Niche nook

"Niche nook" Continued...

Issue: "2012 Books Issue," July 14, 2012

• Niall Ferguson in Civilization: The West and the Rest traces economic progress to six "killer apps": competition, science, property rights, medicine, a consumer society, and the work ethic. All of these ideas owe something to Judeo-Christian values, and his last chapter on work shows how Protestantism "provides the glue for the dynamic and potentially unstable society created by apps 1 to 5."

Authors send WORLD senior writer Susan Olasky about 200 self-published books each year, and twice a year she writes briefly about the 10 best. Her overall advice for writers: Write about something you are uniquely equipped to write about. Don't choose topics well-covered by traditional publishing houses. Be ruthless when you edit. Cut, cut, cut. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

Her list begins with two books by retired university professor Gregory Athnos, who traveled to Rome during one of his sabbaticals to study early Christian catacomb art. Granted access to the Vatican archives, Athnos discovered how early Christians emphasized the Resurrection in a way the modern church fails to do. In The Easter Jesus and the Good Friday Church, he unpacks a theology of resurrection. In The Art of the Roman Catacombs: Themes of the Deliverance in the Age of Persecution, Athnos provides a guide through the art that inspired his research. Clear writing and illustrations make this an engaging guide to the art that arose from the early Christians' resurrection hope.

Many WORLD readers have lived interesting lives, and six of the 10 books tell their stories in engaging ways. In Piercing the Night, H. Eberhard Roell describes his family's adventures in Uganda after the fall of Idi Amin. Working as missionaries with a Dutch organization, Roell gained insight into problems in relief and development work, and vividly offers up stories of people, places, and adventures.

Lee B. Mulder, a journalist involved in missions for nearly two decades, also writes about Uganda in They Call Me Mzee. Mulder shows how his experience of Uganda differed from his expectations. With a focus on the Christian faith of many Ugandans, and their partly successful battle against AIDS, Mulder offers Uganda as a hopeful example to other African countries.

Infinitely More by Alex Krutov is a memoir about growing up in the Russian orphanage system. Within the system Krutov moved to different orphanages, to an abusive adoptive home, a mental institution, and a juvenile detention facility. He met a few Russians who singled him out for kind attention, but his life did not begin to change until in his mid-teens he began to meet visiting American missionaries.

Matthew Lock Pridgen's American childhood was in some ways the opposite of Krutov's, but both young men ended up in despair. Pridgen's outwardly obedient style gained him acceptance to Duke University, but-once free of parental and cultural restraints-he experimented heavily with drugs. At his lowest point he decided to kill himself by swimming straight out into the Atlantic. From Folly cuts back and forth between events leading up to his suicide attempt and the swim itself.

Power of Dream, Love, Mission by Matthew Whong tells pastor Whong's story of growing up in North Korea, escaping to South Korea after Communism came to the north, immigrating to the United States to study, becoming a pastor, marrying an American woman, and becoming a missionary to Koreans in Brazil. He shares wisdom and insights gained through those experiences.

Beyond My Limits: Adventures with God on the Appalachian Trail by Charles Anderson engagingly tells how the former missionary to France became a missionary to fellow hikers on the 2,000-mile-plus Appalachian Trail.

Two works of fiction also made the list. Gerald F. Ward's Roar of the Lion: Encounters with the Christ is a slender book of biblically based short stories. Each story is a first-person account of how various people-a shepherd, a leper, Legion-reacted to meeting Jesus.

The protagonist of Angie Brennan's comic novel, My Life Behind the Brick Wall, is a young woman who works for the Brick Bulletin, the brick industry's monthly magazine. Bored with her job, Vivian starts writing a blog about the antics of her co-workers. When the blog becomes public, trouble and romance ensue.


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