Pro-lifers recommend books for Christmas
We invited regular contributors to, and friends of The Interim to suggest a book or books that would make a great Christmas gift.
If you like Sarah Palin, you’ll love her memoir Going Rogue: An American Life (HarperCollins, 2009). Even if you aren’t a fan, everyone should open their hearts and read the sections on her Down Syndrome son, Trig. To understand anti-Palinism, read Matthew Continetti’s The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star (Sentinel, 2009).
I recently gave a positive review of Michael Coren’s collection of columns, As I See It (Freedom Press, 2oo9). It rises above mere journalism so re-reading these pieces from the last half decade is not like regurgitating many column collections which are too often akin to drinking cold coffee.
A pair of books on Canada’s human rights commissions illustrate how surreal the world of kangaroo justice truly is: Ezra Levant’s Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights (McClelland & Stewart , 2009) and Kathy Shaidle and Pete Vere’s Tyranny of Nice: How Canada crushes freedom in the name of human rights (and why it matters to Americans) (Interim Publishing, 2008).
Bernard Nathanson’s autobiographical The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed his Mind, is the story of how one of the founders of NARAL ended up on the pro-life side. Every pro-lifer should read it.
Oswald Clark is the economics reporter of The Interim and an Ottawa and Boston based economist.
A Postcard From The Volcano (Ignatius Press, 2009) by Lucy Beckett is my book of the year; indeed one of the books of the past ten years. Superb. The story of a group of young people in Germany and Poland between the wars, it is as inspiring and moving as it is well written and compelling. The Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom (Viking) was recommended to me by Archbishop Chaput earlier this year and I read all four very quickly and with enormous pleasure. A lawyer/detective in Henry VIII’s England. Great stuff, Finally, and naturally, As I See It (Freedom Press, 2009) by, oh yes, Michael Coren . It’s a collection of my columns, reviews, articles and essays from the past five years and I’m rather proud of it.
Michael Coren is a journalist, broadcaster and columnist for The Interim. His website is www.michaelcoren.com and he is currently booking speaking engagements for 2010.
I would like to recommend House Of Miracles by Grace Petrasek (Interim Publishing, 2006). This little, inexpensive booklet should be read by all pro-lifers. It is a well-written collection of stories about the life-saving work at Aid To Women in downtown Toronto.
Joanne Dieleman was one of the volunteers of Aid To Women for more than 20 years. She now serves on the ATW board of directors, as well as the editorial advisory board of The Interim.
Here are some books I’ve found to be particularly good and influential on my thinking and points of view over the years. They may make good Christmas gifts for the Canadian social conservative.
War Against the Family (Stoddart, 1997), William Gairdner’s classic work that goes beyond mere family issues and nicely dissects the dangers of collectivism as a whole.
Reagan’s War (Double Day, 2002), Peter Schweizer’s sterling analysis of how Ronald Reagan stared down the communist empire while liberals everywhere were panicking that he was mad and leading the world to nuclear war.
Shut Up and Sing (Regnery, 2003), a great, somwhat recent attack by Laura Ingraham on liberal elites and how they are leading the United States – and the Western world – to ruin.
Sacrificed? Truth or Politics (Kayteebella, 2006), Larry Spencer’s shocking look into how Canadian politics – and, more disturbingly, “conservative” politics – really operates.
Confessions of an Economic Hitman (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004), might rub economic conservatives the wrong way, but John Perkins’ first-hand account of acting as an international agent to promote the interests of the U.S. corporatocracy is a disturbing look at what’s happening on the worldwide scale at this time of increasing globalization.
Tony Gosgnach, a Hamilton-based freelance journalist and broadcaster, is assistant editor of The Interim.
I’m just re-reading the late Charlton Heston’s autobiography In the Arena (Berkley, 1997) and it’s often funny and a great read. (You can get a second-hand copy on the web for as little as $3). I have an autographed copy beside me which I bought in Toronto when Heston came here in 1997. He was here for two days to promote his monumental 577 page book. I waited in line for two hours to get his autograph and seize a chance to talk to him. As he signed my book I told him: “I just want to congratulate you on my favourite Charlton Heston movie.” “Oh,” he said. “What was that?” I said: Eclipse of Reason, a brief introduction that Heston did for Bernard Nathanson’s modest pro-life documentary which focused on late-term abortions.
Heston was stunned and then broke into loud laughter. I guess he expected me to say Ben-Hur or Moses. Heston was a staunch and vocal supporter of pro-life issues over the years but nowhere does he mention this in his book. Heston won the Academy Award for Best Actor in Ben-Hur and was a major actor in film, theatre and television. He played Moses in The Ten Commandments, had starring roles in Planet of the Apes, El Cid and a host of other pictures and plays. In the 1950s and 1960s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. In spite of all this the media have tried to make him out to be a flaky, right wing gun-toting oddball and they have largely succeeded. When you read his book you can see he was strongly pro-life, pro-family, a practising Episcopalian and dedicated to Judaic, Christian values. God bless you `Chuck’!
Frank Kennedy has been a columnist with The Interim for more than 20 years.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (Constance Garnett translation).
The Brothers Karamazov has been widely acclaimed as the greatest novel of all time. Within the framework of a gripping detective story, Dostoevsky presents some of the most compelling arguments ever advanced both for and against Christian faith. While many atheists and cynics have been confirmed in their convictions by pondering this monumental work, countless other readers have come away with a new or keener appreciation for the sublime truths of the Christian faith exemplified in the life and teaching of the novel’s saintly hero.
Rory Leishman is an author and freelance journalist who contributes a regular column to The Interim.
Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of reading three of Mark Steyn’s books. The Face of the Tiger (Stockade, 2002), his collection of essays concerning the 2001 terrorist attacks, was rather like dark chocolate: thoroughly enjoyable, but best taken in small quantities. America Alone (Regnery, 2006) was a riveting read, and would be an especially appropriate gift for those few, unlucky persons still unfamiliar with Mr. Steyn’s work. Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech And The Twilight Of The West (Stockade, 2009) his most recent volume, is my favorite of the three. For anyone with an interest in Mr. Steyn’s encounter with Canada ’s “human rights” machine, this book is a valuable summary of his experiences. Not only does it reprint the Maclean’s articles which were the subject of the complaints launched by certain members of the Canadian Islamic Congress, but it also contains articles and observations published elsewhere which, to quote the book’s jacket, examine “the intersection of multicultural progressivism and a resurgent Islam – and…the implications for liberty in the years ahead.” This is undeniably a grim subject, but Mr. Steyn, as always, retains his razor-sharp sense of humor throughout. Indeed, some of the situations in which he found himself (such as having witnesses testify before the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal about the tone of his jokes) are so ridiculous that one cannot help but laugh despite the seriousness of this assault on freedom of speech. Lights Out brings into clear focus the ideologies that currently threaten our ancient liberties.
Karen Meyer is a full-time homemaker and homeschooling parent. She lives in Ottawa and blogs at Dumb Old Housewives.
You can’t go wrong with G.K. Chesterton, and I am especially fond of his essays. For pro-lifers, the best might be a collection of columns and excerpts, Brave New Family: G.K. Chesterton on Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage and the Family, edited by Alvardo De Silva (Ignatius Press, 2000). Reading Chesterton’s writing from a century ago reminds us that there is nothing new under the Sun.
I think there is no better evangelizing for the pro-life cause than letting people hear the words of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger herself. The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger was re-published by Dover in 2004. It is terrible and for that reason it is required reading.
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (W.W. Norton, 2007) by Michael Lewis is about football, but it is told through the story of Michael Oher. Oher was the son of a drug-addicted and negligent inner city mother. He was found and adopted by a white Christian family who transformed a floundering child into a flourishing one. He would eventually play football for a private Christian high school and later his adopted parent’s favourite school, Ole Miss. Last year, he was chosen in the first round of the NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. The story was made into a movie starring Sandra Bullock. I haven’t seen the movie, but the book shows the importance of family and what true Christian love can do to transform a life.
Lastly, some fiction. Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time is actually 12 books written over two decades (beginning in 1951) which focus on several characters from the upper classes, tracing their lives from school to their seventies. Like Henry James, Powell is read less for worldview than pure enjoyment of the literary craft.
Paul Tuns is the editor of The Interim.
One of the most powerful books I have ever read is Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Hay House, 2007) by Immaculee Ilibagiza. The book chronicles the author’s personal experience of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda . Immaculee describes her happy childhood in a lush and beautiful country, and tells us about her family, whom the reader comes to know and love through her words. I wept more than once while reading this book, not only for Immaculee’s personal loss (every family member, except for one brother, who was out of the country studying at the time, was brutally murdered in the genocide), but at the stark and horrifying reality of how depraved and brutal humans can be to one another.
Immaculee survived the ordeal by hiding for 91 days with seven other women in a tiny bathroom in a pastor’s house (they had to take turns standing, crouching, sitting, 24 hours a day) while the killers hunted for them. Immaculee not only endured, but triumphed through much prayer and a deepened relationship with God. She emerged at last with a faith so profound, she was able to face and forgive the people who murdered her family members. One review on Amazon.com reads: “The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.” I couldn’t have stated it any better. Her amazing story will touch and inspire you.
John von Heyking
Advent is the time of waiting for Christ, and Christmas is the celebration of His birth. The entire holiday season is a time to reflect on the meaning of Christ’s birth and I can think of no better way to spend this time of reflection than with one of the most important works of Christian philosophy to be published in over a generation: The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence (Cambridge University Press, 2009) by David Walsh of the Catholic University of America. Walsh reflects on the nature of the secular world and Enlightenment, with chapters on some of the major philosophers of the last three hundred years. Overturning the expectations of many who regard “modernity” as a secularist dead-end, he explains how religious faith necessarily emerges from the rubble of secularism. This book is not for the light of hearted or the careless reader. It is demanding of our attention, though it is written in a straight-forward and nontechnical style. If Christmas is a time of introspection, this book not only demands it but explains why this continues to be the case in the modern world.
Closer to home, I recommend It’s the Regime, Stupid! A Report From the Cowboy West on Why Stephen Harper Matters (Key Porter, 2009) by University of Calgary political scientist, Barry Cooper. Cooper explains Adscam as the result of Canada ‘s creeping (and creepy) bureaucratic and statist mentality that also ignores the rights of provinces. The causes are not so much economic as a lack of virtue. In seeking to understand our lack of virtue, Cooper looks to the sources of our “regime” in Canada ‘s novels, poems, as well as laws and institutions. He also considers the role punk music plays in our corruption. This is a lively book for the generalist, and bound to ruffle more than a few feathers.
John von Heyking is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Lethbridge. He is author of Augustine and Politics as Longing in the World and, most recently, coeditor of Friendship and Politics: Essays in Political Thought. He has also written articles on Islamic political thought, empire, republicanism, religious freedom and the Charter, and the political significance of the Calgary Stampede.