RSS

Monthly Archives: March 2022

Book Review: “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas

Book Review: “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas

There’s always a story to how I get a book and why I read it in the first place. You might find this story interesting.

Earlier this year, I reconnected with my friend Don here in Tampa. He’s the one that introduced me to the people at “County Citizens Defending Freedom” and introduced me to “Kingstone Comics.” In all of my conversations with him, he’s been urging me to read this book. Because I currently don’t have an income, I wasn’t looking to purchase anything extra. It’s on hold at the local library with a bunch of people in line waiting for it.

Olivia had spring break a couple of weeks ago, and my friend Gary asked me if I would be willing to drive a car from Illinois down to Tampa for him. Olivia and I took a flight and drove his car down (and that’s a story for another time) stopping along the way to visit my family that I don’t get to see that often. We had a ball.

When we visited my cousin, Jeremy in Tennessee, he took us to his work and we got to see and sit in the fire trucks and visit the rescue squad equipment depot and also tour his church. They had a lending library and I took a couple of minutes to peruse their selection, and there near the top of a pile of books to be sorted, in this Baptist church, in a small town called Camden, was this book. They let me take it.

Mr. Metaxas is a great writer. A few years ago, I read his Bonhoeffer biography and “7 Men.” My first exposure to him, however, was a speech he gave in Ottawa at the National Prayer Breakfast. He talked about abortion. That was one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard in my life. I don’t know how Justin Trudeau survived it. He was sitting nearby. As a writer, he makes the rest of us look like we are in kindergarten. His use of a variety of words and interesting turns of phrase I find to be beautiful. His subject matter was engaging.

The basic premise is that the foundation of our country has been forgotten. He was Yale educated and never exposed to the wealth of the thoughts, ideas and even art that produced the United States. In this book, he takes the time to tell some stories that used to be told and haven’t been lately. He also exposes how the founders and their society thought about the US and why it was in their words… “exceptional.” He also gives some historical context that helps us to understand why the US was founded in the first place.

I know now why my friend Don was urging me to read it. It’s needed and necessary and very accessible.

Mr. Metaxas starts with a story of Benjamin Franklin in conversation with a citizen at the close of the Continental Congress. It’s where the line “if you can keep it” comes from. He closes with an incredible story about the Statue of Liberty from his own family’s experience. Within the book is the backstory of Paul Revere, told afresh in the midst of the backstory of Longfellow and his poem, cast in the meilleur of our educational and cultural moment. All of these stories propelled me along, causing me to finish the book faster than I anticipated.

I read the backstory of Squanto to the family over dinner. It’s too good not to tell.

But, the chapter that will leave a lasting impression on me was his recounting of the influence of George Whitfield. He argues that the US would not exist, and would have no national identity without him. I’ve read Whitefield’s biography, I’m familiar with the story. But, this was a story about the US and Whitefield was a character in that story, and to consider the impact he made is quite revelatory.

The other thing I’ll walk away with from this book is another viewing of “Amazing Grace” and the story of William Wilberforce. I haven’t read his biography yet.

Maybe, when I come across that one, I’ll have another interesting story to share. And, hopefully, by that time, my writing skills will improve!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 30, 2022 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: “The Man Behind the Curtain – Inside the Secret Network of George Soros” by Matt Palumbo

Book Review: “The Man Behind the Curtain – Inside the Secret Network of George Soros” by Matt Palumbo

There’s always an interesting story behind every book. And, this one doesn’t disappoint. I’m actually hesitant to share these details publicly because our society is so divided at the moment about some very important issues. Because of the animosity, the impulse is to protect, but that comes at the expense of sharing helpful information.

Because of my experience in Canada, I’ve been awakened to the need to be more involved in the political process. It’s part of being a fully functioning adult in our society and a mature Christian. Our ancestors gave us the privilege of self-government through a representational democracy (or republic) and not only do we have the right to vote, but to also run for office, lobby, petition and even protest. In the transition back to Florida, I knew I wanted to get involved.

In reconnecting with a long time friend, he introduced me to another friend of his who has joined CCDF-USA in Hillsborough County. She’s an almost retired attorney in Tampa and is now devoting most of her time to assisting a group of volunteers engage at the county level. I was fascinated to hear how they have been helping parents and concerned grandparents express themselves effectively with local officials and decision makers.

A week later, I had the joy of meeting the man who is working on getting a local county level organization going in more places around the country. He’s a local business man, who in the last half of his life was inspired by the work that the Alliance for Defending Freedom has been doing, and saw that there was a need for an organization that could help citizens engage at the county level. He shared some stories from some work that that they had been part of, and I recognized them because I had read about them in the regular news. They had been a part of making a good, positive difference.

He’s the one that gave me a copy of this book. He wants to assist citizens in their desire to “defend freedom.” He was alarmed to discover the role and amount of money that was being inserted into local, county level officials from international sources, specifically organizations and foundations that are funded by George Soros. I’ve heard the name, but like J. Edgar Hoover, didn’t know much about the guy.

This book is new. It’s only a few months old. The author, Matt Palumbo, has taken an enormous amount of time to research and footnote the myriad trails of money that originated in the fortune of George Soros. It’s a difficult book to read because of the amount of just raw data and figures.

He opens by giving a biography of Mr. Soros. Born in Hungary, raised during the Nazi occupation, and sharing significant experiences that must have shaped his worldview. He also gave an explanation of the influence of philosopher Karl Popper on his ideas of how the world should function. It’s where the name “Open Society” came from and why it’s used as a name on many of his endeavours.

Allow me to admit that I don’t understand this philosophy. It wouldn’t be appropriate to fault the author’s explanation. It’s quite possible that I don’t understand, because it’s not understandable. It may exist outside of rational thought. Soros seems to be the only one that purports it, yet, as the author argues, he’s often operating in contradiction to it.

The most powerful chapter of the book for me was the one describing the donations that Soros funded organizations and foundations have made in local politics. It’s mostly the story of District Attorney’s and how they have shifted their approach to a much softer view of petty crimes, attributed poverty to the cause of crimes, and chosen to not prosecute some categories of crimes, or crimes committed by certain segments of the population. It’s been very difficult on communities and we’ve seen that in the news recently.

The main argument of the book is that Soros is funding all of this, and it all comes from his worldview and what’s implied is that our society would be better off without him meddling in not only our affairs, but those of other countries around the world.

I was also interested in the chapter devoted to Soros’s involvement in the Ukraine, because the Ukraine is dominating our news these days. We know the Biden’s had some business there. And, now, I can see all the involvement Soros has had there. Soros was a hero there. It’s difficult to refute any arguments that they aren’t completely and hopelessly corrupt and it isn’t their fault.

Here’s the bottom line for me. I’m grateful to read this. I needed to know how pervasive Soros’s money is. However, I’m not convinced that he’s getting what he wants all the time, as much as people are getting money from him and doing all kinds of crazy things with it. The guy is 91 after all. And, there’s no way for him to control the size and scale of the operation he’s funding. Anyone that will lie and manipulate others can be sure to lie to himself. Money doesn’t cure that problem.

Leaving the topic of Soros, we don’t have a CCDF organization here in Pinellas County. It would be good to get one going. I would think that citizens here would be interested to know if and when one of our officials has betrayed their oath of office. It would also be good to know which County Commissioners, School Board Trustees, or if the Sheriff, or District Attorney, or Supervisor of Elections has been on staff at one of these foundations or organizations that Soros funds, or has received funds from them. That doesn’t make them guilty of anything. It’s just good to know what we might expect from them.

What about you? How involved in the political process are you? How involved do you want to be? Feel free to comment (publicly!) or send me a message (privately!).

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 17, 2022 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: “Puppetmaster – The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover” by Richard Hack

Book Review: “Puppetmaster – The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover” by Richard Hack

If we went for a coffee today, I might bring this up. I had no idea how corrupt the U.S. Government was back in the day. This was an eye-opening book, again, in a topic that I don’t know anything about. It’s not that I have never heard of J. Edgar Hoover, I have heard lots of people talking about how significant Hoover was, but I didn’t know anything about him.

Well…

What a character!

Hoover was basically an only child growing up, and excelled at everything he did. He was a loner, and may have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum if he was around today. His accomplishments as a youth were really incredible. He had what we would consider an ideal upbringing when it came to church and church attendance and participation as well. Sadly, he didn’t maintain that.

He really only had one job, working his way up from mail clerk while he was going to law school at night, all the way to the top job of the F.B.I. He was there when it was created, and was the driving force behind it’s genesis. He worked very hard, days, nights and weekends and was a diligent, meticulous government employee in his younger years.

When he finally rose to power, he kept his power, essentially by collecting people’s secrets and doing quite a bit of spying on fellow citizens without legal authorization. He was drawn to the salacious, and kept a private stash of pornographic material that had been collected by agents. Incredibly, there doesn’t seem to be any record of him personally acting on that pornographic material even though he never married. He died an old man, full of stress and years of spoiling himself. His faithful and long time secretary discretely destroyed all the sensitive, secret and illegal files that he kept.

Not only was he adept at discovering and keeping people’s private information, he was also skilled at public relations and had a well-crafted image in the media of himself and his department. Paranoia seemed to be the stimulus for that fastidious pursuit.

This was a well written book. For someone like me with no background information about Hoover, it served my purposes well.

The big takeaway for me, however, was the realization of how corrupt the U.S. Government has been. Hoover’s story started with President Harding and I was reading voraciously having no idea that this is how politics has worked for a very long time. As Hoover’s story continued through Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, over and over the corruption stood out to me. I suppose this is just how things actually get done, or not done. Incredible. May God have mercy on America.

We absolutely have to return to a moral society that prizes truth-telling, character and right-ness instead of expediency.

Let’s close this post on a high note…

I found this book in a thrift store that U-Turn for Christ runs in Crystal River, the same one that I found “Born Fighting” in. Two great reads, and a heavy dose of American History for almost no money! Love it!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 14, 2022 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: “The Book of God – How We Got the Bible” by Kingstone Comics

Book Review: “The Book of God – How We Got the Bible” by Kingstone Comics

If we went for a coffee today, I’d be gushing about Kingstone Comics. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of these guys. I feel like I’ve been in and around Christian books all of my life and I feel like I’m an early adapter of Christian comics. Somehow we ended up with a copy of the Bible in comic strip when I was a kid in the late ‘70’s. I read it through twice and still remember some of the pictures that went along with specific stories.

A few years ago, Sergio Carriello did the graphics for “The Action Bible” which all my kids have read or at least had access to. It’s a beautiful update to the old “Picture Bible” that I had.

But, these are not the complete Bible, they are abridged and sanitized versions of the stories in the Bible. They are also “books.”

Enter Kingstone Comics. Years ago, Art Ayris was volunteering with the bus ministry at his church, First Baptist of Leesburg, Florida, and because of all of his interactions with unchurched kids, he was always looking for great materials to get to them.

Eventually, he wrote his own comic book. And, to make a long, beautiful, amazing, miraculous story short, I saw the warehouse and distribution center last week for well over 100 different comic books, compilation books, regular books and even a couple of movies that they have done.

They have had a lot of help, between investors, key Board Members, supportive church leadership, superb staff, excellent writers and over 60 artists, including Sergio Cariello and others who have drawn for Marvel/DC. Their product is beautiful and engaging, inspiring and they were busy. One good problem they have is keeping up with translation opportunities for other languages.

When I was there, the most popular comic book was the story of “Vladimir – The Prince of Russia.” It’s the story of someone the Lord used to bring Christianity to Russia. As I’m writing this post, I’m about halfway through it. Yes, it’s quite the story, and it is told well. They have a whole series fo comic books on significant people in Christian history including the Martyrs.

While I was there, I was astounded to see a comic book for each book of the Bible. Revelation is a popular one, and I loved seeing what these artists did with the descriptions there.

Another series that caught my eye was the “101 Questions.” It is almost complete. It’s a series of comic books that answer tough questions (think apologetics) about Christianity. I have read the 4th book in the series and it was refreshing for me to see how these timeless truths are being conveyed in a beautiful and engaging way.

But, as the title says… this post is a book review of “The Book of God – How We Got the Bible.” This was the first product that I opened and read. It is by Ben Avery and Javier Saltares and consisted of four parts and an epilogue all about the Bible. It covers the production, process preservation and proof of the Bible. You have to understand what a difficult task it is to tell this story. It could be really, really dry, with dates and technical terms and stories from ancient history with cultures that we are completely ignorant of.

But, this was so well done. Seriously, the content is college level. But, the delivery is kid level. I’ve read several resources on this topic, and there were things in this comic book that were not only new to me, but effortlessly communicated in a clear and understandable way.

I was further impressed by the artwork and overall outline and strategy for this book. This is a needed and desireable resource for Christians of all ages. I wish I knew about this when I was purchasing resources to stock “The Upper Room at Calvary.” This would have been very, very popular.

If not, check it out.. and buy at least one of them to enjoy yourself. And, then, join the hundreds of people that have been buying them for their churches, schools, friends, kids and grandkids. While I was there, they told me about a woman in her 80’s that has been purchasing and reading them for herself.

For me, I’m intrigued by the Martyr’s, that’s an area I’d like to know more about, and I’m enthused about learning about them through the genre of graphic novel.

If you already knew about Kingstone, would you let me know how and why and what your experience has been in the comments?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 7, 2022 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,