The Presence of War

Someone recommended to me that at least once a year I should read a book that is over fifty years old. What seems so hot and compelling now may be forgotten and rather pointless ten or even five years from now. Dave Barry, for example, describes the 1960s as an era in which “a nation gets high and has amazing insights, many of which later turn out to seem kind of stupid.” That’s kind of like what many bestsellers turn out to be.
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Behind Every Good Declaration of Independence

John Locke is not just a character on Lost. He’s one of the most important philosophers of the last five hundred years on issues of the self and of political theory. When it comes to identifying how the United States came to be in the first place, Locke’s Two Treatises of Government written in a hundred years beforehand, is a good place to begin.
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What I Read in 2008

Reading is part of my job. But I enjoy the so-called busman’s holiday of reading on my own time. As I did at the end of 2007, I am listing the books I finished on my own time (in the order I read them) during the past twelve months.

The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
Sex and Dating, Mindy Meier
All the Ideas Living in My Head, Don Everts
Children of God, Mary Doria Russell
The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser
The Last European War, John Lukacs
Culture Making, Andy Crouch
Friday Night Lights, H. G. Bissinger
Rethinking Christ and Culture, Craig A. Carter
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Kenneth E. Bailey
Faith in the Halls of Power, Michael Lindsay
The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson
The Merchant of Death, D. J. MacHale
No Future Without Forgiveness, Desmond Tutu
Motivating the “What’s In It For Me?” Workforce, Cam Marston
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne and Dave King
Story, Robert McKee
The Shack, William P. Young
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card
Publishing for Profit, Thomas Woll
Daring to Draw Near, John White
Gilead, Marilyn Robinson
Sin in the Second City, Karen Abbott
A Promise Kept, Robertson McQuilkin
The Soul Tells a Story, Vinita Hampton Wright
Fire Sale , Sara Paretsky
The Lost History of Christianity, Philip Jenkins
Making Room for Leadership, MaryKate Morse
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen

After the new year, I’ll offer some general comments on the list and which were the best.

The Golden Compass

New Line Cinema’s The Golden Compass opens in theaters this week amid much debate and controversy. Based on Philip Pullman’s book, the first of a trilogy, it is set in another world like ours but not. Some are concerned that the book does (and that the movie will) represent Christianity in a false and unflattering light. Certainly Pullman has said, “My books are about killing God.” So he is not being guarded about his intentions.
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Publishing That Lasts

Sitting on my wife’s chifforobe I recently noticed a small, old, clothbound book. On the front was the title, True Liberty, the author’s last name, Brooks, and a drawing of flowers printed on the case. The book is about 5″ x 7″ and only thirty-two pages, published by the Henry Altemus Company of Philadelphia (1842-1936), which started as a bookbinder and evolved into a publisher of photo albums, Bibles, decorative reprints of fiction, religious and moralistic books, juvenile series books, fairy tales, and puzzle books.
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An Underrated Quality

One overlooked and underrated leadership quality that has gotten a bit more press recently is humility.

We should be grateful to Jim Collins for raising our consciousness about this trait with his concept of Level 5 Leadership–a person who combines great ambition for the organization with great personal humility. He offers a number of examples of leaders who missed this mark and those who hit the target, most famously, perhaps, Abraham Lincoln.
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