Monday, February 28, 2011

Books for February: When A Nation Forgets God and Redeeming Love

One of my goals is to read at least one book each month.  I overachieved this month and read two books, and here is what I think of them.

When A Nation Forgets God by Erwin Lutzer

This is a short but well-written book discussing the similarities between the political environment of Nazi Germany and the current political and social environment of the United States.  In concise chapters, Lutzer discusses what happens when a nation silences the church, lets the economy rule, allows the media to control beliefs, and other issues that led to the demise of Germany and, apparently, are also present in our current society.

This book was very manageable and readable (great for me who rarely has time to just sit down and read for hours on end) and yet it really got me thinking.  Plus, I learned many things about Nazi Germany that hadn't "clicked" with me before. And, I also appreciated the matter-of-fact tone and avoidance of sensationalism or conspiracy theory.  While Luzter is not afraid to discuss the similarities between Nazi Germany and the United States, he doesn't assume that the US is necessarily doomed to the same fate.  The purpose is not to frighten people into fatalism but to inspire boldness and courage to stand for the truth of the gospel - while we still have the freedom to do so.

Recommended? Yes!  In fact, I want to read his other book, Hitler's Cross, to continue to learn about the role of the church during this dark period of history.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

In this re-telling of the biblical account of Hosea, the prostitute Angel finds unconditional love and, ultimately, faith in God, through the obedience of her faithful new husband Michael.  Set in the somewhat-mythical "Old West" of Northern California, Rivers paints a vivid picture of God's redeeming love towards the lost.

Thoughts: Let me just say that I am not a fan of Christian fiction.  But I started reading this book at the G's house and had a hard time putting it down.  Could it be possible that Francine Rivers is actually, you know, a good Christian author?  So I humbled myself and checked it out from the library and spent the next few weeks reading.

 At first, Rivers takes the very difficult subject of prostitution and handles it quite tastefully.  I was shocked that something of such "adult content" could actually be written about in a way that didn't make me stop reading.  The book had interesting characters, the intentional parallels between the story and the book of Hosea were insightful, and the predominant "Old West" feel didn't seem to dictate too much of the story.  At first.  Then Rivers took it into her head to write about 200 pages too many and, in my opinion, the story flopped.  The characters became boring, the scandalous scenes became more graphic and disturbing, and by the end I felt as though I had just finished watching some odd combination of Christy, Dr Quinn, and Little House on the Prairie...all with an R rating.  I'm not sure how closely Rivers wanted to follow the story of Hosea, but I do think that there was a major discrepancy which needs to be noted: in the story, Angel is repeatedly touted as a victim of her past and the adults who destroyed her.  In the Bible, God uses the prostitute in Hosea as a picture of Israel - who was so totally and definitely not a victim but played the harlot after other gods by her own choice.

Recommended?  Probably not.  The book has potential, but I don't think I could say, "You've got to read this."

Here comes March with more books in store.  I already have a new cookbook waiting at the library.  Does that count?