Category Archives: Non-Fiction

God’s Not Dead 2

gods-not-dead-2Is this not-quite-a-direct-sequel just another overly simplistic “Christian” film serving to highlight the Newsboys on stage again – or is there a story worth telling here? The quick answer: Unfortunately, it’s more the former.

God’s Not Dead 2
PureFlix Entertainment
April 2016

The first God’s Not Dead was an emotional punch to the intellect with some really interesting data for Christians looking for apologetics-lite, (which is to say the apologetics data without the details.) The presentations in the classroom of the first movie were outstanding but shallow and too quick. The interactions between characters were under-developed and the atheist was an offensive caricature. The ending was far too tidy. Some of these same problems infest God’s Not Dead 2 as well.

Grace Wesley (a constantly concerned and very earnest Melissa Joan Hart) is a school teacher who, while talking to Brooke Thawley (Hayley Orrantia), one of her students after school and off campus about the loss of her brother, says that she finds hope in Jesus. Brooke then (very coincidentally) finds that her brother had a Bible and was keeping his faith a secret from their unbelieving parents. After reading some of the Bible, Brooke brings up a quote by Jesus in a class on non-violent civil disobedience and asks her teacher if the quote fits the discussion. Grace says it does. The movie is very careful to show the only time Grace proselytizes is off campus, while in the classroom Grace only answers the question raised by a student in a very reasonable, non-religious way.

No matter how reasonable, Grace’s school decides to hold a disciplinary hearing for bringing religion up in class. Grace refuses to recant – simultaneously affirming her Constitutional right to free speech and her religious duties to follow God first – and so the discussion goes to court to allow the judicial system to determine wrongdoing (or not).

Here’s where it get’s very shallow. The lawyers who take up the case are (of course) from the ACLU and are depicted as preying on the situation and Brooke’s parent (even selling them on how this case will help Brooke get into college). Pete Kane (yes, like in killing Abel), played by Ray Wise, is nefarious, self-serving, one dimensional and unbelievable. The only thing we know about him personally is that he wears and respects shiny shoes. We know literally nothing more about him. I say unbelievable, but what I mean is that it is only unbelievable outside of a “Christian” film. In this film, it makes total sense since much of the message is clear pandering to the Religious Right.

In a promising change from the first film, there is an unbeliever in the film who is reasonable, more fleshed out and who grows throughout: Tom Endler, Grace’s lawyer (played by Jesse Metcalfe.) While Tom does read some of the apologetics information he doesn’t do a quick death-bed confession of Jesus or couple up with Grace, thankfully. He is consistently himself throughout and believable.

Rev. Dave (reprised by David A.R. White) is what connects this movie to the last (along with a couple cameos from the previous film) when he gets jury duty for the case. Rev. Dave has to make a troubling decision – completely unrelated to the court case – to turn in three years of his sermons to the government. Why he was asked to do this or to what entity in the government is unclear. This sub-plot felt like pandering and fear mongering, but then I looked it up. In 2014, Houston asked five pastors to do just this. From Snopes.com, “The subpoena asked the religious leaders to turn over “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.” (HERO stands for Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.) So, still unrelated, but yikes!?

Like the first movie, the courtroom allows for some interesting apologetics to be clearly explained in what I think are the best scenes (and possibly most redeeming scenes) in the movie. Specifically the scene with J. Warner Wallace, the author of Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. In one scene he says, “I’m not a Christian today because I was raised that way or because it satisfies some need or accomplishes some goal. I’m simply a Christian because it’s evidentially true.” Scenes like this are when the movie shines.

How the court case comes out – if you need a hint just remember this is a “Christian” film – isn’t the biggest issue to the filmmakers. Like the last film, at the end you’ll see a list of many court cases like this one that purport to prove Christian persecution in the United States. But I’m left wondering if this storyline was a good example of the “persecution.” I always ask the question, “What if the actions being discussed were done by an [X] instead of a Christian? Would I be cool with that?” In this case, what if the teacher discussed Mohammed and was open about her Muslim faith? Not a big deal since the class room scene wasn’t against the law; there was no proselytizing. But what if that same Muslim teacher met with your daughter after a significant loss and pointed her to the Quran? Would you still be ok? Probably not, which means it was probably not cool to do that as a Christian – at least legally in pluralistic America. This is one view. We either need to be ok with everyone sharing their faith or none. But like a lot of propositions by the Religious Right, Christians want to be free to share our faith but we don’t like it when others do. (Just check out all the posts about kids learning about Islam in school for evidence.)

A reasonable conversation about the issue of religious freedom doesn’t happen in these movies. Instead we get straw man arguments and over simplistic motivations. The other teachers and principle are unrelentingly anti-Christian, the lawyers are one sided, the only reasonable people in these films are the Christians and that’s just too simple for a movie trying to shed light on a complicated problem. Christians have the right to be Christians everywhere we are. We have freedom of speech. But we need to balance the rights and expectations of who we work for and those we are talking to. What if Brooke was offended by Grace’s recommendation to look in the Bible? What if Brooke were Hindu or Muslim and this proselytizing created a hostile environment in the classroom? Because it didn’t in this story doesn’t mean it wouldn’t or couldn’t in real life. We have to be mindful of this.

All this to say that this is exactly the movie you’d expect. It’s shallow, quick and affirms the fears of Christian Americans that atheists are out to get us and to take away our rights. Atheists are evil and have nothing better to do (like scientist professors in the previous film). They are in power and we are the underdogs. And because everything wraps up too cleanly at the end of every film (with a Newsboys concert, of course) we have hope. Blah.

Christian entertainment could be so much more. The scripts could be more complex, with at least some measure of nuance. Not every opponent is an enemy and out to get us. There are some situations where the courts, the ACLU or schools have gone too far and it is great that there are legal defense groups out there to fight for religious liberty. But telling the stories could be so much better.

(It also doesn’t build trust that this movie is only out to help shed light on serious issues rather than make money when there are so many books, CDs and journals and so on for sale already a month ahead of the release. Search Amazon. It’s incredible – in a sad way.)

Because of the shallow characters, the mostly vanilla acting, and the overly one dimensional plot that doesn’t take it’s issues seriously I recommend you pass on this one.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This pre-release movie was screened by the studio.

Fragile and Perfectly Cracked by Sophie Wyndham

fragilecover1 in 4 women.  25% of us.  We will walk a path no one wants to travel.  We will endure a pain no one wants to share.  We will join a club no one wants to join.  1 in 4 of us will know what it’s like to lose a child.
Fragile and Perfectly Cracked
by Sophie Wyndham
Independent Book Publisher’s Association
July 2015

In 2009, Sophie and her husband decided they were ready to start a family.  Like so many others, they don’t anticipate any problems.  They don’t yet know the statistics:  that a woman with a normal cycle only has a 20% chance of conceiving each month.   They move forward with excitement for this next stage in their lives.

Almost a year later, Sophie finds herself planning and preparing for the arrival of a son.  After not feeling well for a week, she begins to have complications.  The baby they’ve longed and hoped for will not be leaving the hospital in their arms, only in their hearts.

What follows is another try, another loss, then Sophie’s account of her journey through infertility treatments.   It is a raw, graphic, no holds barred view of what she endured.

Having traveled the same path as Sophie, it’s VERY hard for me to be objective.  The fact that she’s willing to open the pain of these moments and share with the world is highly commendable.  Sophie doesn’t sugar coat what she endured.   It’s a recommended read, but readers should be prepared for graphic details.   There are unhappy parts to any journey through loss and infertility, and Sophie doesn’t hold back.

If there’s one critique I can add, it’s that I wish it was longer.   I think opening up further could help the 75% better understand how to support a friend who might be experiencing infertility or loss.   Adding in what helped her cope best through those losses, particularly with outside support would allow a non-member of the club some insight into helping.

Overall, that’s a really small complaint in sight of the memoir.  Thank you, Sophie, for sharing your hurt.

I’m sorry you had to join this club.

 


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 10 month old busy body.  You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Finding Noah

Finding NoahAdventure. Quest. Fizzles.

Finding Noah
Brent Baum
October 2015

This documentary film follows a group of archaeologists, theologians, and Ark hunting explorers as they go on an expedition to Mount Ararat to find evidence of Noah’s Ark. The explorers make the trek up the mountain, use sonic technology to find evidence of wood coveted in pitch under the ice.

There are some interesting sections of the film, like the previous sightings of the ark throughout history. The different explorer’s lives are interesting as well, although there isn’t a lot of background info for each most likely because there are so many different people in the film. Also because of the large cast it can be hard to keep up with names.

[SPOILERS] Ark hunting is obviously a labor of love for these people. But the question I’m left with at the end isn’t whether or not there is evidence of Noah’s Ark, but whether or not I want to watch people I don’t know spend a lot of time on a mountain with very little resolution. Don’t read on of you don’t want to know – and I did mention this section contains spoilers – but this film goes no where. It shouldn’t even be called “Finding Noah” as nothing is found and Noah isn’t what they are looking for anyway, it’s the Ark. [END SPOILERS]

As far as documentaries go, this is interesting and covers information about Ararat and the surrounding area that are useful and insightful. I’m an avid watcher of documentaries, but wasn’t for me.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This movie screener was provided for the purpose of evaluation.

My Final Word by Colson and Morse

myfinalwordSame. Late. Unfinished.

My Final Word
Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter Most
by Charles W. Colson
and Anne Morse
Zondervan
August 2015

It’s hard not to admire Chuck Colson. Whether you agree with his politics or not, you have to admit that after conversion to Christianity his life was turned around and then he became a man of integrity and focus. Although not as conservative as he, I enjoyed Colson’s concise and informed commentary. He was thoughtful and intelligent. As such I was really looking forward to this book. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for.

The is a collection of partly finished thoughts and commentaries. They lack the polish of the finished product we are used to from his radio and print commentaries. They are much more exactly how they were described in the preface: recorded thoughts that Colson would collect as he considered current events or after reading something. But having passed away, these are no longer current. Unfortunately, even the most current of the current events – gay marriage – was legalized just prior to this book’s publication. Another example of how these just aren’t timely anymore.

Many of the commentaries run together. Many don’t have a solid conclusion, rather provocative thought. What I took from this is how much the editors helped Colson with his Break Point commentaries. They focused and wrapped them up. These in the book are not at that level.

All an interesting read, but not what I was hoping.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Dukes of Hazzard Reunion Q&A Video #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

BookGateway.com Highlights from the Dukes of Hazzard Reunion Q&A panel from Wizard World Comic Con Nashville on 9/27/2015.

The Duke Family — cousins Bo ( John Schneider) and Luke (Tom Wopat), assisted by their cousin Daisy ( Catherine Bach) and their uncle, Jesse (Denver Pyle)– fight the system and root out the corrupt practices of Hazzard County Commissioner Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and his bumbling brother-in-law-Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best). The show became an instant hit, never failing to win its time slot during its original run on CBS for seven seasons from 1979-1985. The Duke boys, a pair of ‘Robin Hood’ types complete with bows and Dynamite arrows, are assisted in their adventures by their car, an orange 1969 Dodge Charger named ‘The General Lee’. The Dukes of Hazzard is set in Georgia, and the show’s southern influence is felt throughout. Country singing superstar Waylon Jennings performed the famous theme song to the show (Good Ol’ Boys), and acts as The Balladeer, narrating the adventures of each episode. Furthermore, many of the plots revolved around the Dukes’ history as an ex-moon-shining family. The story followed Bo and Luke until season five, because during episodes 87 through 104, their cousins Coy (Byron Cherry)and Vance (Christopher Mayer) replaced the boys while the went on to join NASCAR Circuit. Bo and Luke won, but returned to Hazzard after great season at the NASCAR Circuit. Innocently naive Deputy Enos Strate, though technically a member of the law under Boss Hogg, strives for justice and fairness, while also having a major crush on Daisy. Ace mechanic Cooter Davenport helps the Dukes along the way, and Deputy Cletus Hogg, though not as honest as Enos, subtlety assists the Dukes escape from ‘Hogg justice’. The series had an extremely successful run in syndication beginning in 1996 on TNN, the Nashville Network. This led to a resurgence in the popularity of the “Dukes”. Two reunion movies, featuring the surviving members of the cast, aired in 1997 and 2000. The show currently airs on CMT (Country Music Television) and in the summer of 2005 experienced another huge revival with the film version, starring Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Willie Nelson and Jessica Simpson. A Prequel was Made in 2007 and shown in 2 weeks on ABC Family in 2008 during the summer.

**Details taken from Wizard World press releases. See http://www.wizardworld.com/nashville2015.html

Strong Female Characters Panel Video #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

BookGateway.com Highlights from the panel on Strong Female Characters: What They Are And What They’re Not from Wizard World Comic Con Nashville on 9/26/2015.

Moderator:
Jenna Busch is the founder of Legion of Leia and has hosted and written for sites like IGN, AOL, Huffington Post and more. She co-hosted Cocktails With Stan with the legendary Stan Lee and has appeared on G4’s Attack of the Show, Fresh Ink, Tabletop with Wil Wheaton, NPR and Al Jazeera America, covers film/TV/gaming/comics. She’s currently a co-host on the entertainment web series Most Craved. She’s been published in the comics anthology Womanthology, is a chapter author for Star Wars Psychology and Game of Thrones Psychology, moderates and appears on panels at cons around the country and owns a terrifying amount of swords and 20-sided dice. There are also those My Little Pony voice overs that give one nightmares.

Panelists:
Writer, editor and publisher Renee Witterstaetter is the author of “Nick Cardy: The Aritst at War,” “Excess: The Art of Michael Golden,” “Tex: The Art or Mark Texeira,” the children’s book “Kerry and the Scary Things,” and “Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan,” among many others. In addition to on-going film work, she is the President of Little Eva Ink Publishing and Eva Ink Artist Group, which represents artists and writers in comics, storyboards, fine art painting and more (www.evainkartistgroup.). Renee is also one of the producers of the “Creator Chronicles” DVD series with Woodcrest Productions, featuring interviews with major industry creators such as George Perez, Bill Sienkiewicz, Michael Golden, Joe Jusko, Matt Wagner and many more.

Genese Davis is an American author, host, columnist, and media personality. She is the author of The Holder’s Dominion, a next-generation thriller heralded as a breakthrough novel by Publishers Weekly. Her writing expertise expands across various genres including thriller, fantasy, gamer-lit, and new adult, as well as screenplay, playwriting, and video game lore. Davis is an in-demand host, speaker, and moderator for TV, radio, web-series, conventions, academic fairs, publishing workshops, and literary and entertainment expos. Davis is a featured columnist at MMORPG.com, and she is the founder of The Gamer In You. She was awarded the iGR Woman of the Year for her outstanding efforts in debunking stereotypes and for bringing the video game industry the first new adult, gaming-thriller, The Holder’s Dominion.

If you’re not familiar with Jacque, it’s probably a good bet you’re at least familiar with her name, Nodell, as in Martin Nodell. That’s her grandfather. Yup, the story of how Jacque got into comics started way back in 1940, with the creation of the Golden Age Green Lantern. After being toted to countless comic book conventions as a child, it was only natural that Jacque wanted to contribute to the comic book industry. After a brief stint lettering the Ape Entertainment series Super Human Resources, Jacque put her academic training to work by starting the popular site, Sequential Crush — a blog devoted to preserving the memory of romance comic books and the creative teams that published them throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Jacque’s writing has been featured in the new Rosy Press anthology Fresh Romance, and the Oni Press romantic comedy, Ares & Aphrodite: Love Wars. She was also featured on PBS’s History Detectives, and has been called a “must-read for anyone with an interest in American pop culture of the era.” In addition to blogging, Jacque is currently working on her first book about the romance comics that will be out this spring.

Janet Lee (artist, the Return of the Dappermen)

**Details taken from Wizard World press releases. See http://www.wizardworld.com/nashville2015.html

WWE’s Roman Reigns Q&A Video #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

BookGateway.com highlights from WWE’s Roman Reigns Q&A from Wizard World Nashville Comic Con 2015 on 9/26/2015.

A star defensive tackle at Georgia Tech, Roman Reigns wrecked offensive guards for both the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars before becoming a WWE Superstar. The hulking powerhouse brought his smash-mouth gridiron style to WWE’s developmental system, NXT, where he left a long line of tough opponents in crumpled heaps. But it was at the 2012 Survivor Series that Reigns made his greatest impact.

In the heat of a Triple Threat Match between WWE Champion CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback, Reigns hit the ring alongside fellow WWE NXT competitors Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins and unleashed a merciless attack on the mighty Ryback. Tearing at the beast like a pack of hungry jackals, the young competitors ruined Ryback’s opportunity to win the WWE Title and drove him through a ringside table.

Rumors that the group was working in collusion with The Straight Edge Superstar quickly spread, but those ties were strongly denied when Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose sat down with Michael Cole for an interview. Branding themselves “The Shield,” the band of upstarts in black tactical gear claimed that they weren’t in WWE to aid Punk, but to halt injustice. From then on, the group targeted anyone and everyone they saw as an example of said injustice, with Reigns slowly emerging as the trio’s juggernaut. At Extreme Rules 2013, Rollins & Reigns bested Team Hell No to win the WWE Tag Team Titles, later targeting Daniel Bryan on multiple occasions on the orders of WWE COO Triple H and his corporate Authority.

Reigns didn’t even suffer his first pinfall until nearly a year after The Shield debuted when he was eliminated by The Usos in the first-ever 11-on-3 Handicap Elimination Tag Team Match that pitted The Hounds against Bryan and his locker-room supporters. Despite losing the WWE Tag Team Titles to Cody Rhodes & Goldust, The Shield remained a dominant unit until CM Punk attempted to turn the three Superstars against each other and nearly succeeded.

Reigns’ next and potentially greatest step came in the 2014 Royal Rumble Match when he eliminated a record 12 Superstars from the contest, including a mutinous Ambrose and unsuspecting Rollins, and came in second before he was last eliminated by a returning Batista. The next night, though, The Shield were prevented from earning their way into the Elimination Chamber Match and challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Title when The Wyatt Family interfered in their qualifying bout, handing the DQ victory to Daniel Bryan, John Cena & Sheamus. WWE COO Triple H later granted the enraged Shield a request to face The Wyatts at Elimination Chamber. After a couple of weeks of circling each other, the two factions finally came to blows at the end of the Feb. 17 Raw.

But at Elimination Chamber, The Hounds of Justice fell in a hard-fought battle to The Wyatt Family. Further infighting cost them a rematch eight days later when Rollins abandoned his teammates to make a statement, but once The Authority was revealed to view The Shield as “expendable,” The Hounds turned on their handlers and unleashed hell, destroying WWE Director of Operations Kane and The New Age Outlaws in one of the most dominant showings in WrestleMania history at the 30th Show of Shows – one that saw an unbelievable double-Triple Powerbomb on the Outlaws.

Despite Triple H’s efforts to stop The Shield by re-forming Evolution, The Hounds prevailed again at Extreme Rules in an incredible battle between two of the most dominant factions in WWE history.

So persistent was The Shield’s resistance that The Game re-formed Evolution with Randy Orton & Batista to combat them, but at Extreme Rules, The Shield emerged victorious, thanks in no small part to a gravity-defying effort by Rollins. Even then, however,The Hounds weren’t done with Evoluton, as Reigns, Rollins & Ambrose went on to shut out all three members of legendary faction in a brutal No Holds Barred Elimination Match at WWE Payback. Even though Batista quit WWE the next night, the evening still threw the future of The Shield into question, however, when Rollins attacked Reigns and Ambrose with a steel chair and seemingly allied himself with Evolution.

The next week, Reigns and Ambrose vowed revenge and proved their continued strength by teaming with John Cena to defeat The Wyatt Family, but it was on June 16 that Reigns made his biggest statement yet, maneuvering his way into, and winning, a Battle Royal that entered him into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match at Money in the Bank.

Reigns would come close multiple times to retrieving the WWE World Heavyweight Championship but to the Authority’s delight did not come away with the championship gold. He would, however, get another chance when The Game placed him into a Fatal 4-Way for the title at WWE Battleground, but came up just short when John Cena retained.

**Details taken from Wizard World press releases. See http://www.wizardworld.com/nashville2015.html

7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage by Kimberling PhD

7secretsClear. Basic. Works.

7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage
Strengthen Your Most Intimate Relationship Paperback –
by Kim Kimberling, PhD
Abingdon
July 2015

How many relationship books are truly revolutionary? Not many. Love languages, the sexes are from different planets, love verses respect and so on are the ones that counselors and church leaders go back to again and again. Most of the rest are read and set aside as time goes on. This isn’t to say that they aren’t good, but that they mostly tell us what we already know – or what most other books already say. This book falls into that second category.

If you are newly married or have a marriage on the rocks, this book presents the right information that will help you. And, frankly, more people need to read books like this one. The 7 Secrets (paraphrased from the table of contents, no spoilers): The attitudes and behaviors that hold us back, putting God first, being present and listening, fighting fair, making time for our spouses, a higher view of sex, and teamwork.

Doctor Kimberling accurately discusses the basics of relationships that need to be followed in order to create a great marriage or to right the ship. But not a lot of it is new. There isn’t a quick take away or catchy new way of thinking of things. Again, this doesn’t equate with inaccurate or unhelpful, but – and I hesitate to say this, but honestly, it seems the right way to describe the book – forgettable.

As a reader of dozens of relationship books (both out of need and out of my role in my local church as a leader) what I really valued about the author’s approach was that he peppered in so many real life stories. Some of them don’t resolve, but these stories served to ground the messages in reality. It was easy to empathize with the couples in the book making following the author’s advice more relevant.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Coffee, Tea, and Holy Water by Hudson

Coffee-Tea-and-Holy-WaterThere are a lot of really great books out today from authors trying to call American Christians back from materialism, false idols and malaise – the American church – but this book takes us one step further by putting our version of Christianity in its place in the big picture. Not all Christianity is the same. Not all issues are the same. Not all methods are the same. But Christ is the same.

Coffee, Tea, and Holy Water:
One Woman’s Journey to Experience Christianity Around the Globe
by Amanda Hudson
Abingdon
March 2015

Amanda Hudson decided to visit five different countries to find out what Christianity was like on the ground and in the homes of the believers in those countries. What she finds is eye opening. Brazil, for instance, is extremely superstitious and much less materialistic and the challenges of spreading the Gospel are specific to their culture. Wales suffers from apathy and a post-Christian mindset. Tanzania, China and Honduras all have their own customs, their own challenges, their own versions of worship. Every new place she visits works to shed light on what American Christianity struggles with and ideas for overcoming those struggles.

This is part travelogue, part diary and part challenge to overcome American Christian issues, this book is a must read. As someone whow has been on short term trips to other countries I can attest to the need for Americans to think outside the borders of our narrow, very rich lives, and see the world and Christianity in the big picture. When we see how others live in abject poverty but demonstrate limitless generosity we are humbled. When we see actual idols – small statues! – next to statues of Christ, the Bible takes on a very real, very timely message for those who barely crack it open because of its otherness.

In my opinion, every Christian in America should visit Christians in other countries on short term trips, but if they can’t then books like this one are a must read. Christ is there in every culture, and finding Christ in the midst of all the different cultures in this book help readers cut out all the excess and see the beauty of a refined and purified Gospel.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Never Fight Again . . . Guaranteed! by Hawkins

neverfightWhen you say something is guaranteed it really only promotes the sale if there is a chance that the thing for sale may not actually be – on its face – obviously going to work. But this book promotes as “Groundbreaking” common sense ways of dealing with conflict that will work. Without the need for a guarantee.

Never Fight Again… Guaranteed!
Groundbreaking Practices for a Win-Win Marriage
by David B. Hawkins
Abingdon
July 2014

This may seem to suggest that the book isn’t useful or good at doing what it promises. That’s not the intention in this review. Rather it’s a commentary on the sensationalism of the title and calling Dr. Hawkins “Your Relationship Doctor.” We get it, you want to sell this book. But when I’m looking for relationship advice I’d rather read about how the help is going to actually help rather than ad copy. Enough of this, how is the book?

The book will help you stop fighting if you actually change how you fight into one of not fighting. Circular, right? What Dr. Hawkins promotes is empathy, courtesy, charity and self control. Not groundbreaking, but perhaps not mentioned enough in books like these. I’ve read most of the big names in this industry and most relationship book focus on explaining behavior then responding to the behavior once you understand where it’s coming from. Men are from Mars so they act this way… Woman need love while men need respect… and so on. This book avoids dealing with the consequences of behavior by challenging the reader to change how they respond in a way that may be summarized as simply, “It’s not healthy to fight.”

So if it’s not healthy to fight then it’s not healthy to argue. It’s not healthy to let your emotions loose or vent. Instead, control your tongue and focus on loving your spouse. If this sounds familiar it really should be for buyers of Abingdon books because this is straight out of Proverbs and Jesus’ sermons. Love your enemies. Be patient. Return love for hate and so on. Which brings me to a concern. This is a “Christian” publisher and the author does quote the Bible at times but there isn’t a clear connection to the source material that if Dr. Hawkins were quoting ideas by any other author or book than the Bible you’d expect citations. There are very few quotes from the Bible here, but the ideas seem to be influenced heavily by them.

(One other thing: the initial quote in the book about how good and pleasing it is when “families” live together in harmony is a misquote. Only the CEB uses families. In all other translations this is better translated as “members of the community of believers” or “brothers and sisters [in the faith].” I had previously thought highly of the CEB but this is a red flag. What other small changes were made?)

Overall, any reader who listens to these words and takes them to heart wont fight. Because basically the book is saying to not fight, don’t fight. Not a bad message, but not groundbreaking. I believe the book over promises on an overly obvious principle. The Dr. is right, but you don’t need the book to know it in my opinion.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.