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review 2019-02-08 23:06
Dark, scary, and gripping.
The Nowhere Child - Christian White

Thanks to NetGalley and to Harper Collins for providing me an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

I’ve read quite a few books by Australian writers recently (Liane Moriarty, Jane Harper, Liza Perrat), and although very different, I enjoyed all of them and could not resist when I saw this novel, especially as it had won an award Harper’s first novel The Dry also won.

Although part of this novel is set in Australia, it is not the largest or the most important part of it. This novel is set in two time frames and in two places, and the distance in time and space seems abysmal at times. The novel starts with a bang. Kim, the main protagonist, an Australian photographer in her late twenties, receives an unexpected visit and some even more unexpected news. This part of the story, the “now”, is narrated in the first person from Kim’s point of view, and that has the effect of putting the readers in her place and making them wonder what they would do and how they would feel if suddenly their lives were turned on their heads, and they discovered everything they thought they knew about themselves, their families, and their identities, was a lie. She is a quiet woman, and although she gets on well with her stepfather and her half-sister, and she badly misses her mother, who died a little while back, she’s always been quite different to the rest of the members of her family, and enjoys her own company more than socialising. There are also strange dreams that bother her from time to time. So, although she does not want to believe it when the stranger tells her she was abducted from a small town in Kentucky as a little girl, she is not as surprised as she should be. At this point, we seem to be in the presence of a domestic drama, one where family secrets are perhaps a bit darker than we are used to, but the plot seems in keeping with the genre. And most of the “now” section of the book is closer in tone and atmosphere to that genre.

But we have the other part. The “then”, written in the third person, from a variety of characters’ points of view. Readers who dislike head-hopping don’t need to worry, though, because each chapter in the “past” section is told from only one character’s point of view, and it is quite clear who that is, avoiding any possible confusion. The story of the background to the kidnapping, and the investigation that followed, is told from the point of view of members of little Sammy’s family, the sheriff (I really liked him), neighbours of the town, and other characters that at first we might not grasp how they are related to the story, but it all ends up making sense eventually. This part of the novel feels much more gripping and dynamic than the other, and although we don’t always follow the characters for very long, the author manages to create credible and sympathetic (or not so sympathetic) individuals, some that we get to feel for and care, and even when they do some pretty horrible things, most of them feel realistic and understandable. And the story of what happened in the past makes for a pretty dark combination of thriller and mystery, well-paced and gripping.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I must say the town of Manson of the novel is a place that seems right out of a dark fairy tale, and I kept thinking of the opening titles of the TV series True Blood (not because of any supernatural thing, but because of some of the images that appear there). While some of the scenes seem typical of a small town in the middle of nowhere, others reminded me of Southern Gothic novels, and, a word of warning: there is violence, and there are scenes that can be terrifying to some readers (although no, this is not a horror novel, the author is not lying when he says he admires and has learned a lot from Stephen King). The story is full of secrets, red-herrings and confusing information, clues that seem clear but are not, and Kim/Sammy is a woman who keeps her emotions to herself, understandably so considering the circumstances. I am not sure many readers will connect with Kim straight away because of her personality, but I understand the author’s choice. If she was an emotional wreck all the time, it would be impossible for her to do what she does and to learn the truth, and the novel would be unbearable to read, more of a melodrama than a thriller or a dark mystery. The part of the story that deals with the present helps reduce the tension somewhat while keeping the intrigue ticking, and although it feels slow and sedate compared to the other part, it does ramp up as they dig into the past and the two stories advance towards their resolution.

Without going into detail, I can say that I enjoyed the ending, and although I suspected what was coming, I only realised what was likely to happen very late in the story. Despite this being the author’s first novel, his screenwriting experience is evident, and he has a knack for creating unforgettable scenes. This is a novel destined to become a movie, for sure, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t.

This is not a typical mystery or thriller, and although it has elements of the domestic noir, it is perhaps more extreme and darker than others I have read in that genre. We have a very young child being kidnapped; we have murder, extreme religious beliefs, prejudice, postnatal depression, a dysfunctional family, snakes, secrets, lies, child abuse, and more. If you are looking for an intriguing read, don’t mind different timelines and narrators, and are not put off by difficult subjects and scary scenes, you must read this one.

 

 

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review 2016-08-29 22:04
Religious Thoughts of a Mathematician
Pensées - Blaise Pascal,A.J. Krailsheimer

 

When I was learning French I was rather thrown by the way their numbers work after about 60, as is demonstrated by this picture, which shows how English, German, and French construct the number 98:

 

French Numbers

 

 

My first thought was 'this is absolutely ridiculous, how on Earth could the French have produced any mathematicians?” Well, it turns out that they produced at least two – Rene Descartes (notable for Cartesian Geometry) and Blaise Pascal (who built his own calculator, most likely to assist him in deciphering the French numerical system). At least the Germans only switch their numbers around, it just seems like the French reached the number 60 and simply became too lazy to work out any beyond that (and if you look at the numbers 17, 18, and 19, you will see a similar pattern there). Anyway, I'm not writing this to bag the French (only the way they count), but to have another look at Pascal's Pensees.

 

This is the second time I have read this book, and I thought it was an appropriate book to read while travelling through France, and I have just managed to finish it off on my first day in Paris (while sitting out the front of a cafe drinking what was effectively an overpriced beer and an over priced bottle of Pine-apple juice, which is another oddity – the English refer to them and Pineapples while those on the continent refer to them as Annanas – but that is another story). As I was about to read this book I discovered that I had already read, and reviewed it, though that review was written back when I was studying Church History at a Bible college and having realised that I had already written a review on it I was about to move on to another book when I felt that I should read him again, just to see if I end up viewing him differently.

 

 

Well, I'm going to have to agree with what another reviewed said in his review in that the first part of the book, namely the section where Pascal managed to order his Pensees, is actually pretty good, but when you get to the section where the editor has then tried to put them into some sort of order, and failing that just thrown the rest of them into a miscellaneous chapter, it does sort of start to go down hill. For instance you will find some that are simply huge chucks of the Bible, and not really ethical thoughts, but rather ideas on prophecies and their fulfilments. Like a lot of fundamentalist preachers these days he does seem to spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the book of Daniel.

 

The other thing is that Pascal spends a lot of time arguing that Christianity cannot be proved through reason, however the proceeds to use reason to try to prove Christianity. I remember my father telling me once that it is impossible to prove Christianity by using science namely because non-scientists generally don't understand the detailed scientific explanations, and non-Christian scientists have their own explanations as to why things happen. For instance, I asked my Dad why is it that the events at the Big Bang seems to go against the Law of Therodynamics, that is the scientific law that says that everything moves from a state of order to a state of disorder. Well, just like gravity (what goes up, must come down), there are exceptions (unless you have a really big rocket underneath you). The other thing with the Big Bang is that nobody was around to measure it so we don't actually know what went on. Also the universe is also constantly expanding, which once again seems to go against the law of entropy, though I think I'll leave it at that is it is starting to make my brain hurt.

 

Anyway, reading through the Pensees it seems as if Pascal was one of those guys who started off as a scientist (or rather a mathematician), discovered God, and then started to try to use science to prove God. It reminded me a lot of those Creation Scientists, the ones who go around claiming that if you don't believe in a six-day creation you are denying Christ, and if you deny Christ then you are going to hell. Well, I guess that is it for me then, but that is beside the point. The thing is that while I believe that they have some valid ideas, I do try to leave my mind open for other possibilities. However, as I was reading Pascal this time I simply found how his arguments simply didn't seem to work all that well, and while it might have worked with the people of his time period, these days it simply seems that his writings would probably only appeal to the fundamentalist sects (and even then they would probably end up rejecting him as a heretic namely because he is a Catholic).

 

Despite all that, I do feel that he does have a lot to say and I will touch on a couple of things here, the first being distractions. There is a lot of criticism of distractions in the modern world – such as sport, movies, Keeping up with the Kardasians, et al – and that these distractions serve to keep the actions of the power elite from being known by the common people. Well, Pascal suggests that this is not necessarily the case, and I sort of agree with him. The thing is that the common people generally don't care what the power elite are doing, and as long as they have their goodies they will be happy. It is not a question of human rights, nor is it a question of freedom of speech – people will do what they are prone to do – no it is a question of boredom. It is not as if the common person, if the truth is revealed to them, are suddenly going to take to the streets with pitchforks – the Peasants in France knew what the Aristocracy and the Church was all about, they only revolted when their own situation became so dire that they had nothing left to lose (and were also prodded on by a pretty powerful bourgeoisie). Rather, it is to prevent boredom. The thing is that if a person is bored they get up to mischief, and if a lot of people get up to mischief together then anarchy reigns.

 

The other thing about distraction is how it is used in relation to the monarch. Pascal suggests that the monarch is fed distractions by his advisors to prevent the monarch from establishing his (or her) own agenda. Mind you, that depends on how strong the monarch actually is – a strong monarch is going to do their own thing no matter what. However, in most cases, as is suggested by Pascal, it is the advisors and the inner circle that actually dictates how the country is administered. The king is fed distractions so that he will in effect relinquish his (or her) power to them. It could be said that it is the same with politicians today, especially career politicians who probably have no skill set outside of doing what politicians actually do (which is a question to which I an struggling to find an answer). The reality is that most politicians (and cabinet ministers) have no idea how to actually do their job and thus rely on advisors to help them make the decision. In the end the politician, seeing that it is all too hard, arranges for another overseas junket and gets the advisors to make the final decisions and simply signs on the dotted line.

 

One of the things that seems to get up Pascal's nose are vain people – namely those who think of themselves over others. Mind you, he is probably right because it is our vanity that seems to be the cause of a lot of problems that we face in the world, and it is not just the question of the rich not paying their taxes because many of us in the Western World (me included) generally think of our own happiness above the welfare and security of others. In fact it is coming to the point where many of our countries are doing everything that we can to close our borders to refugees and immigrants and blaming in influx of foreigners for all of our woahs. In a way one of the main reasons that the leave vote won out in Britain was because people believed that by voting leave they would get rid of all of the immigrants and return Britain to that of the Anglo-Saxons. In many cases we in the west are hoarders – sure, we might be generous to an extent, even the absurdly rich are pretty generous with their money – they give to charities and to cultural institutions – in fact on a proportionate basis they are probably more generous than many of us who can actually afford to be charitable (though I am not taking into account the reasons for their giving since many of us give for ulterior motives such as a tax deduction). However, when Pascal looked around he we would see an awful lot of vanity in the world, and even when people appeared to be kind and generous he tended to see something beyond that. As Jesus pointed out at the temple one day it was the poor widow who gave the single coin who was the more generous because while the rich gave out of their wealth she gave out of her poverty.

 

Which leads me to the concept of the inversion – people who consider themselves good and righteous end up being anything but. Mind you, this isn't something that Pascal comes up with himself but rather something that is a constant theme throughout the Bible and can best be seen in the Sermon on the Mount, in particular the beatitudes – the poor become rich, the weak become strong, the sorrowful become joyful. In a way it is not a question of outward appearances but inward appearances. Isn't it interesting that when somebody gives out of their wealth an organisation will reward them for that, which means that such people continue to give knowing that their generosity will be rewarded and they will be viewed as a generous person. As Jesus suggests these people have received their reward in full, especially if that is the reason for them giving generously. However those who give a small amount tend to never to be recognised. Well, they might get a thankyou (or a Merci Beaucoup) but a lot of organisations will tend to ignore them when they give and only say thankyou when tapping them for more money. This is another thing that I have noticed – when you start giving to these organisations they will continue to ask for money, and normally will ask for more and more – if I give them $500.00 within a month I will receive a letter asking for $750, $1000, or even $2000. In fact the only letters that I seem to get from them is 'can you make another donation and can you make it more this time'.

 

I should finish off with the idea of the wager, that is that life is a wager and the stakes are eternity, so you either have the choice to live a moral life or an immoral one. The results are that if you live a moral life but it turns out that God doesn't exist then you lose nothing because the moral life is always the better life, but if you live an immoral life and it turns out that God does exist then you lose out big time. Mind you, I have simplified it somewhat, especially since it should actually be 'Christian life' instead of 'moral life' but I'm sure you understand what I mean. The thing is that people outwardly parade their goodness to receive praise from those around them tend not to actually be moral people – sure, they may life immaculate lives in front of everybody but their private life may hold a huge number of dirty secrets. As far as I am concerned it is always going to be a heart things, you don't do things because you want people to say 'gee, what a good person' you do things because it is always better to live a moral life than an immoral life, especially since the immoral life always comes back and bites you.

 

29 August 2016 - Paris, France

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/187676852
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review 2016-07-02 15:23
Dear Mr. Rushdie,
Joseph Anton: A Memoir - Salman Rushdie

Belated Happy Birthday. I don't know how much satisfaction there is to you, these days, in having reached an age which the Ayatollah Khomeini and his acolytes never wanted you to reach, but anyway, since I happen to have been reading your memoir of the fatwā years while you were celebrating your 69th, wishing you well on the occasion of your birthday just seemed in order.

 

Now having said that, could you please enlighten me as to just what the flying f*ck is up with that third person narrative voice of Joseph Anton? The book is subtitled "a memoir," for crying out loud, and that's precisely what it is – the memoir of one Salman Rushdie, author, of the years when he had to deal with a death order issued against him, for having written a book allegedly offensive to Islam, issued by the supreme religious leader of Iran (notice my not putting that in caps, as a title is wont to be) and loudly propagated throughout the entire Islamic world. It is not, in other words, the would-be memoir of one Joseph Anton, like the characters of the much-maligned Satanic Verses a figment of their author's imagination; an alias composed from the names of two of your own favorite novelists (Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov) and slipped on like an ill-fitting glove that you couldn't get rid of again soon enough, or would have, if Special Branch and the Home Office had let you. It is not the memoir of "Rushdie," the maligned author, separated in public opinion – who for obvious reasons were widely ignorant of the mere existence of Mr. Anton – from the Salman you were privately struggling to remain. It is the memoir of precisely that last person: You, Salman – Salman Rushdie –, proud bearer of a last name that your father had intentionally styled on that of the 12th century sage Ibn Rushd (Averroës) for his enlightened views on religion, and on the world in general. And that being the case, the third person narrative voice of your memoir startled the hell out of me right from the very beginning and remained the one jarringly discordant note until the very end.

 

Oh, I get it:

 

"When a book leaves its author's desk it changes. Even before anyone has read it, before eyes other than its creator's have looked upon a single phrase, it is irretrievably altered. It has become a book that can be read, that no longer belongs to its maker. It has acquired, in a sense, free will. It will make its journey through the world and there is no longer anything the author can do about it. Even he, as he looks at its sentences, read them differently now that they can be read by others. They look like different sentences. The book has gone out into the world and the world has remade it."

 

Very astute: Once a book has been published it no longer belongs to its author alone, but to all of us readers, too. (I actually wish there were more authors, particularly these days, who share that feeling.) But that's not really the point here, is it? Because the story doesn't change. And the story isn't that of Mr. Anton, publisher of vaguely international extraction (as his landlords in London would be told by his representatives), nor of "Rushdie," the first-nameless author of "that terrible book," but – pardon me for harping on it – it's your own story. And to be told that story in the third instead of the first person just didn't feel right, however much you may be distancing yourself in your own mind from the "Joseph Anton" as who you had to accept being addressed even by the protection officers with whom you interacted daily, so as to make it easier for them to think of you as Joe and not accidentally slip in a "Salman" when speaking of you. It seems to me that writing this book actually played a large part in your personal reconciliation with those years. Even more so would it have made sense, then, to be written in the first person: which I suspect (and conjecture from at least one instance of a perceivable slip-up in the transition from "I" to "he") it actually has been, initially. Then why, in the name of everything that is precious (I won't use the word "holy" around you), the switch back to a third person narrative perspective that is so clearly in discord with the narration itself?

 

It's a heartfelt book, full of the wit, sense of humor, passion and irony, and the trenchant analysis that I've come to love in everyone of your works, fiction and nonfiction alike. I won't even try to imagine what daily life during those years must have been like for you, because I'm pretty sure whatever I can conjure up will still be woefully short of the real thing. (For some reason, probably because of the framework setting of The Moor's Last Sigh, I'd always vaguely imagined your hiding place to be somewhere in Spain. Should have figured it had to be somewhere where the British authorities actually had the power to protect you, which obviously meant somewhere right in Britain.) It was also tremendously enlightening to read about the important role that some of the leading lights of the British and international literary scene have played in, variously, shielding you and supporting your cause for well over 10 years; even if I do admit to considerable envy of your ability to name-drop the likes of Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, Bruce Chatwin, Günter Grass, Václav Havel, Harold Pinter, Antonia Fraser, Martin Amis, J.M. Coetzee, Robyn Davidson, Carlos Fuentes, Ian McEwan, John Irving and plenty of others, not merely repeatedly but sometimes even in the same sentence or paragraph. My envy is even greater, though, for the fact that you actually have read, and are able to discuss in the most everyday, matter-of-fact tone, more than half of the literary masterpieces that are still languishing on my TBR shelf, which I know I should have read ages ago, too, and am promising myself to do just that on a regular basis – without however actually making much progress in the matter.

 

So yes, I certainly am glad I have read Joseph Anton: It answered a lot of questions I would have had of you if I ever had the privilege of meeting you in person, it shed light on plenty of things that wouldn't even have occurred to me but for your discussing them, and it reinforced my belief that, albeit on the grounds of circumstances that I personally wouldn't wish on my very own worst enemy, yours is one of the most important voices to be heard these days, on the issues of religious fundamentalism, racism, and freedom of speech, as well as the state of the world at large.

 

I still would have wished for your memoir to be written in the first person, however. That third-person distancing, to me, made the experience just that tiny fraction of a degree less than it could, and absolutely should have been.

 

 

Favorite Quotes:

 

“Nobody ever wanted to go to war, but if a war came your way, it might as well be the right war, about the most important things in the world, and you might as well, if you were going to fight it, be called "Rushdie," and stand where your father had placed you, in the tradition of the grand Aristotelian, Averroës, Abul Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd.”

 

"This was what book reviewing did.  If you loved a book, the author thought your praise no more than his rightful due, and if you didn't like it, you made enemies.  He decided to stop doing it.  It was a mug's game."

 

"This was the literature he knew, had always known.  Literature tried to open the universe, to increase, even if only slightly, the sum total of what it was possible for human beings to perceive, understand, and so, finally, to be.  Great literature went to the edges of the known and pushed against the boundaries of language, form, and possibility, to make the world feel larger, wider, than before.  Yet this was an age in which men and women were being pushed toward ever-narrower definitions of themselves, encouraged to call themselves just one thing, Serb or Croat or Israeli or Palestinian or Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Baha'i or Jew, and the narrower their identities became the greater was the likelihood of conflict between them.  Literature's view of human nature encouraged understanding, sympathy, and identification with people not like oneself, but the world was pushing everyone in the opposite direction, towards narrowness, bigotry, tribalism, cultism and war.  There were plenty of people who didn't want the universe opened, who would, in fact, prefer it to be shut down quite a bit, and so when artists went to the frontier and pushed they often found powerful forces pushing back.  And yet they did what they had to do, even at the price of their own ease, and, sometimes of their lives."

 

“When a book leaves it's author's desk it changes. Even before anyone has read it, before eyes other than its creator's have looked upon a single phrase, it is irretrievably altered. It has become a book that can be read, that no longer belongs to its maker. It has acquired, in a sense, free will. It will make its journey through the world and there is no longer anything the author can do about it. Even he, as he looks at its sentences, reads them differently now that they can be read by others. They look like different sentences. The book has gone out into the world and the world has remade it."

 

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review 2016-05-31 18:00
Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Fundamentalism by Karima Bennoune
Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism - Karima Bennoune

This book is a needed reminder that the people who live under the rule of fundamentalists don't get near the support they need. They are the first line of defense against fundamentalism, the first people who suffer on account of it and the last to be freed from its horrors. These are the people this book is about. It is their fight and their struggle and their voices raised to be heard. They need to be heard.   

 

Unfortunately, the book doesn't leave me with the feeling that there's anything concrete I can do to support these people who are actively fighting against fundamentalism every day. It also doesn't leave me feeling like all attempts at outside support have been blunder after blunder, though. Outsiders have helped some and hurt some and made no difference at all some. That we can't do much to help them doesn't mean that we can forget them. They fight Muslim fundamentalism at its root. We can't let ourselves be fooled into thinking that fundamentalism is the only thing happening in and coming out of these countries.

 

We also can't become so complacent that we fool ourselves into thinking that there aren't other kinds of fundamentalism that we should be weary of or that we aren't susceptible to it. Fighting and resisting our own types of fundamentalism in the US can help the people in this book and others. As Bennoune repeatedly makes clear, both Far-Rights need each other to carry on. The more we can do to deplete ours, the less fuel we will give theirs.

 

I first heard of the book from the TEDtalk that the Bennoune gave in 2014. I'm a big fan of TED and the talk introduces the book well. If you're on the fence about the book, check it out here.

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review 2015-10-05 12:50
The Fundamentalist Doctrine
Learn the Bible in 24 Hours - Chuck Missler

 

Looking through the reviews of this book I have suddenly discovered that I am the only person giving it one star. Mind you, pretty much every review is a carbon copy of the other – wonderful book, clearly explains the Bible, very useful in helping me understand. In fact there is only one person who actually provides some criticism of Missler's methodology, and even then she simply says that there are a few times where he makes statements without any supporting evidence (though I'd say that he does it a lot more than a few). Mind you, most of the people that wrote the reviews will probably read mine and scream out 'heretic' but then again it is a badge that I wear with pride. They said exactly the same thing about Martin Luther during the reformation (and about Jesus Christ). For those who have read this book (and are familiar with Missler's teachings) I simply say this – I'm an amillenialist who believes that the church is the new Israel and that most of the events in Revelation have already happened (though I'll explain that a little further on).

 

 

My position is that this book is incredibly dangerous. Mind you, it is rare these days that I don't mark a book on Goodreads that I am currently reading, or post the review to my feed, but the main reason that I am doing so with this book is because I believe that it should only be read by people who are really strong in their faith, and then only to be aware of some of the teachings of the fundamentalists.

 

 

The reason that I say that this book is dangerous is not just because it teaches fundamentalist doctrine, but enforces it's teachings by saying that Jesus/God said this and if you don't believe it then you are denying God/Jesus. For instance, he argues in favour of a seven day creation (which I he is entitled to do) but then finishes off his argument by saying that Jesus said that the world was created in seven days, and thus if we do not believe in a seven day creation then we are denying Christ. It puts young Christians in a very difficult bind because they are forced to believe in this very specific doctrine, and are prevented from questioning it because, well if Jesus said it then it must be true. The fact that this book is actually targeted at people who don't understand the Bible all that much concerns me even more because it has the effect of radicalising them.

 

 

I used to really like Chuck Missler years ago because he said some quite interesting things, and opened up the Bible in a way that it had never been opened to me previously. However I found myself believing in a literal seven day creation and a literal interpretation of Revelation, which didn't do any good for my relationships with non-Christians. However, having returned to his teaching, and reading this book with a fresh, and more mature, mind I have come to realise that Missler is actually pro-Israel, pro-America, anti-Muslim, and anti-homosexual (I won't say Islamophobic or Homophobic because I don't think he fears them, he just hates them with a passion).

 

The problem with Missler is that he does point out a lot of theologically sound doctrine, and has the potential to help you understand the structure of the Bible, how it all fits together, how it is the story of God's redemption of humanity, and how it points to the cross. However he completely undermines his treatise by taking a incredibly literal view of the Bible, and instead of focusing on Christ's salvation he focuses on God's judgement. In fact his main focus is that God will judge the heathan and apostate, however you can be saved by trusting in Christ. It sort of reminds me of this meme.

 

Jesus - Let me in or else

 

 

 

Creation

Missler uses a lot of science in his exposition of the Bible, especially in the section on Genesis. The problem that I find with his scientific explanations is that he seems to force the science to fit the Bible and if it doesn't then he outright rejects it as heresy. This fascinated me when I was younger because I love science, however I have since come to understand that science and the Bible don't always fit. I don't believe that we are supposed to take every part of the Bible literally, and when it comes to science there is actually a lot that we do not understand. In fact a lot of science is still very theoretical and is only held together by mathamatical equations. The problem with forcing science to fit a literal interpretation of the Bible creates a science that is based upon supposition and faulty mathematical logic.

 

 

My position on Genesis is that Genesis 1 is actually poetic in nature, and uses this form to outline the process of creation. While he argues about a literal interpretation he seems to ignore Genesis 2 which has a completely different order of creation (man is created before the plants and animals were created). Like many fundamentalists they take portions of the Bible that suit their arguments and they also argue context only where reading contextually supports their supposition. The problems with arguing a literal interpretation is that according to the poem the Earth was created before the suns and the stars, which means that the 24 hr day simply did not exist. My position is simply that these days represent stages of creation, and that to understand the creation narrative we need to understand it's poetic form. Another interesting thing is that they argue a literal 24 hour day here, but when it comes to Daniel's prophecy of the end times, where he speaks about weeks, it is only to interpret that as a week of years – where is the consistency?

 

Nephalim

Personally, I think the idea of the angels coming down to Earth, mating with humans, and creating a genetic race of super beings is rather cool. However there is a problem with that. He seems to completely ignore the fact that Jesus later says that angels are sexless. So, the question that I raise is, if angels are sexless how is it that they can have sex with humans (maybe they gave themselves the respective equipment)? Look, I believe in a world wide flood, and I think it is cool that humans and dinosaurs may have co-existed (where else did the legend of dragons come from), however while there is a lot of evidence of such a flood, nobody has ever dug up the skeleton of a Nephalim.

 

 

However there is a big problem that I have with Missler's teaching on the subject. His arguments in support of the genocide of the Cananites is that there were Nephalim dwelling among them, and the thing with the Nephalim are that they are tainted. This is why God destroyed the world by a flood, and also why the Israelites were instructed to commit genocide against the Cananites. The fallen angels had tainted humanity, and these tainted individuals had to be killed. My concern is that this teaching gives rise to racism and racial superiority. It also suggests that certain races could be killed off simply because they are belived to have a genetic taint. In a way it encourages genocide.

 

 

This teaching is further compounded by his suppositions from the table of nations. He points out that the Bible apparently identifies the originals of each of the races and tribes on the Earth. The problem is that the sons of Noah exist in a hierarchy, with Shem at the top, followed by Japtheth, and finally by Ham. The problem with the hierarchy is that it once again leads to racism and racial superiority. It suggests that all of those descended from Ham and Japtheth are subservient to those who are descended from Shem. What ever may have been the case back then, Christ's death and resurrection has opened the door to salvation to all nations, races, creeds and languages. Everybody is one in Christ – there are no favourites, no one who is special, all are equally accepted and welcomed. Christ is the great leveller.

 

 

Israel

I was going to say that that Missler is very pro-Israel, however I should actually say that he is incredibly pro-Israel. Sure, I accept that the Jews are God's chosen people, and the fact that they survived a 2000 year long diaspora is testament to that. However my position that the Jews still exist, and survive, is evidence pointing to the authenticity of the Bible. Where as most nations would have simply ceased to exist and would have vanished from the face of the Earth over that time, the Jews still exist and still have a racial identity. While I support Israel's self-determination, and condemn the holocaust, it does not excuse their actions towards the Palestinians. In fact I believe that their actions in Palestine are atrocious. Not only are they raging war against an entire population, they are entering their territory and constructing illegal settlements, despite the fact that they have been told not to.

 

Every morning when I open my Bible app I get the same loaded question:

 

Does Israel Have the Right to Defent Itself

 

 

 

This isn't just a loaded question, it is an incredibly loaded question. If you answer no you are effectively saying that they should let all of their enemies enter their lands and massacre them. However if you say yes then you are giving support to their continued actions against the Palestinians. This isn't about a small group of special forces operatives going into Palestine and arresting those behind the rocket attacks, but rather sending warplanes into the land and indiscriminately bombing civilian populations. Mind you, the propaganda in this situation is fierce, you simply have to look at the internet to see it, but here is a couple of examples:

 

 

Pro-Israel Cartoon

Pro-Israel Cartoon

 

Pro-Palestinian Cartoon

Pro-Palestine Cartoon

 

 

Judgement

Look, I'll be blunt, and I know that I am not making any friends here but I believe in sin, and I also believe in the judgement of God. However, the thing is that there is a really big danger when we focus on judgement and let salvation take a back seat. It is true that the Bible says that we are all sinners and are under the judgement of God, however it is also equally true that Jesus died for the ungodly. The problem with focusing on judgement is that it is like the meme that I posted about – Jesus is saying 'follow me or else'.

 

 

I don't think it is like that because what we are also told is that God gave us up to our sinful nature. The thing is that God has shown us a way where we can live in harmony with God, nature, and our follow humans. However what sin does is that it makes us want to put ourselves front and centre. We want what we want and screw everybody else (and the environment). The thing is that by living selfish and self-centred lives we are very much capable of bringing judgement upon ourselves through our own actions, and when society all goes off to do what they see is right in their own eyes then disaster will follow – just look at the book of Judges.

 

 

The problem that I have with this book is that it seems to elevate some sins above others, and misinterprets some passages. For instance, he focuses entirely on the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as being homosexuality. I don't actually think that that is the case. You see this is only an example of their sin, and it is not homosexuality, or even blazen homosexuality as he suggested. Rather it their actions towards Lot's visitors. When they came to Lot's house and tell him to send out his visitors so that they could have sex with them, this wasn't an invitation, or a proposition, this was a demand. I doubt the angels were in any real position to say 'thank's for the offer, I'm really flattered, but I think I'll pass'. It doesn't even sound as if it was an invitation to participate in an orgy. To me this sounded like a demand that suggested that the Angels really didn't have an option. I doubt if the angels walked outside they could have turned down the sex and simply had a game of snakes and ladders instead.

 

 

It is not the homosexuality that is being focused on here, it is the utter depravity of the society in which Lot lives. It was a cut throat world ruled by a mob where people simply could not walk around at night safely. If you did there was a high likely hood that you would have been mugged, raped, and then brutally murdered.

 

Escatology

I believe that this is a very dangerous doctrine. Sure, I believe that one day Christ will return to judge the world and to bring his children to live in a restored creation, but I also believe that Jesus is more concerned with how we live now rather than focusing too much on how the end times are going to play out. In fact I believe that we don't actually need to know how it plays out because it actually isn't all that important – rather it is a distraction. The Bible isn't about how God is going to bring this present world to a close – we are just told he is going to do that some time in the future, whether it be in half-an-hour's time or in half a millenium's time. The Bible isn't about the future, it is about how we should live now.

 

 

The thing with Revelation (and other parts of the Bible that are purportedly said to be about the end times) is that they have all been interpreted as different things in different times and in different places. The ancient Christians saw the beast from the sea as being Rome, the Christians living in the middle East saw it as militant Islam, and the people of the Reformation saw it as the Roman Church.

 

 

You see, Missler doesn't just dump on non-Christians, he dumps on Christians as well. In fact he says that those who claim to be amillenialists (as I am) are denying the word of God and calling him a liar. That is a but harsh considering that amillenialists actually believe that we are currently living in the millenium. The thing is that amillenialists believe that the end times are the period between Christ's ascension and his second coming. What Missler is doing is dictating what they believe to people who probably don't know otherwise.

 

One big issue that I noticed was that he suggested that new Christians should read the book of Revelation first because 'it bestows a special blessing on the reader'. Hold it, what about the gospels – the four central books around which the entire Bible is focused that talk about the life and teachings of the man that forms the basis of the Christian religion? Should it not be more important to find out what Jesus actually says rather than jumping into a book that is so full of old testament allusions and symbols that new readers have no idea what it is about. To me that is preposterous. I remember when I read Revelation years ago before I had any understanding of the Bible, and came up with some really bizarre ideas. The thing is that I was making statements about the four horsemen without even realising that they were a reference to the book of Zechariah.

 

The thing is that the book of Revelation is not mapping out a path of future history, but rather is a book that was written to Christians living under oppression in Rome. We, living two thousand years from then, cannot take the book out of that context and apply it to the world as it exists now – it just isn't the same. The other interesting thing is that he regularly attacks Russia, China, and the European Union. Once again I find this really interesting because these three superpowers actually provide a counter-balance to the power of the United States. In fact his decrying the US's rejection of the gospel of Christ suggests that there is a belief that maybe, just maybe, the United States is supposed to be the protector and guardian of the Christian message and if the United States rejects it's Christian heritage then the world is doomed.

 

For all of those who actually believe that America was at one stage a Christian nation, just remember this:

 

Name the country built on the genocide of one race and the enslavement of another

 

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1414602174
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