Thursday, December 8, 2011
The Grace Effect by Larry Alex Taunton
Simply defined, the 'grace effect' is an observable phenomenon-that life is demonstrably better where authentic Christianity flourishes. (From the author's web site )
“Does she want a bribe,Viktor?” He looked startled and uncomfortable.
“Uh, a 'gift' might be helpful.” Viktor shifted nervously in his seat.
“Then do it,” I ordered.
Viktor sprang from the car and went back inside. Upon his return, Viktor appeared anxious. Getting into the car, he turned to me.
“Did she accept it?” I asked impatiently.
“Yes, she did.”
“Excellent! How much?”
“Uh...one hundred dollars.”
Why wasn't Viktor pleased? That seemed like a bargain.
“Well done!” I congratulated him.
“Well, not exactly,” he began. “She accepted the gift but still will not give us the document we need. She says that if she expedites our papers, (her superiors) will think that she has taken a bribe.”
“Let me get this straight." I could feel a rising anger. “We have 'gifted' her to expedite this adoption-that is, to give us a paper that sits on her desk even now. But she isn't going to do it; is that right?” Viktor nodded, averting his eyes. (pg. 53,54)
The Grace Effect begins with a dinner with atheist Christopher Hitchens, Christian apologetist John Lennox, and the author. The crux is that Hitchens believes that religious beliefs are evil and cause people to do evil things. What Tuanton provides in his book, The Grace Effect, is a personal testimony of how our most basic human rights in America and Europe are based on Judeo-Christian tenets and when you take away this belief system you end up with countries like the Ukraine.
Taunton takes us on a depressing, extremely frustrating, and ultimately rewarding journey as he and his family attempt to adopt a ten year old girl, Sasha, from a Ukrainian orphanage.
His descriptions of the harrowing conditions in theses orphangages are only a little more horrifying than the government and populace that could care less. Why should these children be treated with respect? Why should they have other than rotten food to eat? Why do they need toilet paper?
What little accommodations that have been done to make these children's lives a little more bearable have all been done by short term missionaries from the U.S. For that matter most of the people trying to adopt these children are American citizens. The Ukrainians don't understand why anyone would.
“Learning that I was in their country, a small group of academics asked me to come and speak on the religious climate in America. A hand went up and a woman asked, “Why are you in Ukraine?”
“My wife and I are here finalizing the adoption of a ten year-old girl.”
A man asked, “Why would you want to adopt?” Frankly, this seemed a silly question. Aren't the reasons for adoption self-evident? A couple loves children; a child needs a home and a family and so on. I then realized that his question was shared by the whole room. 'Why adopt? Who would want to do that?'
The rest of the question-and-answer period became a referendum on adoption and my party did not win. The whole concept was anathema to most of them. This is because the concept is anathema to a culture not heavily influenced by a Christian worldview. Atheists don't do benevolence.
Adoption facilitators will tell you that very few Ukrainians or Russians adopt or volunteer their time for these abandoned children. And there is little help being offered from the Islamic world, countries where the slave trade continues to thrive. No, as with most aid, most adoptions are to parents from Western countries, overwhelmingly, to those from the United States.” (pg.117,118)
After going through this interminable process and finally adopting Sasha, Taunton lets us know that this little girl has AIDS. In spite of this they were allowed to return to the States with her. So much of what is described in this book makes me very angry. Like the twenty-something judge with bleached blonde hair, tight mini-skirt and stilletos who after finally showing up (after many last minute cancellations-one because she was watching a movie on TV) signed the papers then gets back in her Lexus and zooms off.
An irony is how Taunton and his family were treated by all the officials involved. They were rebuked by the orphanage director for feeding Sasha McDonalds because it's bad for her then rebuked again when she didn't eat much of the subsequent healthy meal they got her. All the while knowing that the food served to the children in the orphanage was so bad that if anything edible is offered, the first child near it will spit on it so no one else will get it.
Then there were the adoption officials who kept asking them over and over again how big their house was, what kind of room Sasha was going to sleep in etc..When they were well aware that even living in a shack would be an improvement to where she was currently living.
As Taunton points out, anyone who thinks that Christianity is a fake or even evil, they need to go visit countries lacking Christian values and make an objective comparison.
Or at least read The Grace Effect.
I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers