Gifts that Keep Giving

Christmas is almost here, and if you're like me, you're probably not sure what to get some of the people on your shopping list. Well, if your list includes a thoughtful Christian or two -- and I hope it does -- how about the kind of gift that won't go out of style, need batteries, or break: that is, a good book. The good news is that there are several recent books that can help thoughtful Christians to better understand the way that Christianity has shaped our culture, how people think today, and how to thoughtfully engage our neighbors with the truth. These are the kinds of books that will leave you and those around you better off for having read them. One is The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. It's written by a good friend of mine, Dr. Armand Nicholi, based on the class that he has been teaching for many years at Harvard. In the book, as in the course, Sigmund Freud is Nicholi's symbol for the secular worldview that sees traditional ideas about God as "embarrassing." "Freud," he writes, "remains the spokesman for moral relativism and materialism." By contrast, Nicholi uses C. S. Lewis, "one of today's primary spokesmen for absolute truth and religious faith." What makes studying the two together so fruitful, says Nicholi, is that Lewis "responds to Freud" because "Lewis knew Freud's theories." And comparing the two worldviews and how they work out in the lives of the two men makes a powerful, compelling apologetic. Another must read is The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis by Leon Kass. Kass's book also has its origins in a course he has taught for two decades. According to Kass, the "crisis in modern thought," especially in the moral and ethical realms, stems from our culture's disregard for the lessons taught in Genesis. We have a "need for wisdom," says Kass, one that requires a "serious examination" of the Bible, starting with Genesis. This book is a serious and thoughtful examination of what Genesis teaches us about God, human nature, human dignity, and why things go so terribly wrong. Kass doesn't write as a Christian; he is Jewish and a professor at the University of Chicago. But he gives us a brilliant basis for a biblical worldview. Why things go wrong and our response is the subject of J. Budziszewski's What We Can't Not Know. In it, Budziszewski points out that our contemporaries are not as ignorant about good and evil as they pretend to be. Although we can be desensitized to evil, we can't completely kill the conscience. Thus, the uncertainty and moral skepticism many profess in areas like the sanctity of human life and sexuality are often little more than pretense and evasion. Budziszewski's book is an indispensable guide to the human conscience and to apologetics. And then there's also God's Secretaries by Adam Nicolson. It tells the fascinating story of the making of the King James Bible. Better yet, call us here at BreakPoint for a list of recommended books. That way, you can skip the neckties and scarves and give something thoughtful Christians can really use: a book that's well worth the reading. For further reading and information: Call 1-877-322-5527 to request the comprehensive recommended book list, "Books to Give as Gifts: Recommendations from Chuck Colson and the Wilberforce Forum." Dr. Armand Nicholi, The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life (Free Press, 2002). Call 1-877-322-5527 to order. Leon Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis (Free Press, 2003). Adam Nicolson, God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (HarperCollins, 2003). J. Budziszewski, What We Can't Not Know(Spence, 2003). Call 1-877-322-5527 to order. Roberto Rivera, "Patriarchy," BreakPoint Online, 7 July 2003. More about What We Can't Not Know: BreakPoint Commentary No. 030423, "What We Can't Not Know." (Archived commentary; free registration required.) More about The Beginning of Wisdom: BreakPoint Commentary No. 030922, "Sorely Needed Wisdom." (Archived commentary; free registration required.) For more information about The Question of God, see these past commentaries: "Freud, Lewis, and the Ivy League," "Grow Up or Wake Up," "The Question of Love," and "Life in Enemy Occupied Territory." Steven Garber, "Good Books, Bad Books," BreakPoint WorldView, January/February 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 010614, "Book-Free Zones." Bruce Cole, "How to Combat 'American Amnesia'," Wall Street Journal, 24 November 2003. Gina Dalfonzo, "Nature and Grace in Mitford," BreakPoint Online, 25 November 2002. Colleen Carroll, "Tolkien, Transformer of Culture," BreakPoint Online, 19 April 2002. Louise Cowan and Os Guinness, Invitation to the Classics (Baker Book House, 1998). Call 1-877-322-5527 to order. Vigen Guroian, Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination(Oxford University Press, 1998). Call 1-877-322-5527 to order. For a gift that gives all year, call 1-877-322-5527 to order a gift subscription to BreakPoint WorldViewmagazine. Scott Larsen, ed., Indelible Ink: 22 Prominent Christian Leaders Discuss the Books That Shape Their Faith(Waterbrook Press, 2003).


Chuck Colson


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