Friday, April 17, 2009

So what are you reading in April?

Even though the month is not yet over, I can’t wait to share with you the two most significant books that I have read this year (apart from the Bible, of course!) plus one other book that is a fine work in its own right.

Shake_Down Shakedown: How Our Government Is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights

by Ezra Levant

It’s hard to describe Ezra Levant’s splendid new volume, Shakedown: How Our Government Is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights, as an enjoyable read — because the book is a chronicle of injustice, with outrage on every page....a simple and effectively argued wake-up call for the average Canadian citizen.

This is how an Mark Hemingway in the National Review describes the latest book that The Voice of the Martyrs is making available for sale online.  Levant describes how Canada’s human rights commissions, originally created to be an equalizer to help the poor and powerless stand up to the rich and powerful have morphed into a tool to suppress the free expression of politically incorrect viewpoints.   If I would recommend one book for every Canadian to read this year, this is it! 


The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia—and How It Died

by Philip Jenkins

Paul Marshall, in his review in the Weekly Standard noted:

The story usually told of Christianity is that, while it certainly also spread elsewhere, its major influence and home was in Europe. The church developed early, Europe became in some sense Christianized, and subsequently it set the pattern for the faith. With the discovery of America and the European voyages of exploration, as well as colonialism, Christianity then spread to the rest of the world largely as a Western export.

Jenkins demonstrates that this story is flat wrong--or as he more charitably puts it, "much of what we know is inaccurate." 

For most of its history, Christianity was a tricontinental religion, with powerful representation in Europe, Africa and Asia, and this was true into the 14th century. Christianity became predominantly European not because this continent had any obvious affinity for that faith, but by default: Europe was the continent where it was not destroyed.

I continue to be amazed at what I did not learn in college and seminary!  Not one of my church history courses ever touched on what this book does; the largely forgotten history of Christianity in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, a region where the church thrived when much of Europe was still pagan.  And then, for vvarious reasons, in many places it died (or continues to die).  The title itself is controversial.  Can a church really die in the face of unrelenting persecution?  Jenkins argues “Yes” and I agree!  Disagree?  Interested in knowing more?  Read this book.  You might also enjoy the review by fellow Canadian blogger Scott Gilbreath.

calltojoy The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry

by Ajith Fernando

Of the many books on suffering that I have read over the last 20 years, this is perhaps the only book that I have read that specifically targets those who are involved in ministry.  From my own experience as a pastor and having met and worked with pastors and other church leaders in countries around the world, there is no doubt that this is one group that needs such a book.  In fact, this is one of the reasons I wrote my book.  Another unique characteristic of this book is that its author is the national director of Youth for Christ in war-torn Sri Lanka where Christians face increasing persecution in recent years.  It is refreshing to read a non-western perspective on suffering.

Have I read better books on suffering? Yes.  For those looking for an in-depth treatise on suffering or persecution, this is not that kind of book.  For those in ministry, bruised, beat up, tired and discouraged, these 31 short chapters might just be the balm that their soul requires.

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