One Minute Book Reviews, January 2013

The January 2013 edition of One Minute Book Reviews includes Blood Brothers, by Elias Chacour, Ordinary Injustice, by Amy Bach, and The Insanity of God, by Nik Ripken.
Blood Brothers, by Elias Chacour, book review.

The one book you must read to be fully informed about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Chacour was a 9-year old Palestinian Christian when the his generational homeland became the destination of a world-wide Jewish immigration. This is a firsthand account of dispossession, murder, terrorism, political scheming, ministry, forgiveness, and the hand of God. He recounts how his hometown of Biram was completely destroyed by the Israeli military on Christmas day 1951, for no other reason than disallowing the rightful owners back home. Chacour ministers to Palestinians and Jews alike to this day, as he writes:

Before me stood my two commitments–one to God and one to my people. They were inextricably bound together. And suddenly, I knew I would rather be on God’s side which is stronger than human might.

Then I knew where I should be–not living in comfort, but back in the place where villages and churches were being reunited, where schools and community centers and spirits were being built up, where, amid the terrible noise of violence I could hear the whispers of the Man of Galilee, saying, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court, by Amy Bach, book review.

Bach, an attorney with the New York Bar and a journalist, spent eight years observing, interviewing and writing about the legal system in the United States. Drawing from experiences in Georgia, Mississippi, New York and Chicago, she examines over-zealous prosecutors, over-worked public defenders, wrongful convictions, lack of prosecution, and judicial improprieties. This fascinating look inside our legal system is at the same time extremely disheartening. According to Bach problems are known, but accepted at every turn, regularly bringing injustice to defendants across the nation. That this is quite unremarkable is the problem. The injustice in our justice system is quite ordinary. For instance in Coweta County, GA:

The Southern Center…charged that over a two-and-a-half-year period, more than half of the poor people found guilty in felony cases had pleaded to crimes without a lawyer present.

And, after discussing Quitman County, MS:

Prosecutor’s decisions are not transparent, except in those major trials, that make it to court. Prosecutors are not accountable and rarely have to justify their actions or identify the facts that contributed to them. With too little oversight on potentially momentous decisions that are made behind closed doors, prosecutors have no incentive to be neutral, fair, or to seek justice.

The Insanity of God, by Nik Ripken, book review

I’ve nearly finished The Insanity of God and recommend it for anyone who struggles with the big question: “Where is God in the midst of evil and suffering?” From the publisher’s summary:

“The Insanity of God” is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, “Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place? It sure didn’t work in Somalia.

How does faith survive, let alone flourish in a place like the Middle East? How can Good truly overcome such evil? How do you maintain hope when all is darkness around you? How can we say “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” when it may not be visibly true in that place at that time? How does anyone live an abundant, victorious Christian life in our world’s toughest places? Can Christianity even work outside of Western, dressed-up, ordered nations? If so, how?

“The Insanity of God” tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure, yet at heart a very human story—of the Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. The gripping, narrative account of a personal pilgrimage into some of the toughest places on earth, combined with sobering and insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, will serve as a powerful course of revelation, growth, and challenge for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.

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Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.