This is another in my irregular series on notable books that you should be aware of. There is always an endless supply of new books which become available every year. I try to keep up on some of the more worthwhile and important books. Thus this list.
In regard to reading, we are provided with this bit of wisdom in Ecclesiastes: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” And Groucho Marx also offered some words of wisdom here: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
But it is also a truism that leaders are readers. If we want to be effective in our work and ministry, we need to be widely read. Thus I offer another batch of books that you might well profit from.
I include them here because I am just too busy to write proper, full-length reviews of each of them. Indeed, the piles of review copies I have threaten to overtake my living room. But these titles are certainly worth giving at least a brief mention.
These fifteen books cover a whole range of topics, and are not presented in any particular order, although they are roughly arranged by subject. Except for three titles, they were all published this year. So if you like the smell of fresh ink, these titles are for you! Happy reading!
Peyser, Andrea, Celebutards. Citadel Press, 2009.
Celebutard is a term used to describe “lazy and egotistical thinkers, stars equipped with abundant money, fame, idle hours and yes-men, who feel secure enough in their own influence and intelligence to create insane foreign or domestic policy in their spare time”. Peyser features dozens of these pests. All the usual suspects are there: Sean Penn, Madonna, Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Barbra Streisand, Jimmy Carter, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Sheen, Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton and many more. Of interest, Peyser is no redneck hillbilly; she is “live-and-let-live on a variety of social issues, including abortion and gay rights”. But she can spot a celubutard a mile away, and provides a valuable service here in naming and shaming.
Leaf, Jonathan, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Sixties. Regnery, 2009.
The sixties have taken on almost a religious, mythological status. The period has been glorified, sanctified, and deified, transformed into some holy era in recent history. Leaf does a great job of demolishing many of the myths, distortions and half-truths that have grown up concerning this memorable decade. While there was a lot of optimism and idealism going around back then, there was also a lot of violence, narcissism, destruction and nihilism. It was not all sweetness and light. And as a former member of the sixties counter-culture, I can certainly vouch for the critique offered in this helpful volume.
Tankard Reist, Melinda, ed., Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls. Spinifex, 2009.
The sexualisation of young girls continues apace, and is getting worse each year. Many companies are getting rich by targeting young girls, tempting them to get “the look” of pop stars and other celebs. But when these celebs fashion themselves after hookers and deviants, they are sending a really bad message to impressionable girls. In this volume 15 experts pen essays dealing with this dangerous and escalating problem, and offer strategies to turn things around.
Davidson, Richard, Flame of Yahweh. Hendrickson, 2007.
In the West we have managed to misuse and abuse sex to the nth degree. We are awash with all things sexual. While Christians may have a good idea about what the New Testament has to say about human sexuality, they may well be ignorant about the host of material on the topic found in the Old Testament. Thus this exhaustive and immensely helpful volume really tells us everything we might want to know about how the OT deals with the topic. Numerous issues are discussed, including marriage and family, infertility, prostitution, polygamy, adultery, rape, abortion, the elevation of women in the OT, and much more. This is a first rate treatment of the subject, and is well worth adding to your library.
Klusendorf, Scott, The Case for Life. Crossway, 2009.
Many good books have appeared over the years making the pro-life case. This is one of the newest, and is very helpful indeed. Klusendorf provides plenty of material here for how we can effectively, intelligently and persuasively make the pro-life case. It deals with all the hard questions and nagging controversies. A very good volume to have on hand.
Mohler, Albert, The Disappearance of God. Multnomah, 2009.
Albert Mohler is quickly becoming one of our best Christian commentators and social observers. He is always worth reading, as his insights and breadth of interest are top rate. Here he looks at how the God of the Bible is quickly disappearing from view in our secular, postmodern culture. We have become biblically and theologically illiterate. And it doesn’t help when sections of the church – such as the emerging church movement – in fact contribute to the problem. We need to once again proclaim truth with a capital T, and rediscover the God with whom we have to do.
Budziszewski, J., The Line Through the Heart. ISI Books, 2009.
Budziszewski is probably the leading defender of natural law theory (and practice) today. He has penned at least half a dozen solid volumes on the topic, and this one offers more of the same. He makes an incisive and brilliant case for the law being written on our hearts and the personal and social implications thereof. Not just theory, it looks at hard cases such as abortion, homosexuality, and capital punishment. A top notch work on ethical theory and the nature of personhood by a leading Christian thinker.
Murray, Iain, Heroes. The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009.
We are desperately in need of heroes today, and church history provides plenty of them. Here we find the stories of a number of great Christians in the Reformed tradition. Well known believers such as Whitefield, Spurgeon, Newton and Edwards are discussed along with some lesser known heroes. These helpful portraits make for inspiring and encouraging reading.
Wishart, Ian, Air Con. HATM, 2009.
Panic about global warming has become one of the big beat-ups of our time. In this helpful volume best-selling New Zealand writer and commentator Ian Wishart carefully and painstakingly looks at the topic, examining the evidence and weighing up the pros and cons. He not only finds the science to be unconvincing, but believes that following the proposed remedies will well-nigh bankrupt the West and in fact compound problems. An eye-opening treatment of a controversial issue.
Gilder, George, The Israel Test. Richard Vigilante Books, 2009.
George Gilder has always been an original and trail-blazing thinker. He has written best-sellers on the free market, technology, and other topics. Here he provides a brilliant defence of the beleaguered state of Israel. It is a key player in the battle for both freedom and the free market. Although a tiny and besieged state, surrounded by enemies, Israel has managed to be among the leaders in technology, science, wealth creation and freedom. Yet such overwhelming success in so many areas has simply resulted in envy, hatred and hostility from so many other nations. A spirited and ground-breaking defence of a much-maligned nation and people.
Spencer, Robert, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran. Regnery, 2009.
Given what a huge influence the Koran has the world over, it is a book little known by Westerners. For that matter, few Muslims in fact know it very well either. But given the very real threat of Islamist jihad, we cannot be ignorant about what is in this book. Spencer does a great job of informing us about its contents, its message, and its dangers. Indeed, it is the Koran which the jihadists turn to for both inspiration and instruction, so we cannot afford to be uninformed about it. Another valuable and timely volume by Spencer.
Bawer, Bruce, Surrender. Doubleday, 2009.
Surrender is exactly what the West is doing in the face of radical Islam, especially Europe and the UK. In this well-argued and well-researched volume Bawer shows how we are undermining our own efforts as we attempt to appease the Islamists. We are surrendering our freedoms, our values and our beliefs as we cave in to the demands of those pushing for a global caliphate and universal sharia law. An important wake-up call.
Janson, Vickie, Ideological Jihad. Castle Publishing, 2009.
This Melbourne writer has long been involved in reaching Muslims. Here she examines how Islam is pushing its agenda ideologically, and in particular, she examines the writings and influence of Muslim apologist, Waleed Aly. She shows how in spite of the smooth-sounding propaganda, Islam and Christianity are on two different roads, and can never meet. She dissects the various myths being perpetrated by Muslim apologists, and makes the case for the uniqueness of Christ. A helpful response to the misinformation and half-truths being peddled in our mainstream media by Muslim activists.
Sayers, Mark, The Trouble With Paris. Thomas Nelson, 2008.
Our consumerist, materialistic and hyper-sexualised world could not be further removed from the world of biblical Christianity. But too often even those in the church are simply cozying up to, and mimicking, the world, instead of offering a clear and distinct alternative. In this perceptive volume Sayers, a Melbourne pastor, shows us a better way, as he offers helpful insights and understanding of contemporary culture and our youth sub-culture, and how we can best reach it. A good look at what’s wrong both with a broken and needy world and a shallow and superficial church.
Cioccolanti, Steve, From Buddha to Jesus. Sweet Life International, 2007.
Another Melbourne pastor, Cioccolanti came from a background of Buddhism in Thailand. He now is a Christian evangelist with a heart for reaching Buddhists. In this helpful, easy to follow volume, he explains the differences between the two faiths, and offers helpful advice on how to best reach out to our Buddhist friends. A useful and practical resource to help us in our witness to those from the East. buddhabook.org/bookblog/