Tag Archives: War

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Ron’s #23: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I have attempted to read this several times over the past ten years, and I finally made it through. Science fiction has never been one of my interests, so please take this review with that in mind.

Ender Wiggin is a prodigy who is recruited from Earth into an elite battle school for children to find the next battle commander who will lead them to victory against the alien “Buggers.” As a 10-year-old, he is younger then the other children, and is isolated. The adults pulls on the strings in Ender’s life like marionette operators to cause the desired results. I’ll stop the story there in case you do know about the semi-surprise ending. Someone told me about the ending, but it really did not matter.

Overall, it was a mildly interesting story and a good quick read. My main problem from early in the novel is that they had all these little kids arguing and discussing military philosophy as though they were college professors. It all felt so forced and phony. I never could buy that Ender is a child. This is also true with his older siblings, Peter and Valentine. There is a completely ridiculous sub-plot about the two of them assuming false identities and writing a revolutionary doctrine that changed the course of the war. Silly.

I’m probably alone in my opinions, as I know that this is a much-loved book in the sci-fi genre. Sorry to offend anyone, but it just isn’t that good.

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Ron’s #12: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

This is a powerful picture of the horrors of war told through the eyes of Paul Baumer, a German infantryman during World War I. After being convinced to join by an overzealous teacher, Paul and his classmates fight disillusionment as much as they fight the Allies. We as readers sympathize and, in some way, root for they young men, wanting them to succeed, to live.

This novel is often referred to as the greatest war novel of all time. I’m not too sure about that because I don’t read too many. I do agree that this is a great one. And for you in the military, this should be required reading.

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Ron’s #4: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I taught this for the second time this year, and I loved this book even more than when I read it last year. It is an incredible story of love, sacrifice, and unbridled violence. Sydney Carton is raising on the list of my favorite literary characters. To see his transformation from an idle, drunken loser to a redeemed man with purpose and life is excited and inspiring.

While I did not see this as clearly last year, A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most Christian novels I’ve read. The concept of sin and evil, along with grace and atonement are clearer on these pages than they are in many other books I’ve read.

Even without the powerful message, the writing in this book is so engaging and enjoyable. I suggest making this a selection in one of your next book group. You will not be disappointed. After reading, you will be “recalled to life.”

 

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Mark’s #48 – Where Men Win Glory:The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

In 2002, when Pat Tillman left a lucrative career in the NFL at the peak of his athletic prime to enlist in the Army, many  journalists, sports fans, politicians, and ordinary people took notice.  Since Pat refused to do any media interviews regarding his decision, the public was left to merely speculate as to the motivation of such radical actions.  In my own mind, I figured Pat Tillman was merely an uber-patriot, all-American boy  who saw it as his duty to serve his country.

In this book, author Jon Krakauer uses his well developed journalist skills to uncover the depth and mystery of the background, history, philosophy of Pat Tillman.   Using journal entries from Pat’s diary, and interviews with Pat’s wife and friends, Krakauer shows that Tillman was not a shallow-minded jock, but rather a complicated man with deep emotions, thoughts, and beliefs.

As most people know, in 2004 Pat Tillman died from ‘friendly fire’ while serving in Afghanistan.  In the days, weeks, and months following his death, Army officers and officials attempted to cover-up the incident and spin the story to showcase Pat as an example of an American war hero.   In regards to both personal details of Tillman as well as the details of his death and subsequent cover-up, Krakauer showed his strength as a journalist.

However, on several occasions, it appears that Krakauer deliberately went off-script to make known his own personal political position.  Repeatedly, Krakauer attacked the Bush administration – even going into details surrounding the 2000 vote recount in Florida. On several occasions, Krakauer points out Tillman’s disdain for any attempt by the government to use his service or even his death as a propaganda point, yet it seems that Krakauer often does just this for his own political agenda.  It was at these points, where this book losses its objectivity and begins to sound more like an editorial than an unbiased work of an investigative journalist.

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JRF’s # 36 – A Quiet Reality By Emilio Marrero

In this memoir, Chaplain Emilio Marrero recounts his experiences with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Following the invasion his unit set up operations at Sadaam’s former palace at Babylon.   Marrero soon found himself leading efforts to keep the Babylon Museum and the ruins of the ancient city from getting completely looted in the post-invasion chaos.  Eventually he was dubbed the unofficial “Mayor of Babylon” by the locals because of his influence, compassionate advocacy for the locals, and wise negotiating between the mission of the U.S. Military, the needs and desires of the local Iraqis, the demands of politicians, and the needs of a frail but immensely important archaeological site.

As a fairly new Chaplain myself, this account was both encouraging and instructive.  Marrero’s ministry in Iraq is a great example of immense potential for influence – politically and spiritually – that a creative, motivated, and Christ-led chaplain has.  At many times I found myself stoping and jotting down ideas for my own ministry that were inspired by Marrero’s initiatives.   Other times I felt my heart convicted by the determination and passion with which he pursued people and initiated ministries from the ground up.  Too often have I let the discouragements and obstacles of military ministry drown out the many unique and powerful opportunities for Gospel influence.  It was also a great encouragement to look at the Chaplain Corps through the eyes of a Chaplain who genuinely loves Jesus and people and kept the Main thing the Main thing.

I only had a few criticisms of the book: (1) ironically it seemed at times that Marrero’s quasi-Arminian theology was at odds with the major theme of the book – God’s quiet, behind-the-scenes sovereignty and (2) the book could have used another round of proof-reading as there were a small amount of minor typos scattered about.

Throughout the book Marrero uses the phrase “quiet reality” to describe the intangible experiences and forces behind the types of things that make the headlines of newspapers, military reports, and facebook statuses (statusi?).  The Ultimate “Quiet Reality” of Emilio Marrero’s story is that God is and will continue to be working through the events of the Iraqi Freedom both in the lives of the invaders/liberators and conquered/liberated.

This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in Military Ministry, Biblical Archaeology, or just likes a good story about the Grace and power of God shown in and through a willing servant.

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