David Anderson and Brent Zuercher, Letters Across the Divide: Two Friends Explore Racism, Friendship, and Faith (2001). This book is what its title indicates. It’s a series of letters between a White and a Black man, both Christians, wrestling with differing perspectives on race and racism in America. Their different views come from their different upbringings and subcultures, not theology. In fact, their biblical understanding and the values that develops from it are remarkably similar. What they are trying to do is apply their faith to everyday life. It’s a good exercise and they do it well. Whatever your race or ethnic background, you can learn something from this text. It promotes understanding and, therefore, their greater goal, genuine respect and friendship.
Tony Campolo, 20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to Touch (1988). Tony Campolo’s book, and therefore the issue he considers “hot,” are dated, but this is still an interesting book. Campolo is well known for his edgy speaking, ministry, and teaching. He is a Christian sociology professor turned moderate-to-liberal Christian activist, one who challenges conservatives to think carefully about their assumptions and sometimes too glib responses to intractable social problems. Some of his “hot” issues, like the challenge of AIDS, Christianity and homosexuals, and are evangelicals too pro-Israel, are still very much in the mix of contemporary concerns. You may not always agree with Campolo; I didn’t. But you will find him thought-provoking. Some of his issues have faded, which is a lesson in itself, but his desire to apply his faith to his politics is admirable. The book’s question and answer format is a good technique.
Ted C. Fishman, China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the Word (2005). This book is sort of a “The World is Flat” focused just on China. It is a fascinating book describing China’s mind-boggling numbers, like the projected 300M people moving to cities in the next fifteen years, meaning China must build an urban infrastructure equivalent to Houston every month; the 320M Chinese under the age of 14 years; the fact that there are an estimated 320M or more people in China who are not counted by demographers, more than the population of the USA, so the Chinese population is close to 1.5B; that there are more speakers of English as a second language in China than speakers of English in the US and that there are more people in China using the Internet than use it in the US, and much more. China’s emergence as an economic giant—growing at almost 10% per year—is already affecting America, so Americans are past due in becoming more knowledgeable about China and the opportunities and possibly threats, economically and politically, it represents.
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat (2006). Friedman is a New York Times “Foreign Affairs” journalist, so this long and wordy book keeps your interest describing one interesting technological, economic, or demographic development in the world after the other. The premise of the book is that computer, communications, and transportations technology are knocking down old barriers around the world and are simultaneously creating a level playing field for all people. This level playing field is the “flat world” in Friedman’s terms and it portends an incredible surge in innovation, not just from the American Yankee, but now even more likely from East Indians, Chinese, and others. It means that Americans must become better educated, learn to compete in world economies, develop more innovative ideas, and in essence create products and services heretofore not known. And the flat world is affecting more than economics. It’s influencing education, religion, politics, and culture. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand a paradigm that helps make sense of the changes taking place around us.
Lou Holtz, Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography (2006). I like biographies and autobiographies—not about celebrities but about people who matter. Coach Lou Holtz is certainly a celebrity, but I also think he matters. I followed his college football coaching career for years, but the more I read about him in this book, the more I liked him. He is a devout Catholic, lives his life based upon an overt commitment to God, prayer, and family, and is as far as I could tell a man of integrity. This is also a good leadership book, for it is packed with examples of how he taught and led teams of people to accomplish goals greater than they at first thought they could reach. While this book is about college football and, as the title suggests, the story of wins and losses is told, there are a lot of lessons here too.
Doro Bush Koch, My Father, My President, (2006). President George H. W. Bush’s daughter, Doro, writes engagingly and, as you would expect, warmly, about her father, the 41st President of the United States. This book, the author’s first, is interesting, includes a lot of anecdotes that until now have not found their way to the printed page, and is, in a word, enjoyable. “41,” as they call him now, used to be called “Mr. Resume.” President Bush’s record of accomplishment, beginning with heroic WWII flying experience through his years as Vice President and President are amazing. He’s lived a rather incredible life and whatever one thinks of his politics, this book shines a light on a caring, loyal man who possessed ambition both to serve his family and his country. I highly recommend this book.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
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