Archive for ‘Books’

November 22, 2012

Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts – review

by thoughtfulconservative

Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts is a worthy addition to any one’s library. This is the third edition of this book and it’s made more useful with the addition of downloadable maps and charts.

The book contains at least one chart for every book of the Bible, and many, many maps of the geography that pertains to this book.

I found the book well laid out. The order follows that of the Protestant Scriptures. Each book has a section of Author, Date, and Theme and Literary Structure. There is an “At a Glance” chart, an outline of the book as well as time lines and maps when applicable.

Even though I have a Bible college degree and have been a Christian for 50 years and a missionary for over 35 years, I have found myself referring to the book again and again as I prepare for classes, talks, or my own personal Bible study. The charts break down the material so simply and clearly.

The only glitch I’ve had is downloading the maps and charts. Some of them are not complete.

Regardless, the book is worth the price ($12.72 or less on Amazon).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (PDF file) : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
May 2, 2010

Book review – In Harm’s Way

by thoughtfulconservative

In Harm’s Way (full name: In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors) is Doug Stanton’s telling of the last voyage of the USS Indianapolis and the aftermath of the torpedo hit she took.

Beginning with the suicide of the unjustly condemned captain, the book takes us back to that final voyage; the loading of the atomic bomb and it’s delivery, the return voyage, the torpedoing and sinking, and the stories of the survivors.

It was the stories of the survivors that took up the bulk of the book and was the most riveting.

Of the nearly 1200 men that set sail on the Indianapolis, only 317 survived. Two hundred alone were lost to shark attacks that came at morning and evening. The suffering from the sun, the water and their wounds are unimaginable.

Captain McVay received a court-martial because of the incident. He later committed suicide. His men fought for his conviction to be overturned and, although the Navy exonerated him, his record has not yet been expunged [Ed. Note–As noted by Captain Toti in the comments, this last statement was incorrect. In the “Afterword 2001” Mr. Stanton notes that on July 13, 2001 the court martial was removed from Captain McVay’s record. My apologies for this oversight and my thanks to Mr. Toti for pointing it out.]

September 17, 2009

“The Abortionist” a review

by thoughtfulconservative

I figured the least I could do for my friend Michael would be to buy and read his book, “The Abortionist.”

It was well worth it.

The story is about Elliot Stearns, a former policeman who took up writing after a bullet left him paralyzed from the waist down. As a free lance writer and crime columnist Elliot writes on his blog From Where I Sit and for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Michael explains all this on his blog.

In the book, a psychopath is killing women using techniques an abortion provider would use. Elliot along with his friends on the police force are attempting to find the very clever killer.

Things are complicated by the fact that Elliot has again come in contact with his ex-fiance, Caroline. Things come to a head when their relationship brings danger to Caroline.

I liked the book. It was a mystery, albeit with few possible suspects. The story moved along and there were enough surprises to keep you guessing.

Knowing I am a Christian, Michael asked me if the fact that the killer seemed to have religious reasons for doing his killing bothered me. It does, but that was mitigated by several things. One, so many killers in books, movies and TV are portrayed as “religious nuts” that one becomes used to the whole thing. Two, sadly, we hear too often on the news that someone very much like “The Abortionist” has done some gruesome killing using religion as justification. Three, Michael dealt very well with the subject in the Epilogue by saying that the guy wanted to kill and wrapped in religiosity to justify his evil, much like suicide bombers wrapping themselves in a few words from the Koran and missing the message of the rest of the book.

For my like-minded readers (evangelical Christians), the murders were recounted with perhaps too much gruesome detail. There are a couple of sex scenes and one or two of the victims were described as being unclothed. There is swearing throughout the book.

Technically, a couple of minor spelling and grammatical lapses were noticed.

None of these, however, took away from the story line and the underlying debate about abortion. Caughill has done a good job of being fair to both sides of the abortion debate and looking at the human drama underneath. This he has wrapped up in a gripping story that is worth the read.

Don’t get bogged down in trying to analyze the beliefs of the various characters. Enjoy the story. The Abortionist is worth your time.

March 29, 2008

Bible and government by Dr. John Cobin – a review – part 3

by thoughtfulconservative

In this post, I hope to finish the rest of the book that I started with this post and this post.

In chapters 3 and 4 Dr. Cobin gives us his view of popular Biblical views of government. His key premise is that,

With few exceptions over the course of human civilization, civil government has been relatively evil insofar as mankind’s temporal well being is concerned. Furthermore, in an individualistic sense, civil government is always evil to someone. Certainly, Uriah would not have thought King David’s treatment of him to be a nice or a good thing (II Sam. 11:4, 15).

Wow. Quite a statement for a Christian to assimilate.

But wait there’s more.

Popular thinking that government is always a lesser evil than the extreme case of political anarchy is mistaken. Proponents of such thinking fail to reckon with the brutal record of civil government.

Bet that got your attention.

He gives an example of

those who have faced extermination at the hands of communists might not agree that the tyrannical government that dominated and oppressed them was better than anarchy.

Perhaps, but that wouldn’t mean that all civil government is evil all the time. Even the communists might have done something good.

He may be correct that “the existence of anarchy does not imply that society has neither rules nor order” but that does not mean it would work in this day and age. He believes the market would provide order, but that is too much to hope for that anyone but the most fervent believer in free markets to accept.

There is a danger of power which is why we must be vigilant.

We see an example in Revelation, where government is used by Satan to persecute the faithful remaining on the earth.

But wait there’s more. Joseph, an Old Testament hero seen as a picture of Christ, is criticized by Cobin for

bad, proactive economic policies where people were effectively swindled out of their land by the state (Gen 41:33-44). The state profited handsomely by the craftiness of Joseph.

Whew. This will be more than most Bible believing Christians can accept completely.

His solution? Christians should not actively participate in government.

The Appendix to Chapter 3 purportedly lists all policies of governments in the Bible and classifies them as good ambiguous or evil.

Chapter 4 continues looking at the Bible and government, looking at three key passages, Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Titus 3:1-2. Let’s just say that he practically reverses the commonly held view and does so unconvincingly.

Dr. Cobin believes that good government is the exception rather than the rule. He also feels that Christians are under no compulsion to obey every law. He spends most of Chapter 5 dealing with that. I would agree as long as the Christian is prepared to face the consequences, something Dr. Cobin appears unwilling to do.

Chapter 6 gives a policy analysis of the Christian and American public school. Suffice it to say that he believes

The public school has at once been both the greatest, most pernicious threat to liberty and American Christianity.

Few conservatives would disagree, hence the popularity of parochial and home schools.

The final chapter sums it up and gives a table of issues and how Christians should react.

I’ll have one more post on the book, or more correctly, on the author and my reaction.

January 19, 2008

Review of Bible and Government – part 2

by thoughtfulconservative

Continuing my review of the book Bible and Government by Dr. John M. Cobin, we move into the first few chapters.

Dr. Cobin recognizes two rights, positive and negative. Negative rights are natural rights. Positive rights are those rights guaranteed by the government that people do not have naturally.

Dr. Cobin then sets out four categories of public policy.

  1. Reactive policy which is “action by government which is designed to provide a social service that the market cannot provide well.” The “pure” reactive policies he sets forth are national defense, legal rules based on the law of property, contract and tort, and criminal justice.
  2. Policies of inefficient public provision wherein, government provides a genuine good or service normally provided by the market.
  3. Proactive policy aimed at changing behavior (Big Brother or Nanny state policies).
  4. Proactive policy aimed at fostering redistribution wealth in conjunction with a social goal.

He then rails against two examples of #4, Social Security and student loans.

In Chapter 2,  he discusses modern public policy from a Biblical perspective.

First he says that “the Bible never suggests that the institution of government is in and of itself good.” This may come as a surprise to many Bible believers, as it did to me, whose view of government is conditioned by teaching on Romans 13:1-7. He further suggests that nationalism has no place for Christians, which I can agree with.

He spends a lot of time discussing Sept. 11, especially some of the talk of wanting to bomb or even nuke  Arab or Muslim population centers in retaliation.

Dr. Cobin contends that any non-reactive policy (i.e., other than #1 above) would be difficult to justify Biblically, even to go so far that a Christian should not voluntary benefit from those policies, and any such benefit would be sin.

He states that, from the Biblical record, “it seems that the main purpose for government is to serve as God’s minister for judgment.”

And he says, “It is the officials in civil government who usually become the greatest beneficiaries of the welfare state or rent seeking society–at the expense of their constituents.”

Strong words.

January 10, 2008

Review of Bible and Government – part 1

by thoughtfulconservative

Written by Dr. John M. Cobin, an investment adviser and Visiting Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Bible and Government(subtitled Public Policy from a Christian Perspective) gives a view of government from a Christian perspective most Christians would probably be surprised to read.

This is not Mike Huckabee government, folks.

And he doesn’t wait till chapter one to get started. In the introduction he asks four basic questions (p. 5):

  1. What kind of government should Bible-believing Christians support?
  2. What public policy must be obeyed?
  3. When, if ever, should Christians revolt?
  4. To what extent is the Christian’s submission to the state qualified?

These questions Dr. Cobin seeks to answer in his book.

He then discusses three dominant philosophies of biblical public policy that have emerged (p. 7-9).

theonomists (or Christian Reconstruction) would tend to allow civil government action that assists in the establishment of the postmillennial golden age. …Anabaptists… advocate non-participation in most civil government offices. [ed.-in some cases, this leads them to pacifism]. …Still a third perspective,…seems to offer a revitalized vision of the divine right of kings….if God ordains the state, then nearly all of what it decrees must be obeyed as if God Himself had issued the order.

Reformed Christians (like Huckabee) see civil government as “a redeemable and, hence, potentially useful institution that may be placed in the service of God’s kingdom as a restraint against evil.” This is what most evangelicals mean by Cobin proposes that at least part of civil government is beyond the pale of transformation.

What might surprise some Christians is Dr. Cobin’s interpretation of 1 Samuel 8:4-20. Israel is asking for a king and Samuel is trying to tell them what a king will mean, especially in the area of taxation.

Another of Cobin’s premises is that civil government is, in fact, a lethal institution. He quotes extensively from a speech that includes data that can be found on this website.

Well, that’s the introduction, there’s more to come.