les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book review : Apostate - The Men Who Destroyed The Christian West

I really don't want to review this book, but I received a copy in Kindle format free in return for an honest review. So here goes.

OK - for me this book is a three-star book. I'll tell you why.

The author's thesis is that a sequence of apostate men have dismantled the Christian heritage in the west, leading to the collapse of the traditional structures of society that we see today : marriage, family and church... He nicknames these apostate men the nephilim and presents a list of them for us.

There's a lot of things I liked about this book :

1) It's pretty comprehensive.

He deals with : Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Rousseau, Bentham, Emerson, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Dewey, Sartre, Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Twain, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Sinatra, Lennon and many more.

2) His basic observation is essentially right.

This book reads like Francis Schaeffer on steroids - if you identify with Schaeffer's analysis of the decline of the West, then this book will fill out that thesis a bit more.

3) He has a way with words.

Parts of the book are very sermonic and sometimes he writes very powerfully. I am led to surmise that the book began its life as a series of talks or messages, lectures or sermons, and some of the passages are very inspiring. Here's one sentence from my favourite paragraph of the book, in a section on Hemingway, "Though our faces drip with blood and our hands are chafed to the bone, there is joy in the battle and hope in our hearts as we fix our eyes on the day of consummation when the battle will be won."

But then there's the things I didn't like so much....

1) Editing errors

When you write a book like this it needs to be carefully edited or people won't be persuaded. So, for example, people don't "take their queue" from things, they "take their cue". It comes from the theatre. Again Montaigne's name was Michel, not Michal. I looked up the "English Empire" just in case it was a term in use somewhere for something, but Google returns the "British Empire". I didn't catch them all, I'm sure, and basic editing errors like this undermine a carefully argued book.

Again, a fascinating quote attributed the most abhorrent eugenic and genocidal words to Darwin. "These may be the most evil words ever recorded in human history" warns our author. I look in the notes to find the book they come from. A volume entitled "Ten books that screwed up the world and five that didn't help".

NNNOOOOOOOOO !!!!!! I need the SOURCE !!!!!

2) Repetition

I decided that if I read "abortifacient drugs" one more time I would throw the book through the window. Same for shack-ups and hook-ups. This is another reason why I thought that perhaps the book's earliest life was as separate talks or lectures. Then repetition would not be so obvious and heavy.

3) hmmm.

You know, I know the song "Strangers in the night" pretty well. I sang it to my wife earlier and asked her what she thought the song was about. Like me, she thought it was about falling in love at first sight. After all, it ends "Ever since that night we've been together, lovers at first sight, in love forever, things turned out so right for strangers in the night".

This is what our author says. "Maybe Frank Sinatra came across as a little daring with "Strangers in the night" in 1966, a chart-topper which left his listeners wondering if they were going to fornicate by the end of the evening."

Uh? Not this listener! I'm sorry, but I think there's a problem there. And it brings me to

4) The spirit of the book

I just don't know who I could give this book to. Anyone who is not already persuaded of the author's position will more than likely be put off by the spirit the book breathes. For example, anyone who disagrees, our author says, "If professing Christians disagree with me on this point, I wonder if they have joined the other side, or if perhaps they are too fearful to recognize the true magnitude of the social and cultural problems that confront the modern world".  Or perhaps they just disagree ? You don't persuade people by bullying..

I don't think this book would persuade anyone I know. You have to be rigorous in your citations and in your editing, and loving in your approach. You have to show the marks of the crucified hands.

This book didn't do it for me. But it's comprehensive and it may be well-researched. Three stars.

You can see a trailer for the book here.

You can hear an interview with the author here.

ps Oh yeah, I forgot the one that wound me up the most. According to our author the parable of the landowner in Matthew 20 teaches that "According to Christ, an employer has the right to set unequal pay for his workers as long as they accept the terms".

Um... Excuse me - surely in Matthew 20 Christ teaches that God rewards with eternal life richly beyond anything we can do or have done (see the context of rich young ruler end of Matthew 19 - "what must I do to get eternal life") just as the landowner paid a whole day's wages to those who had only worked one hour ! Surely if this parable teaches landowners anything it teaches them to be caring and generous and to pay a living wage even to those who don't deserve it !

But NOBODY, surely NOBODY would take this wonderful parable of the rich, superabundant, generous grace of God and turn it into a political argument for non-government involvement in the setting of wages ?

Well he would and he did. Is it too late to reduce it to two stars ?



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