Friday, November 28, 2014

Hatred: Islam’s war on Christianity

by Michael Coren
183 pages / 2014

A dozen years ago I wrote an article called “Don’t read a newspaper, read a book.” Today I might swap in “blog” for “newspaper” but my point would remain the same: journalists have deadlines to meet, and word counts to hit, and sometimes mere hours to do their research. So what they deliver is often one-sided, or shallow, or uncertain, or even wrong. If we want depth and research then we need to turn to someone who has taken the time to actually craft a book.

If you want know about how Islam interacts with Christianity around the world, then you need to pick up Michael Coren’s Hatred. Here, in black and white, is a recounting of consistent, constant persecution. Coren devotes individual chapters to different predominantly Muslim countries, including Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, and then all of Africa, and finally everywhere else. In chapter after depressing chapter the outcomes are repetitive: wherever Muslims are in power, Christians face persecution, sometimes simply of the social and economic kind, but in many other occasions of the murderous sort.

Coren is a pretty level headed fellow, so it’s doubly valuable to have such a book from him. This is no nutbar, no crazy conservative telling us that:
A victim and a perpetrator cannot meet in some imaginary middle, a person who is being beaten cannot compromise with the person doing the beating. Christian forgiveness is vital in all this but the new equation has to begin with the cessation by Muslims throughout the world of their hateful campaign against innocent Christians.
The repetitious recounting of murder after murder makes this book depressing, but it also makes an irrefutable case that Islam is not a religion of peace (yes, some Muslims are peaceful – many Muslims are peaceful – but the murderous sort are no small fringe minority). If you know anyone who thinks differently you should get them this book. You can buy a copy at by clicking here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

John Knox

by Simonetta Carr
60 pages / 2014

Like her seven other children’s Church history books, Simonetta Carr’s John Knox is a gorgeous production. The full-color picture book includes 42 illustrations in its 60 pages, including a dozen full-page paintings created just for this volume. And the hardcover and quality binding mean this is strong enough to bear up to children’s use and still be passed on to the next generation.

John Knox, sometimes known as the Scottish John Calvin, is a fascinating subject starting his Reformed journey as a bodyguard, then getting sent to the galleys to row as a slave, and finally becoming a minister to a king and a thorn in the side to queens.

Carr does a solid job of telling Knox’s story, but this is more history book than storybook, a great educational resource, but not necessarily a book that a child would want to read on their own. So I wouldn’t recommend this as a present from the grandparents…unless they intend to read it to their obliging grandchildren. But for anyone intent on teaching Church history, whether Mom or Dad, or in a school setting, this would be a great purchase. I would recommend this for Grades 2 to 6.

One bit that struck me as humorous was that Carr chose to refer to Knox’s most famous work – or, rather, most infamous – by the first part of its title, rather than its full title. In this book Knox argued that women should not rule countries, and Carr refers to it as The First Blast of the Trumpet, but the full, and very politically incorrect, title is: The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.

But that is a little aside. This is a gorgeous book, and if it doesn't quite make learning Church history entertaining, it certainly will make it pain-free. You can purchase it at by clicking here and at here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Door in the Wall

by Marguerite de Angeli
128 pages / originally published 1949 (latest edition 1998)

This classic children's book should be in every household. It is a simple story of a boy who, like all (or at least most) children, worries that he cannot measure up to the hopes of his parents.

Of course, as in any story, this universal theme of growing up only catches at the heart when it is couched in a particular setting. The setting in this story is the Middle Ages. The anxiety of the boy mentioned above (whose name is Robin) arises not from wandering through the modern adolescent angst of a typical "Teenage Wasteland," but from being lamed by a mysterious illness that the medicine of the Middle Ages could neither understand nor cure. Robin's parents are not your typical upper-middle-class professionals of our day, looking for the right college for their boy; instead, they each serve the King and Queen, and are absent when Robin lives through the deadly sweep of the plague through London. Robin's journey back to his parents' estate, hobbling on crutches the entire way, and facing the dangers of the medieval countryside, becomes a symbol for his quest to figure out his purpose and place if he cannot ride into battle as his father does. With the help of education from Brother Luke and Brother Matthew, and in hope in God, Robin searches for "the door in the wall" - the opening in his circumstances that will allow him a way forward. The story climaxes with the revelation of a literal door in the wall that reunites Robin with his parents, and allows him too to serve his king in his own way.

A great story to encourage children to look beyond their limitations toward the possibilities that God puts in their paths through the help of other Christians, with (as a big bonus) thoughtful and compelling illustrations by the author herself. You can find it at here.