Friday, October 30, 2015

Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency (The Killing of Historical Figures) by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Robert Petkoff (Narrator)

5 out of 5 stars  *****

One might think they know a celebrity such as Ronald Reagan. His storied Hollywood career and his most notable political roles as Governor of California and President of the United States reads as the common boy grows up to be a star and occupier of the most powerful office in the world. Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency informs readers of a vinegar laced history with the sugarcoated stories of which one may be familiar. 

What this excellent Bill O'Reilly novel reveals is the greatness, Reagan's ideals, supersede his normal human being status. Reagan's passion for this country and its Christian principles couple with his ability to remember whole scripts to make him the Great Communicator. He accents the right words at the right times. His craft as an actor makes him a convincing politician; but this book credits Nancy Davis, the right woman who supports and protects her husband throughout his political and personal life, for much of his success. 

The family life of this man with his first wife, Jayne Wyman, demonstrates how estranged relationships become after the tragic death of a child. Christine Reagan is born prematurely on June 26, 1947. She dies hours later. Maureen, Ron and Jayne's first child, is born in 1941 and proves to be like her father with her interest in politics. The adoption of a child born March 18, 1945, Michael, is not enough to keep this couple together. Ron and Jayne concentrate on their movie careers and place the children in boarding schools. Jayne and Ron divorce in 1949. At this time Jayne is a registered Republican while Ronald is a Democrat. 

Ron and Nancy's children also prove how a perfect family is far from reality. Patti, born in 1952, rebels against both parents and writes a tell-all book calling her family dysfunctional. She even poses for Playboy offering more juicy gossip on scandals that feed a vicarious population. Ron Prescott Reagan, born May 20, 1958, also speaks out against his father's politics as a liberal talk show host. 

Beyond Reagan's personal life, Bill O'Reilly fleshes out behind the scene events, in monumental times, that live in history, today, as Ronald Reagan's great achievements. His political Conservatism brings America's economy into the balanced budget that escapes his predecessors. The military is stronger and acts as the deterrent which forces the Soviet Union to concede to Reagan's demands; such as, the reduction of nuclear weapons in the world and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. 

This novel brings up the complexity of politics within politics which is not flattering to Reagan, at all. The Iran-contra scandal describes how accountability is an issue of integrity. What happens in an administration rests on the heads of state. Reagan admits that he does not know when he signs authorization for the clandestine operation. He tells Americans that he is sorry for not knowing about the illegal undertaking. This admission shows how Reagan is willing to suffer the consequences for his actions regardless of his repentance. Because of his owning up to what seems like absentmindedness, at best, Reagan is not a victim of impeachment. Nancy, later, admits that her husband has one fault, and that is, he is too trusting of those around him. Nancy's interventions in politics always stem from protecting her husband from this very kind of scandal.

This book ends with the decline of Ronald Reagan's mental capacity and physical health. Nancy devotes every waking moment to the love of her life. She cannot contain the sorrow when her beloved forgets who she is. In his last days, Patti comes home to live with her "dysfunctional" family. She keeps a journal and records the last days of the American President whose moment in time eloquently speaks the right words at the right times that make the world a safer, better place for a while. Ronald Reagan, a man of principle who matures into one of the best Godly Conservatives, creates a template for a free, prosperous America to shine as a beacon for all the world to see.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

4 of 5 stars  ****

Forsyth writes a compelling thriller based on a true story about an organization, the OAS, composed of angry soldiers who feel French patriots died needlessly in Algeria when French president, Charles DeGaulle, pulls the troops out of that country without victory in a frustrating war. The OAS hires the world's deadliest killer, code name, "Jackal", to assassinate DeGaulle, who is the most protected man in the world. 

The story delves into the preparation of guns, credentials, and consorts useful to the Jackal's plans. Forsyth then elaborates on the French security team's efforts to thwart the Jackal once they learn about his existence. DeGaulle's arrogance makes the story more tense when he refuses to change any of his public appearances on his schedule. 

The detail of the plausible schemes with their alterations due to unexpected events are enough to hold the reader's interest. This reader saw the acclaimed 1973 movie before reading this highly recommended 1963 book. The movie seemed so dated and dry lacking the action which today's audience is so accustomed. I gave the movie a three out of five stars. The writing of Frederick Forsyth adds another star for this audience proving that, almost always, the book is better than the movie.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hitler's Last Days: The Death of the Nazi Regime and the World's Most Notorious Dictator by Bill O'Reilly

5 of 5 stars  *****

Bill O'Reilly's compliment to Killing Patton for younger readers, Hitler's Last Days, reads as interesting and enlightening as all of his books. This historical account is full of pictures adding to the vigilance when investigating the facts about Adolf Hitler's life and the significant people who shape this era of war. Hitler's Last Days incorporates the people closest to him and their loyalty, or lack thereof, when Germany falls ending World War II. Hitler's health mimics the Fatherland in its decline and utter destruction during these last days.

After Hitler's suicide with his new bride, Eva Braun, O'Reilly advances the postwar stories of the victors and the losers: Patton's death, Stalin's Communism, Churchill's long life, Eisenhower's presidency, Gen. Omar Bradley's promotion to four-star general , the Nuremberg Trials, and more. Most importantly, O'Reilly paints a picture of the atrocious behavior the Nazis perform on the humans they deem subhuman. The Holocaust is the name given to those atrocities that the select Nazi groups in Hitler's circles commit. Those exempt from those crimes against humanity are the German National Army who adhere to the rules of war and the general population of Germany. This book demonstrates that evil, no matter how brutal and powerful it seems, loses in the end and suffers as much harm as it inflicts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

God's People Want to Know by Dr. George Barna (Executive Director)

4 out of 5 stars  ****

This report conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute, a division of United in Purpose, Dr. George Barna, Executive Director, is the result of a comprehensive study and survey about the issues that Christians find most important. A qualitative survey discovers the social and political issues on the minds of mainly Conservative but also Moderate Christians. Then a quantitative survey determines who wants to receive biblical teachings about the 22 issues.

Most pastors preach something about abortion and same-sex marriage but shy away from all of the other identified issues because of either lack of knowledge on the subject or fear of reprisal for becoming politically active from the pulpit. This could also bring division among the congregants who may consist of Moderate and Conservative Christians.

This study shows that Conservatives want their church to be more politically active but Moderate Christians would rather the church stay out of politics. The issues that are deemed most important are: Abortion, Religious Persecution/liberty, Poverty, Cultural restoration, Sexual identity, and Israel. The second tier issues are: Christian heritage, Role of government, Bioethics, Self-governance, Church in politics/government, Islam, Media, and Senior citizens. Lastly, these issues range from 51% to 69% in being most pressing: Patriotism, War, Government authority, Public school education, Political participation, Rule of law, Civil disobedience, and Government accountability.

A majority of Conservative Christians want to hear from their pastors what the Bible says about these issues, not necessarily their pastor's opinions. This puts a load of extra work on their pastors. The state of the world, America in particular, warrants that extra work. It is necessary to relieve the stress in the population who feel helpless. This report also reveals the drastic increase in politically interested citizens, Christian or not. It makes sense that the Christians turn to God seeking His word for guidance.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The way of the Master (seek & save the lost the way Jesus did) Study Guide by Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort

5 of 5 stars  *****

I finish this book today but still have a few more weeks to actively engage with people and demonstrate its purpose. The Way of the Master: seek and save the way Jesus did is a work book that enables me to practice evangelism and witness to others. The urgency to be a better Christian is a result of my deeper understanding of God's word. 

Most people are probably unaware of the danger there is in living a life without the fear of God. That fear is spending eternity in Hell's fire. An opinion that it is enough to be good condemns us to such a fate if we do not repent for our multitude of sins and accept the Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Jesus tells us that no one is good; only God is good. So, the unaware are not fit for heaven. 

Indifferent Christians, too busy with their own lives to care about anyone else, are like passive observers who watch an occupied house burning and do absolutely nothing, not even yell, "Fire!" It takes a true Christian to shake these people into reality and tell them what the Bible really says. Overcoming the fear that keeps us from being active in God's great commission is what this course is all about. Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort teach us how to bypass the intellect and appeal to the conscience when speaking with people. The intellect can be argumentative and is easily fooled whereby the conscience is that inner arbiter who discerns between right and wrong. This is the way Jesus, the Master, demonstrates in the Gospel. 

I, now, utilize tools to break the ice when I approach someone to share the Gospel. Kirk and Ray show how they do this proven technique on videos shown in class. They share their fears and how to overcome them but, most importantly, they impress me how vital it is that we learn to share this information because God loves everyone no matter how bad or good we think they are. I feel I am acting on God's will in this course and not just satisfying my curiosity or thirst for learning.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Explore the Bible: Personal Study Guide Fall 2015 Genesis by Afshin Ziafat (General Editor), Omar Garcia (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Doug Munton (Contributor), Mike Livingstone (Content Editor)

5 of 5 stars  *****

This Bible study of Genesis followed a study on Revelation, the last book of the Bible. The loop of this return to the beginning shed light on the promises God made to His people and their demonstration of faith in Him. What stood out as an unforgettable fact was that God was merciful, loving, and unchangeable even when His creation tried to circumvent the conditions of His will. The Ten Commandments, God's will, were given to Moses to instruct mankind how to behave so that an everlasting life with Him became possible. 

The study's focal point was how God tested His faithful to deepen their faith so that they no longer questioned when asked to do His will. It revealed that most people chose their own way while a very few remained faithful. 

Over time, the folly of one's own way degenerated into a society that intentionally tried to remove God from people's lives. The removed believer became the intolerant atheist or the non-practiced, unrepentant person who thought he or she was good enough because their own free will allowed them to escape the truth.