How Christianity Transformed the World by Sharon James
Our secular overlords in academia and the media have done an admirable job of fashioning a narrative where Christianity is consistently a force for evil and Christians the perennial bad-guys. So much so, in fact, that many Christians have bought into the narrative and spend most of their time grovelling before those who imagine themselves our moral superiors.
This is why books like “How Christianity Transformed the World” are so valuable. Author Sharon James has given us a resource that can enable us to challenge the narrative.
Mrs. James goes through several categories – among them human rights, women’s rights, and education – and shows how Christianity was beneficial (even essential) to our understanding of them. Then she gives numerous specific examples of each one, showing how Christians, informed by the Bible, have been an overwhelming force for good for the last 2,000 years.
Hers is not as in depth as some of Rodney Stark’s or Tom Holland’s books – indeed she acknowledges her debt to historians like Stark and Holland. But her book is heavily referenced, and at the end of each chapter she includes suggestions for further reading. I can imagine it being a good gateway to those who might want to know more about the subject.
I would highly recommend giving this book to the future college student in your life, or for anybody who has ever been tempted to believe that “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a documentary.
The Monster in the Hollows (Wingfeather Saga) by Andrew Peterson
The Wingfeather Saga has been a very pleasant surprise for me this year. I was casting about for some good fiction to keep me interested between finishing the Wheel of Time series and the release of the next Brandon Sanderson book. Andrew Peterson’s whimsical, fanciful – yet at times dark and profound – series has more than fit the bill.
In this third book the adventures of three children continue as they learn what it means to be the heirs to a defeated kingdom…and what it means to be family. Lots of tense situations, lots of surprises – plenty of good action and not a few chuckles.
If you are looking for some good fantasy fiction, I highly recommend these books.
The Coming of Post-Industrial Society by Daniel Bell
Of my recent studies at the local university, one of the surprises for me was how much I enjoyed the Sociology class. The professor was very knowledgeable of social questions in the US, and often engaged me in discussion on them.
As I was leaving the classroom on the last day he called me over to his desk and pulled a rather large book out of his brief case. It was “The Coming of Post-Industrial Society” by Daniel Bell. He asked if I would like to read it over vacation, and of course that is like asking a fish if it would like to swim.
In the book, Bell – an American sociologist – makes predictions as to changes that would take place in the US during the last three decades of the 20th century. It is important to keep in mind that the work was published in 1973, because it would be easy to think that he was writing a history and not a prophecy. Indeed, as I was reading Bell’s work I was also reading Christopher Caldwell’s “Age of Entitlement”, which is a look back at the changes in American society since 1963, and it was uncanny at how many points the two books met.
By “Post-Industrial Society”, Bell has in mind the transformation of America from a society that “makes things” to one that “consumes things”. His analysis does not just cover economic issues, however. Indeed, he comments at length on the disintegration of what Max Weber called the Protestant work ethic, and the accompanying decay of societal morals. He accurately diagnoses the change in focus of the Civil Rights movement from “equal rights” to “redress”. While he doesn’t mention the Internet by name, he predicts that technology will bring about a mass community, replacing smaller geographic communities.
Of special interest to me was the chapter entitled “Who Will Rule?”, where he discusses the intersection of government, science, and technology. As I was reading, I couldn’t help think back to the calamities recently visited upon the American public by largely un-elected officials vested with immense power.
If you are interested in getting into the technical nuts-and-bolts of how we got to where we are (he is very thorough in his research, and the book is heavily footnoted), I highly recommend this epic work of scholarship. It’s long, but it’s filled to the brim with helpful information and analysis.
The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson
About “The Warden and the Wolf King” the fourth and final (so far) book in Andrew Peterson’s “Wingfeather” series:
HOLY (toothy) COW! I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!!!
Seriously…as far as endings go…that one had my jaw on the floor. For those of you who have read the books – you know what I mean. For those who have not…or who are just starting – buckle your seat belts!
By the way, to get the impact of it, you really need to start with book one. Here’s a link for the whole series.
The Book that Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi
“The Book that Made Your World” by Vishal Mangalwadi will easily make it into my Top Ten list for the year. I picked it up after seeing it quoted extensively in “How Christianity Transformed the World” earlier this month, and have greatly profited by it.
Mangalwadi, who is from India, recounts his investigations into why some civilizations fail, and some succeed. His searches lead him to the inescapable realization that successful societies invariably have foundations in biblical truth. He often puts his own Indian culture under the spotlight, demonstrating the havoc caused by non-biblical worldviews, and the relief brought by Christian missionaries who translated and taught the Bible.
I profited so much from this book that I am ordering the Portuguese version for the young people at our church to read.
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