My "have read" pile is, well, piling up so I'm going to knock out three books with one review. I know the reviews are short and don't do the books justice but hopefully they will whet your appetite to read the books for yourselves.
Shadows and Chilvalry: C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald on Suffering, Evil and Goodness by Jeff McInnis
George MacDonald was a Victorian author and Christian minister. He wrote children's fantasies that spurred the imagination of countless people and particularly one. MacDonald is credited with being the inspiration of one of the twentieth century's greatest apologists and fantasy writers, C.S. Lewis.
In his book, Shadows and Chivalry, Jeff McInnis informs the reader of both MacDonald's and Lewis' belief concerning God and His relationship to people, how they expressed those beliefs in their fiction and how the former author influenced the latter.
McInnis offers an insightful look on the particular topics of the title: suffering, evil and goodness. He offers an informative and interesting analysis of several of MacDonald's and Lewis's stories and how they portray each of these human experiences.
We Never Make Mistakes by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn translated by Paul W. Blackstock
We Never Make Mistakes are two short novels that paint a grim picture of Soviet life in the early twentieth century. The first story, An Incident at Krechetovka Station is about a Red Army lieutenant, Zotov, who is in charge of a railroad station during WWII. A stranger arrives who insists that he has missed his train and needs to take the next one. At first Zotov is willing to help him, but then he becomes suspicious. Is this man who he says he is or a deserter? Zotov becomes tormented between the fear of letting a lawbreaker get away and arresting an innocent man whom he knows will meet an unspeakable fate if charged. His decision haunts him the rest of his life.
In the second story, Matryona's House, a school teacher is living with an elderly lady, Matryona. Through the teacher's eyes we see the woman's poverty and hardship. Her house is falling apart, with mice running up and down the walls. She barely has enough to subsist on. She cannot work because of government regulations, she can not grow food because of government regulations, she can not receive government assistance because of government regulations.
Both stories show how socialized economies and government micromanagement over the individual cause widespread poverty and even starvation. I shared this story with a friend of mine from Moldova. She said, "Look down the road, Sharon. Where do you think your own country is heading?"
In Defense of Elitism by William A. Henry III
Henry attacks our egalitarian culture on many levels. He defies the "victimhood" labels given to minorities. He argues that women need to stop classifying themselves as a minority. He provides statistics showing that the assertion that women make less money than men for the same jobs is a myth. He contends that these special interest groups are not asking for equal rights but privileged ones.
He also attacks the public school system with its dumbing curriculum down so that even a college education doesn't hold the value it had fifty years ago.
I agree with a lot of what he says. I don't like being viewed through the lens of my gender and I certainly don't view others that way. We are people. I can't worry about other's prejudices. Prejudice will always exist. At least I know that every job I got was by my own credentials. Henry makes a good argument that affirmative action will always leave women and minorities wondering if they got the job due to their qualifications or their gender/race.
I agree that much of what we're seeing is thinly veiled government control over individuals right to live according to their own convictions. If I want to stay home and raise my children and keep house, that doesn't make me oppressed. Conversely, if I want to work professionally, I want to get the job according to my qualifications. I don't want the job "given" to me in order to fill a gender quota.
There are other assertions that Henry makes that I vehemently oppose. He is anti-religion- especially Christianity and he expresses those beliefs in the most venomous of terms.
I also disagree with his attitude that some kids aren't meant for college so we need to stop wasting our time with them. He points to Europe as an ideal. I've lived in Europe. I have a Master's degree but I promise I would have been sent to a labor camp had I been educated in the European elitist system. Man doesn't make perfect systems and our man made evaluations of people's intellect doesn't accommodate everyone's intelligence. I don't have much faith in America's public school system either but that's another story.