Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Destroyers: Rachel Notley and the NDP’s War on Alberta

by Sheila Gunn Reid
58 pages / 2016

The first book from Ezra Levant's Rebel Media is about the radical background of key members of the new NDP Alberta government. It's a short, important book, and the price is right: they're giving it out for free.

Author Shelia Gunn Reid wants us to understand that, starting with the premier herself, the Alberta government is filled with socialist, communist, and environmental radicals. For example, the premier herself wears a Che Guevara watch. While Che Guevara is a common fashion accessory on college campuses in real life he helped Fidel Castro bring communism to Cuba. As Reid notes, her wristwatch wouldn't be all that alarming on a college student's wrist because
...those are kids. They're juvenile by definition. But Notley's old enough to be a grandmother, and she still hasn't grown out of her childish campus-style radicalism?
When a 51-year-old premier wears this sort of watch, it is rightfully disturbing. 

Reid continues sharing short biographies of key players, one of which is Brian Topp, the premier's chief of staff. Before taking up his new position he has previously come out against the Keystone XL pipeline, and at one point stated that if it were up to him he would force "fossil-fueled cars out of our cities." Then there is Graham Mitchell, the new chief of staff for Alberta's energy minister, who has trained activists to push for fracking bans. And NDP MLA Rod Loyola, who is an admirer of the late Hugo Chavez, and is on record saying that oil royalties should rise from 9% to as high as 60%.  

That's a taste of what Reid has to share. One point she makes repeatedly is that Albertans never really wanted the NDP. As an Abacus Data poll showed right after the election, 93% of Albertans thought the results were about throwing the PCs out of office, and only 7% thought it had anything to do with picking the NDP to govern. So the NDPs haven't been given a mandate to make their tax hikes, or to implement their carbon tax, or to force schools to allow transgender boys into girls washrooms. That wasn't what the electorate were voting for. They only wanted to "throw the bums out."

But Albertans are going to be stuck with the NDP for the next four years. We'd best learn all we can about our new government.


As you might expect, considering the publisher, this is very one-sided. The NDP and their supporters must have some counterpoints to the material presented, but their response isn't provided here. There is a real weakness to such an imbalanced presentation. As we learn in Proverbs 18:17: 
"The first to present his case seems right, until another comes and questions him."
But this is still an important and valuable read because it serves as balance to other media outlet's equally – but less obviously so – one-sided reporting. And while The Rebel Media group does have a tendency to over-hype things, I can't recall them spreading straight-out falsehoods – we can trust them that far. That's more than can be said for many other news sources, and that's another reason this book is worth checking out.


You can get the e-book for free, in several formats (pdf, Kindle and epub) by visiting You do have to give your email address, but can opt out of receiving any email updates.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hitler, God & the Bible

by Ray Comfort
2012 / 173 pages

This is a short, readable biography of the 20th century's most notorious villain. Author Ray Comfort spends the first half outlining Hitler's life and the rise of the Nazi Party and then spends the second half dealing with "Religion in the Reich." Both parts are intriguing but I suspect it is the second half that will really grab most readers.

Religion was a big part of the Reich and Hitler loved to talk about God. Because he regularly insisted he was doing God's work, and because he issued Nazi soldiers belt buckles that read "Gott mit uns" (God with us), and because he started his own church there are some who will argue that Hitler was a Christian.

Of course anyone make this contention has never read a Bible, so they don't know that in Matthew 7:15-23 Jesus explains that claiming to follow Him is very different from actually following Him: "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Jesus also told us we would know these liars by their "fruit" - by their deeds.

Everyone is aware of Hitler's worst deed: the Holocaust was a transgression against the sixth commandment 6 million times over. But Comfort details another devilish deed that you may not have heard much about. Hitler started his own church which was meant to unify all the Protestant churches. While some brave pastors resisted (including Dietrich Bonhoeffer) his "National Reich Church" did serve as an umbrella organization over many Protestant churches, pressuring them to follow its lead. With the help of Alfred Rosenberg a 30-point program for the Reich Church was laid out. These points included:

  • restricting the import of the Bible and other Christian publications
  • declaring Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf "the greatest of all documents" 
  • the clearing away off of altars "all crucifixes, Bibles and pictures of Saints" and in their place "nothing but Mein Kampf...and to the left of the altar a sword"
  • a specific rejection of the forgiveness of sins
  • a repudiation of "the christening of German children, particularly the christening with water and the Holy Ghost"
  • preaching was to be done from Mein Kampf

Though mention was still made of God, Hitler showed his interest in the Church was only to see if he could twist it to further his own ends.

Near the end of the book Comfort spends a few pages presenting the gospel and decrying abortion, which might be a surprising addition to anyone expecting only a history lesson. But it is a natural fit. Comfort notes that the reason so many supposedly Christian people followed Hitler is because they were Christians in name only who didn't know the true gospel. Comfort also compares the willful ignorance of the German nation - they knew but didn't know what was being done to the Jews - with the West's willful ignorance of what is being done in our abortion clinics. So this is a history lesson with some modern day application.

The only negative might be the size - this is a good overview, but it isn't in depth. However that is also a feature: the small size makes this an approachable read, and because the subject matter is important and challenging, and the writing so very readable, it is a book most anyone would enjoy.

You can buy a copy at by clicking here though it might be a bit cheaper at

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America's Greatest Virtue

by David J. Bobb

2013 / 228 pages, including notes and index

Fittingly, I found this really good read in one of the humblest of places - the bargain book shelf at Dollar Tree, (which also had a very intriguing book called Preemptive Love, about a surgeon who volunteers surgery for children affected by the war in Iraq). Both Humility and Preemptive Love come from explicitly Christian perspectives - a nice surprise for "dollar store" stock.

In the less than 200 pages of main text, Bobb offers both a wide-ranging view of the meaning of humility from the pagan and Christian perspectives and a number of specific portraits of Americans who demonstrated that virtue in the founding and refining of the American republic.

Part I: Early Life shows how the ancient Greeks, in spite of their current status as the supposed originators of democracy, did not so much believe in humility as in magnanimity. As Bobb shows from the work of Socrates, Aristotle, and Homer, magnanimity meant behaving as your superiority merited. The truly great had to seek and achieve the greatness they "deserved" - hence the prevalence of arrogant generals, kings, and emperors all lording it over their vassals and subjects. The only kind of pride the Greeks recognized as truly wrong was to seek power from or over the gods - the pride of hubris. Humility was only for those whom the fates had designated to be humble and humbled by others. It was not disgraceful, they believed, for a great man to boasts, but it was disgusting to see your social inferiors stand up for themselves or criticize the great.

Christians, on the other hand, had a much firmer basis for both humility and what Bobb calls "healthy pride" - our status before the face of God (not merely the all-too-human gods). Our creation by God gives us equality as humans, in all bearing His image, giving reason for healthy pride or human dignity. On the other hand, our status as mere creatures and as those who rebelled against God's command in Eden (pride rearing its ugly head) demands humility and self-examination. Bobb shows this in the life and teachings of Christ and subsequent reflections of Augustine and Aquinas, and demonstrates how Machiavelli and Hobbbes actually took us backward toward a love of arrogance and contempt for those weaker or (socially) "lower" than ourselves.

Part II: Trials and Temptations demonstrates the operation of both humility and dignity, from a generally Christian perspective, in the lives of five prominent or not so prominent Americans. The first three - George Washington, James Madison, and Abigail Adams - were involved in the framing of the Constitution and its Amendments, in which they consciously sought to found the new republic on a firm understanding of both human dignity ("all... created equal by God," as the Declaration of Independence) and human depravity (all subject to the temptations of self-interest and the danger of being corrupted by power). Each also struggled personally with the temptations to arrogance or assisted others in combatting such temptations. In this narrative, Abigail Adams marks a transition between the beginnings of American political philosophy and the need to reckon with its main failure - the practical issue of the unequal treatment of some. Adams recognized that the new nation did not truly treat woman and blacks as "created equal by God."

In the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, those contradictions with the American ideal wrought terrible conflict within the country - leading even to civil war - and within the men themselves. Abraham Lincoln had to negotiate the conflicting demands for justice for the slaves and unity for the nation. Furthermore he needed to see that he was not infallible and that God's purposes in history could never be certainly known and could involve using man's evil to bring about His good. Frederick Douglass had an even sharper conflict, as a slave who became a free man after his escape. As a slave, he had to learn to assert his own dignity as a man created in God's image, while not giving up his faith in God under cruel and oppressive treatment, while as a free man, he only slowly came to love his deeply flawed country and recognize that real change could only come from understanding the true meaning of the Constitution.

The brief final section, An Age of Arrogance, exhorts us to recognize that humility and dignity - recognizing who we truly are (both exalted above creation and humbled before God and by our sin) - keep America from becoming a new Roman empire, both in its pride and in its decline and fall.

An appendix entitled "A Moral Taxonomy" applies humility and its related virtues to our personal understanding.

My only quibble with this book is that, in its intellectual and political focus, it does not mention the work of  Christ or the Spirit in promoting the fruit of humility in our lives, something that becomes a little more troubling in dealing with Benjamin Franklin's quest for "moral perfection" (not a very humble goal, it would seem). As well, the religious beliefs of the Americans Bobb deals with were not necessarily orthodox Christianity. However, there is nothing in the lives of the five main Americans profiled that excludes the work of God. If, in your humble opinion, you think David Bobb has something important to contribute to your knowledge of either American history or American humility, you can purchase it here.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Chasing Fireflies

by Charles Martin
340 pages / 2007

This is a hard story to categorize: it's part murder mystery, part adoption story (times two), and part...well, super hero epic.

The murder mystery is an old one, and the person trying to solve is Chase Walker, journalist, and formerly a foster kid who bounced around from one house to another. But then he arrived on Unc's doorstep and that's where he stayed. The murder victims are Unc's father and first wife, and while the police think the case is settled, Chase is not so sure.

The adoption-story-times-two involves Chase, adopted by Unc, and a nameless boy who was so badly abused his vocal chords have been damaged, leaving him mute. With Chase all grown up, Unc has space in his heart, and in his home, for another boy in need.

The super-hero of the story is Unc himself, a man so good as to be a bit unreal. That's the story's weakness, but also a lot of its charm. Unc is the father figure that us fathers want to be. He most often knows just the right thing to do or say. Like when Chase, as a boy, believes his father is coming to get him and is disappointed again when it doesn't happen – Unc does what he can to sooth the hurt, using just the right mix of truth and humor.
...Unc walked up next to me and hung his arms across the fence railing. In his hands he held an empty mason jar with holes punched in the lid. He stood there a long time turning the jar. Inside, a single lightning bug fluttered off the sides of the glass. Every five or six seconds, he’d light his lantern. Unc turned the jar in his hand. “Scientists say that these things evolved this way over million of years.” He shook his head. “That’s a bunch of bunk. I don’t think an animal can just all-of-a-sudden decide it wants to make light grow out its butt. What kind of nonsense is that? Animals don’t make light.” He pointed to the stars.” God does that. I don’t know why or how, but I am pretty sure it’s not chance. It’s not some haphazard thing He does in His spare time.”
He looked at me, and his expression changed from one of wonder to seriousness, to absolute conviction. “Chase, I don’t believe in chance.” He held up the jar. “This is not chance, neither are the stars.” 
He tapped me gently in the chest. “And neither are you. So, if your mind is telling you that God slipped up and might have made one giant mistake when it comes to you, you remember the firefly’s butt.”  
So, maybe Unc is a bit too wise to be realistic, but I was okay with that. This is about fatherhood as we want to practice it, it is about sacrifice the way we should do it, and it is about filling a kid up the way he ought to be.


While this is an idealized story, it has some grit. Several people are murdered. One of the people Unc helps is an abused girl who later ran away to become an adult porn star. In addition, the physical abuse the mute boy has suffered is detailed and it includes having someone pinch and rip his skin with pliers. While that is about as descriptive as it gets, these elements mean this is a book only for adults and older teens.

Another caution would be about the hero's faith. While God is made mention of throughout the book, Unc doesn't attend church, though that is at least in part because he wouldn't be welcome. He also has a seemingly superstitious understanding of baptism, going to extreme lengths to get someone baptized shortly before their death. But those will be minor matters to Christians with discernment.


Chasing Fireflies will likely make you cry, so if you don't like sentimental books, don't start it. On the other hand this is so much better than the average tearjerker because Martin's writing is remarkable. I enjoyed it immensely, and now understand why several of my sister-in-laws have been recommending Charles Martin for years now. I'm sure I'll be checking out another of his titles very soon.

You can buy it at by clicking here or get it at here.