Needing Something to Read?

I don't know about you, but I am beginning to feel like "cabin fever" is about to set in.  Living in Minnesota, we try to find our way through a long winter, but when spring comes, it is time to get out and do something.  Well, this COVID-19 virus has forced the winter "stay at home" to linger longer.  So, what is a person to do?  Allow me to make some reading recommendations.  I have not done a book review in quite some time, so it is long overdue. 


With few stores open and with restaurants closed, except for the drive-thru, I strongly suggest sitting down and reading a good book.  One that I highly recommend is titled, "Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions."  The author is Greg Koukl, founder and president of an apologetics ministry known as Stand to Reason.  Like many, I have often been fearful of engaging in a conversation with an unbeliever because I felt inadequate to answer his/her questions.  Imagine my surprise when Dr. Koukl declares that our role is not to defend but to ask questions as to why the other person believes what they believe.  In other words, you turn the conversation in the opposite direction.   I like his terminology about "putting a stone in their shoe," thus giving them something to think about.  In this well written book, Dr. Koukl outlines several strategies that can help make this process more successful.  This is not a theoretical book, but one that gives practical help with the author citing examples of his use of those strategies.  I have been teaching apologetics for the past several years and this book really helped me to begin to understand the strategy for having a conversation with someone.  This is not to create a debate or an argument, but simply a dialogue where information can be exchanged.  This book would be a great for small groups, especially because you could practice each of the strategies within the group.  This would develop more confidence. 


A few weeks ago I final purchased a book whose title had intrigued me for quite some time.  The book is titled, "Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America."  The book was written by Jared Cohen.  This is the story of eight men who as vice presidents ascended to the office of president because of the death of the sitting president - either by assassination or by disease.  Those eight men were: John Tyler (William Henry Harrison), James K Polk (Zachary Taylor), Andrew Johnson (Abraham Lincoln), Chester A Arthur (James Garfield), Theodore Roosevelt (William McKinley), Calvin Coolidge (Warren Harding), Harry Truman (FDR), and Lyndon Johnson (JFK).  Some of these stories I was already familiar with, while others were new to me. 


It was intriguing to learn that many of these vice presidents actually had no drive to be the president, in fact, some of those vice presidents actually were an impediment to the presidents under which they served.  For example: Andrew Johnson was a politically correct choice by Abraham Lincoln to be his second vice president.  Johnson was a War Democrat from Tennessee.  He was chosen in order to secure the votes of those living in swing states like Kentucky and Maryland.  We learn that, on Inauguration Day, Johnson was drunk as the oath of office was being given and he became an embarrassment in Washington.  Unfortunately, after Lincoln's assassination, now President Johnson initiated reprisals against the South that would continue for nearly a century.  Many of these accidental presidents are virtually unknown today, so I am grateful to the author who sharing their stories. 


Another book, part of an historical trilogy, is titled, "Three Days at the Brink: FDR's Daring Gamble to Win World War II."  It was written by Brett Baier who anchors the Fox News Channel's "Special Report" each evening.  This is the story of the Tehran Conference in 1943 between President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.  The purpose of the meeting was to initiate a plan for the liberation of Europe from the Nazi scourge.  The end result of the Tehran Conference was Operation Overlord, better known as D-Day.  But, there was a secondary matter that was also initiated in Tehran - that was how Europe would be divided after the War.  According to Mr. Baier, the Tehran Conference was the beginning of the Cold War.  Stalin already had his eyes focused upon Poland and Eastern Europe as a payment for all the suffering the Russians had endured because of the war.  Churchill was alerted to the consequences if Stalin were granted his wishes, yet his influence was overshadowed by the actions of President Roosevelt.  I could hardly put this book down I found it so fascinating.  I am eager to read Mr. Baier's continuing story of the Cold War: "Three Days in January" - which tells of President Eisenhower's final days in office and the ascent of President Kennedy, particularly focusing upon the Soviet influence in Cuba - and "Three Days in Moscow" - which tells of President Reagan's journey to Moscow where he sought to persuade Russian President Gorbachev to end the Cold War.  Mr. Baier is an engaging writer and before you know it you are drawn into the story as if you were there observing every moment. 


For those of you who enjoy a great political thriller, I highly recommend the newest one written by Joel Rosenberg.  It is titled, "The Jerusalem Assassin."  It is the final volume in a trilogy that includes: "The Kremlin Conspiracy" and "The Persian Gamble."  Mr. Rosenberg is one of those writers who has an unique ability to create real-to-life characters and a story-line that almost appears to leap from the pages of today's newspapers.  I am always cautious when I begin reading one of Joel's books because, as hard as I try to ration my reading, I just get so drawn into the story that I want to keep turning the pages.  And, as with each of Joel's previous thrillers, he carefully winds in the Gospel story.  Because this book concludes the story that begins with book one, it is best to read them in order. 


We don't know how much longer the "safe-at-home" restrictions will continue.  But I expect that they will continue for the next few weeks.  Friends, you can only watch so many TV reruns.  You can only play so many video games.  So, grab a cup of coffee, head for your favorite chair, put your feet up, and enjoy a good book.  Your mind will say "thank you." 

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