Columnists > Voices

Walking in places

Treadmill books that take readers around the world-and the universe

Issue: "Nuclear threat in Korea," Aug. 16, 2003

VISHAL MANGALWADI IS ONE OF THE BRAVE MEN of our age. As India's Hindu extremists have ratcheted up the pressure on Christians who would give the Dalits (untouchables) an alternative to subservience, he has ratcheted up his biblical attack on the ancient caste system. The Quest for Freedom & Dignity (South Asian Resources, 2001) is a set of powerful stories and essays that bring home India's desperate need for liberty and Christ.

Mr. Mangalwadi explains well not only Indian history but American, because he understands how worldviews change the world. To Hindus who ask, "Don't many Christians also practice inequality and caste?" he responds, "They certainly do. Some of those great Americans who declared their faith in human equality themselves owned slaves.... Christians are sinners just like all other human beings. The point is that if you commit yourself to truth it begins to transform you. American society was forced to resolve the contradiction between what it believed and what it practiced. Truth transformed America. Slavery had to be abolished."

Truth transformed America and truth will eventually win out in the debate between intelligent design and evolution. In By Design: Science and the Search for God (Encounter, 2003) Larry Witham lucidly tells the story of the rise of the ID movement to the point where it is secularism's prime public enemy. Spectacular photos of distant galaxies taken from Earth's greatest telescopes show the glory of God in The Universe: 365 Days (Abrams, 2003), even though the text that accompanies them doesn't acknowledge the splendor of creation. Richard Kouchoo sketches productive paths for dialogues between believers and nonbelievers in The Self Evident Proof (Protea Publishing, 2003).

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Another approach to truth comes through fiction that shows us what growing up is all about. Tony Earley's Jim the Boy (Little, Brown, 2000) is a tightly constructed and elegantly understated first novel that brings us into the life of a small North Carolina town during the 1930s. Christen Ditchfield's A Family Guide to Narnia is a useful reference work for parents who want to emphasize for their children the biblical truths that are only slightly veiled in C.S. Lewis's wonderful fantasies. (Parents in doing so should be careful to avoid turning story time into lecture time.)

Some lives are as lively as the tales novelists spin. First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (HarperCollins, 2000) is a throat-choking true tale of terror, with author Loung Ung relating how the Khmer Rouge in 1975 forced her family to flee and eventually orphaned her. John Perry tells a story of deliverance from Washington idolatry in Charles Colson: A Story of Power, Corruption, and Redemption (Broadman & Holman, 2003). James Moore and Wayne Slater sardonically deliver a pulsating political account in Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential (John Wiley, 2003).

Elias Chacour's recently reissued Blood Brothers (Baker, 1984, 2003) shows how Palestinian Christians have been caught in the middle of Muslim-Jewish animosity. Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out (Prometheus, 2003), edited by ex-Muslim Ibn Warraq, has fascinating autobiographical sketches by many who have abandoned Islam. Although one chapter notes some converts to Christianity, the bulk of the book is made up of accounts by those who-like the befuddled dwarfs in C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle-have left one lie only to latch onto atheism.

Christians, of course, have often hurt the cause by latching onto unbiblical speculation and methods of evangelism. In Iraq: Babylon of the End-Times? (Baker, 2003), C. Marvin Pate and J. Daniel Hays debunk the latest attempts to assert that the events described in the book of Revelation are right around the corner. We're far better off keeping in mind our own end time and not throwing away whatever years we have, as John Piper movingly teaches in Don't Waste Your Life (Crossway, 2003).

Nor should we waste opportunities to help others. Thomas Blom Hansen's academic but readable book, The Saffron Wave (Princeton, 1999), shows how Hindu nationalism is trying to beat back both secularism and Christianity. Dayanand Barati in Living Water and Indian Bowl (ISPCK, 2001) provides cogent analysis of Christian failings in communicating Christ to Hindus, and suggests that missionaries must learn Indian culture and not just preach sermons that could just as well be delivered in Indiana.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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