Oct 29


Minority Report, by Carl R. Trueman ★★★★
This book is a minimally cohesive set of 16 essays written by Carl Trueman, and published as a single volume. Though the subtitle reads “Unpopular thoughts on everything from ancient Christianity to Zen-Calvinism”, I wouldn’t necessarily classify anything he says as distinctly unpopular to the conservative reformed movement. Trueman writes as a church historian, and his fundamental thesis is how our loss of a true historical perspective prevents us from having a correct present and future perspective. This is now the third book that I’ve read by Trueman, and  appreciate his writings as reflective of a slightly different than straight American conservative perspective. Unfortunately, his love for classic rock and roll and socialism in government clouds his thinking from being Biblical. He is a mix that provides both humor and seriousness to otherwise quite serious and vital topics.  Rather than summarize every one of the 16 essays, I’ll simply provide some highlights of the book that caught my attention.
Regarding his discussions with Rushdooney regarding denial of the holocaust, he states “the perplexingly popular (in some circles) Rousas J. Rushdoony, with some of his more distasteful followers” who perpetuate [such myths that the holocaust did not happen].
“American public morality is increasingly that of the marketplace, and moral truth is that which the cultural market forces permit, or, in some cases demand. Think for examples, of the recent emergence of phenomena such as gay gay tourism and gay television channels. Would these things happen if they did not provide opportunities for moneymakeing…” Then speaking of the new radicals in society “like pouting teenagers in pre-torn designer jeans and Che Guevara tee-shirts, they look angry and radical but are really as culturally conformist and conservative as ta tall latte from Starbucks”.
“I have a colleague who prayed for world peace at a recent service and was admonished for praying an “unAmerican” prayer. The fact that there is such a term as “unAmerican” is itself interesting. There is no real equivalent as far as I know in other countries with which I am familiar: what would “unDutch” or “unBritish” mean, I wonder? This is because “American” is not a term which speaks primarily of geographical location or a birthplace but rather of a set of values. Such values can be defined in various ways; but, however that may be done, “unAmerican” is regarded by all as a pejorative. That it can be used in a church context about a prayer for peace gives one worrying pause for thought…” Later, in talking about churches that also push a political agenda, “Bluntly put, if I have to buy your political manifesto in order to buy your gospel then your church is indulging in a dangerous confusion of categories and excluding individuals and groups from its congregation. They are excluded on grounds other than that of simply being outside of Christ. A gospel that is too American in this sense is no gospel at all”
At least three essays are spent on the issue of prominent Protestants converting back to Catholicism. To that he says “I find myself in smypathy [with the Catholic converts in] the problems described as part and parcel of some trajectories of evangelicalism (the reinvention of Christianity every Sunday, the consumer-oriented worship styles, the overall intellectual superficiality and banality of evangelical approaches to theology, to hisotry, to tradition, and to culture); yet I still disagree with those individuals who see conversion to Rome as the answer. I would want to argue that conversion to confessional Protestantism is at least worth a glance as oanother option before deciding to throw one’s whole lot in with Rome. Confessional Protestantism has a heistoric, creedal integrity, it takes history seriously; it refuses to assume that the latest pulp evangelical primer on postmodernism is an adequate basis for ditching the whoe of its tradition; and it wants to take seriously what wthe church has said about the Bible over the centuries..”.
I’ll cease quoting at this point. As a set of essays, the book lacks the cohesivity that I expect when somebody binds a smattering of writings together into one volume. Such an act in itself tends to trivialize the subject matter. Yet, Trueman is enjoyable to read, and provides a slightly different from mainstream through definitely Reformed position on life.
 

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Oct 27


America’s Secret Establishment; An Introduction to the Order of Skull and Bones, by Antony Sutton ★★
America’s Secret Establishment is an exposé of the secret society located at Yale University called the Order of the Skull and Bones.  Sutton managed to obtain a modest amount of documentation and information detailing the character and nature of this very obscure society, where even the most inane details of the society are considered top secret. The Order initiates only 15 people per year, all male, and thus maintains a tight seal on the membership and activities of the Order. For the most part, much of what Sutton had to say about the Order was entirely conjectural, since information was not available. What Sutton was able to determine was the membership of the Order, and thus to identify influences in America and throughout the world that these individuals played. Through extrapolation, Sutton was able to conclude that the Order had every intention on turning the world into one massive socialist state, the New World Order.
Though Sutton is quite informative about the Skull and Bones, his book left too much out to make it of value. First, he concludes that the Order controls every aspect of American society, not only from politics, but religion, economics, business, education, and law. This is hypothesized, since there happen to be members of the Order who are prominent lawyers, and high up in politics (presidency), and religion (control of Union Seminary). Yet, the Order tends to pick top of the Yale class students who are active in sports, highly sociable, i.e, the most-likely-to-succeed candidates. Thus, Sutton’s identification of members of the Order being involved in all aspects of society is slightly more profound that saying that there is an Ivy League or New England secret society conspiracy. That is not to say that I don’t find it bothersome that so many prominent leaders in society are members of a secret society. Unfortunately, our act of taking the Order seriously only increases the sense of significance that society members maintain.
The first chapter is a review of the evidence for the society, and the known structure of the society. Sutton makes it clear that this is not a right or left-wind political society, in that it has members from both stripes, including many liberals, as well and George Bush and William Buckley.  Chapter 2 tries to show how the Order has attempted to destroy education in America. He does this first by complaining against the new methods of teaching reading. He then outlines how educational theory came from Germany, and was brought into the US in an attempt to make every schoolchild a servile entity for the state. The basis for education, Sutton would say, is Hegelian. Perhaps it is also Kantian. Sutton has to blame all defects on Hegel, since it was Hegel that gave rise to both Karl Marx (socialism) and Adam Smith (capitalism). Plus, Hegel explains (according to Sutton) why the Order can make entirely opposite actions and be internally consistent—they merely are trying to create a Hegelian dialectic of two opposites, that will lead to a resolution, and the Order profits off of the entire process of resolution. The secret society of the Illuminati is occasionally thrown in, even though this society was eliminated in the late 1700’s. I guess Sutton figures it still lives on as a super-secret society, and the parent of the Order as well as the Fabian Society in England.
The third chapter delves into the Order creating war. Sutton leaves enormous gaps. He was able to identify various members of the Order acting as banking personnel that provided loans to both the Bolsheviks and to Hitler. With Hitler, it was a matter of shear corporate greed, and I doubt a conspiracy was involved, even members of the Order might have been involved in the secret trades with Hitler. With the Bolsheviks, it is another story, as Sutton presupposes that those Bankers that operated in Russia were able foretell the future of Soviet communism. It seems (correctly) that members of the Order perhaps saw an advantage of a strong Bolshevik influence in diminishing Western trade, such as with competition for the supply of oil.
The fourth chapter attempts to prove that the Order of Skull and Bones is deeply entwined with the occult, and is a Satanic society. He mentions certain rituals, and certain symbolism within the Order headquarters that offer unquestioned “proof” of such occultism occurring. Such may be the case, but Sutton’s evidence is flimsy, at best. The use of skull and bones, the note that initiates take a bath naked in mud, etc. seems more sophomoric than representative of a deep evil.
I read this book with the understanding from brother Dennis that Sutton was one of the more insightful investigators into the secret societies and conspiracies that are besetting America. Perhaps, but this book is so weak as to be laughable if it wishes to develop that thesis. Sutton so often has to provide conjectures. He suggests that there is a big circle of influence, through the Council of Foreign Relations, a tighter circle of the Order of Skull and Bones, but then, even in the Order, there is only a select few in the inner circle that truly control the Order, and thus control the world. This suggests that there is a substantial chain of command between circles, yet Sutton provides no evidence that this exists. Sutton must constantly bring back Hegel in order to explain why the Order seems to continually act in odds with itself. I find this reasoning entirely non-convincing. Even Christ noted that a house divided cannot stand, should the person be the devil himself.
After reading this book, I quickly reviewed another conspiracy book in my library, Bloodlines of the Illuminati by Fritz Springmeier.

This book does not seem to be intended to be read cover to cover. It covers a number of families, including the Rothschilds, Onassis’, Kennedy’s, DuPonts and Russells. Springmeier is a mostly self-acclaimed preacher with two years of bible school. He notes how these families have intimate ties with Judaism, Roman Catholicism, the Jehovah Witnesses, and Mormons, and thus indites them all as part of the conspiracy. He is able to trace various families, and thus hypothesize regarding secret influences that these families have held on society.
The ultimate bottomline is that as I read more and more about the secret societies that rule the world, and create their own wars, stock market collapses, educational failures, etc., etc., I am less convinced that there is anything organized and controlling. I am more convinced that there is much out there that we will never know about; secrets exchanged, deals engaged, money, weapons, and technology transferred, all against the law, but all supporting the notion that all of mankind is fundamentally and to the core, evil. So it is not surprising that evil desires darkness to work its dirty deeds.
Sutton even admits that the John Birch Society has disagreed with him regarding the absolute significance of highly organized conspiracy. I agree with the JBS that the Order feeds the system with individuals that hold their own interests to the disadvantage of the rest of society. But, I must return to my book review by Peter Leithart, and heavily criticised by brother Dennis. Dennis even had the audacity of calling Peter Leithart an idiot, and simply did not understand the fundamentals about how the world really works. My final conclusion is that Leithart is the wiser, and perhaps the idiot is one who simply cannot believe that others might possess the more Scriptural insight. Perhaps Dennis did not realize that Leithart had studied under Gary North, and sits in the Reformed camp. To reiterate, Leithart emphasized that the “us” and “them” are not the people vs. the conspirators, but it is the people of God vs. the people of the devil. Leithart has a correct (and Reformed as compared to Anabaptist) sense of how Christians should interact with society. While the Anabaptists (and Dennis) create a gnostic sense of body/soul dualism, the Reformers see mankind as a monism, and that interaction in society is not in itself wrong. Thus, Christians can be active in politics, in public debate, in working to offer a Christian influence to society. To hide will not avoid the tarnish of secularism as the heart, even of the Christian, will remain to corrupt and destroy.
For those texts that are loved and devoured by conspiracy theorists, I have yet Caroll Quigley’s Tragedy & Hope. It may be a while before I get to that text. I plan to read yet a book by a physician on the brotherhood of darkness, as well as a book by Gary North on conspiracy theories. This whole subject of conspiracy theories looks interesting, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree that there is a handful of bankers and politicians that operate in a clandestine fashion to pretend that they “control” the world. Those who seek world domination are the greatest fools, failing to see how God controls them, and laughs at them. It is worth memorizing the second Psalm, that couldn’t have summarized things better, …
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

 

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Oct 27


Mercury Living Presence Collector’s Edition ★★★★
This is a collection of 50 CD’s, representing a spectrum of albums produced by Mercury Living Presence (MLP). Many of the recordings in this set represented vinyl discs that were popular as a kid. MLP was an American recording company, that focused heavily on American classical and popular productions. Specifically were recordings of Antal Dorati with the Minnesota Symphony, Byron Janis, Frederick Fennell, Gena Bachauer, and Janos Starker, to name a few. Also included was distinctly American Music, including that of Copland, and Howard Hanson. The recordings were a mix in quality, some with a slightly distant sound to them. Many of the records would not have been my first choice, there is occasionally tracks that are speech and not music, and civil war music, Mexican music, and some of the other recordings were performed simply to record historical sounds rather than to provide musical enjoyment. When one looks at the cost of this set, it was very affordable at under $2 / disc, definitely a bargain by any perspective.

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Oct 25


Affirming the Apostles’ Creed, by J.I. Packer ★★★★★
Packer takes 18 short chapters to briefly summarize the meaning of the apostle’s creed. This book is written more in the form of a devotional book or introductory text to the Creed. It is not an advanced analysis of the origin and substance of the creed. Still, Packer never writes fluff, and this book is pure solid meat all the way through. Packer has a way of bringing home the truths of Scripture to help one understand why every bit of doctrine is of vital importance. This book is worth reading for anybody of all ages. Betsy and I read the book together each morning before going to work.

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Oct 22


Sir Lance-a-Lot Lost was stripped today of his seven Tour de France titles. Such is a black day for a great sport. Thankfully, the European Cycling Commission (UCI) decided against awarding anybody the title for those seven years, since most of the riders in second place had also been accused or highly suspected of doping. Sir LanceLot is not the first knight fallen from the Round Table, and probably is not the last. The black day is not for Lance, though I’m sure he will experience massive depression over this news. It is for a sport that has placed inhuman demands on people, not only in the Tour, but so many other bicycle races that have been contrived, including the RAAM (ride across America). Riders will continue to devise techniques of enhancing their performance in an artificial fashion. Cheating will then rise to new levels.
The evidence against Armstrong is overwhelming. I won’t belabor recalling the evidence since the USADA has done that quite well, well enough to convince the UCI that he was worthy of being stripped of his titles. There are good arguments against taking away the titles. After all, Lance was a formidible athlete. One can detail the brilliant strategies that Lance often used to win those titles. Yet, to not act decisively will forever color the sport as doping-permissive, and where it is so pervasive, such radical actions are necessary and should be lauded.
Lance appears to the public as their type of hero, winning in the face of the worst adversity (cancer), pushing on through honest determination to succeed and conquer. His friends feel otherwise, that is, what few friends he still has. When one looks at the entire life of Lance, there never was a time when Lance and his public persona were even close to matching. Lance was always a “win at all cost” person, somebody who would run over his own mother to win a race. His arrogance and ruthless striving had no morals and no bounds. Is this what we want to see in an American bicycle hero? I don’t think so. It is unfortunate that most of life in American culture is now with the Armstrong persona. There is no aspect of life that is not affected by the American-Armstrongian win-all mentality.

As far as we can tell, Einstein did not dope. Nor did he win the Tour-de-France. Such were the better years of cycling, when the sport could be enjoyed, and when exercise and entertainment could be mixed together into one grand activity. The bicycle is one of the more fascinating intentions of the 19th century, and it is not surprising that the airplane was invented in a bicycle shop. There is no other device that better promotes fitness, efficiently harnesses energy for movement, is mechanically simple and inexpensive, doesn’t pollute, is orthopedically gentle on the body, can be ridden at all ages, and has a plethora of uses outside of exercise and leisure activities. Like all good things, they can also be abused and used for evil intentions. That is the curse we live under, that we cannot be happy with the goodness of life, but must always pervert it or destroy its good intentions. There is one race worth running, and is spoken of by an anonymous preacher man, saying “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2. Drugs and performance enhancement medications are unnecessary in the race that we confront, and the prize far greater than a silly little Tour-de-France title.
 

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Oct 20


Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, by Carl Trueman ★★★★★
This book is small and short, a compilation of a series of four lectures he gave at a conference in Wales in 1999. Contrary to the other book I had just reviewed by Trueman (Republocrat), I loved this book. It is light reading, in that it is composed as lectures. Trueman spares no punches. Trueman’s concern is the church, and these lectures are addressed to both intending to go into the ministry. The first lecture addresses the relevance of the Reformation in our day. Trueman addresses excesses, both in forgetting the lessons of the Reformation, but also the excess of idolizing the Reformation, and putting a halt to the principle that we need to be ever reforming the church. Perhaps both excesses are just as dangerous. The second chapter addresses the Bible as a book of sorrow, and speaks of how our fun-loving entertainment culture makes pleasure/happiness our goals even from the pulpit perspective. The third lecture refers back to the Scripture being our sole guide, and how ministers must have a total command of the Scriptures, including a mastery of Biblical languages and systematic theology. The final lecture wraps up with a discussion of our assurance in Christ, and how today’s world seeks to identify that assurance through either actions or feelings that we experience, rather than focusing completely on Christ.  This book is a highly relevant read, a reminder of the faith that we have but are so quick to forget.

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Oct 19


Durch die Wüste, by Karl May ★★★★★
Durch die Wüste means “Through the Desert”, and is the first of many adventure novels published by Karl May, written at the end of the 19th century. It is an adventure story along the lines of Indiana Jones, and probably served as the model for Indiana Jones and other similar movies. The adventurer, Kara ben Nemsi travels from the North Saharan desert across Egypt, to Mecca, and ends with him preparing to enter Kurdistan, thus the sequel is Durch Wilde Kurdistan. I read the book in order to better understand German, and it was great at being about 98% understandable, with only a few parts completely passing me by. I’ll probably continue the novels, but the read is rather slow. It took me about 3-4 months to get through this book, and was read on my Kindle. The book is highly recommended for those learning German.
 

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Oct 18


None Dare Call it Conspiracy, by Gary Allen ★★★
Who doesn’t want to rule the world? While madmen like Dr. Evil, Pink Panther and James Bond villians, and others have been made the brunt of Hollywood comedies and spy films, it perhaps distracts us from the fact that there may be people who would like to rule the world. Some have been accused of desiring world domination, like Adolf Hitler and Mao TseTung, but history and available evidence suggests otherwise. It is unfortunate that those least accused of desiring world domination are those most obscure to most of us. The effort of this book is to point out those groups and individuals. Allen begins the book by simply stating that the evidence is so overwhelming of a mass conspiracy, that doubting the conspiracy suggests that one is blind to the facts. Yet, Allen fails to provide any substantial proof in this book that such an entity exists. Allen focuses mainly on the international bankers and Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), of which the bankers have an intimacy. Little mention is made of the Bilderberg group, the Club of Rome, the Jesuits and Illuminati, and other hypothetical world conspirators. I’m sure there are many more groups out there. I’d like to rule the world, so, I guess that I am a one-man conspiracy. Allen is prudent enough to disengage himself from the more dark shadowy groups out there, like the Illuminati and Masons. Allen has a good point in this book. It is in the bankers best interest to have a controlling influence on politics, while not having to have a public face. It is in the interest of CFR members to control world policy to their best interest. If one calls it a conspiracy that the bankers and CFR (and Bilderbergers) are intimate, perhaps there is a conspiracy out there.
Much discussion was given to the banking influence at fueling world conflicts. Allen discusses what many already know that bankers such as the Rothschilds were funding both sides of the conflict in both WWI and WWII, and have done much to force conflict to happen. Allen might have included many other major conflicts. He fails to explain precisely why banking would be interested in funding the weaker side of a conflict, knowing that the money will be lost forever. He also fails to include the host of other factors that fuel the wars and conflicts that occur in today’s world. I simply cannot accept the statement of so many conspiracy theorists that it was the bankers were the predominant factor that created the major conflicts of the world. It had to have been greatly multifactorial, with banking simply facilitating and encouraging on the conflicts.
Is it the conspiracy (Allen calls them the Insiders without telling you exactly who they are) that is leading the world to various forms of socialism, whether it be national socialism, fabian socialism, or international socialism (communism)? I doubt it. I can see how fabian style socialism can be desirable by the super-rich such as Soros or Rothschild, since it allows them to control decisions that ultimately serve their own interests. In other forms of socialism, everybody loses except for a single few people. How communism would be desirable to bankers escapes me, yet Allen suggests that ultimately bankers and Insiders would like the entire world under strong socialist monetary control.
Worst for this book is failing to understand that man is inherently evil and self-oriented, and that any position of power will ultimately seek to further one’s own best interests. Allen fails to suggest that events, circumstances, economic cycles, wars, poverty and wealth follow certain paths and laws outside of any evil minded masterplots, and that in all aspects, whether in the big or the small picture, God is in control. So, people will think that they are in control, only if we remain blistfully unaware of them.  Allen provides part of the picture, but not the big picture, of what’s going on out there. And for part of the picture, it is worth reading. The book is a little bit dated, written in 1972 when the USSR was still going strong.
 

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Oct 14

Betsy and I have just returned from the funeral for a most remarkable person, the mother of our pastor. I wondered who would be officiating the funeral, since I never thought that a pastor would perform the funeral service for their own mother. Yet, Dr. Rayburn noted that he also did the funeral for his father as well as his oldest sister. The sermon was remarkable in that it not only honored mom, but reminded all of us how we are all new creations in Christ with personal exhortations.
Laverne was a special person in our life. We met her when she moved to Tacoma from St. Louis, Missouri. Her husband was the founding president of Covenant Theological Seminary, but died in 1989, leaving her a widow for 23 years. She moved to Tacoma in 1999. She would hold coffee clatches for women, of which Betsy often went. She was always at church, sweet and friendly, but motherly in her firmness to what was right.
Laverne had a life that was mostly quiet and behind the scenes. Yet, the number of people that she influenced in her life is difficult to count. I think of the great influence that her husband had on the world, in establishing Covenant College and Covenant Seminary, in forming the PCA denomination, in commissioning and sending Francis Schaeffer to Europe, in influencing countless students that attended Covenant Seminary and are now pastors or leaders in church and society. Little of that influence would have happened if it wasn’t for Laverne being there.
To the family, including the children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren of Laverne, Betsy and I offer our deepest sympathies. The loss is only assuaged by knowing that she is with the Lord and we will all too soon be with her also. To Laverne I offer a song often sung at German funerals, and a favorite of mine…
1. Wo findet die Seele die Heimat, der Ruh?
Wer deckt sie mit schützenden Fittichen zu?
Ach, bietet die Welt keine Freistatt mir an,
Wo Sünde nicht kommen, nicht anfechten kann?
Nein, nein, nein, nein, hier ist sie nicht,
die Heimat der Seelen ist droben im Licht!
2. Verlasse die Erde, die Heimath zu sehn,
Die Heimat der Seele, so herrlich, so schön,
Jerusalem droben, von Golde gebaut,
Ist dieses die Heimath der Seele, der Braut?
Ja, ja, ja, ja, dieses allein
Kann Ruhplatz und Heimat der Seele nur sein.
3. Wie selig die Ruhe bei Jesu im Licht!
Tod, Sünde und Schmerzen, die kennt man dort nicht.
Das Rauschen der Harfen, der liebliche Klang
Empfängt die Erlösten mit süßem Gesang.
Ruh’, Ruh’, Ruh’, Ruh’, himmlische Ruh’,
Im Schoße des Mittlers, ich eile dir zu!
4. Bei aller Verwirrung und Klage allhier,
Ist mir, o mein Heiland, so wohl stehts bei dir!
Im Kreise der Deinen sprichst „Friede!“ du aus,
Da bin ich mit deiner Gemeinschaft zu Haus!
Heim, heim, heim, heim, ach ja nur heim!
O komme, mein Heiland, und hole mich heim!”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCi37wnGkEs

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Oct 14


Between Babel and Beast, America and Empires in Biblical Perspective, by Peter Leithart ★★★★★
This is one of the better books I’ve read in a while, and so will spend more time than usual in offering a review. It is uncommon that I would order more copies of a book soon after completing it, in order to encourage others to read the book, but this book is an example of such a text. It is a must-read for Americans. I  enjoy reading Leithart, even though our denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) has occasionally attempted to label him a heretic for his stance on federal vision, an entity that I’ve yet to have a competent theologian adequately define for me.
I’ve been  interested in the dynamics and politics and religion since it is an election year, and the politicians are out selling themselves. Some theonomists would argue that there is no difference between politics and religion (such as Rushdooney), since the only legitimate government is a Christian government that follows the civil law of Moses. Such will be the case when the saints alone rule the earth in their original condition absent of original sin. Until then, we must always differentiate between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Leithart asks a penetrating question as to how the kingdom(s) of man treats those of a Christian faith. Do the various nations of the world act against God’s kingdom or in support of it?
The introduction to the book first explains the purpose of Leithart writing the book. In a way, it is a sequel to another book he wrote titled “Constantine”. This book was reviewed by me previously. Before beginning the book, Leithart gently reminds the reader that he (assuming that the reader is an American Christian) is first and foremost a Christian, but also a reminder that America is a part of the city of man. He will elaborate on that much further in the book.
The first three chapters with its conclusion are a history of empires from a biblical perspective. Beginning with the first empire ever, Babel, Leithart outlines in the first chapter the evolution and children of Babel through the book of Genesis. Babel is not used in a particularly perjorative sense, but simply to define an institution that is the “city of man”, a political state or empire established on earth. Introduced in Genesis is also God’s imperium, God’s rule on earth, found in those faithful to Him. The promise to Abraham to build him into a great nation echoed that counter to the Babel that Abraham came out of. Chapter 2 continues with the children of God (Israel) being delivered from the Babel of Egypt. The allusions to the similarity of Abraham being called out of Ur were emphasized. Similarly, the call of the Jews out of Babylon/Persia back to the land of Israel was again likened to the exodus of Moses. Leithart spends much time in Daniel, first discussing how empires could be beasts (by mistreating God’s people) or not, such  as Cyrus returning the Jews back to the homeland. Thus, the conclusion was that the Old Testament was not against empire, but against rival imperialisms, “rival visions for the political salvation of a human race”. The third chapter continues into the Roman empire, with both bad news (the execution of Christ and martyrdom of the saints) with good news, such as with Constantine and most the emperors after him supporting the Christian church, and allowing it to behave freely. Good news included protections in the apostolic period, where Paul appealed frequently as a citizen of Rome, and Rome protecting Paul, giving him free transport to Rome to build the church there.
Chapters 4 & 5 comprise a new section, titled “Americanism”. Chapter 4 (Heretic Nation) describes what it means to be American, holding “an assurance that the declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution establish the best political order the world has ever seen, the last best hope of mankind… Our national self-consciousness is a “Messianic consciousness””. Chapter 4 is a lengthy chapter that I will inadequately summarize. Leithart discusses how with the rise of Constantine and eventually the fall of Rome, the struggle for identity of the roles of church and state have been prevailing themes. Church historians, including Eusebius emphasized that Constantine was like another Moses, delivering the people of God. Thus a transformation occurred on how church and state regarding each other. Such examples include Pope Gregory VII instituting the concept of a holy war. As national identities became more prominent in Europe,  the state played on this notion, leading to many religious wars. The puritans sought delivery from this, sailing to America to form a new hope for man, a new world order, a nation that could be religiously free and beacon to the world; essentially, it was the formation of a new “Israel” , and puritan reading of scripture had a strong nationalist bent. Leithart offers many examples throughout American history of politicians likening America to the new “Israel”. Leithart continues, “Americans are today biblically illiterate, but biblical cadences continue to echo in our political rhetoric, setting the terms of our nation purpose and mission. It was no accident that President Bush memorialized the first anniversay of 9/11 with a Statue of Liberty speech full of intertexual links with the opening verses of John’s Gospel… Bush like many American Christians, has so instinctively and viscerally identified Jesus with the spread of American-style liberty that he can hardly distinguish them.” American wars were referenced to “Americanist typology…  “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the Coming of the Lord,” … fighting and dying like Christ not to make men holy but “to make men free””. Concluding, “Sacrifice American style can only go on and on. For in Americanism, this fourth great biblical religion, there is no final sacrifice, no end to bloodshed until we have rid the world of evil, until the American creed becomes the creed of humnity. In this too, we are a heretic nation”. Chapter 5, summarized briefly, mixes quotes which adamantly state that we are not an empire and we do not interfere with the affairs of other nations, with the examples that prove that we do everything but that. Starting with Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, Monroe’s doctrine, speeches from Washington, he shows the extreme political hypocrisy. Sadly the examples of history do NOT start with our involvement in WWI like we are typically taught, but rather from the inception of our empire, with the war against the Barbary Pirates in 1803, to our involvement in conflicts in the Philippines in 1813, our treatment of the Indians, and our development of manifest destiny, all show our early and aggressive entanglements around the globe.
Part III of the book, labeled between Babel and Beast, everything is attempted to be put into context of how Christians should view America. Chapter 6, American Babel, starts…”Europe’s secularization is its long retreat from Christendom, the disestablishment of the church, the decline of active Christianity, the migration of the holy from the church to the nation. Americanism is impervious to secularization of the European variety because America was never part of Christendom to begin with”. The growing spirit of the importance of the American message in the world is then shown by Leithart in numerous historical examples, one example being that of John Foster Dulles, a very devout Christian, who helped form the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and felt it important for America to make the rules for how nations should behave with each other. In all points “American policy must estabish, ensure, and maintain the dominance of America. Whether the dominance was of American ideals or America as a great power dictating the terms of a world made comparatively little difference”. Later, Leithart states “Anyone who thinks that apocalypic political rhetoric is a thing of the past, or who thinks that Americans have given up thinking of ourselves as a messianic nation, … has not been listening carefully to the rhetoric of the war on terror. . . Americanism is a mythology that justifies American power and explains–sometimes explains away–American action… Scratch Americanist rhetoric, and the reality beneath the skin is often un-American and undemocratic. These inconsistencies are perhaps inherent in Babelic imperialism: Babels call the nations to a glorious vision of a single tower and city ands speak with a single lip, but the aim is finally to promote Babel’s interests and advance Babel’s power.” Many examples of America advancing their influence in the world contrary to our own states principles are given. Leithart offers a lengthy diatribe against our stated agreement from the 1923 Hague conference against using warfare, most notably aerial  bombardment, as a means of inflicting injury on civilian populations. The offenses  against warfare against civilians since 1923 are too numerous to mention, but perhaps one needs to be reminded of the true story of Kurt Vonnegut in Dresden at the end of WWII. It makes one want to weep. Chapter 7 finally asks whether America, as an empire (Babel), is a good empire, or an evil one (beast). He mentions how the US has done great good, mostly through our citizens (eg., Voice of the Martyrs, intervention on Afghan converts, etc.), something no other nation would have done. The tone quickly changes as to how much of our foreign aide has gone to nations who aggressively suppress Christianity. In effect, much of America’s actions seem to be detrimental to the kingdom of God (the church) on earth. He ends with the sober admonitions, “we play with beasts, and our Americanist lenses do not allow us to see the danger. We fund our favorite beasts, then turn a blind eye when they devour the saints. It is a dangerous position, not only for the Christians who suffer at the hands of our allies, but also for the United States. Those who consort with beasts might become bestial, and beasts do not long survive”. “As far as Christians are concerned the only appropriate response is to repent of being Americanists…”.
Unfortunately, most who read this book, or the summary that I offer, will either a) object vehemently to Leithart’s admonitions, feeling that he is unfair to the American experiment, or b) somehow feel that we are beyond or above this book. None of us are above the admonitions in this book. Americanism has pervaded us to the point of being beyond recognition. Leithart does not call us to leave the U.S. We cannot establish a haven elsewhere in the world as such an action is nothing more than repeating the error of our ancestors in coming to America. He is quite perceptive about identifying the political mis-thinking of much of the American church, and to that we must give our undivided attention.
As a side note, Leithart does not hold to conspiracy theories, or a dark mind working behind everything. He would be the first to identify the crisis of Babel results from original sin, which is unescapable in this life. I would agree that Americanist ideology is the second tier above that, as Leithart identifies in this book. The corruption and influence of the trade and banking system is only subservient to the ideology of Americanism, whether it be to oppress poor nations by import tariffs, or create wars to promote the military industrial complex. Those who feel that the bankers control the world are naive to the ideologies that control the banking systems. Whatever your take on this book, the reader will find it thought provoking, and well organized. To Americanism, we must weep and repent.
 

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