Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reading the Koran... What Can I Learn?

With all the talk in the last 10 years about Muslims and their beliefs that come from the Koran, I decided to read the Koran.

I was warned by people, who heard I was going to read it, that
  •  it was going to be harder to understand than the Bible, 
  • I would have difficulty correctly interrupting it, and
  •  it would be best if I had a Muslim teacher of the Koran help me read it.
I don't like hearsay, and I especially don't like to speak about something, especially a book, until I have at least read it for myself. So, I decided to give it a try before doubting my ability.

I am almost 50 years old. I have been a Christian for 30 years. I have been a student of the Bible doing deep inductive Bible Studies going back to the original text of Hebrew and Greek, and learning how to properly translate, interrupt and apply the Bible to life. 

Therefore, I felt a little experienced in reading spiritual books. I decided to find out firsthand what the Koran really said since I have heard so many people make contradictory claims about its teachings. 

While I have not finished, I have read about 1/3 of the beginning and 1/3 of the ending. That may seem like a kind of odd way to read but it is a pattern I have used a lot to get a quick but in-depth preview of a book's storyline, message, or theme.

I have been surprised by what I have read. Here are a few of my preliminary impressions:
  • The Koran is written at an elementary reading level. I found it quite simple. Its text was not mysterious or hard to comprehend.
  • It frequently repeats. Reading the Koran can be monotonous. I keep waiting for a new concept but just keep reading the same theme, and often the same identical wording over and over.
  • The tone is very punitive. I found it to be much more doom and gloom - fire and brimstone - than positive. It is not tolerant to any other beliefs or disobedience. Mohammed's writings are claimed to be absolute truth, and anyone who does not believe in the Koran is going to burn in hell forever.
  • Much of the Koran recounts biblical stories asserting old testament people of the Bible and did what they did. It does add to Bible stories or takes away some of the details to get to its intended point. Abraham, Issac, Lot, Moses, Noah, Mary, and Jesus are all spoken about. Abraham and Moses are most frequent.
  • Jesus is stated to be an Apostle, the son of Mary, and absolutely not God, or God's son.
  • The Koran talks very about sin, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, resurrection, judgement, Paradise, Hell, and Satan, but the meanings of these words are not always the same as Biblical meanings of these same words.
As I continue to read, I will write again, but I wanted to get my first impression written while it was fresh on my mind from reading the past few days.

Lastly, one of the biggest overall reviews of the Koran is that it does not read like a spiritual text. The words read much more like instructions for daily life, than inspired words written by God. I suppose this should not be surprising by this since, the Koran is written by Mohammed, who is referred to as the Apostle, and he is writing what he says he was told by the angel Gabriel. But after reading the Bible for so many years, and studying it, a casual read clearly shows a marked difference in inspired writing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Good Book - Few Will Ever Be

"A book is essentially, not a talked thing, but a written thing; and written, not with the view of mere communication, but of permanence." (William Swinton, 1885)

Words written with such precision that the passion of one's mind is conveyed to all who read as though they were living in your time and sitting with you to mull over thoughts, important enough to record. This is my heart for writing. I desire not to print words on a piece of paper bound together between two covers, so that it may sit upon a coffee table, on a dusty shelf or in some forgotten space of clutter.

Why write?

William Swinton wrote, "All books are divisible into two classes, - the book of the hour and the book of all time." Both are necessary and delightful to write. "The good book of the hour is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person with whom you can not converse, printed for you," Swinton continues. And to this I can attest many great books that have captured my heart and allowed me to travel generations away to see life through another's eyes. Real books that not only capture the events, but the impact upon the writer's soul. Swinton beautifully concludes that these books are "very useful, often, telling you what you want to know; very pleasant, often, as a sensible friend's talk would be."

For these books I comb, thrift, antique, and private collections in hopes of meeting someone I would never had the opportunity if they had not put into words their take on life. "The bright accounts of travels, good-humored and witty discussions of questions, lively or pathetic story-telling in the form of a novel, firm fact-telling by the real agents concerned in the events of a passing history...," recounts William Swinton. And I heartily reply, "Yes, yes!" For histories sake, I read and search out truth that can only be spoken by an eye-witness account. I glimpse a slice of life and peer into a heart of a precious soul who recorded for all time what it was like to live in the world at their time.

All books of the hour, we ought to be thankful for them, and make good use of them, but never allow them to ursurp the place of true books. Books of the hour are strictly speaking - in Swinton's opinion - not books at all , but merely letters or newspapers in print. More and more I read and review for publishers books - that barely deserve that name, that are nothing more than print on paper, that never would have been a letter or newspaper read. And it grieves me deeply, that time, resources, and space a shelf is given to such worthless pages of beautifully printed paper. "Oh, for a real book to be written!' cries my soul.

When I write I esteem to provide a manuscript because
"I have something to say which I perceive to be true, useful or helpfully beautiful. And so far as I know, no one has yet said it; and as far as I know, no one else can say it. I am bound to say it, clearly, and melodiously if I can; clearly, at all events. In the sum of my life, I find this to be the thing or groups of things, manifest to me; this the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which my share of sunshine and earth has permitted me to seize." (Swinton's words restated in first person tense)

So I see other book printed and released with titles seemingly capture the heart of my message crying out to be said, but I am never dismayed, nor disappointed. While some may speak before me of the topic I am compelled to write, it is uniquely through my walk with God, the precise steps He makes certain I take, so that I alone can set down forever, what I was allowed to see and know. And the hope is if anything, even in a very small way, can help another to measure or map out the essentials of our short life a good book has been written!

I must confess, I do desire to write a book that in truth and sincerity can take a place among the company of the dead. To me a good book is one that can be read throughout time, assuredly tested by measured living, to audiences both hungry and in need of a a direct course to see clearly in the disturbed present maze, which is just a twist or turn of that which has been for all time a right path gone wrong. We walk, not of new, but well-worn places... and need a guiding hand of those who have gone before to reach back saying for all who desire seek light, heed truth, live pure, and most of all know Him.

I will write a book, but not just a book.... a good book that will never be dead, but hold the potency of life, preserving what might be lost, if not in print for those who follow. This is the cry of my heart.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gift Book - God's Promises for the American Patriot

A Little Gift Book
Dr. Richard Lee's gift book, God's Promises for the America Patriot, follows his recent Patriot's Bible and a 365 day devotional. This little 4 by 6 inch book clearly was published as a marketable spin-off the most recent publishing success. While it is riding the tails of detailed, enlightening work, the minute I placed it in my hands I knew it was not a serious attempt at publishing a lasting work but just "another book" to make a buck off of a popular title or theme.

Many parents or friends may find it a suitable gift for a relative in the military or a history buff but I doubt few will ever really read it. The book follows a very simple format of a snippet of history written in about 200 words or most often less and the opposite page has several Bible verses that coordinate with the historical topic written.

The brief historical facts are enlightening and should be facts taught in school history books that are now weakened down so much to make them tolerant to everyone. It is nice to find some true nuggets of history. I have recently seen some much better publications recently released by other publishers and others that are more of a real resource than a simple "gift book" or a book published to make money off the success of much better quality books, such as the 365 day devotional by Dr. Richard Lee, In God We Trust.  

While it is not a bad book, it is not one I would ever go to for information or a quiet devotion... it falls short on both of these reasons for having a book.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Andy Andrews - The Final Summit - Let's Hope Not!

Andy Andrews newest book, The Final Summit, is a classic "feel good" book in the line of "I'm OK, You're OK."  Unfortunately, it is a well-crafted book that ends with a thud. The end will be a very BIG disappointment, if you live life from a biblical worldview, since time is short and resources should not be wasted on publishing anything so meaningless.

I quickly was drawn into Andy Andrews' art of storytelling. Meeting individuals from history was very intriguing, especially getting to watch people who lived in different time periods interact. I dare not share the names of the characters included because truly this was part of the fun in continuing to turn page after page to discover who would step up next. It will be suffice to say people of all ages from biblical times to our present century were included.

I love a good plot, especially one with an interesting twist. Andy Andrews begins with an enjoyable story mastering the fact that fiction doesn't have to play by the rules of reality! He stretches the possibilities, even suspends or bends time.

This story is based upon an ordinary man, David Ponder, who given a most important task by Archangel Gabriel. David must, with the assistance of "Travelers" (famous good people throughout history), find a two word answer to this monumental question: "What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?"

Five tries are given and all five are used up, each incorrect. In the end, all the rules set up went by the wayside and in a free-for-all discussion, the answer comes forth loudly spoken by one in the crowd of so many. I wont share the five wrong answers or the final right answer because I don't want to spoil the discovery in reading the book, if you still decide to do so.

Sadly, the correct answer to the final summit question was as generic catch-all that can mean anything or nothing, that can be good or evil, that is all inclusive, anything goes, you-be-the-God-of- your-life mentality. I suppose with a final answer like this, Andy Andrews felt he would please everyone. But, I feel, by not taking a stand on what he truly believes the correct answer to be, he disappoints everyone by trying to giving a warm, cozy, do-what-is-right-in- your-own-eyes philosophy. 

Midway in reading this book, I suspected the end would be unBiblical, since most of the discussion were basically trivial ideas. So while I truly enjoyed meeting the characters of history and seeing them interact with wit and knowledge, the possible answers and final ending were pitiful.

The generic "right answer" could be embraced by someone of any belief and placed importance on what we as humans do rather than who we are. The irony is Biblical truth teaches life is not about us, it is about God, and what we do matters little in comparison to knowing who we are. God created each of us to be, not to do. It is out of being who we are created to be that anything worth value is ever done. Andy Andrews' answer doesn't ever come close to the true Biblical answer that  it is only after we repent and receive new life through Jesus Christ, we are free from sin and able to trust and obey God, and thereby be restored on the pathway to successful civilization. 

Andy Andrews will definitely not offend anyone of the world, but at the same time while some might feel a pat on the back after reading the book, lives will not be changed, and the world will not be better for having read his book. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Two Word "Final Summit" Answer

Well, I have read a preview of Final Summit by Andy Andrews. I following the request of Thomas Nelson to reviewers to not submit my review until April 11!

Sooooo I will release it on April 11!

But so many people want to know that answer? 

What possibly could be the answer to such a monumental question? It must be amazing for a publisher to put at least $100,000 or more into publishing it! It must be life giving, world changing, a blessing by God!

Book SPOILER!!!! Don't read on if you want to be in suspense.....