On the Bookshelf XVIII


All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Meyers
Os Guinness’ recommendation: “A magnificent and timely book. Fresh, witty, informative, trenchant, and eminently sane, Ken Myers’s book is a must for thoughtful evangelicals… I only hope there are enough of them left to read it.” My second read through. Let me put it this way: if this book isn’t on your shelf, your library is incomplete.
Is Christianity Good for the World? by Christopher Hitchens & Douglas Wilson
Another re-read. It’s short, and best read in one sitting, but there are few things more entertaining than to watch Hitchens and Wilson go toe-to-toe in debate. This book also contains one of my favorite lines ever: “… for you to make this move would reveal the two fundamental tenets of true atheism. One: There is no God. Two: I hate Him.”
Lonesome Animals by Bruce Holbert
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a review, so I’ll be posting my full thoughts within the next week or so. Holbert’s novel has been hailed as heir to such classics as True Grit and Blood Meridian – that’s quite a bit to live up to. I trust the hype won’t have a spoiling effect.
The Presbyterian Doctrine of Children in the Covenant by Lewis Bevens Schenck
An Historical Study of the Significance of Infant Baptism in the Presbyterian Church.” Don’t let the mile long title scare you; this is excellent reading. I’ll probably follow it up with Douglas Wilson’s To A Thousand Generations.
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick awards. Whenever a story opens with a line like this – “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” – odds are you’re in for a treat.
Future Men by Douglas Wilson
I love this book. I’m going to run out of highlighter ink before I’m even halfway through. “True masculinity accepts responsibility, period, while false masculinity will try to accept responsibility only for success.”

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

Book Review: Nothing Lasts Forever

Nothing_Lasts_Forever_by_Roderick_Thorp,_Cover_ArtPicture this: on Christmas Eve, an LA skyscraper becomes a war zone as a gang of international terrorists face off against a single New York City cop – a one-man army who starts picking off the baddies with brutal efficiency (and all while not wearing any shoes).

Where did this happen?

If you answered Die Hard, congratulations on knowing your classics. Here’s something I bet you didn’t know: before John McLane, there was Joe Leland; and before the movie Die Hard, there was the novel Nothing Lasts Forever.

That’s right, ladies and gents: everybody’s favorite shoot-em-up is actually based on a book. In fact, one of the perks of reading it is the ability to walk around and begin conversations like this:

“Hey, you know Die Hard? I’ve got the book that inspired it.”

“Wait… there’s a book? Really?”

[feigning surprise] “Of course, silly. You didn’t know that?”

“Well… no… as a matter of fact I–“

[sadly] “I’m disappointed in you, _____, I really am.”

See how much fun you can have?

Nothing Lasts Forever may be the inspiration behind the 1988 film, but the two are remarkably different in several respects. The book features many of the same stunts – the elevator shaft sequence, for example, or the old throw-yourself-off-a-building-while-tied-to-a-firehose routine – and all the slam-bang terrorist-hunting mayhem is still there; what’s absent is the joviality, the wisecracking and humorous banter now so synonymous with the name of John McLane. Thorp paints his hero (anti-hero?) with darker colors. Leland, haunted by past mistakes, troubled by evil he’s seen in his career, is looking for redemption. He doesn’t find it.

Thorp is a good writer, especially when he’s writing action. The story gets off to an iffy start, but once everything kicks into high gear, it stays in high gear. Fights are sudden and frequently savage, and the lulls in between can hardly be called lulls, since the suspense rarely lets up. Fans of Die Hard will no doubt think they know how everything plays out. They’re wrong. Thorp throws a few curveballs in at the end that most readers will never see coming.

And that’s where things start getting iffy again. I won’t spoil anything; suffice it to say, our main man gets mired in some morally murky decision-making (alliteration, anyone?). When all is said and done, his hero status is questionable, to say the least.

This issue aside, I did appreciate the rest of the story; particularly the second act, jam-packed as it is with smartly written derring-do. Obviously, there are content issues to watch out for: namely, lots of violence and a fair amount of profanity (though there’s considerably less of it here than there is in the movie). Thriller fans would do well to give this oft-overlooked novel a read through, if only to see what Die Hard looked like before it was Die Hard.

This Flower Does Not Grow in Nature’s Garden

“You who are enriched with the treasures of godliness, bless God for it. This flower does not grow in nature’s garden. You had enlisted yourselves under the devil and taken pay on his side, fighting against your own happiness, and then God came with converting grace and put forth a loving and gentle violence, causing you to espouse his quarrel against Satan. You had lain many years soaking in wickedness, as if you had been parboiled for hell, and then God laid you steeping in Christ’s blood and breathed holiness into your heart! Oh, what cause you have to write yourselves as eternal debtors to free grace!”

– Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture (p. 221)