In Europe, Africa, and North America, the increasing visibility of the Muslim world is challenging both Christianity and secular societies. The 9/11 destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City, the 2005 bombing of a subway in London, and similar sensational atrocities around the world have heightened Christians’ awareness—and fear—of Muslims. Books on the topic contain a great deal of helpful information and a spectrum of opinions—some reassuring, others frightening.
Muslims, Christians, and Jesus by Carl Medearis (Bethany House), is a practical guide for Christians who interact with Muslims. When Medearis was evangelizing Muslims in Lebanon, he ducked prejudice against Christians by calling himself a follower of Jesus and by inviting Muslims to learn more about this Jesus who is praised in the Koran.
A detailed and dense volume, God’s Continent by Philip Jenkins (Oxford University Press) explores the impact of Muslims on European society. He outlines the complexities involved and details the differences between violent radicals, devout but peaceful Muslims, and many who are no more Muslim than most Europeans today are Christian. While Jenkins makes it abundantly clear that accommodating devout Muslims in thoroughly secularized European societies is difficult, he remains optimistic that, over time, Muslims will embrace the European values of tolerance and respect.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel (Simon and Schuster), is the most readable of these books, but also the most likely to incite fear of Muslims. It is a personal account of the oppression Ali suffered in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya as a girl before she fled her family and faith and claimed refugee status in The Netherlands. She became a member of Parliament there, but her strident criticisms of Muslims sparked violent reactions. The government took another look, discovered that she had lied on her refugee application, and so deported her. She moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the American Enterprise Institute. (For a CRC-related story, see Cracks in the Crescent by Hussein Hajji Wario.)
These and other books offer facts, history, and personal experiences. The challenge for us is to learn to love all God’s people with the same love our God has for all people.
reviewed by Paul DelgerGrammy-award nominated band newsboys celebrates the end of an era with the release of their latest album, In the Hands of God. This CD marks the close of lead vocalist Peter Furler’s singing career with the group, which blew onto the scene in the mid-’80s and has been one of Christian rock’s most popular bands for the last two decades. In the Hands of God includes a great worship song, “Lead Me to the Cross,” and the album is rich in the trademark newsboys sound and poignant lyrics, particularly on the title cut and “The Way We Roll.” (inpop records)
by Barbara C. Crafton
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen FedemaBased on her own experience and that of many others, Episcopal priest Barbara Crafton describes depression as “the sapping of spiritual strength and joy, the graying of everything.” She realistically and compassionately explores issues such as shame, guilt, fear of rejection by God and the church, medication, and support for caregivers. Though some aspects of her theology aren’t biblical, her insights into how the church does and could better deal with depression are invaluable. (Jossey-Bass)
Youth Culture Websites
reviewed by Ron VandenBurgDiscerning today’s shifting culture is a challenge for parents and youth alike. Parents and youth leaders can use all the help they can get, including websites, as they discern what is shaping kids’ perspectives. Visit songlyrics.com to read the lyrics of almost any kind of music. Then explore jango.com or youtube.com to hear the song or watch the video. The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (cpyu.com) offers parents a collection of recent and essential news, articles and booklists, top ten media listings and links that help shed the light of God’s truth on youth culture’s messengers.
by Christian Smith and Patrica Snell
reviewed by Robert N. HosackThis much-anticipated follow-up to Smith’s 2005 Soul Searching provides a definitive look at the religious and spiritual lives of “emerging adults” (ages 18-23) in the U.S. today. The Notre Dame-based authors draw on candid interviews with thousands of young people over a five-year period, part of a vast, ongoing longitudinal study. While heavy on survey data, tables, and sociological research, the work confirms the crucial role parents and adult congregants must play to help root emerging adults in their faith. (Oxford)
reviewed by Lloyd RangSince 2003, an online community called Second Life (secondlife.com) has been inviting people to create a new online world—for free. People who download the Second Life software get to choose how their online avatar looks, and then interact with the avatars of people from around the world. Some virtual streets and places in Second Life are depraved. Elsewhere, however, you’ll find churches and congregations and those who believe that all of Second Life must be redeemed.
by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema“When will I get There?” a young girl asks in this picture book as she travels in her imagination over hills, past towns, and in nature. Speaking in whimsical, creative questions, she seeks to make sense of the world that she finds both exciting and frightening. As her questions explore possibilities and uncertainties, she decides that even though she won’t go There right away, one day she definitely will. Fitzpatrick eloquently captures the quintessential child: courageous and inquisitive, yet fearful and longing for familiarity. (Roaring Book Press)
Just Java: Bolivia’s Best Coffee (boliviasbestcoffee.org) exists solely to help fund the International Orphanage Union’s small church-sponsored orphanages in Bolivia. Order your coffee now to support the cause.Words for the Wise: Nathan Bierma’s book The Eclectic Encyclopedia of English is a collection of the best of his column “On Language” written for the Chicago Tribune. (William, James & Co.)In the House: Lifehouse, popular popsters in both the mainstream and Christian markets, release their fifth studio album, Smoke and Mirrors, this month. (Geffen)Active Faith: many Olympians are Christains too. Go to beyondtheultimate.org to read the testimonies of many Christian athletes, including past Olympians.