Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review of A Cowboy's Touch by Denise Hunter

Abigail Jones takes a summer job as a nanny only to discover that she is working for a man that the news media has been looking for. It’s the story that will save her job as a magazine journalist, if she can get the story without revealing who she is. A Cowboy’s Touch by Denise Hunter is a romance set on a ranch in Montana. It isn’t the kind of story I would typically buy, but Denise sent me a copy after I participated in a picture caption contest. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. It was a very enjoyable read.

I noticed several similarities in this story to the story in Searching For Mom and Mother Not Wanted, so you can imagine that it would be easy for me to slip into the environment of this story. In particular, this story involves a single parent with an eleven-year-old child. That is about the same age as the girls in those two stories.

It is a Christian romance, so the book as all of the romance elements you would expect with hints of a growing relationship with God, but the rest of the story is well developed. So, while I’m not qualified to speak on their behalf, I think this book will be a real treat for Christian romance readers.

Is Rob Bell Teaching Hell is Empty? (Reprise)

A few days ago I asked the question, Is Rob Bell Teaching that Hell is Empty? The question was triggered by comments from John Piper, Albert Mohler, and some of their Calvinist brethren. After having read Rob Bell’s latest book, Love Wins, I have say they jumped the gun—boy did they ever jump the gun. I don’t agree completely with Rob Bell’s book, but concerning hell it appears that he is saying that not only is there a hell, it is a literal place of torment, and if we go there it is our own fault and no fault of God’s.

It isn’t always easy to follow Rob Bell’s thought pattern because he asks so many questions and it isn’t always clear whether he is asking to make a statement or simply asking because some people will ask those questions. He seems to flirt with the idea that people may be able to repent after they have reached hell, so hell may not be eternal and yet he also has much to say about the possibility that those who go to hell will continually reject Christ throughout eternity anyway. He also flirts with the idea that the world religions might be another way to come to Christ. I think that is dangerous theology, considering how much the Bible has to say against idol worship, but I think I can agree with his assessment that God provides the opportunity for all men everywhere to be saved. We just don’t agree on how God does that.

Bell repeatedly says that God gives us what we want. If we would rather turn our back on God and go to hell, that is our choice. But Bell doesn’t like the idea of using hell to compel people to believe in God. Even so, Bell doesn’t make hell any less hot. Even though Rob Bell isn’t as far removed from the truth as what his Calvinist critics thought, I don’t expect they will like his book. He walks that fine line that allows for both freewill and the sovereignty of God without swaying very far to one side or the other.

How to Get Stabbed to Death

Happy ides of March. As you recall, Julius Caesar was slain on this date in 44 B.C. Because of that, it seems like a fitting day to talk about online forums.

The conspirators who killed him stabbed Julius Caesar twenty-three times. If you’ve ever participated in some of these forums, you may have found yourself in a similar situation. If you’re a glutten for punishment, go over to the Christianity forum on Amazon.com and post something that sounds even remotely Christian. Before the day is out, all the atheists over there will swarm your post and tell you all the reasons why you are an idiot for believing what you do. If you want your punishment to be a little less severe, post something in support of a Christian book over on the Kindle forum instead. They won’t slam Christianity quite as hard, but plenty of them will make it clear that they don’t like Christian books and you won’t have many who will come to your aid.

Forums display the opinions of the small number of people who participate, but when you are on the opposite side of the argument from the most vocal people it can seem like the whole world is against you. I suspect that is why many people avoid forums. Online forums rarely discuss anything meaningful. Occasionally, someone will ask for product information. Some people are there to promote their products. The rest tends to be about what idiots the people who disagree with the poster are.

You can’t win. You may enter a discussion hoping to learn from other people’s point of view, but many of the other participants will assume that you are there with something to prove. Even if you ask a question, someone is sure to think you are stating what you believe about something. If you try to explain how they misunderstood, they will not listen. Stab after stab they will make at you until you wonder why you even bothered.

On one hand, online forums seem like an opportunity to tell people about Jesus. That would be nice, but forums are much too noisy for that. I’m not saying that God can’t use forums to reach people, but it doesn’t seem like the best way. There is far too much anger on forums and even the most eloquent Christians may have difficulty conveying that they are speaking with a voice of reason.

Do you participate in forums? Why or why not?