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Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics – Ross Douthat
Douthat tracks Christianity in America through the 20th century and shows how it rose and fell as it engaged or failed to engage the world around it. He then provides an excellent analysis of several current “heresies” that are destroying the church’s ability to impact the world and transform lives.
“[M]ost Americans are still drawing some water from the Christian well. But a growing number are inventing their own versions of what Christianity means, abandoning the nuances of traditional theology in favor of religions that stroke their egos and indulge or even celebrate their worst impulses. . . .”
What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster – Jonathan Last
Overpopulation is not the problem we thought; a lack of people is. Birthrates are falling all over the world as cultures progress, dictating the future of religions, economies, politics, nations, and programs. Japan now buys more adult diapers than baby diapers. What happens when the elderly multiply and the population shrinks?
“…America has created its very own One-Child Policy. It’s soft and unintentional, the result of accidents of history and thousands of little choices. But it has been just as effective.”
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand
Hillenbrand masterfully tells the story of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini began life as rule-breaker who found purpose in running and eventually competed in the Olympics. When World War II broke out he became a bomber in the Pacific. His plane crashed and he survived for weeks on a life raft until the Japanese found him and he became a prisoner of war. Yet the story is incomplete until he finds new life in Jesus Christ at a Billy Graham crusade.
“When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him.”
A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II – Adam Makos
The badly damaged American bomber piloted by 21 year old Charlie Brown struggled to fly over wartime Germany. Half his crew was wounded or dead after their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up piloted by German ace Franz Stigler—and he can destroy the young American crew with the squeeze of a trigger… What happened next would defy imagination and later be called “the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.”
“Franz’s father gave him a lesson. “Always do the right thing, even if no one sees it.”
The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion – Rodney Stark
Stark uses his skills as a historian and sociologist to show how Christianity emerged from begin a sect of Judaism to being the dominate faith on the planet. In so doing, he breaks down our assumptions and lets us see history through a new perspective.
“He was a teacher and miracle worker who spent nearly all of his brief ministry in the tiny and obscure province of Galilee…A few listeners took up his invitation to follow him and a dozen or so became his devoted disciples, but when he was executed by the Romans his followers probably numbered no more than several hundred. How was it possible for this obscure Jewish sect to become the largest religion in the world?”