This is an extremely well written book with beautiful descriptions of varied settings in crazy unpredictable Burma. The complex relationships of war and refugee peoples are handled amazingly well in this "young adult" book. I am 65 years old with lots of serious reading in my background and this book though a YA book will stick with me for awhile.
Its great to have John Dickson narrate his own stuff as he always has plenty of personal anecdotes to illustrate his points , and when he is himself narrating, the point is really driven home in his own pleasantly endearing voice. I have read plenty of John's writings and especially like " The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission", and "The Spectator's Guide to World Religions". All his other stuff is first-rate. I have used his "Life of Jesus" video in a Sunday School setting for adults and it went quite well--plenty of well researched and sharply presented apologetic and archaeological material on Jesus and the culture , geography,topograghy , you name it of the first century Jewish milieu that the King walked into.
However, this book is not so great. Probably, its the subject that is so difficult or even inappropriate for anyone to pin down and dissect with any amount of clarity and honesty and John Dickson makes a decent go of it but the book is somehow seriously lacking. Maybe its the many examples of business leaders and their humility that puts me off . I will be honest and admit I do not generally hold business leaders up as wonderful people. John does nicely point out the sea-change event of the appearance of Jesus Christ into a very honour , position and fame based culture and how He changed that , but that is not developed in the book enough. Again, humility is like an elusive magical butterfly. As soon as you realize its in your life it's gone. Our inherent, " Johnny is a bright good little boy " assurances that we all may have grown up with are in conflict with the real call to esteem all others as better than ourselves which is at the deep heart of humility. God knows I have not learned real humility in any deep way yet and this book helps a tad but that's all. Lately, I have been reading alot on cross-cultural Christian missions and see in some very self-sacrificing outreach people deep examples of long lasting commitment to humble service that borders on the outlandishly miraculous. And the weird thing about these people is their consistent sense of humour and some of the very funny situations their service throws them into. They have a joyous time in seemingly terrible circumstances. As examples, "There's a Sheep in My Bathtub" by Brian Hogan and " Through Her Eyes " by Marti Smith. Those books will blow you away with accounts of the humble service of everyday people.
How this terribly written book could garner such praise is beyond me. I overheard a pair of close friends discussing how captivating and revealing this book was of the 1930s in America and how circuses were run in those days. I respected these 2 dear ladies but they have plunged in my estimation after I have slogged through this insipid , superficial mess of a book. The characters sound like high school actors in a poorly organized play .Just to scratch the surface of this deeply flawed book, there are numerous instances of phrasing anachronisms. Unless I am mistaken , the "Whatever !!!" exclamation to register mild nonchalant annoyance popped up just a decade or so ago yet the characters use this and similar modern colloquialisms frequently in this sad story. The author is lazy and undisciplined . She has done some minor research on the circus industry of the early 20th century but not enough to make this any more than an agonizingly amateuristic pot-boiler.
The narrators do a wonderful job of putting some life into what is essentially a rotting corpse of a book. I often remarked to myself at some pitifully bad point in the long crappy narrative that the narrators must have gotten physically sick at having to enliven such a feeble work.
John Dickson has given us a great little gem of a book on promoting Christian missions. He has an uncanny knack for distilling the significant aspects of evangelism , placing them in an order that builds on the previous facet and the Christian reader is encouraged to use his own personal gifts to promote the Gospel. Also, Dickson defines the Gospel in a way that moved my perception away from the more self-centered 4 spiritual laws, Chick tract , avoidance of judgement Gospel I am used to . That aspect of the Gospel is obvious but now I understand, "Sure, the full Gospel includes a holy God's awful judgement on rebellious man, how could it not?, but there's a really positive side to evangelism, too. "Dickson emphasizes the positive aspects of sinners recognizing the great God who truly made them for worshipping Him and finding fulfillment spreading the news of His Kingdom. No exaggeration, I have listened to this book at least 10 times and every time I am exhilarated to be a Christian man in my culture and I want to go out and confront it with the Gospel. I am on the Way.
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