Category Archives: Book Reviews

‘The Osteenification of America’ (2014)

Image result for images of joel osteen grinning

Would you buy a used religion from this man?

One of the things that has gone wrong for Christianity throughout the Western world is its adulteration with non-Christian, anti-Christian poobah. And no one has done more to adulterate it than good ol’ grinnin’, gruntin’, Joel Osteen.

https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/the-osteenification-of-american-christianity-review

Hank Hanegraaff (“The Bible Answer Man” on Christian radio) skinned Osteen alive in this little book he wrote in 2014. You can read it in a sitting. It’s important because, if you think about it, you very likely know someone who’s been listening to Joel Osteen and thinks he’s the bee’s knees.

Shame on us who never read the Bible and don’t know what it says. Shame on us who do know, but never speak up to defend it. Shame on the Church for letting itself be thinned out and eroded.

We really do have to do better.


‘My favorite Authors’ (2011)

Image result for images of the chessmen of mars

Note the cover price–50 cents!

I can’t believe I left Walter R. Brooks off this list. His Freddy the Pig books are among my all-time favorites. Who else would have written about celebrity spiders?

https://leeduigon.com/2011/07/05/my-favorite-authors/

I know, I know–none of these has ever been called Serious Mainstream Literature. You’d never catch Tolstoy writing about celebrity spiders; and Jane Austen wasn’t big on lost cities inhabited by maniacs.

But these are the authors I’ve learned from, and these are the authors whose works I love–and return to again and again.


‘Fading into Obscurity’ (2011)

Image result for images of the viking by edison marshall

Some authors are wildly successful for a while, maybe even a long while; and yet they and their books wind up slowly fading away.  If you’ve ever read a best-seller list from 100 years ago, you’ll be amazed at the number of famous books you never heard of.

https://leeduigon.com/2011/04/21/fading-into-obscurity/

Here’s a corny cover of The Viking, by Edison Marshall. Just for the record, vikings did not wear horns on their helmets. And dig the 35-cent price! This particular edition now sells for $300.

Since I wrote this in 2011, Patty and I have been able to complete our collection of Arthur Upfield’s “Bony” novels. It seems readers simply won’t let them fade away. You can still find most of them on amazon.com at reasonable prices.


When ‘Science’ Sounded Like Himmler

See the source image

You wouldn’t think I could get into much trouble, reading a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery by Dorothy L. Sayers. The one I’m reading now is Gaudy Night, set at a women’s college in Oxford. It’s important to remember, at all times, that this was published in 1936.

Consider this bit of conversation. One character, opposed to capital punishment, says murderers must be “kept from doing further harm. But they ought not to be punished and they certainly ought not to be killed.”

To which one of her fellow academics replies, “I suppose they ought to be kept in hospitals at vast expense, along with other unfit specimens… Speaking as a biologist, I must say I think public money might be better employed. What with the number of imbeciles and physical wrecks we allow to go about and propagate their species, we shall end by devitalizing whole nations.”

“Miss Schuster-Slatt [an American] would advocate sterilization,” said the Dean.

“They’re trying it in Germany, I believe,” said Miss Edwards [the biologist]. ****

Hello? Did someone invite Heinrich Himmler to give a series of guest lectures at this college?

Well, no. They were just talkin’ eugenics, which was Settled Science once upon a time, between the world wars. The West–primarily Britain and America–was talkin’ it, and passing laws against reproduction by “the unfit”; but in Nazi Germany they shifted eugenics into high gear and started killing people. After all, it’s a sure way of getting rid of the unfit.

And Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood, to get rid of the unfit by means of abortion.

So we had all this Nazi stuff floating around in our culture, believed in by the best and smartest people, no one dared venture into Eugenics Denial for fear of being mocked and cast out of polite society.

A lot of people shut up about eugenics after it became well known how the Nazis put it to work. The word “eugenics” fell out of use. Nobody wanted to sound like Himmler.

But it was there–respected, exalted, socially acceptable, absolutely a part of our culture. In Gaudy Night we see it in Britain in 1936, before the Nazis started bombing London.

We see it even more vividly in Agatha Christie’s Curtain, written during World War II but not published till 1975. The ideas most commonly associated with the Third Reich were deemed respectable in Britain–even while the Germans were attacking and it was an open question whether Britain would survive.

The evils of our own day have deep roots. Very deep indeed.

May Jesus Christ defend us.

 


‘Fighting for America’s Soul: How Sweeping Change Threatens Our Nation’ (2009)

See the source image

Robert Knight has been a kind of mentor to me. He played a pivotal role in getting me started in the work I do now.

Fighting for America’s Soul is one of several books Bob wrote while he was with Coral Ridge Ministries. It was an urgent book in 2009. It still is, today.

https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/a-review-of-fighting-for-americas-soul-how-sweeping-change-threatens-our-nation

By 2009 we were into the Obama regime and Far Left Crazy was working furiously to “re-make America” in its own perverted image. And that was before they came up with the transgender revolution. The author wondered if it was too much change, too fast, and whether the American people would wake up in time to save their liberties and way of life.

Did we wake up in time, by electing Donald Trump? We don’t know. But I think we do know that we need to re-elect him; and then, four years later, we’ll have to fight the battle all over again, keeping Far Left Crazy from seizing control of the government and picking up where they left off in 2016–only this time with a ferocious vengeance. Heaven forbid we should have to see it.

 


‘Ivanhoe’ Revisited

See the source image

Every time you read a literary classic, it’s different.

I’ve just finished re-reading Ivanhoe, which I hadn’t visited in, I guess, ten years. Maybe more. And it was different. Almost like reading it for the first time.

At first I was a little put off by Sir Walter Scott’s language. Ivanhoe came out in 1830, just two years before Scott died; and I wondered why he’d written it in such a wordy, effusive, 18th-century style. What was he thinking?

By and by, it became clear.

Written by a modern writer according to modern story-telling and stylistic conventions, Ivanhoe would be… raw. Sir Walter approached the story with the delicacy of a man tiptoeing through a shop stocked with bottles of nitroglycerin.

Because this story is not a pretty story. Underneath the flowery language, it’s about hate, savagery, totally irresponsible leadership, lawlessness, anti-Semitism, and personal depravity. I mean, once upon a time, Scott could’ve been thrown into jail for writing such a story. No wonder he tiptoed.

Scott shows us medieval England–not really such a nice place to visit, and heaven help you if you live there. The Church is everywhere–and everywhere corrupt and ineffectual. Christianity is on everybody’s lips, with crime and violence in everybody’s hands. Even the good guys are dangerous: King Richard the Lionheart, traveling incognito to amuse himself, at his nation’s expense, is so unstable that Robin Hood soon realizes that even friendship with this king could be hazardous to your health. Cedric the Saxon, like a modern-day “progressive,” is pathologically consumed by ancient historical grudges. And then there are the villains.

You could rack your brain all day for a week and still not come up with anything too evil for Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert to do. And he’s one of the nice Templars. His friends are murderers and thieves.

Henry II did try very hard to put England on a sound footing as a nation, reforming the law code, straightening out an arbitrary and capricious government; but his two sons that followed him, Richard and then John, almost succeeded in tearing it all down. Their shortcomings are clearly seen in Ivanhoe.

Judged only by his writings, Sir Walter Scott believed in the power of goodness. Usually in his stories, good things are achieved by characters’ courage, selflessness, and other virtues. In Ivanhoe, most of the good things that happen are the work of God Himself.

Note: Scott explains in a footnote that he was forced to bring Athelstane back from the dead because his printer was “disconsolate” over the dull glutton’s demise. When I read this in high school, I thought it was just about the most ridiculous thing I’d ever read. But now I’m old and experienced enough to appreciate how Scott handled this near-impossible task–turning it into a comic scene that made me laugh out loud. Like, the poor guy has come back from the dead and still nobody listens to him!

 


‘And Here’s an Even Worse Book’ (2011)

Image result for images of blue moon by alyson noel

“The Immortals”? Immortality under these conditions would be unbearable.

You wouldn’t have thought it possible to stage a literary train-wreck as total as Jon Skovron’s Misfit; but in Blue Moon, Alyson Noel (don’t tell me that’s what it says on her birth certificate) certainly gives it a serious try. Imagine being stuck in high school for, oh, four hundred years or so. But reading this book only feels like that.

https://leeduigon.com/2011/12/06/and-heres-an-even-worse-book/

You may wonder what I was doing, reading these really stupid books in the first place. Well, I was preparing to be a guest on a radio program, discussing Young Adults fiction. After you read a few of these, you kind of lose heart and need to take eight or nine years off. I guess I’m ready to go back on the air, if anyone wants me.

I would love to see one of these “teen lit” authors try to tell a story without cliches. Betcha anything they couldn’t do it. It would be funny–like watching someone try to dribble a loaf of bread down the basketball court.

These books are so bad, I find it almost sinister. Is it part of some incredibly subtle and complicate plot against civilization?


‘A Really Stinky Book!’ (2011)

Image result for images of misfit by john skovron

There are some adults who shouldn’t even try to write about teenagers. Or anything else, for that matter. John Skovron is one of these authors. Someone should stop him.

https://leeduigon.com/2011/12/02/a-really-stinky-book/

I haven’t read anything as bad as Misfit in a while. I wonder if it would be any worse if Skovron wrote about adults.

Avoid this book as you would avoid the plague.


‘Old Books, New Delights’ (2014)

Image result for images of the third omnibus of crime

To my knowledge, The Bargain, by A.M. Burrage, is the only story ever written about a haunted stamp collection. Guaranteed to give you the willies!

https://leeduigon.com/2014/05/04/old-books-new-delights/

We found it in a banged-up old book that my wife bought for 25 cents–The Third Omnibus of Crime, edited by Dorothy L. Sayers: 800 pages of classic crime and ghost stories.

You can still get this book from a used book service, but it’ll cost you a lot more than 25 cents.

 


‘Starbuck’s Does It Again’ (2017)

Image result for images of starbuck in moby dick

The original “Starbuck” with Captain Ahab–100% ineffectual.

I don’t know whether Starbuck’s ever got around to actually hiring those 10,000 Muslim “refugees” to show Donald Trump what for.

https://leeduigon.com/2017/02/25/starbucks-does-it-again/

No–rather, I’ve been thinking of the name, “Starbuck’s.”

Everybody likes Starbuck, the first mate on the Pequod in Moby Dick, because he’s humane and sane and understands that Captain Ahab is in the throes of a completely mad obsession and carrying the whole crew along with him–

And does absolutely nothing about it, and winds up perishing with everybody else.

Mr. Starback is the quintessential moderate: knows what he believes, but won’t stand up for it, totally ineffectual, and in the end, gets dragged down with the fanatics.

Makes you think, eh?

 


%d bloggers like this: