Good Books Come In Threes

Over the last month or so, I’ve been juggling three really exceptional books — all non-fiction, all well-written, and all, even the “secular” one, giving rise to a host of theological perspective and Christian soul-searching.

I’ll comment from each of them over the next few months, I’m sure, but in the meantime, I urge you to check them out:

Abusing Scripture, Dr. Manfred Brauch

Christian Words, Un-Christian Actions, John Stoddard Klar

Terror Dreams, Susan Faludi

The first, “Abusing Scripture,” is by an evangelical seminarian who decries the hermeneutic so often used in the Christian Church, one that divorces the Word from context, history, literary characteristic, and harmony with the whole of the Bible. It’s an excellent resource for believers who worry about the “hard sayings” of Jesus, the teachings of Paul, and the disparate views on eschatology, for example, found in the Church. Brauch believes that bad theology comes from bad exegesis and leads to real, personal, and tragic consequences for believers and non-believers, rendering his conclusions about hermeneutics and scholastic responsibility far too important to simply be filed under “Bible study.” If every believer read this book and took it to heart, we’d have fewer self-styled teachers leading entire congregations astray by equating blind, wooden simplicity with “not being ashamed” of Scripture.

Klar’s book is a scathing denouncement of George W. Bush’s hypocrisy, war-mongering, and dishonesty during the eight-year reign of horror we’ve just ended. His writing is direct, the footnotes are almost overwhelming, and the conclusion is that, judged on the fruit of his conduct, George W. is deserving of immediate, public, and pointed rebuke by the Church — a Church that, Klar charges, is too lazy and too undiscerning to even bother trying to understand his thesis. For once, a Christian writer cuts through the crap and just says what needs to be said in opposition to hypocrisy, dishonesty, and avarice. This explains why Klar couldn’t find a major Christian publishing house; not once does he pander to Bush’s “base” in cloaking his critique in niceties. Would it be less than ladylike of me to say he kicks ass and clearly names names? It’s about time somebody did.

The socio-psychological aftermath of 9/11 and its similarity to female-subduing “captivity narratives” in American history is the subject of Faludi’s “Terror Dreams.” She dissects the jingoism and macho swell that rose from the ruins, and points out that the nation’s need for a compelling, male-assuring narrative after the terror attacks came with little regard for truth and great emphasis on casting women as victims. Her observation that protests over unfair treatment of women in the media and in government post-9/11 were swept aside because “we’re fighting a war, sweetheart” is dead-on, and her analysis of the capture and caricature of the events surrounding Jessica Lynch (of “I’m an American soldier, too!” fame) is worth the price of the book. Easily. In fact, the first person to contact me via “Comments” gets her/his own copy — one feminist writer sharing the work of another far greater, and on her own dime. Such a deal.

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