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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

10 Christians Everyone Should Know

I received this book free via the Book Sneeze website in return for a review, not reliant on it being positive.

This attractive volume -- colorful color and easy to read text -- has an interesting title. Why exactly are these ten Christians so worthy of study so that "everyone" should know about them?  What lessons should we learn from them?  The ten are:

Saint Patrick
Anne Bradstreet
John Bunyan
Johann Sebastian Bach
Jane Austen
D.L. Moody
George Washington Carver
Sergeant York
William F. Buckley, Jr.

The book as a whole does a good job of providing us with ten short biographies of this diverse set of historical figures.

Their importance as Christians are fairly easy to see in many cases, including some like Carver and Buckley -- known for other largely non-religious reasons -- who were guided by their Christian faith.  Jane Austen might not be someone you think of as a Christian figure at first blush, but the daughter of a minister, one who included ministers as important characters (both positive and negative) in her books, not surprisingly had a strong Christian faith. The fact she was still able to have such a wicked sense of humor and write novels many do not see as much motivated by religion as such only underlines the value of including her.  We see the various sides of Christianity's influence, including in music and literature.

A particularly interesting choice is Galileo, who we now think of as a sort of religious rebel, since his scientific views got him in trouble with the religious hierarchy of the day.  The fact the book examines his struggles here adds to its value and it does not try to sugarcoat things. We see that a person (with a close relative a member of the Church) can be generally faithful, but still get in trouble with the powers that be.  This is a lesson to Christians and everyone, down to the current day when certain members of the clergy get in trouble for their views.  The chapter ends with the note that the Catholic Church has recently (1990s) admitted some error occurred regarding his treatment.

Some of the chapters ends with a sort of summary of the individual's place in Christianity, that is, how their lives were guided by their faith.  Others take a more general approach that lays down the details of the person's life, ending with their death.  As a whole, the book (written by various authors) is a good account of each individual, providing some insights on how they can serve as models of Christian faith and actions.  I'm not sure that we are really told why these ten in particular are so important that everyone should know about them in particular.  They are each worthwhile of a chapter, but I'm sure others might find others to fill in a list of ten Christians of all time.  But, I appreciate the overall theme of them being chosen for their faith was not done in a heavy-handed way and the general reader can appreciate the book.

I think it was overall a good book, but not really above average.  Thus, three stars.