Capturing cultural stories for Christ
Four new books that prompt reflection
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Once Upon a Wardrobe
Megs Devonshire studies higher-level math in Oxford, England, but when her dying brother wants to know if fictional Narnia—especially Aslan—represents something real, Megs seeks out author and professor C.S. Lewis. Lewis answers Megs’ questions obliquely, retelling his life story over the course of several weeks. That story-within-the-story bogs down the narrative some, and Lewis’ evasiveness seems out of character for a Christian apologist. That point aside, the ending does provide a satisfying twist, and readers will likely appreciate the budding romance between Megs and one of professor Lewis’ students. Callahan mostly ignores some elements of conversion (like repentance), but her descriptions of Lewis’ life do contain beauty and depth. Overall, Callahan offers an enjoyable fictional trip here to Lewis’ crackling fireside.
Frank Turek and Zach Turek
In Hollywood Heroes, apologist Frank Turek and his son, Zach, profile seven of the biggest movie heroes over the past few decades, including Captain America, Luke Skywalker, and even Harry Potter. The Tureks note these heroes aren’t perfect, but each of them displays important “heroic” qualities (such as a willingness to sacrifice for others) that inspire and challenge us. These qualities also reflect something of the greatest hero of history—Jesus. To put their argument succinctly, “If we love Hollywood heroes, we should also love Jesus because He is our ultimate hero.” They don’t provide many cautions about negative content in the films. But those who already love them—especially families with teens—may find the book accessible and faith-building.
In her new book Faithfully Different, apologist and homeschool mom Natasha Crain shares research showing that only between 6 and 10 percent of American adults hold a Biblical worldview. Crain then equips Christians to become “faithfully different” from the dominant secular culture. In early chapters, she shores up readers’ basic Bible knowledge, offering quick primers on issues like creation and the divinity of Jesus. In later sections, she shows how to live out one’s faith and engage un-Biblical ideas such as progressive Christianity, deconversion stories, and wrong ideas of social justice. Crain focuses primarily on secular challenges to Christians, so she isn’t as helpful on stumbling blocks inside evangelicalism (such as the prosperity gospel and Christian nationalism). Chapters include excellent topical book lists as well as discussion questions.
Strange New World
Carl R. Trueman
In his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Grove City College professor Carl Trueman offered 400 pages of insightful analysis on the rise of the sexual revolution. Here, he pares that down to 187 pages, making his work more accessible for general readers. That’s not to say it’s light reading. Trueman continues to write like a professor, using such terms as “expressive individualism” to trace the influence of thinkers like Marx and Freud who redefined human identity in the West. Still, Strange New World’s shorter presentation is easier to follow, and Trueman’s insights can uniquely help Christians reject the roots of the LGBTQ+ movement, not just its latest hashtag. Best read alongside the author’s “Life of the Mind” lectures on YouTube.
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