Tag Archives: book review

Book Review | “The Bishop of Rwanda”

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DISCLAIMER: While I understand that this is one man’s retelling of the events, I will engage and comment based on the good faith effort of the author to represent the events he related.

There are few times that I can remember when I have read a book and been moved by its content. The Bishop of Rwanda by Bishop John Rucyahana is one of those books. It truly is not for the faint of heart. The gut wrenching, horrific events described (sometimes in graphic detail) are terrible to imagine and even more tormenting to the heart to know that other human beings endured. With the precision of a historian and the compassion of a pastor, Bishop John diagnoses the multiple streams that led to the murder of close to 800,000 of the nearly 1.2 million total Tutsis killed. Think of it for just a moment. The following description helps to put in perspective what that means.

“The typhoon of madness that swept through the country between April 7 and the third week of May accounted for 80 percent of the victims of the genocide. That means about eight hundred thousand people were murdered during those six weeks, making the daily killing rate at least five times that of the Nazi death camps.” [Kindle Location 1626]

The shear horror that was endured by the Tutsis and those who stood for and with them could not even be portrayed in film, described on paper or evoked through words. There is simply no way of understanding the full fledged depravity of the genocide. I would read descriptions of what happened and catch myself shaking my head at what I had just read. I know that we are almost two decades removed from the events Bishop John described, but there is a freshness to it all.

There are two aspects of the book that were particularly poignant. The first was the historical overview of what took place in Rwanda on a national-political level. The picture painted of the “imperialist” and colonial nations of Belgium and France are so unflattering as to be caricatures. The problem is that the truth will many times be unflattering and down right scathing. If even a portion of what was done by outside nations was done to Rwanda it reveals the tendency of the Western, first world nations to attempt to get away with whatever they can. The misconduct of the international community in the events leading up the genocide are not only deplorable, they are reprehensible. The intellectuals of the west failed to see the barbarism that was being unleashed in a small African country. The western world needs to look in the mirror and stop acting in such a duplicitous manner.

The second aspect of the book that stood out was the reality that what took place in the hearts and minds of the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity was of a spiritual nature first. Bishop John is quick to recognize the demonic currents underlying what took place among the general population. Even if those who killed were not motivated by hatred, to be carried along with the wave requires a kind of acquiescence to the spiritual forces at work. There is no doubt in Bishop John’s mind that the reason the effects of the propaganda and fear was so far reaching was because there was not true conversion among many who claimed to be Christian. The most disgusting of the acts enacted, and that go to the heart of my identity as a clergy person, were those of the religious leaders who became accomplices to the murders, sometimes even participating in them. It just doesn’t make sense!

As I finished the book and read of the changes that have come to Rwanda I was shocked to see that reconciliation was at the heart of the healing process. The programs and efforts by those who suffered and those who caused the suffering to reunite the nation were impressive and awe inspiring. Over and over again the reality of repentance and of forgiveness were put on display. Probably the greatest lesson that I will take away from reading The Bishop of Rwanda will be that forgiveness is a power designed by God himself. I leave you with the following insight forged in the crucible of suffering and pain.

“Forgiving something does not make the forgiven act less horrible, but it does break the power that act holds over you. The truth is that those who don’t forgive are dying from their unforgiveness. The bitterness eats them up. When you forgive, you are healthier and more alive.” [Kindle Location 2262]

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Book Review | “Love is an Orientation” by Andrew Marin

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This is my video book review of Andrew Marin’s book Love is an Orientation. I know that there are many on both sides of this issue. My review will focus on what I have learned and what I am learning.

Feel free to comment and interact with what I say. Please keep it cordial and respectful. Thanks.

Here is another video conversation with a friend of mine around the topic of homosexuality.

Book Review | Hooked: New Science On How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children

Summary

Hooked: New Science On How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children by Drs. Joe S. McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush explores the data that has emerged in the area of neuroscience and the effect of sex on young people. While the book is based on some very “heady” scientific information, the book is written in a clear and accessible manner.

The book covers the effects of two chemicals that are released in the brain when sexual contact has occurred. Oxytocin is released in the female brain. It’s primary function is to bond a mother to her child. But, the studies conducted and consulted by the authors reveal that this is also the same chemical that is released when a woman interacts with a potential mate. Vasopressin is the chemical released in the male brain that has a similar effect in men. The primary function of the chemical is to bond the male parent with their offspring. However, vasopressin also has the added function of bonding the man with potential mates.

The authors do a good job of describing the processes involved in the release of the chemical and in their effects. And, while the majority of the book covers the scientific realities of these chemical releases, they do draw some conclusions from sociological-psychological sources that point to the connected effects of engaging in physical contact with persons of the opposite sex.

Probably the most interesting conclusion that the authors draw is that the science appears to validate many of the religious convictions regarding relationships, particularly that of abstinence and monogamy. What makes this so interesting is that they are making these claims strictly drawing from scientific studies and statistics. Other areas that are addressed are the increased risk to emotional health, psychological stability, financial gain, social engagement, professional advancement and overall happiness when young people engage in the practices of casual sex, serial-partnerships and co-habitation.

One of the more stunning statistics cited related to the total number of sexual partners. Continue reading Book Review | Hooked: New Science On How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children

Book Review | 131 Christians Everybody Should Know

Summary

Editors Mark Galli and Ted Olsen have put together 131 biographical sketches from the first centuries after the New Testament period until the twentieth century. The book is subdivided into categories that help the reader understand how each person understood themselves or how they become known since their times in history. Below are the categories.

  • Theologians
  • Evangelists and Apologists
  • Pastors and Preachers
  • Musicians, Artists, and Writers
  • Poets
  • Denomination Founders
  • Movers and Shakers
  • Missionaries
  • Inner Travelers
  • Activists
  • Rulers
  • Scholars and Scientists
  • Martyrs

Many of the names were familiar to me, but many of their stories were not. There were even some names that I had never heard of who were influential and even instrumental in the shaping of history itself, not just the continuation of the Christian faith. If you are interested in exploring the lives of some of these Christians, this book will serve as a handy introduction. The chapters are short, clear and concise. The reader gets a helpful picture of the historical context as well as the personal dynamics at work socially during the lifetime of the various individuals. This book is accessible to the average reader with an interest in Church History.

My Thoughts

The first thought that comes to mind is, “Wow!” There are many aspects of these individuals lives that I did not know. The reasons for their actions and the consequences of their choices, from the vantage point of the 21st century, has been interesting. I do not think that many of these people would have guessed the effect that they have had on the way that the Church has been shaped and the world has been changed by what they did. Those that make history are never conscious of the effects their efforts may have after they are gone. These anecdotes have opened my eyes to the many different ways that people can live out their faith and become agents of change.

I was inspired, convicted, challenged and even distressed by the accounts in the book. There were highs and lows in the lives of these “famous” Christians. But, what really stood out is that all of the accolades and the all of the praises that could be offered to them, they were merely striving to be obedient to what they believed. In the end that will be my biggest take away. While history will be the judge of the value of our lives, we must be the ones, who in the present time, commit ourselves to obedience and service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to our Heavenly Father by the working of the Holy Spirit within us.

In the end, history is not something that is made, it is lived.