Book Review: Real Love in an Angry World

Real Love in an Angry World: How to Stick to Your Convictions without Alienating People

My Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Quick, easy read; short book

Summary
A good, quick summary of this book is somewhat hard to do. Bezet’s main idea is that there are unhappy people out there who are mad and/or judgmental towards Christianity. Additionally, these people come from both ends – those opposed to Christianity, and Christians (or at least those who would call themselves as such, like Westboro Baptist) themselves who think your Christianity isn’t good enough. He spends a little time on Christian who have drifted away from historic Christianity, i.e. denying the validity of the Scriptures, miracles, etc. However, most of the time is spent on the two more angry sides, the non-believers and judgmental believers (for instance, he relates a story of taking his wife to see a Celine Dion in Vegas, and losing a few church members once they found out he was in Vegas).

The book is broken into nine chapters that kind of bounce around on different topics. Everything from picking our battles to loving your neighbor (and just who is your neighbor) to then loving you enemy, to a little bit of history on the Bible. He touches on politics a number of times, but not necessarily specific topics or policy points, mainly just that Christians can disagree with each other while still be Christians, and Christians can disagree with non-Christians while still showing love and understanding. I don’t know how long he has been working on the book, but as it was published near the end of 2017, I assume it is at least partially motivated by the rise and election of Trump.

My Thoughts
Overall, it is a good book. Bezet is a good writer, very personal, and I thought, very humorous. I struggle with exactly who should read this book. For most Christians, it is probably worth your time to read, especially because it is so short. It reads quickly and is funny, his points on how to listen to people and how important it is to really listen, and his continual emphasis on the need to truly love others, are great reminders and points weakness for most of us. I especially like his point about loving others being the second great commandment. He points out that on the liberal Christian and non-Christian side, there is often the comment that we just need to love each other because that is what Jesus said and that is all we need. Bezet rightly points out, this is the second great command, this first is to love God. Part of that love means being faithful to God and His Word.

While all is helpful, I think the best use could be for those Christians on the extreme end of the non-loving judgmental side. Those who are the most angry and often express hate. The problem is, of course, I don’t think the people who need it the most would actually read it, and if they did they’d likely just disagree. I guess you never know how the Spirit will move some people, but I remain skeptical. Either way, it might be helpful for you to recognize some issues in your life, and if you see some of these issues in others, it might help you in reaching out to them and helping them to show the love of Christ, while retaining the love for God.

*I received a free copy of this book for an honest review

Book Review: A Different Kind of Happiness

A Different Kind of Happiness: Discovering the Joy That Comes from Sacrificial Love

Rating – Put it on you list

Level – Easy, moderate in length

Summary
First of all, do not be thrown off by the cover/title. This is not a fluffy self-helpy type book. Instead Dr. Crabb challenges the readers to love like Jesus, but not the usual Sunday School love you hear about in church. He lays out true sacrificial love and all that it entails; and maybe the best part, he asks, doing you even want to try?

The book is broken in to two main parts, with a third part, that’s really mostly a conclusion/summary. The first part is the idea of happiness. Crabb says there are two kind, first thing happiness and second thing. Firs thing, better known as joy, though he uses them interchangeably, is happiness IN Christ. Second thing happiness is the happiness of pretty much everything else – family, money, health, etc.

The second part consists of an introduction what he calls Spiritual Theology, followed by the seven questions to ask and answer of this theology. The questions are:

  • Who is God?
  • What is God up to?
  • Who are we?
  • What’s gone wrong?
  • What has God done about our problem?
  • How is the Spirit working to implement the Divine Solution to our human problem?
  • How can we cooperate with the Spirit’s work?

He wraps up with some concluding thoughts and presents the question(s) he was hoping this book would ask. Finally, he spends a little time trying to answer that question.

My Thoughts
This book was surprising challenging. I say challenging, I guess I’m basing that on the cover. I had never read anything from Dr. Crabb before. Then all of sudden this summer, he was everywhere to me. First as I have been looking into Christian & Biblical Counseling, his name comes up often. Then I met with the community group pastor of my church who bases some of his small group leader training on ‘Inside Out’, Crabb’s most famous book. About that time, Baker Book’s email to people whom want to receive review copies had this book. So, despite the cover, I gave it a try. Continue reading

Remember those in Prison

I was watching the replay of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight about prisons and I started getting angry. Obviously, the stories he shows would make anyone angry and, well, sad, embarrassed, etc., but it made me angry thing about the general response from Christians. First of all, I never remember hearing about visitation of prisoners growing up. But worst of all, in the same was we don’t like the camel through the needle, we like to down play our commands to visit those in prison. I have heard it argued that these verses refer to something different. In the Ancient Near East, it was mostly debtors in prison and the only way they could get food would be if family or friends delivered it to them. Now, that could quite possibly be true (though there are many people in jail because they cannot otherwise pay their fines) but does it really matter? Aren’t we using that as an excuse to ignore? As Oliver rightly points out, it is easy to not care because these people are quite literally criminals. If you were a Christian Dictator, is this how you would have prisons?

Failing to love

Hey, look at this, I’m actually posting again like I said I would. Of course, it’s not Monday, but oh well. I hope to get something out once a week (or so (ish)). I was originally thinking about writing up something about the Supreme Court ruling from yesterday, but instead I will just a link an article (here is another, about different group’s view on abortion).

I will say a few quick things about it. One, I’m not really sure what to do with it. Hobby Lobby seems sincere in their belief that certain types of birth control are paramount to abortion, as they are willing to provide other types of BC. Part of the argument gets down to when is something abortion, when is it not. I don’t really know enough about it to fairly comment, though that does seem to be the point of Plan B. I think balancing religious beliefs and implement universal public policy is incredibly difficult. As a supporter of ACA, I don’t like seeing aspects stripped away, but on the other hand, I don’t want people to be forced to provide what they see as abortions. The whole ‘slippery slope’ argument in either direction or question of when life begins is a discussion for another post (or never).

What I want to try and write about now is something pertaining to the abortion discussion and the broader implication for Christian and their reactions in the public realm. Every few weeks or so, a few other theology nerds and I get together to discuss, argue and debate. Our topic last night was abortion (coincidently with the SCOTUS ruling). I don’t want to get into the specifics of the abortion debate, at least not yet, but I do want to bring up something that came about tangentially to it and something I see as a big problem with American Evangelicals/Fundamentalist.

That problem is the complete lack of love and mercy. We were discussing what we should do, as Christians, realizing that Roe v Wade will not be overturned. One thing I support is more birth control access or even providing them in schools. This is controversial in some circles, because people think it means we are condoning the action. My view is that the action is happening, regardless, and that even the seemingly act of condoning sex outside of marriage is better than someone having an abortion. Now, this is something I could go on and go into a lot of other detail about, but I’m trying to stay on point. I kind of moved the conversation from there to other morality issues like giving clean needles to heroin addicts as a form of ministry.

Again, one of the guys in the group (probably the only true fundamentalist of us) was just adamantly opposed to this. His reason being, for the most part, that not only are we condoning and accepting these bad actions, but we removing the consequences of those actions. I’m trying to be fair and not misrepresent him, but I believe his point was they deserve punishment and we shouldn’t do anything to ameliorate that.

Y’all, that’s not love. That’s not mercy. That is not justice. Who are we to judge? Are these people not ‘the least’? It is incumbent on us as Christians to take care of the widows, the orphans and those imprison. Honestly, this is why we are viewed so lowly in society. We don’t serve people, we condemn them. We stand on the street corners, yelling and pointing, letting others know whom is and whom is not going to Hell. We see a strung out junkie and say this is what you get for your life choices. Just like Christ did right? No, he said whoever has not sinned, cast the first stone and he offered another sinner Living Water.

I’m not suggesting some sort of moral relativism here, but we can accept people without affirming their actions. We  should do good, even for those who do evil. At the very least, that shows Love. Either way, that is a much better option that ostracizing those who need Him most.