 30th infantry Division carrying out its mission, General Harrison, with complete disregard for his personal safety and unselfish devotion to duty, accompanied the demoralized troops as they began their advance. Through his valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack, General Harrison inspired the men to a successful completion of their mission."

A Brigadier General, Stewart L. Hall, who was the 30th Divisions Intelligence chief said, "I believe it was General Harrison's example at that instant that turned the tide3 of the war in the early days of the fighting in Normandy."

Anyway, despite all his hard work, he still didn't get the recognition/promotion that he wanted.  It was when he was wounded some time later(from being up at the front again) that he realized that he had become proud, "Being wounded and out of action became a pivotal incident in Harrison's life, as he himself concedes. 'You see,' he admits, 'I'd been kidding myself all along that I was working to serve God.  But I'm very human, and without my realizing it, I was really striving for myself.  I was particularly upset because, I guess, my abilities as the next Napoleon weren't being recognized.  I knew, and I think my men knew, who was responsible for making the 30th Infantry Division everything it was cracked up to be.  But I was still only the Assistant Division Commander.  My pride made me forget God altogether.'"  He refocused and got back to work with a better perspective.

After the war, he was still  assigned to jobs he didn't really want.  He was summoned to  Japan, "…Harrison was surprised and dismayed to learn that he had not been assigned to a division; rather, he had been personally selected by Macarthur to be executive for economic affairs, then later chief of the Reparations section, Allied Powers' General Headquarters."

And then, when trouble broke out in North and South Korea, Harrison wanted to be assigned to duty in the battle zone, but instead, upon being called to Washington, "he was informed that he had been appointed chief of the Army-Air Force Troop Information and Education Division, another desk job." He was responsible for "propaganda and university extension courses." Still, he did his best in the job, recognizing Who had given it to him:  "What did I know about education or propaganda! Nothing, and I cared even less!  But I figured God wanted me doing that job, or else He wouldn't have placed me there."

A bit later he was assigned to be in command of a training center. He liked training soldiers better than the propaganda job he had had, though it still wasn't the battlefield.  Near the end of 1951, he finally was about to get, what he thought was, his chance to be in the action.  He was appointed Deputy Commander of the 8th Army.    He was finally going to the front.  After a few weeks of inspection tours to acquaint himself with the situation, he was interrupted by another job assignment.  That of being on the Truce team.

This was yet another job he didn't want, and a job that he didn't really agree should be done at this point.  He thought that it would be futile and that they should conquer the North Koreans before negotiating a deal.  But again, God had given him this job, so he needed to do it to the best of his ability.

"Ever since he had been a little boy, Harrison had been preparing himself for a major command in the army.  As Mark Clark says of him, 'Bill was always a cavalry man looking for that chance to shock the enemy with a charge.' But his ambition had never been fulfilled; his skill as a field commander never recognized and so, never tested.  Instead, at the climax of his service, his country called upon him to exercise every other quality for which he had been schooled.  Where a cavalry charge would have failed, lessons learned in the drudgery of bureaus, sections, committees, boards, and other General Staff desk jobs succeeded.  In the always astonishing providence of God, those very traits that Harrison's long years of varied duties had taught him - patience tact, analytical incisiveness, and a resilient spirit buoyed by faith - were what he most needed at Pammujom."

It was a very tough job, but Harrison was able to show the North Koreans that he meant business.  As everyone knows, a sort of deal was reached and has been in place ever since.  Harrison has been in the news, in a way lately, with the heightened conflict with South Korea this past year or two, news articles have revisited the original Armistice along with pictures of Harrison signing it  (sitting at the table on the left in this picture).



I do want to warn about some things though.  Harrison seemed quite staunch in his Christianity, but then there is this excerpt from the book:  "But while he did not use his rank to promote religious activities within the Division, he did what he could to encourage the work of chaplains.  When he found a chaplain doing his best to help the men by raising their morale - whether Harrison agreed with him theologically or not - he encouraged him to carry on."  I didn't quite know what to make of that. I suppose if they were just raising morale fine…but I'm hoping that he didn't encourage any chaplains who have major theological/soteriological differences, like Roman Catholicism (which teaches that Jesus Christ is not the only Mediator between God and man, along with other unbiblical  things).   

I also want to note that there is some swearing and vulgar language in this book.
  
But overall I really liked the account. It's so nice to read of brave soldiers who fought well.  But I truly admire Christian soldiers, as they are the ones with true bravery.  True bravery isn't merely conquering fear, it's trust in God, that all things really do work out for good for His people, conforming them to the image of Christ (Rom 8:28-29).  It's really sad reading about brave men who risk their lives for their country when you realize that they are not Christian, and that they would go straight to Hell if they died.  When you think about it, from a biblical perspective, the bravery of non Christian soldiers is insanity because they ultimately either don't think about God, or trust in their own good works or something other than Christ, and have no overriding fear of meeting their Maker. Even if the military person makes it through war, if he still doesn't become a Christian, it's horribly sad when he dies even just of old age. But that's not the case when you read that a Christian died. It makes me think of the verse, "The Lord takes no delight in the death of the wicked" (Ezek 33:11) in contrast to "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints"( Psalm 116:15)

The biography was written while Harrison was still alive (I think he was in his 80s at the time). But he was still living a life of faith at the time, and it sounds as though he did until the end when he went to be with the Lord in 1987. Harrison was a Christian, he trusted in God and knew that God had taken care of his sin, and so was brave in the midst of danger, knowing that God was in control of whatever happened.  That is true bravery.  God-given bravery. And even the monotonous parts of his life were inspiring because he trusted God even in those, doing his best with whatever God gave him to do.  It truly was encouraging to read about God's work in this man's life.

I hope that the book is republished again sometime (maybe without the bad language). Right now there are some more copies available for sale (lowest is $100 right now)on Amazon. But I have found that it is also available to read/digitally borrow for free online at OpenLibrary.  


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Quote of the Day

"Far from our personalities being like eye color (something you are born with and can't do anything about), our personalities are something that God gave us so that we would have something to put on the alter and offer to Him…We are naturally full of instincts and desires that are contrary to what God wants us doing.  That means that those things are something to obey with, not something to obey around."

Rachel Jankovic
From her book: You Who: Why You Matter and How to Deal With It.

See more quotes on my quote collection blog: https://snickerdoodlesquotes.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sick of Me - by Whitney Capps



I think it was the cover of this book that really caught my attention.  It shows a girl with her face scribbled out. Sick of Me: From Transparency to Transformation by Whitney Capps attacks the current fad, in American Christianity, of presenting ourselves to each other in all our weakness. Of course, Capps doesn't think that admitting our faults is a bad thing, the problem is that we don't want to change. We are happy in staying in our unchanged, broken state, and ironically, using it as a springboard for glorying in ourselves rather than in Jesus Christ.  As the author states, "The Christian life is never meant to make people think more or better of me.  The goal is for me to look more like Christ, and, should people happen to notice me in the process, for them to think more of Jesus.  "

But that of course, is not biblical and it is not godly.  This book addresses that quite well.  If we are truly convicted about something, we won't feel comfortable not doing anything, besides confessing, about our flaw.   "Conviction never leaves us stuck in sin, but always moves us toward change."   And she explains that with our salvation comes our transformation.  We don't want to be people just concerned about "holy dying", as she terms it, and not concerned about "holy living".

But there were things that I didn't feel comfortable with. For instance, Capps uses some romantic illustrations to picture our work along with the Lord in sanctification: "When I look back on my spiritual journey - the dance I have with the Lord…..Sometimes I would break dance when the Lord was trying to lead me to waltz.  I resisted the gentle pull of His arms, pushing Him away so I could do my own thing." And then again, "You guys, we weren't made to dance alone, and we weren't made to simply observe.  We were made to dance with Jesus.  That's the process.  Will we step on  His toes from time to time? Sure…" Sanctification is not a romance between us and the Lord.  Yes, the Church is to be kept pure, as a bride for her husband, for Christ, but it's not pictured in the Bible as Christ romantically pursuing individual Christians.  And sanctification is more like warfare (aren't we told to put on the armor of God?), not a romance where we stumble in the dance and resist the lover's lead.

And then another thing I felt uncomfortable were statements like this, "Yes, the dance of sanctification is God's to lead.  It's His process.  But even the strongest partner can't lead if His partner won't follow."  That doesn’t make sense to me. The much stronger partner (to use the analogy)can't drag the other along? Or just pick them up? What about the discipline of the Lord? That doesn't involve any kind of force? God never makes His children do something against their will for their own good? I'm hoping that this not what Capps means, but it's how it can be taken.

Anyway, it was things like those that made me not like the book as much as I thought I would.  There is still quite a bit of good stuff in it, it's just that there were various things in it that kept bugging me.

I'll end with a couple of quotes I really liked:

"More than any person in history, Moses was equipped for God's assignment.  But God used forty years of wilderness wandering to strip Moses of his self-confidence.  He didn't need Moses' qualifications, and He doesn't need ours. ….Friend, when God wants to use us, He rarely affirms us; He always affirms Himself."

"Look at the lie the devil is selling.  Don't let the gospel do its work. Don't show them that this thing really works.  Don't live like Jesus can actually change your life for the better.  And for sure don't give evidence or testimony to the fact!"

Many thanks to the folks at B&H Academic for sending me a free review copy of this book.  My review did not have to be favorable


My Rating 3 out of 5 Stars
***

This book may be purchased at Christianbook.com and Amazon.com



Quote of the Day

"We don't want to be like Jesus because we like plain old us better.  We value what we see as our uniqueness apart from Him.  On some level, we are all tempted to believe that we ourselves, even in our sin, are more interesting than we would be in Christ……On one hand, this is what reveals our darkest bit of idolatry- our desire to cling to Me, no matter what.  Rather me in in sin than Him in me.  This is ultimately hell; being left to ourselves and our desires, and being given free reign."  

Rachel Jankovic
From her book: You Who: Why You Matter and How to Deal With It.

See more quotes on my quote collection blog: https://snickerdoodlesquotes.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Moon Mission - Sigmund Brouwer




Want a book about mankind's challenging journey to the Moon that will interest kids? Moon Mission: The Epic 400 -Year Journey to Apollo 11 by Sigmund Brouwer is a very interesting book.  I read it with a couple of my sisters and we were all very interested in it. 

The book is divided into eleven "Episodes" ( they're basically Chapters), Episode One: Countdown, Episode Two: Liftoff, Episode Three: Escaping Earth…etc.  Each Episode has three sections, or "Stages". 

The First Stage of each episode puts you on Apollo 11 as one of the astronauts.  It addresses you as an astronaut, explaining what you are experiencing in each stage of your journey, and what you know and do.  "The three of you are in bulky space suits in the CSM, still strapped into position, flying upside down.  Except now there is no up or down…." 

Stage Two introduces you to various historical people that made it possible for 'you' to travel to the moon.  Isaac Newton's three laws of motion, Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, and several other discoveries. Stage Three gives you more information about various space travel related topics, with titles like, "Gravity- The Force Is With You (And Against You)", "Columbia's Primitive On-Board Computer", "The Moon is not a Giant Ball", and so on. 

There are also small boxes on pages in each "Episode" entitled "Solve the Science Mystery".  They give a short synopsis of a problem faced in the past, for instance, the problem of not being able to determine  longitude very accurately, "The British government passes the Longitude Act and offers, in today's currency, nearly $4 million U.S. to anyone who can invent a device to accurately measure global position going east to west or west to east.  The future of human exploration - including the epic journey to the moon - depends on your solution to the problem.  Who are you, and what was your solution?" The answer to the various mysteries are given in other small boxes at the end of each chapter where they reveal the name of the person.  "Congratulations, Margaret Hamilton!" They give a summary of what the person invented or discovered presenting it as if the reader was that person. …"You won the NASA exceptional Space Act Award for this work…" It seemed a little weird to write these sections in the Second Person…but okay. 

All of the sections were written very well, and included gross stuff and humor that teenagers and kids will appreciate.  "A Moose, A Golden Nose and a Burst Bladder" is the title of one of the stage two sections, guaranteed to intrigue pretty much any curious kid (at least if they're like my brothers and sisters).  

Many of my blog readers will want to know that the book assumes that the "Big Bang" and evolution theories are true.  But we were able to overlook and/or critique those parts. It was fascinating to find though that our landing on the moon did not help solve the 'mystery' of how the moon was formed.  It actually debunked most of the evolutionary/big bang theories of how the moon was formed, and the books notes that ,in a one way, landing on the moon led people to realize that they knew less about the formation of the moon than they did before landing.  That provided some interesting discussion amongst myself and my sisters.

Also, parents may want to know that the book details how Astronauts 'used the bathroom' in space.  It wasn't anatomically descriptive at all…just kind of gross and awkwardly weird to be reading aloud about.  It probably is a question that many would have though: how WOULD one use the bathroom in zero gravity?

Also, there was a part that seemed to contradict what we had read in another book about Apollo 11, about the timing of when the astronauts noticed the broken switch needed to ignite the engine, and when they had the idea to fix it, to return to the Columbia from the Moon's surface.  Just be aware that this book may take some liberties with history (mainly in the Stage One parts where 'you' are the astronaut) in order to make it more dramatic.

But all in all, this was a very interesting book. I really like it and I'm pretty positive kids and teenagers will as well.  There are many pictures and photographs throughout. At first, I was rather disappointed  that they're all in black and white, but as I started reading, I realized that it didn't matter, because the excellent writing style added 'color' to them, as it were.  All in all though, it is a very entertaining and informative book.  It is crammed full of information, but written in such a way that you don't realize all of the knowledge you are imbibing.    

Many thanks to the folks at Kids Can Press for sending me a free advanced review copy of this book! (Because this is an and advanced copy, some of the content and layout may be different in the final publication). My review did not have to be favorable.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

This book may be preordered at Amazon.com

Friday, March 1, 2019

Shoot For the Moon - by James Donovan





Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan is a truly riveting book. I read it out loud to one of my sisters and we were both pretty glued to it. We read it over the space (no pun intended) of about three or four days.  We have never really read a book about the race to space and this book was a good introduction to it all.

As the title implies, it details the space race between the Russians and Americans to get someone into space, and on the moon, first and thus doing it as fast as possible.

The timeline is a little mixed up, but it works.  Generally speaking, the account is heading toward the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. But first, you are going to learn how this all got started.  You learn how NASA came into being and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, and details about the efforts of both the Russians and the Americans just to get out of our planet's atmosphere. It is quite intense at times.  The author writes very well, and, as I already mentioned, he really pulled my sister and I into the history.

Even the little details and challenges faced were fascinating to learn. I'll give several of them here: For instance, part of the problem faced by the designers of the first space crafts to exit our atmosphere was how to return them to earth safely without them burning up in the descent.  Part of what helped them was noticing what type of meteors made it all the way through the earth's atmosphere to the earth, "So when two of Faget's colleagues, Harvey Allen and Alfred Eggers, pointed out that meteors with rounded noses were aerodynamically stable and survived the searing heat of the plunge - they had been studying the concept for years…"  And another one: I'd never really considered that they had to use military/battlefield rockets to get into space.  It makes sense of course now.  And because the astronauts, upon reentry might end up landing anywhere on earth, they had to have survival training in a variety of environments.   I'll give one last interesting detail, while on their way to the moon they would put their spaceship into a rotation, essentially, spinning their way to the moon.  Why? Because the side facing the sun was too hot and could cause damage to the craft, but the side facing away from the sun was too cold and could also be a hazard, so in order to even it out they would put it into a spin. 

Along the way, you are introduced to various people who took part in this grand mission to get a man on the moon. Donovan vividly portrays this large mix of individuals with, sometimes vastly, different backgrounds (one of the important men involved was a former SS officer who ended up on some Disney television presentations!), all using their various skills to work together to achieve one goal.

All in all, I really liked this book.  It really keeps the attention and interest all of the way through.* It really did almost seem as though we'd travelled back in time, as it were, to these historic events. 

One more note.  It is fascinating for me to mull over the thought that, though God stopped people thousands of years ago from building the Tower of Babel, yet in the past hundred years, He has allowed us to go to the Moon.  When you learn that the Apollo 8 astronauts were the first to leave earth's orbit and go around the moon, it almost gives me chills to think that, when they looked out of the window and saw the earth looking so small, they were the first humans God allowed to see it from that perspective. 

Many thanks to the folks at Little Brown and Company for sending me a free advanced review copy of this book.  My review did not have to be favorable. - Because I received an advanced copy of the book, some of the content may be different in the final publication

*You may want to know that there is some vulgar language and topics, also some swearing) in the book. Most of it was in actual quotations of the people in question.  Also there were some awkward historical details.  This was all stuff that I didn't care to know of so I just scribbled it out and didn't read those parts out loud.  And, I want to note that my liking this book does not mean that I agree with all of the author's political, moral, or scientific perspectives.

My Rating 5 out of 5 Stars 
*****

This book will be released on March 12th.  You may pre-order it at Amazon.com


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Devotedly: The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot




I have liked pretty much any Elisabeth Elliot (Gren) book I have read (I've read about three or four I think, but not the ones on marriage or relationships).  When I saw that this book was published, I was quite excited.  This is a book about Jim and Elisabeth's 'love story', told through many of their letters to each other and their journals.  Their daughter, Valerie, put it together and added commentary.

I was very disappointed by their relationship.  I had always had the impression that they were a model example in Christian pre-marital relationships.  After reading this book, I think that they are a horrible example to young men and women. I was quite shocked. 

They started out liking each other, but not being sure whether the Lord would have them marry. All fine and good.  But then when you get to them still not being sure whether or not the Lord would have them marry,(actually for a while,  Jim was quite sure that the Lord wanted him to be single)but they act all loverlike, with certain things they write in their letters and  in their physical relationship holding hands and other physical touching. 

In one instance, while they were still in the "maybe God wants us to stay single, not sure about getting engaged" stage, the daughter comments: "I still marvel at how little physical touch they'd actually experienced.  All they'd allowed themselves were a few embraces, hand holding, possibly a kiss on the cheek.  But how important to learn from my amazing parents that their absolute priority remained the love of God, dependence on God, and continual prayer for His leading."  Ummm…that was not right.  These were not brotherly embraces/hand holding/ kisses, these were romantic ones.  Hardly following what the Apostle Paul told Timothy, to treat the young women as sisters, "with all purity"(1 Tim 5:2)

In a letter to Elisabeth from Jim (again before getting a "word from the Lord" that they should marry). he talks about what happened some time before, when they had been together somewhere: he had been "feigning sleepiness, I crowded you against the clothing hung against the door - how your body stiffened as my hand made its way to being received by your fingers - how the whole of you slackened and my fingers were pressed to your lips. "  He goes on to say, "We will, I suppose, get used to each other, the feel and smell and look of one another…"

I don't understand that.  If marriage is not on the docket, how could you say that? How could you do that in all purity before God?

And then Jim writes in a letter, while they were still wondering about God's will for their relationship, "I dreamed about you last night.  Coming home last evening and reading your letter before I slept was like coming home to you, almost.  You came to me in bed serious and shivering.  I made you laugh and warmed you with my body.  Such things are seldom, and I enjoyed it because it seemed good and right, and not much like a dream…."

But what about what the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7, where it is better to marry than to burn with passion? Jim was definitely struggling with 'burning with passion'(you see it even more clearly in other spots, even admitted as a struggle by himself, in this book).  It's not as though Elisabeth and Jim were strongly doubting whether the other was a Christian or not; rather they each, for the most part, were crazy about the other and their devotion to the Lord.  Their parents were not opposing the match either.  All signs, including the Bible itself, were pointing towards their needing to get married.  Pointing to God's will for them to be joined together in marriage before Him.  It's as though they didn't see Scripture as the authority unless it gave them some sort of assured feeling. Rather than heeding what it explicitly said about man/woman relationships, they waited for an extrabiblical sign/feeling.

Even Elisabeth's brother, Dave, kept warning Jim about playing with Elisabeth's heart.  But they both disregarded him, or anyone else who looked at their relationship critically.  Their daughter comments at one spot, "Though no one could seem to understand why they weren't' getting engaged and making plans to go to the mission field together…..she knew she'd put God first and knew my father was attempting to do the same thing…And as long as God's will was uppermost in each of their hearts, they were under no obligation to explain themselves to anyone or give out all the details of their prayer life and relationship dynamics". 

And then, when they finally get engaged, Jim seems to want even more physical contact and justifies it by saying that 1 Corinthians 7:1 (It is good for a man not to touch a woman) was speaking of "an unmarried man sharing another's wife", not a man engaged to be married.  The daughter quotes him, interspersing her own words,"'it does not apply to my play with Betty," which meant he could enjoy 'further liberty with her body' without being guilty of fornication, once they were engaged."  According to Jim Elliot's views, at the time,  it's okay for engaged couples to touch one another's bodies as long as they don't have sex?  Huh??? I am incredulous at several of his interpretations and applications of various passages.  I don't understand how this is keeping with the passage that says to "keep the marriage bed holy" (Heb 13:4).  

Being engaged means that the couple are set-aside for each other, no one else, but they don't belong to each other before God yet - so no playing with one another's bodies, even if it's not sexual.  God has not yet joined you together, so don't act as though He has. Wait until you are married.

All in all, I was VERY disappointed.  I was reading this book aloud with my sister, and I had to skip several spots, because they were indecent and made me blush.  Yes, Jim and Elisabeth seemed to be Christians, but that doesn't mean that everything that they did was Christ-like and should be followed.  I could not recommend this book to any couple because it does not promote true Godly pre-marital relationships.  I'll end with a section from 1 Thessalonians 4:"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified. For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification. "(1Th 4:3-7)

I received a free review copy of this book from B&H Publishers.  My review did not have to be favorable.

My Rating:  1 out of 5 Stars

This book is sold on Christianbook.com and Amazon.com